Showing posts sorted by relevance for query lawrence durrell. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query lawrence durrell. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2012

A book out of these scraps

Lawrence Durrell, the author of The Alexandria Quartet and several highly-respected travel books on Greece, was born a century ago today. His fictional style has gone out of fashion but was revered by many - not least myself - in the 1960s and 1970s. Durrell does not seem to have been a diarist, and there is no evidence of diaries in waiting, so to speak, for publication. However, one of his classic travel books, about Corfu, is based on, and quotes from, a diary or notebook he kept when first living there.

Durrell was born in Darjeeling, India, on 27 February 1912, the son of a British civil engineer, and Louisa, an Irish protestant, both of whom had been brought up in India. In 1923, he was sent to be educated in England, and attended various schools without much success. In 1935, he married Nancy, the first of his four wives, and moved with her and other members of his family (one brother, Gerald, also became a writer) to live on Corfu.

In 1937, Durrell travelled to Paris where he met Henry Miller and Anäis Nin (a lifelong diarist - see The Diary Junction), and in 1940, he had a daughter with Nancy. On the outbreak of war, Durrell’s mother and brothers returned to England, but Durrell and Nancy stayed (having a daughter in 1940) until the fall of Greece when they escaped to Alexandria. They separated soon after.

During the war, Durrell served as press attache to the British embassies in Cairo and Alexandria, and, after, he held various diplomatic and teaching posts mostly in Greece, but also in Belgrade and Buenos Aires. In 1947, he married Eve Cohen and they too had a daughter, Sappho. She committed suicide in 1985, leaving behind a diary - published in the literary magazine Granta - with unsubstantiated accusations of incest with her father.

From 1953, Durrell lived in Cyprus, initially teaching English literature but working again, for a while, for the British Government during the Cypriot revolution. During this period he began writing Justine, the first of four novels in The Alexandria Quartet, which would bring him literary fame. During the latter part of his life, Durrell lived in the South of France (he bought a large house in Sommières, a small village in Languedoc in 1966) and this was the setting for his most ambitious work, The Avignon Quintet. Apart from novels, he also wrote several celebrated books about the Greek Islands and poetry.

Durrell married twice more, his third wife dying of cancer, and the fourth marriage ending in separation. He died at Sommières in 1990. More biographical information is available at Wikipedia, the International Lawrence Durrell Society, and a French website celebrating Durrell in Languedoc.

There is no evidence that Lawrence Durrell was a diarist, except for the few dated diary-type notes that take up part of his book about Corfu - Prospero’s Cell: A guide to the landscape and manners of the island of Corcyra. This was first published by Faber & Faber in 1945, and is part travel guide and part travel literature. The dated diary entries included are more like notes (similar to those found in some of his novels) and largely impersonal. Here are several extracts from the first few pages of Prospero’s Cell.

29 April 1937
‘It is April and we have taken an old fisherman’s house in the extreme north of the island - Kalamai. Ten sea-miles from the town, and some thirty kilometres by road, it offers all the charms of seclusion. A white house set like a dice on a rock already venerable with the scars of wind and water. The hill runs clear up to the sky behind it, so that the cypresses and olives overhang this room in which I sit and write. We are upon a bare promontory with its beautiful clean surface of metamorphic stone covered in olive and ilex: in the shape of a mons pubis. This is become our unregretted home. A world. Corcyra.’

5 May 1937
‘The books have arrived by water. Confusion, adjectives, smoke, and the deafening pumping of wheezy Diesel engine. Then the caique staggered off in the direction of St Stephano and the Forty Saints, where the crew will gorge themselves on melons and fall asleep in their coarse woollen vests, one of top of the other, like a litter of cats, under the ikon of St Spiradion of Holy Memory. We are depending on this daily caique for our provisions.’

6 May 1937
‘Climb to Vigla in the time of cherries and look down. You will see that the island lies against the mainland roughly in the form of a sickle. On the landward side you have a great bay, noble and serene, and almost completely landlocked. Northward the tip of the sickle almost touches Albania and here the troubled blue of the Ionian is sucked harshly between the ribs of the limestone and spits of sand. Kalamai fronts the Albanian foothils, and into it the water races as into a swimming-pool: a milky ferocious green when the north wind curdles it.’

7 May 1937
‘The cape opposite is bald; a wilderness of rock-thistle and melancholy asphodel - the drear sea-quill. It was on a ringing spring day that we discovered the house. The sky lay in a heroic blue arc as we came down the stone ladder. I remember N[ancy] saying distinctly to Theodore: ‘But the quietness alone makes it another country.’ We looked through the hanging screens of olive-branches on to the white sea wall with fishing-tackle drying on it. A neglected balcony. The floors were cold. Fowls clucked softly in the gloom where the great olive-press lay, waiting its season. A cypress stood motionless - as if at the gates of the underworld. We shivered and sat on the white rock to eat, looking down at our own faces in the motionless sea. You will think it strange to have come all the way from England to this fine Grecian promontory where our only company can be rock, air, sky - and all the elementals. In letters home N says we have been cultivating the tragic sense. There is no explanation. It is enough to record that everything is exactly as the fortune-teller said it would be. White house, white rock, friends, and a narrow style of loving: and perhaps a book which will grow out of these scraps, as from the rubbish of these old Venetian tombs the cypress cracks the slabs at last and rises up fresh and green.’

By way of a personal postcript, here also are a few extracts from my own diary about Durrell. As a young man, I adored his books, and, I suppose, very much wanted to be like him - though, clearly, time has proved my ambition was a little o’er-reaching. 

26 December 1978
‘Durrell completely entrances me with his writings - but completely.’

27 September 1979
‘Durrell lives and moulds our lives. I’m not given to hero worship but it’s fun to try.’

9 November 1990
‘Lawrence Durrell has died. One of my few heroes. He was 78 years old. The newspapers find a news story in his death as well as giving him a reasonable obituary. I am delighted to discover that he had written yet one more book, about Provence, which is due to come out any day now. His style of writing is so completely out of fashion but I still love it and may now be tempted to reread a novel or two.’

18 April 1990
‘[A Spanish friend who had been living in London with us in the late 1970s] said recently she had finally consumed Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet after several failed attempts. It had struck her suddenly that Harold [a close friend at the time] and I were trying to create Durrell’s world and that Mu [another friend then living in Greece but often with us in London] was a Justine figure.’

25 July 1991
‘Information today on the Reuters wire that one of Lawrence Durrell’s wives is trying to get an injunction against a woman who intends to publish the diaries and letters of Durrell’s daughter Sappho. Sappho committed suicide some five years ago when she was 33; the diaries and letters appear to show that she had an incestuous relationship as a teenager with her father.’

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Only you, my diary

‘Only you, my diary, know that it is here I show my fears, weaknesses, my complaints, my disillusions. I feel I cannot be weak outside because others depend on me. I rest my head here and weep. Henry asked me to help him with his work. Gonzalo asks me to join political revolutions. I live in a period of dissolution and disentegration. Even art today is not considered a vocation, a profession, a religion, but a neurosis, a disease, an “escape”. I titled this diary “drifting”. I thought I too would dissolve for a little while, but ultimately I become whole again.’

This is Anaїs Nin writing in August 1936. The same year she would begin to edit her earlier diaries with a view to publishing them. However, it would be another three decades before a first volume reached print, and when it did, Karl Shapiro, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, would write: ‘For a generation the literary world on both sides of the Atlantic has lived with the rumour of an extraordinary diary. Earlier readers of the manuscript dicussed it with breathtaking superlatives as a work that would take its place with the great revelations of literature. A significant section of this diary is at last in print and it appears that the great claims made for it are justified.’ Today - the 110th anniversary of her birth - seems a good day to remember Nin, one of the great literary diarists.

Anaїs Nin was born in France on 21 February 1903. Her parents, of mixed and partly Cuban heritage, were both music professionals. When they separated, their mother took Anaїs and her two brothers to New York City. At 20, she married a banker, Hugh Guiler, who later illustrated some of her books and went on to become a film maker. The couple moved to Paris in 1924, where Nin began writing fiction and where she fell in with the Villa Seurat group, which included the writers Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell (‘Larry’ in the diary). She had many love affairs, often with well known literary figures, but her relationship with Miller was more constant than most.

In 1932, Nin’s D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study was published with a limited print run. Also, in the mid-1930s, she began therapy with Otto Rank, a one-time pupil of Sigmund Freud. Despite Rank being 20 years older, she had an affair with him lasting several years (for more see The Diary Review article Nothing but the eyes). Thereafter, Nin published several novellas and collections of short stories, such as House of Incest (1936). Winter of Artifice (1939) and Under a Glass Bell (1944). Also in the 1940s, she began to write short erotic stories, though these were not published until the 1970s (Delta of Venus and Little Birds).

In 1939, Nin and Guiler relocated to New York. In 1946, Nin met the actor Rupert Pole, 16 years her junior; and in 1955 she married him in Arizona. The couple went to live in California, though Pole was unaware that Nin was already married; and Guiler, to whom Nin returned to in New York often, remained ignorant of the marriage to Pole. Nin, eventually, had her marriage to Pole annulled because of the legal complications of both husbands claiming her as a dependent on their tax returns. Nin continued to live with Pole, though, until her death in 1977, and Pole became her literary executor.


Throughout her life, starting aged 14, Nin was a committed, almost obsessed, diary writer. According to Wikipedia’s entry on The Diary of Anaïs Nin, the diary became ‘her best friend and confidante’. And, ‘despite the attempts of her mother, therapists Rene Allendy and Otto Rank, and writer Henry Miller, to break [her] of her dependence on the diary, she would continue to keep a diary up until her death in 1977’.

Already in the early 1930s, encouraged by her friends, especially Lawrence Durrell (see, also, A book out of these scraps), Nin began editing her diaries with a view to publication. However, it was not until 1966 that a first volume (covering the years 1931-1934) appeared, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Over the next decade or so, six more volumes in the same series would be published, each one edited by Nin herself; and these would later be referred to as the ‘expurgated’ version of Nin’s diary. (In the UK, they were published by Peter Owen and titled The Journals of Anaïs Nin.)


After her death, several volumes of Nin’s earlier diaries, i.e. from 1914 to 1931, were published, and then after Guiler’s death, in 1985, Pole commissioned unexpurgated versions of the journals. There have been several of these: Henry and June; Incest; Fire; and Nearer The Moon, all subtitled From a Journal of Love.

Further information on Nin is readily available across the web, at Wikipedia, The Official Anaïs Nin Blog, one fan site, another fan site, and Sky Blue Press. Excerpts from her diaries are also readily available, at Googlebooks for example, and on the fan sites.

The following extracts about diary writing itself are taken from The Journals of Anaïs Nin - Volume Two, i.e. the second published edition of the expurgated diaries. (See The Diary Review for more on Nijinsky’s diary.)

August 1936
‘Conflict with diary-writing. While I write in the diary I cannot write a book. I try to flow in a dual manner, to keep recording and to invent at the same time, to transform. The two activities are antithetical. If I were a real diarist, like Pepys or Amiel, I would be satisfied to record, but I am not, I want to fill in, transform, project, expand, deepen, I want this ultimate flowering that comes of creation. As I read the diary I was aware of all that I have left unsaid which can only be said with creative work, by lingering, expanding, developing. [. . .]

After I wrote here the other day on art versus diary, I felt the danger of putting art into the diary. It might kill its greatest quality, its naturalness. I must split up and do something apart - it is a need. No consciousness of perfection must enter the diary. Good-bye completeness. My plan of writing up a Day and a Night until I reach perfection.’

Fall 1937
‘Larry began to look over the volumes I took out of the tin box. But I began to feel uneasy, agitated, and we talked first. His first remark was: “Why, that is as terrifying as Nijinsky.” We had all been reading Nijinsky’s diary. Larry went away with an armful of volumes after saying: “You are a strange person, sitting there, surrounded by your black notebooks.”

I feel right about the diary. I will not stop. It is a necessity. But why does Henry attack it? He says I give good justifications for it each time but that he does not believe them.

Nijinsky, writing just before all connections broke with human beings. . .

Larry with his keen eyes, saying: “I have only smelled the diary writing, just read a page here and there. You have done it, the real female writing. It is a tragic work. You restore tragedy which the world has lost. Go on. Don’t stop. I’m sick of hearing about art. What you have done nobody has done. It is amazing. It is new.” ’

November 1937
‘Because of Henry’s description of the whalelike diary, Larry calls me “the Whale”. And signs himself: “your ever-admiring limpet.” [. . .]

Have gone to work on abridged edition of the diary. [. . .]

Henry has been collecting subscriptions to publish the first volume of the diary, and the first one he received was from André Maurois, who added that, however, he did not want all of the fifty-four volumes, his house was too full of books. In between these visits I arranged all the diaries I want to edit in one box so I can plunge into them easily.’

Monday, October 10, 2016

The poet’s destiny

The power of Poetry alone redeems the world, and reunites the blind, confused and fragmentary elements of universal experience within the circle of significance. The supreme task: that of synthesis. How to invoke the welding flame? Ideally, the poet’s destiny is the most glorious of all. And in a period such as the Present, when death and the diabolic are manifest on every side, most difficult of all.’ This is from the diary of David Gascoyne, an English poet embedded in the surrealist movement, who was born 100 years ago today. A precocious and talented writer, he was friends with many other literary and artistic talents, but never quite managed to fulfil his own early promise.

Gascoyne was born on 10 October 1916, at Harrow, north of London, and educated at Salisbury Cathedral School and Regent Street Polytechnic, London, where he met George Barker. When only 16, his first collection of poetry - Roman Balcony and Other Poems - was published. The following year, his novel Opening Day was also published. Further poetry collections followed, and these helped establish him as one of most original voices of the 1930s. When still only 21, he wrote A Short Survey of Surrealism which was published with a cover by Max Ernst. He was involved in organising the London International Surrealist Exhibition with Roland Penrose and Herbert Read.

Gascoyne spent much of his 20s angst-ridden and trying come to terms with his homosexuality. He was an active anti-fascist, involving himself in the Spanish Civil War. He lived in France for long periods, becoming friends with many artists and writers, such Salvador Dali, Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller. He became increasingly well known, not only as a poet but as a translator of French surrealist literature, publishing widely in books and magazines. After the war, he again lived in France, and continued writing and publishing poems, although without the fervour of previous years, and never really fulfilling his early promise to be a great poet.

Suffering from depression, Gascoyne returned to England, and to his parents’ house on the Isle of Wight. The death of his father caused further psychological difficulties. In 1975, he married Judy Lewis, a nurse he had met while in hospital, and recovered some of his writing ability. In 1996, he was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture for his lifelong services to French literature. He died in 2001. Further information can be found at Wikipedia, The Poetry Archive, Critique Magazine, or Marcus’s fansite, and in obituaries at the The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

Enitharmon Press first published Gascoyne’s Paris Journal 1937-1939, with a preface by Lawrence Durrell, in 1978. A second volume came out in 1980 called Journal 1936-1937: Death of an Explorer. Subsequently, his Collected Journals 1936-42 was also published. The following selection of extracts comes from the first of the series, the Paris Journal.

18 March 1938
‘Lutte et Destin
What I have suffered during the last week is too intricate to be put into words: it all seemed to crystallize today - tonight, above all, when I was walking down the Champs Elysees after leaving Kay, and the cold spring moon, and the lights, and the budding leaves on the trees, were all blurred because of the tears of self-pity swimming in my eyes. [. . .]

And then at lunch-time, at the Durrells, when we were arguing, futilely, about war and war-resistance, Miller said: ‘Yes, Durrell’s probably right; because he’s a man, if ever there was one, who’s so strongly favoured by Fortune, that even if he were fighting in the front line, he could be pretty certain of coming through without a scratch. But you’re not like that; you ask for trouble; your destiny can only be a tragic one . . .’

Faced by acute financial crisis, spent the afternoon trying to think of a way to get to England until the time to go to Switzerland. Kay having bravely volunteered to get me a return-ticket, I have now worked out a plan for the immediate future, but it’s not a very comforting one ..

In the bathroom of Kay’s hotel apartment, washing my hands, struck by a sudden indescribable desolation while listening to her cross-channel telephone conversation, in the other room, with Freddie ‘Do you love me? Yes, but’ (shouting) ‘Do you LOVE ME? - SAME HERE!’ Standing in one of the basins was an enormous bouquet of daffodils and narcissi that he had had sent to her. (I had never thought that I should one day reach the point when the spectacle of other people’s happiness would arouse only bitterness in me. And when they don’t even realise their own happiness!)

We went out and had a rather gloomy dinner, overshadowed by the horror of the Barcelona air-raids, news of trouble on the Polish-Lithuanian frontier, and the general foulness of the European outlook. Afterwards, went to see Garbo in ‘Marie Waleska’, which did nothing to calm one’s emotions. When we came out, I was feeling so wretchedly lonely that what I wanted more than anything was a long talk with Kay and a certain amount of human sympathy. But no, she was resolutely determined to go immediately back to bed; and though she must have vaguely sensed how I was feeling, this only seemed to have the effect of making her shut herself off completely. ‘Now don’t go and do anything queer’, she said, as I was saying good-night at the door of her hotel - I don’t know why, unless my expression was strange. (She meant, I suppose, don’t go and get picked up by anybody.) Walked away alone, at the end of my tether. ‘Le pauvre jeune homme’, said somebody in a group I passed in the Champs Elysees. Violent resentment of self-pity at gratuitous pity from outside.’

20 May 1938
‘It is raining today. Bent stayed with me here last night again, but he has gone to the atelier now, and I am alone.

I have done no work since I returned to Paris. I have been entirely consumed by the intensity of the experience of Bent. Today I wanted to produce a poem; but I have not yet recovered enough force. I see the Light, beyond, but I cannot reach it; I know the Voice is always speaking, but I cannot hear the words.

To be alone; to make the sacrifice. I wish to become an Instrument, but I am suspended. Will the Energy return? How can I attain the power that would enable me to speak what I know?

Flesh, spirit. ‘Le combat spirituel est aussi brutal que la bataille d’hommes.’ All states reside in me, but they are unresolved. All I can do is wait. I still have faith; I shall always believe that there is another plane. I also know that in order to be able to reach it and to speak of it, one must lose everything, and be destroyed: I am trying to prepare myself to accept loss and destruction, even to desire them.

The power of Poetry alone redeems the world, and reunites the blind, confused and fragmentary elements of universal experience within the circle of significance. The supreme task: that of synthesis. How to invoke the welding flame? Ideally, the poet’s destiny is the most glorious of all. And in a period such as the Present, when death and the diabolic are manifest on every side, most difficult of all.’

11 September 1938
‘Last Monday, recommenced work on ‘Son of the Evening’. [. . .] The other day, conceived the plan of a new novel: ‘The Anointed’, but I suppose I shall have to try to finish the other one first. ‘On n’ecrit pas les livres qu’on veut’, as one of the Goncourt remarked. One needs tremendous determination to do creative work of any sort in a world so disordered and uncertain as the world today. Crise de la politique, crise de l’homme, crise de l’esprit ...

1 November 1939 [this is the last entry in Paris Journal]
And here (for the time being, at any rate), I close this journal. It has served its purpose. The most profound of the many intuitions I have recorded in it have all come ‘true’. The ploughing and the sowing have borne harvest. My life has passed on to another plane.

I am full of a great wonder and astonishment, and of exaltation. The world is very deep, the War is horrifying; yet the Future of this Century has begun to burn with an extraordinary, unseen and secret radiance, which I feel I can no longer speak of here, since it has become my task to proclaim it to those to whom it has not yet appeared May I be granted the grace not to fail or become discouraged before the purpose and responsibility of a new life.’

The Diary Junction

Monday, September 23, 2013

Paddy’s broken road

John Murray has just published the final part of a trilogy by Patrick (Paddy) Leigh Fermor concerning his epic journey on foot across Europe in the mid-1930s. The first two parts, thought by some to be classics of travel literature, were written from memory 40-50 years after the journey and not published until the 1970s-1980s. Leigh Fermor died in 2011 and never completed the third part, but the new book - The Broken Road - has been compiled from early pieces of his writing, including a diary he kept during the latter stages of his walk.

Paddy was born in London in 1915, the son of a distinguished geologist then working in India, and spent the first four years of his life with a family in Northamptonshire while his mother and sister stayed with his father in India. Subsequently, he had trouble with schools, being expelled from some, and being sent to one for difficult children for a while. Nevertheless, he managed some learning, including Greek.

By the summer of 1933, still only 18, Paddy had tired of education and decided to live in London and become a writer. A few months later, though, he was off on the first of his many travels: a walk across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. The journey lasted from December 1933 to January 1935, and thereafter he travelled around Greece, settling with a Romanian noblewoman, Balasha Cantacuzène, first near Athens then in Moldavia.

Paddy served with the Irish Guards during the Second World War, and then joined the Special Operations Executive in 1941, helping to coordinate resistance in German-occupied Crete. He led the party that in 1944 captured and evacuated a German commander. Captain Bill Stanley Moss, his second in command at the time, later wrote about the events in Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe, which was adapted into a film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger with Dirk Bogarde playing Paddy.

In 1950, Paddy published his first book, The Traveller’s Tree, about post-war travels in the Caribbean, and he went on to write several further books, including Mani and Roumeli, of his travels on mule and foot around remote parts of Greece. He was friendly with Lawrence Durrell, another writer on Greece (see The Diary Review - A book out of these scraps) who wrote of him in his Cyprus book, Bitter Lemons: ‘After a splendid dinner by the fire he starts singing, songs of Crete, Athens, Macedonia. When I go out to refill the ouzo bottle. . . I find the street completely filled with people listening in utter silence and darkness. Everyone seems struck dumb. “What is it?” I say, catching sight of Frangos. “Never have I heard of Englishmen singing Greek songs like this!” Their reverent amazement is touching; it is as if they want to embrace Paddy wherever he goes.’

In 1968, after many years together, Paddy married Joan Elizabeth Rayner (née Eyres Monsell), daughter of the 1st Viscount Monsell. She accompanied him on his travels (until her death 2003) and the two were based partly near Kardamyli in the southern Peloponnese and partly in Gloucestershire, England. They had no children. Paddy was knighted in 2004, and he died in 2011. Further information can be found from Wikipedia, The New Yorker, various obituaries (The Guardian, for example, The Independent, the BBC), or from reviews of a ‘magnificent’ biography by Artemis Cooper published last year by John Murray (The Telegraph, The Daily Mail).

In 1977, John Murray published Paddy’s A Time of Gifts, often considered to be a classic of travel literature. This was a memoir of the first part of his journey on foot across Europe in 1933-1934. (Much of it can be read online at Googlebooks.) Nearly a decade later, a second volume appeared, Between the Woods and the Water; and a third, covering the final part of the walk to Constantinople (Istanbul), was promised but never completed: he laboured at this third book for years but never produced a manuscript. Now, in September 2013, John Murray (part of Hodder) has brought out a third volume edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper - The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos - by way of trying to complete the trilogy.

But this is a very different book to the first two since it is made up of two documents written by Paddy much earlier in his life, and not crafted by him to be the third book of the trilogy. The first, called ‘A Youthful Journey’, was inspired by a commission for a magazine on the pleasure of walking; and the second is a diary Paddy lost but, oddly, recovered in 1965.

In the book’s introduction - which can be read on the Hodder website - the editors provide a full explanation of the convoluted story behind The Broken Road, and some background on Paddy’s diaries. They also explain the genesis of the title chosen to indicate Paddy’s unfinished written journey, and the fact that the work is not the polished version he would have desired, ‘only the furthest in the end we [the editors] could go.’

‘One of the astonishing facts about A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water,’ the editors say, ‘is that they were written from memory, with no diaries or notebooks to sustain them. Paddy’s first diary was stolen in a Munich youth hostel in 1934, and those that succeeded it, along with his picaresque letters to his mother, were stored during the war in the Harrods Depository, where years later they were destroyed unclaimed. It was a loss, he used to say, that “still aches, like an old wound in wet weather”.’


However, in 1965, while researching an article on the Danube, he met up again with Balasha Cantacuzène, who he had not seen since the start of the war in 1939. She had saved his fourth and final diary, and returned it to him during this visit.

The editors continue: ‘Written in faded pencil, the Green Diary, as he called it, carries his life forward to 1935 after his walk was over, and is appended with sketches of churches, costumes, friends, vocabularies in Hungarian, Rumanian, Bulgarian and Greek, and the names and addresses of almost everyone he stayed with. But strangely, although the diary covered all his walk from the Iron Gates to Constantinople and more, he never collated it with ‘A Youthful Journey’. Perhaps its callowness jarred with the later, more studied manuscript, or their factual differences disconcerted him. The two narratives often diverge. Whatever the reason, the diary - which retained an almost talismanic significance for him - did nothing to solve his dilemma.’

Here are three partial extracts from the diary section of The Broken Road.

24 January 1935
‘I left Salonika last night; Patullo and Elphinstone came along with me to the boat, and we bought some bread, and salami and cheese by the harbour gates. I was glad they came, as it was already sunset, and it’s very lonely starting off on these journeys alone. The ship was surprisingly small; very dirty and overloaded with every kind of cargo, all of which was hauled on board in a surprisingly unworkmanlike way. The boat was a shambles inside too, with enormous banks of coal in the passages, and peasants lying in their blankets in despondent groups everywhere. We stood in the passages and smoked, and chatted, waiting for the bells to ring to announce departure, so they could get off; but the boat was nearly two hours late, and they nearly came away with me, which would have been rather serious for Patullo has to join a troopship for Hong Kong in a day or two at Port Said. [. . .]’

27 January 1935
‘I left Koutloumousiou early yesterday, and started off downhill, the road winding beside a rushing torrent, breaking over great boulders, and dashing on in a lather of white foam. The peninsula here is entirely forested with evergreens, so that it is difficult to believe it’s only January; among the ilexes and oleanders are many olives, aspens, cypresses and cedar. The higher slopes are almost entirely fir.

Coming round a corner I saw a funny little grey-haired man sitting on the edge of an old stone well, with some big brown paper parcels beside him. He wished me good day in French, and giving me a cigarette, began to tell me all about himself. He was from Kavalla, and had lived on the Holy Mountain for four years, making maps of it, and copying ikons on wood. He showed me a few of these, they were good.

The sea soon came into sight round a bend, and the large monastery of Iviron, the high walls appearing above the trees. These walls are lofty, and have the effect of being much higher than they are long, as they are divided into sort of rectangular bastions, rising sheer to quite a height without a single window, then suddenly branching out into an overhanging balcony, with undulating tiled roofs, and the plaster painted bright colours - red, blue, green, in crude designs.

Several monks were sitting on benches in the big, sunny cobbled courtyard, half asleep, stroking their beards. [. . .]’

28 January 1935
‘I left Iviron after an early lunch yesterday, the track running close along the shore, sometimes over the high rocks, sometimes over the pebbles and sand of the beach, and sometimes winding away inland, a little footpath between the trees. It was really a succession of Devonshire combes, but full of wildly growing evergreens, with now and then a squat stone hermitage standing on a ledge of the mountainside, surrounded by dark cypresses. [. . .]’

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Diary Review’s fifth birthday

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of The Diary Review. During its five years, the column has included extracts from the diaries of over 450 diarists. The Diary Review and The Diary Junction together can claim to provide the internet’s most extensive and comprehensive online resource for information about, and links to, diary texts. Here listed are all the diarists that have been written about in The Diary Review. Copy any name into the Blogger search box (above) to access the article(s). All the articles are also tagged with keywords (below right) by century, country, and subject matter.

The Diary Review diarists: May 2008 - April 2013 (most recent first)

John Addington Symonds; Henry James; Edwina Currie; Alan Clark; Tony Benn; Idris Davies; William Henry Jackson; Adam Winthrop; Noël Coward; Richard Hurrell Froude; Deborah Bull; Joseph Warren Stilwell; King Edward VII; William Cobbett; John Evelyn Denison; William Macready; Michel de Montaigne; Joseph Goebbels; George Barker; Anais Nin; Thomas Crosfield; Alec Guinness; Amrita Sher-Gil; Gordon of Khartoum; Hugh Gaitskell; Swami Vivekananda; Albert Jacka; Joe Orton; William Bray; Anthony Wood; William Cole; Henry Greville; Louisa Alcott; Dang Thuy Tram; John Rabe; John Manningham; Mary Berry; Edmund Franklin Ely; Sergei Prokofiev; Guy Liddell; Richard Burton; Marina Tsvetaeva; Rutherford B Hayes; John Thomlinson; Elizabeth Simcoe; August Gottlieb Spangenberg; George Croghan; William Booth; Iris Origo; George H Johnston; Dawn Powell; Arthur Hamilton Baynes; Roger Twysden; William Cory; William Grant Stairs; Celia Fiennes; Edmond de Goncourt; August Strindberg; Edward Lear; Charles Abbot; May Sarton; Ralph Waldo Emerson; A C Benson; George Cockburn; George William Frederick Howard; Frederick Hamilton; Clifford Crease; Father Patrick McKenna; Robert Musil; Michael Spicer; Chris Parry; Rick Jolly; Tony Groom; Neil Randall; Peter Green; Samuel Sewall; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory; Mochtar Lubis; Alice James; John Byrom; Lawrence Durrell; Thomas Moore; Beatrice Webb; Alexander Hamilton Stephens; William Charles Macready; Charles Dickens; John Baker; William Swabey; Derek Jarman; Edith Wharton; Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen; William Tayler; Robert Boyle; Roald Amundsen; Henry L Stimson; Victor Andrew Bourasaw; Robert W Brockway; Louis P. Davis; Robert Hailey; Sydney Moseley; Rodney Foster; Xu Zhimo; Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov ; David Livingstone; Christopher Columbus; George Whitwell Parsons; Arthur Schnitzler; Thomas Edison; Nathaniel Dance Holland; Frederic Remington; Lady Mary Coke; Henri-Frédéric Amiel; Engelbert Kaempfer; Henry Melchior Muhlenberg; Walter Scott; Alan Lascelles; Lord Longford; Thomas Isham; Hiram Bingham; Earl of Shaftesbury; Hannah Senesh; Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville; Allan Cunningham; Thomas Asline Ward; Robert Lindsay Mackay; Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Queen Mary; King George V; John Reith; Philip Toynbee; Robert Wyse; Tappan Adney; Brigham Young; Gideon Mantell; Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz; Alfred Domett; Alfred Kazin; Joseph Hunter; George Jackson; Prince Albert; 7th Earl of Shaftesbury; William Dyott; Ford Madox Brown; William Brereton; Adam Eyre ; Aubrey Herbert; Anne Chalmers; Walter Powell; Ron Hubbard; Taras Shevchenko; Xu Xiake; Cecil Harmsworth King; Henry Martyn; Countess of Ranfurly; Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Charles Crowe; Mary Shelley; Hester Thrale; Queen Victoria; Eliza Frances Andrews; Ananda Ranga Pillai; Abraham de la Pryme; Henry Fynes Clinton; Jane Carlyle; Jacob Bee; Paul Bowles; José Lezama Lima; Stendhal; Ludwig van Beethoven; Benjamin Constant; Charlotte Bury; Hugh Prather; Leo Tolstoy; Eric Gill; Ernst Jünger; Thomas Cairns Livingstone; George Bernard Shaw; King Chulalongkorn; Julia Ward Howe; Richard Boyle; Charles Ash Windham; Elizabeth Gaskell; Étienne Jacques Joseph Macdonald; Leonard J Arrington; Takehiko Fukunaga; Porfirio Díaz; William Holman Hunt; John Hutton Bisdee; Mother Teresa; Graham Young; Wilfrid Scawen Blunt; Florence Nightingale; Elizabeth Percy; Luca Landucci; Timothy Burrell; William Lyon Mackenzie King; William Byrd; Marius Petipa; Conrad Weiser; Lester Frank Ward ; Minnie Vautrin; Tsen Shui-Fang; Katherine Mansfied; Peter Pears; Richard Pococke; Axel von Fersen; Gonzalo Torrente Ballester; Li Peng; Robert Schumann; Chantal Akerman; William Windham; Anne Lister; Alan Brooke; Guy Liddell; Hugh Casson; Jules Renard; Alastair Campbell; Fridtjof Nansen; Ricci the sinologist; Matteo Ricci; John Carrington; Gustave Flaubert; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Anne Frank; Virginia Woolf; Marie Louise of Austria; Dorothy Wordsworth; Antera Duke; Edward Hodge; Jeffrey Archer; Vaslav Nijinsky ; John Poindexter ; Cosima Liszt Wagner; Lady Cynthia Asquith; Thomas Clarkson; William Marjouram; Roland Barthes; Franklin Pierce Adams; Murasaki Shikibu; Caroline Herschel; Mikhail Bulgakov; Han Feng; William Griffith; Casanova; Victor Klemperer; Nelson Mandela; Josef Mengele; Ted Koppel; Henriette Desaulles; Ole Bull; Anton Chekhov; Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen; Cecil Beaton; Douglas Hyde; Donald Friend; Barbara Pym; Antonia Fraser; Fanny Burney; Jack Lovelock; Richard Newdigate; Albert Camus; William Gladstone; Thomas Babington Macaulay; Chet Baker; Paul Klee; Henry Edward Fox; Peter Scott; David Hamilton; Chiang Kai-shek; Washington Irving; Fanny Kemble; André Gide; Edwin Hubble; Tomaž Humar; William Howard Russell; Pehr Kalm; Gareth Jones; Anatoly Chernyaev; Leon Trotsky; Bernard Berenson; Benjamin Britten; Jacob Abbott; Otto Rank; Gurdjieff; Itō Hirobumi; George B McClellan; Jack Kerouac; Benjamin Roth; Lee Harvey Oswald; Roger Boyle; Meriwether Lewis; Abel Janszoon Tasman; Alfred Dreyfus; Alfred Deakin; John Narbrough; Gandhi; Arnold Bennett; Jim Carroll; Mahmoud Darwish; George Rose; Maria Nugent; James Fenimore Cooper; Henry Hudson; Kim Dae-jung; Georges Simenon; Henry Peerless; Drew Pearson; Earl Mountbatten of Burma; William Wilberforce; Alfred A Cunningham; Rosa Bonheur; Hana Pravda; Isaac Albéniz; Marie Curie; Dr Alessandro Ricci; John Skinner; General Patrick Gordon; Alexander von Humboldt; Charlotte Grimké; Christian Gottlieb Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter; General Hilmi Özkök; George Eliot; Aurora Quezon; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Stafford Cripps; Edward Bates; Alexis de Tocqueville; Elizabeth Lee; John Steinbeck; Harvey Cushing; Robert E Peary; John Rae; Dwight Eisenhower; Thomas Mann; A E Housman; Joseph Liouville; Lady Anne Clifford; Harold Nicolson; Neville Chamberlain; Edward Abbey; John Lennon; Georg Wilhelm Steller; Derk Bodde; Joe DiMaggio; Raoul Wallenberg; Leonard Woolf; Howard Carter; Stephen Spender; Chris Mullin; August Derleth; Olave Baden-Powell; William H. Seward; Charles Darwin; John Ruskin; Felix Mendelssohn; Alexander Selkirk; Ken Wilber; Jacob Roggeveen; Christopher Hibbert; Breckinridge Long; Sir George Rooke; Jeremiah Dixon; David Garrick; Sir John Moore; Abraham Plotkin; Steve Carano; William Keeling; Naomi Mitchison; Susan Sontag; Hanazono; Emily Brontë; Mary Leadbeater; Pope John XXIII; Robert Coverte; George Monck; Johann August Sutter; Sir George Hubert Wilkins; Christopher Isherwood; Charles Everett Ellis; Edmund Harrold; Selma Lagerlöf; Elizabeth George Speare; Georgy Feodosevich Voronoy; Edith Roller; Henry Machyn; Jedediah Hubbell Dorwin; Piseth Pilika; Marie Bashkirtseff; Jacques Piccard; Herculine Barbin; Catherine Deneuve; George Washington; Hélène Berr; Humphrey Lyttelton; Ted Hughes; Sylvia Plath; Charles XIII; Arthur Jephson; Harry Allen; Yves Bertrand; Sean Lester; Douglas Mawson; Thomas Turner; Henry Chips Channon; John Blow; Robert Louis Stevenson; Abel J Herzberg; Elizabeth Fremantle; August Möbius; John Churton Collins; Krste Misirkov; Mika Waltari; Bernard Donoughue; William Bray; Cesare Pavese; John Home; Samuel Pepys; Edward Walter Hamilton; Bernard Leach; Max Brod; Che Guevara; Lorenzo Whiting Blood; Harriet Stewart Judd; Angelina Jolie; Robert Dickinson; John Longe; George H W Bush; Jikaku Daishi; Choe Bu; Arthur Munby; Hanna Cullwick; Mary Blathwayt; Alexander MacCallum Scott; Walt Whitman; Helena Morley; Carolina Maria de Jesus; Alice Dayrell Caldeira Brant; Rachel Corrie; Lady Nijo; Paul Coelho; Sir Henry Slingsby; Edgar Vernon Christian; Dorothy Day; Mary Boykin Chesnut; Lord Hailsham; Nia Wyn; Rutka Laskier; Tom Bradley; Richard Pearson; Barbellion; Pekka-Eric Auvinen; Chester Gillette; James Giordonello; Simon Gray; Harry Telford; Özden Örnek; Anna Politkovskaya; Serge Prokofiev; Rasputin

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nothing but the eyes

Otto Rank, a Viennese psychoanalyst who studied with Freud for many years, died 70 years ago today. He is remembered for theorising that some neuroses stem from the trauma of birth, and for extending psychoanalytic theory to the study of myth, art and creativity. One of his patients was the writer Anaïs Nin, but she was also his lover, and wrote much about him in her extraordinary and intimate diaries.

Rank was born in Vienna in 1884, into a lower/middle-class Jewish family. Aged 21 he met Freud, who persuaded him to study psychoanalysis at the University of Vienna. Before long he had become Freud’s trusted assistant, and was appointed secretary to the emerging Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Rank remained close to Freud for the best part of two decades. Nevertheless, through books such as The Artist and The Incest Theme in Literature, he developed his own theories, extending psychoanalytic theory, in particular to explain the significance of myths and artistic creativity.

Rank served in the First World War and then returned to his studies. In 1924, though, he published The Trauma of Birth in which he maintained that anxiety and neurosis stemmed from a baby’s shock at being separated from his or her mother. Although Freud was initially impressed by this idea, he later rejected it, and the book distanced Rank from him and others in the Vienna Circle.

The same year, he moved to the US, where he developed a reputation for his evolving ideas in psychotherapy (including that of getting patients to re-experience their birth traumas). For the next ten years he travelled often between New York and Paris, teaching and practicing psychotherapy. In 1936 he settled in New York City, where he died 70 years ago today, on 31 October 1939 (five weeks after Freud had died in London). For more detail on Rank’s life see Encyclopaedia Britannica or Wikipedia.

Anaïs Nin, one of the 20th century’s most interesting diarists, was not only a patient of Rank, but his lover too. She was born in France, to musical parents of mixed and partly Cuban heritage. When they separated, her mother then took Anaïs and two brothers to New York City. At 20 she married a banker, Hugh Guiler, who later illustrated some of her books and went on to become a film maker.

They moved to Paris, where Nin began writing fiction and where she fell in with the Villa Seurat group, which included the writers Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell. She had many love affairs, often with well known literary figures, but her relationship with Miller was more constant than most. Although Nin wrote many short stories and some novels, it is her diaries that are considered to be her most enduring work. And, in the diaries, there is much about Rank, and her relationship with him. (See The Diary Junction for more on Nin’s diaries, and some links.)

The following extracts which mention Rank have been culled from Incest: From ‘A Journal of Love’ by Anaïs Nin published by Peter Owen in 1993. It is considered the second volume of Nin’s unexpurgated diaries (the first being Henry and June), and even has its own Wikipedia entry.

21 December 1932
‘. . . We three [Nin, Henry Miller and Hugh Guiler] read Rank together - Rank’s book Art and Artist, the book I wanted to write!’

17 January 1933
‘. . . Daydream of renewing the process of psychoanalysis again - with Rank, perhaps, to see if I can complete my half-born confidence.’

19 January 1933
‘. . . We (Nin and Henry Miller) awake after a short rest and I am not tired. I am blazing with energy. I must be a sexual superwoman who, as Rank has written, is stimulated rather than exhausted by sexual life. . .’

11 July 1933
‘. . . I want to go to Rank and get absolution for my passion for my father. . .’

21 July 1933
‘. . . I need Rank; I need a stronger mind than Allendy’s [French psychoanalyst]. I want to talk with Rank. About art, creation, incest. I want to be free of guilt. I want to confront a big mind and thresh out the subject. Plumb it. . .’

7 November 1933
‘. . . I impulsively decided to ring Rank’s doorbell. . . By sheer accident, it was he who opened the door. ‘Yes?’ he said in his harsh Viennese accent, wrapping the incisive, clean French word in a German crunch, as if the words had been chewed like the end of a cigar instead of liberated out of the mouth as the French do. . . He was small, dark skinned, round faced; but actually one saw nothing but the eyes, which were beautiful. Large, dark, fiery. . .’

‘. . . Rank immediately gave me the feeling that he is curious, alive, fond of exploration, experiment, the open road, anarchism, that he swims freely in big free spaces. . .’

20 January 1934
‘. . . Rank has a leaping quality of mind. It is exciting to see how he corners one, how he attacks, and how he enlarges the problems like a creator who is there to add, to invent, to multiply, to expand rather than analyze into nothingness. He does not raze the ground by analysis; he explores and quickens into life, he illumines. . .’

1 June 1934
‘Today He [Rank] was not shy. He dragged me toward the divan and we kissed savagely, drunkenly. He looked almost beside himself, and I could not understand my own abandon. I had not imagined a sensual accord.’

7 July 1934
‘. . . The word love is not enough. We are both ill with our joy; we are truly dying of joy. We are broken, feverish.

All those who tried to make me renounce the impossible, accept the realities of love, its limitations! I possess it. I am possessed by it. For the first time, I am incapable of enjoying Henry, incapable of thinking of anyone but Rank - I’m full of him. I awake thinking of him. His selflessness. We live for each other. We break down obstacles. We love in a way everybody believes impossible. We love impossibly . . .’

14 August 1934
‘I cannot live without seeing him. It is a hunger, an unbearable hunger. I rushed to him today. It is like touching fire. He makes me terribly happy.’