Monday, April 24, 2017

Royal Beauty...

Just in case you missed the Washington Post story about it, I wanted to alert you to a very interesting title that will be released tomorrow: Kings and Queens in Their Castles by Tom Atwood.  According to the Amazon blurb: "Over 15 years, Atwood photographed more than 350 subjects at home nationwide (160 of whom appear in the book), including nearly 100 celebrities (about 60 of whom are in the book). With individuals hailing from 30 states, the book offers a window into the lives and homes of some of America's most intriguing and eccentric personalities."

Since it is a photography book, my assumption is that there wouldn't be enough text to qualify it for a Bookmen discussion.  However,  I may nominate it for our next reading list anyway, if it lives up to its promise.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


While reading "Hidden..." I remembered (on page 64 "Rev. John Church") that I saw "Mother Clap's Molly House" at the National Theater in London in 2001.  There was this wonderful song that everyone broke into at the Molly House called "Shit on Those Who Call This Sodomy, Fabulous!"


Friday, April 14, 2017

Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

I thought this conversation on Theater Talk was interesting when it turned to the "hysterical" Tennessee and Edwina and also the relationship between Tennessee's sexual and literary awakening.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hadrian's "little" poem

On display before the first section is Hadrian's famous "little" poem, with odd unending ellipsis "…". I wonder how many readers realize when they finish the penultimate page of the Memoirs (page 295) that the poem has been translated and the ellipsis supplied, with Yourcenar's own thematic continuation. This poem "animula vagula blandula" is too good and too famous to be passed over so silently. I refer readers to William Fitzgerald's How to Read a Latin Poem If You Can't Read Latin Yet (or even if you can!). You can see what he has to say by clicking on the link above, next clicking on the "Look Inside" and then "Search[ing] Inside This Book" on "Epilogue", and finally clicking the second result. (Phew, I know!) But you will be able to read the entire Epilogue which is entirely about the famous "little" poem.

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Reflections on the Composition"

—the last section of Memoirs of Hadrian and I must admit, for me, the most interesting. Pages 335-338 discuss the portraits of Antinous, two of which Yourcenar singles out for special commendation. They are reproduced in the photo section after page 288. You can find better images on the web, in particular Temple of Antinous: The Gay God. I came across a side-view close up

of the Antonianos bas-relief:

I love these reliefs, bas or hauts, the emergence of forms from the sculpted material. Or in this case the submergence of Antinous, in the Nile ("as one incapable of her own distress").

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Information, Please

While re-reading Margarite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, I had the feeling we had read someone's recommendation of it in one of our "Books That You Should Read, or at least, Never Have Forgotten." It was the former: Richard Canning's Fifty Gay [etc etc (see below)] Must Read. Five years ago we had discussed the 22nd essay titled "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Edmund White. I couldn't remember why he had recommended it and eagerly took up the volume to remind myself. Turned out, I hadn't forgotten what he had said about Hadrian because he said almost nothing. The essay—a good one—was about Yourcenar's life. Someone, even perhaps myself, must have noticed that at the time. And the essay is about Yourcenar's life because it was originally a review of a biography about Yourcenar that appeared in the New York Times, 17 October 1993. Canning decided to recycle the review about the life as an essay about the 22nd book which "Everybody Must Read". The essay is virtually the review, with only references to the reviewed biography deleted. Nothing untoward here, everything above-board and acknowledged. What's still puzzling is how or why Canning would include a review about the life instead of a recommendation of the book! (For those of you who have never owned the Canning or have failed to retain it, you can read the original review on the nytimes website.

This post originated out of some pique at Canning's editorial practice but I can move past that by asking if anyone knows anywhere where White did write about Yourcenar's Hadrian ?