Friday, November 16, 2012

VN and me



One day, in the 1970s, in Switzerland, one young and famous poetess from the SU was received by Vladimir Nabokov, at his.
The damsel was in state of veneration, when talking with the great writer (whose all works were banned in his homeland, btw, nevertheless, she happened to read the works.)
VN asked her, “How do you find my Russian?”
“It’s the best,” she replied, with her voice vibrating.
“Really?” VN said, “And I believed it’s frozen strawberry.”
The conversation is a historical fact, taking place in the time, when I was oh so young, learning of the conversation later, much later, when reading one non-fiction, in the 1990s, the cursed 1990s (Confer: "Cursed Days," the book by Russian author Ivan Bunin) when personally I happened to survive, with no damage, but I keep on reckoning the time cursed, anyway, with one of reasons being that I didn’t live in Switzerland in the time when it became possible because I could not afford going there. However that may be, returning to the talk of literature, I’d like to say that remembering of the conversation, mentioned above, I realize I should title my first blog “Reading with Frozen Strawberry,” which is a superb allusion, but “Strawberry” sounds too notorious, and “Frozen Strawberry” sounds rightly intelligible not to everyone, to put it mildly, for me alone, strictly speaking. Besides, when beginning my first blog, I was eager for being as far from my homeland as possible, aloof in my thoughts, dreams and virtual life, and the title “Revue Blanche” sounded more unusual, meaningful, cosmopolitan and consonant to my new fandom, and subsequently more Wildean, which as such had and implied more things to my taste than Nabokov’s works, with the only novel Pale Fire worth the kind attention of my main personage, which last circumstance outweighed then, being above all now. 
I conclude: However VN looked and sounded in his lifetime, read the novel Pale Fire, anyway.


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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Vigel


Continuing the theme of the homosexual surrounding of the Russian great poet A. Pushkin and his time.




After Pyotr Chaadaev (1794-1856), Georges-Charles d’Anthès (1812-1895), and Faddey Bulgarin (1789-1859), with Chaadaev’s homosexual taste being only supposed...
...today, I am happy to introduce the next forgotten literary figure Filipp Vigel (1786-1856) Russian noble of Swedish extraction who served in the foreign ministry, and who was Russian first outstanding memoirist.

Filipp Vigel happened to be a pen-pal to some Russian famous poets. In 1823, when he was sent in the town of Kishinev as a vice-governor of Bessarabia, he wrote to Pushkin about the town which caused the plaintive tone:
Although my sins or rather my sin is great but not to such an extent that the fate could appoint this pit as my residence.”
His poetic message to Vigel, Pushkin concluded by the humorous verse hinting at the homosexual taste of his addressee:
As soon as I have free time, Ill come.
Glad being at your service--
with my poetry and prose and my all heart--
but, Vigel, have your mercy on my ass!”
In the same message, Pushkin recommended “three jolly young beaus” to Vigel “believing that the younger of them is fitter for the proper usage. NB: he’s a room-mate of brother Mikhail, and by night, they bugger each other unrestrainedly which may suggest some important conclusions, which I leave to your sophistication and discretion.”  


At present, Vigel's famous Notes are re-published. But the literary sources are scanty about his personal life and others of that ilk, that’s why this note is so short. More about Russian forgotten literary figures of my choice, read here:



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

new eBooks


check out 2 new eBooks at Lulu.com :

The Autumn Gay Tints 
The main character of my story The Autumn Gay Tints is a Londoner in his twenties of the name of Oscar Maria Graf. A Stenbock-like figure, by his origin and his dabbling in literature, he is much hotter, more active, able-bodied, pragmatic and of great vitality than Eric Stenbock (1860-1895) who is no more, by the time of the story. In the beginning, we see Oscar Maria Graf in his den, early in the morning. On the way home, his old friend drops at his and brings some news. The point is that their archenemy’s young relative comes to London, from countryside, unattended. They plan seduction of the young man. All the personages of the story are 20+ years old. Happy ending.   

Fin de siècle and Mists of Albion 
The short story “Fin de siècle and Mists of Albion” is initially a part of the novel “La Lune Blanche” (2005) by Lara Biyuts and at the same time a part of writings by the novel’s main character. Male bonding and the Victorian era. The big town and an orphan. Excesses of bachelorhood and a young thing learning the world. The new obsession of a middle-aged gay man and the mystery from the tangled and disturbing past. “Shared, secret, celebrated, exploded, subtle--as an unrequited longing or mellowing through the years--at long distance, across continents or so close, it is never quite close enough--from the inside out and from the outside in, the likely and the unlikely--hot, unfair, jealous, crazy Love is coming. Get ready--now, it comes to You!” (Lara Biyuts)   

All SmashWords-published eBooks, the reader can find at iTune : 

novella A Handful of Blossoms as a guest post at The Pen & Muse http://wibi.us/Nh7lXQ
From the book reviews: 



 “Lara Biyuts’ writing is deep and multi layered.  Expect to read this book a few times in order to glean all the mysteries  and interlocking energies held inside the writing. I don’t want to give away one of the more interesting twists of the book, but suffice it to say it holds a few surprises.” (Maggie Mack Books)

 “I found the story-telling through this narrator to be very well done and all of the characters had quite a bit of depth to them.  Biyuts did a very good job in her writing of this book.  I could actually see this book being studied as literature in a university class.” (Sam Kasbrick's Reviews)

“I would definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction or maybe to fans of old-school Gothic literature.” (Sam Kasbrick's Reviews)

 “Complex story, complex writing style, but if you have the patience, and the courage to start it, I think you will find this is a very original insight in an uncommon era and setting for a novel.” (Elisa Rolle Reviews)

interview at Roy Eynhallow's Creative World 
http://www.eynhallowbooks.com/2012/09/19/lara-biyuts-writers-like-me-read-dictionaries-and-wikipedia-interview-with-a-russian-speaking-author-who-writes-in-english/

Come to review the book at http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/paranormal-adventure/2473

“O gentle vision in the dawn:
My spirit over faint cool water glides,
Child of the day,
To thee;
And thou art drawn
By kindred impulse over silver tides
The dreamy way
To me.”
(Harold Monro, Collected Poems)

Thanks.
Lara B.









Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mysterium Tremendum


Perhaps, creating the Page 
and earlier, self-publishing all the fiction about the undead, I’ve lost face in eyes of serious writers, and personally I don’t read fantasy fictionbut… a grain of mystique in a narration always seemed nice for me. The essay is a part of my novel La Arme Blanche. 
Anthony finds his old essay and shows it to our dear boy Jocelyn.

Mysterium Tremendum


Cultural memorials in the form of ancient written or verbal creative works are parables and allegories, for the most part, be it the story of King Arthur and his Round Table or scriptural parables. Homer’s story of Ulysses and his travels and Myths of Heracles’ Labours show us an allegorical path of every hero towards his ascent. In the erotic and romantic stories of Adepts of Love and the Old Testament, in the myths of Osiris and Isis, in writings of Dante and Omar Khayyam, we can find ciphered descriptions of Creation of the world. The ancients knew what they wanted to say by means of the language of symbols; and Spirit, which “breathes where it wants”, is mighty every time when it revives the symbols and rites, giving them back their lost sense and entire initial power.
To all of us, who speak different languages, the legends were given in order that we could teach as well as learn to find and go on the path that leads towards our true vocation. Not a mere flight of fancy, symbolism of the ancients acts a double part: keeping truths from the uninitiated and at the same time discovering the truths for those who understood the language of symbols. Those who cannot tell difference between lies and truth will see only a fairy-tale. And a wise man can draw the curtain open and perceive the point.
We shall draw the curtain open now, in order to research some aspects of symbolism and the origin of so-called folklore.
The cosmogonic and mysterium-related myths, which survived in the form of tales, parables and legends, often relate to creative works by a folk, but contents of the folklore evidently indicate the myths’ descending from spiritual teachings which include universal symbols. We shouldn’t regard nature of folklore as a source of spiritual traditions: like an individual mentality, the collective mentality is reduced to memory, in other words, it can conserve and save, which folklore’s function is in, but it is not able to produce anything, especially on the transcendental level. The folk saves the lore or information, without its own knowledge, functioning as a subliminal collective memory, and the folk’s natural unawareness of a true sense of the lore, which the folk passes verbally or in writing, from generation to another, and which is clad in the bright dress of symbols, is a good guarantee of saving the spiritual legacy intact, in its true value, till the times when someone is able to understand it.
It’s known that many spiritual orders, like anybody else, trying to survive in their difficult times, often used this way of saving their system of symbols. Ultimately, it could be the only way of the last bearers to save their teaching, at least partly. For example, it’s reckoned that in this way domino, cards and Tarot have survived till our time, being entrusted by the ancient Egyptians initiated to human “vices” of passions and fear of the future.  Knowing laws and capabilities of the emotional and vital powers, adepts could wittingly choose fearsome symbols for better guarantee of saving a spiritual system. Also, it must be said that in their small circle, the initiated never stood upon ceremony with mental notions, and in this connection, there may be one more version of the origin of some symbols, which are so inadequate to the Puritan ideas of Good and Evil. When a spiritual order was disintegrated for some reason, all contents of its spiritual “cuisine” well might be thrown out to history. For example, calling a body “coffin”, the initiated named their scientific and charitable activity among laymen “adorning coffins and tombs.” About mother-nature, hardly forecasted and unruly therefore sacred and fearsome to the most of humans, the initiated could simply say as about a “whore, eating carrion and blood”, meaning the chaotic processes adopting experience and spending human vitality. Therefore we’ll take as guidance the words: “There is nothing secret that cannot be evident; there is nothing hidden that cannot be discovered,” and we’ll discover mysteries and restore sense of symbols, treading in footsteps of enlightened people of all centuries. We’ll try to penetrate in symbolism of one ancient spiritual system, which was robbed of a proper attention of philosophers and esoterics, supposedly because of the excessive exploitation of its symbols and fantasies by fine art makers and their ignorant fans.  The point in question is vampires.
Regardless of the true origin of the words (which is not ultimately known), I venture to suggest that “vampire” comes from “empire”, all the more that the further researching a vampire’s habits well corresponds to the sense of the word-symbol.  Who could the initiated call “imperious”, “grandiose”, “great”? Obviously, these and other titles indicate the one who has achieved a grandiose, that is a great, whole and illumed consciousness. To those who, using a traditional spiritual teaching, woke, carried a Great Work and reached their goal, the point, where the teaching of mystery itself has become the means and method of achievement, because mysteries always were and still are an institution, established for transforming a mere ignorance to the precious enlightenment. Therefore a vampire, in other words, a man with illumed mind and whole consciousness is almost immortal -- which is perfectly natural -- and almost omnipotent, since he has an enormous strength and supernatural powers. He commands spirits of nature and animal instincts as powers of consciousness.  He “lives alone”, that is, he realizes and fulfils his own individuality and wholeness. He “hunts alone”, that is, he is aware of his own responsibility for his choice.  A vampire’s works indicate activity of all secret societies, such as Rosenkreuzer or alchemists; they know and foretell things to come, penetrating in mysteries of nature and life (the story of Frankenstein), turning metals in gold, making the elixir or cure-all, and looking for the philosophic stone. Thus, by all these signs, we see the question is a direct description of attributes and ends of a whole divine consciousness and illumed mind. And we have only to decipher all the rest notions of this kind of folklore.
“A vampire feeds upon human blood.” Blood is a universal symbol of vital energy and strength of resurrection. A whole consciousness can live consuming the spiritual energy that flows through human consciousness. A whole consciousness can transform an ordinary consciousness, which ordinarily suggests death of a brain or mind sponging on the blood is an inevitable process.
 “On a full moon night, a vampire is especially dangerous.” As a body that reflects the sunlight, the moon is a symbol of subconsciousness that reflects the light of spirit. At a full moon night, at the most favorable moment of a fully reflected light of truth, an ordinary man can get enlightenment, and it goes without saying that any vampire is ready for offering his help to save any human from ignorance. A sad empiric cannot be more inspired and inspiring.
 “From a vampire’s bite a human dies, and then he returns to life as a vampire.” From a contact with a whole consciousness, an ordinary mind transforms, experiencing a symbolic death and consequently becoming whole too. A vampire’s bite on a neck or carotid artery of a victim symbolizes the influence of the illumed consciousness upon the ordinary one via the speech and ear, which leads to throwing back the former ideas or notions, at first, and to death of a human as a “welter of contradictions”, and then to his resurrection as an immortal and mighty entity, that is the next vampire.
 “A vampire sleeps in a coffin by day, and he goes for hunting by night.” For a human who has a whole consciousness, the revealed universe or “day” is a “coffin”, in which one can only sleep seeing the illusive dreams about “realization of wishes”. “Night” or internal world, on the contrary, is a field for activities of the illumed mind, for creative works or “hunting” as listening to divine intentions.
Also there is a version that a vampire sleeps “head down”, which is right too, because for a whole mind, the usual world is as though turned over. The mind creates when leaning on the heaven, and its logic, ends and values often are contrary to an ordinary mind’s.
 “A vampire can be recognized by the fact that he doesn’t reflect in a mirror.” The one, who has achieved the whole consciousness, reflects in the mirror of the world no longer; he has neither the past nor his personal history, nor the future.  He wholly belongs to spontaneity and magic of the current moment. Although living in the world, the human is free from limits of time, expanse and human notions.
 “A vampire can be killed by driving a silver stick or silver bullet in his heart.” Silver is a symbol of the material or female. All spiritual teachings warn their neophytes: if a human with whole consciousness is “tempted” being fascinated with a material end or thing, forgetting of the fact that he is the light, center and heart of all, then his “fall to life” takes place, and consequently, his loss of wholeness and immortality.
 “The sunshine does harm to a vampire.” According to spiritual systems, the daylight is only a reflection of a true source -- spirit or the “midnight sun” of adepts. Although the earthly human notions, which give life and assurance to ordinary humans, mean nothing for the enlightened man, but he has to defend his body (soul) and eyes (divine sight of beauty) from the influence of cruel emissions of the world’s “Augean stables” in disguise of pop-culture.
 “From a vampire’s attack a human can defend with garlic, holy water, prayer-bead and crucifix.” Garlic is a good herb for cleaning a human organism. Holy water is a symbol of purifying a human mind. A crucifix in hands or on a neck may be regarded as a reminder of the union of spirit and material. A crossing of streams of strength. Telling beads is a symbol of a purposeful concentration upon creation and of a discipline of mind. However, we shouldn’t think of any defence from a mighty vampire. That’s amusing, at least.
Even such a detail as a vampire’s hairstyle bears an important symbolic sense. The long curly hair of vampires and vampiresses, cascading on their shoulders, is an ancient symbol of wisdom and playfulness of a free illumed mind.
A story of a vampire-hunter describes a mystery of a search of his own wholeness. The hunter is an ordinary but fearless man, who has sublime ends, and who has to wish to kill a vampire, and as a rule, he has to spend much time in search of the “monster”. When his desire leads him finally to a vampire, he has to begin fighting with the “monster”. A result of the fighting is predestined, because the vampire is unconquerable, so the hunter becomes a vampire. Thus, mortals achieve the wholeness of mind through conjoining with their own divine ego.
It looks like all symbolists have chosen the labour (“adorning tombs”) on the summit of “sofia”, clearing for us the hidden sense of symbols and metaphors. In our time of information, integration, communication and open knowledge, there is no use of wasting time for some unfounded superstitious fears or energy-wasting contradictions. The highest summits must be visible; the call must be heard; and the path towards them must become a realized aim of a human. So, an offer to become a “vampire-hunter” should not seem so absurd for us any more. To search and to find him in order to act our divine part.
All of us are flame-born children of the galaxy. Around the flame, we build shields that hide the light. Becoming pupils or hunters, we can find our place among the true insiders of the universe, those who have given themselves to the search for the sake of the ancient flame that burns within them.
P. S.
The full moon approaches. Vampires are waiting.

[ the end of the essay ]


Monday, August 20, 2012

from stories of the traveler

J. J. Winckelmann is a secondary character in my historical fiction A Handful of Blossoms.
On the way to Rome, he is on a visit to Constantine-Leopold, Prince of Askanier-Hortz, who is Consort of my main character Constance-Otilia-Alexandrine, Princess of Anhalt-Welf, whose Diary the reader has a chance to read. After the supper party, in the Castle, the group of table-mates began story telling. One of two stories told by Mr Winckelmann.
Not fond of the 18 century, unlike many fine art lovers, I used the 18 century as setting for my story solely in order to use the image of Mr Winckelmann and, accordingly and necessarily, to mention the name of Antinous.

Read more at :
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/168036

The storytelling at the party, in my novella, is not like that in “The Decameron”, by Boccaccio, since it’s not a time of the Black Death outside, around the Castle, and nothing frivolous or playful is in the tales told by the table-mates. The story tellers are two: Prince Constantine and his guest Mr Winckelmann. It’s like a contest, but whose heart the contestant would like to win? My heroine Constance-Otilia knows that not hers. Rather Sylvian’s. Sylvian is Constantine’s nephew and one of two listeners. She is the first to leave the party, and it remains unknown to her how the party ends, and even I, the Author, don’t know. I merely can say that it could end anyhow, from the storytelling getting more and more sublime to an orgy.
Constance-Otilia is going on 17; her relatives call her “Tilia” which is one of names of the lime-tree. The lime-tree I regard as my weird tree because it is abloom at the time of summer when my birthday approaches; thus, giving her the name of Wilde’s wife, I never forget of myself, though. Tilia is not my second-self, and yet I give her my features, which is perfectly natural too, in my view. And so, the young thing learns the world. While living at her Consort’s (if the life of the two could be called “family”) she makes her choice, meanwhile, at leisure, falling in love with her husband, first. Not for long. There are a lot of handsome gentlemen her husband’s precinct. After the disappointment in her husband, which happens at the supper party, mentioned above, she dreams of men, as usual. But the love story is not over. One mysterious and dangerous stranger comes in the life of the Castle.
The mental work going on; at leisure, between the events and adventures, she can’t come to a decision about the only man whom her heart took to -- but what more interesting is that all the 3 handsome men, among who she seeks to make her choice, are equally indifferent to her which circumstance cannot stop her young imagination, and in the end of the book, she makes her choice.

The manuscript of her Diary ends with the man’s name, and the reader cannot know whether the choice is fatal to her or not, but I, as the Author, can say that it’s fatal.
After a certain dangerous adventure, she begins feeling dubious about her own virginity, and she remains uncertain about it till the books’ end, but I can say that her doubt is unfounded and she is virgin till the book’s end. No wonder, for the men are indifferent to her.

It must be said, by the way, that as a reader, I always hated reading fiction in the form of a diary, unless it’s non-fiction or a diary is a part of a novel like the tremendous narration of “The Moonstone” (1868) by Wilkie Collins. As an author, I find the genre is nice.

read the first reviews for my 6th book of fiction A Handful of Blossoms--
at Elisa Rolle Reviews
http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1687622.html
at Sam Kasbrick's Reviews
http://sikbookreviews.blogspot.ca/2012/08/review-handful-of-blossoms.html








Wednesday, August 15, 2012

classic



7 poems, translated or retranslated by Lara Biyuts

The Butterfly
by Afanasy Fet (1820-1892)


You’re right. An outline of Air
I am so sweet.
My velvet with its living blinking --
only two wings.
Don’t ask me whence, what brought me,
where I speed.
I light the flower down, here,
and now I breathe.
How long, so aimless, so effortless,
I want to breathe?
That’s it now, flashing, raising wings

I fly away.                   

Godsby Henri de Regnier (1864-1936)


I dreamt gods talked with me:
one god--streams- and seaweeds-clad;
one more--with vines and ears of wheat;
one more--winged, inaccessible
and beautiful in his nude;
and one more--with covered face;
and one more--he who plucks omegas and pansies, singing,
and two snakes enwind his gold thyrsus;
and others…
And then I said: here are flutes and baskets--taste my fruits,
listen to humming of bees and the humble rustle of willows and reeds.
And also I said: Listen, listen--
there is someone who speaks by echo’s mouth,
who is lonely amidst the world’s life,
who holds the double bow and torch,
he who is so inconceivably we…
O sacred face! I coined you as medallions
of silver, soft as autumn dawn,
of gold, hot as the sun,
of copper, gloomy as night,
of all the metals that sound clear as joy,
that sound fatal as glory, love or doom;
but the best medallions I’ve made of clay.
Smiling you will count them one by one,
and say, They are skillfully made; and smiling you’ll pass by.
So, no one of you saw my hands tremble from tenderness,
and the world’s great dream lives in me to come to life in them.
No one of you realizes that I’ve coined my gods of good metals,
that they are a face of all sacred, what we feel
in the forests, grass, sea, winds and roses,
in all phenomena, and in our body,
and that they are divinely we.

Mystical Evening Twilight
by Paul Verlaine


Memory and Evening Twilight
redden and tremble at the glowing skyline
of expectations in flames that retire
and thus enlarge, of which partition
mysterious or repeated bloom
--dahlia, lily, tulip, banewort--
climb around the trellis, and circle
amidst the morbific exhalations
of warm and disturbing perfumes, which is poison
--dahlia, lily, tulip, banewort--
flooding my senses, my soul and my reason,
they mix, into immense languor,
Memory and Evening Twilight.

Artist by Ivan Bunin


Pebbles rustling underfoot. Through the slopping garden,
he walks, glances round the basins
and subsides on a bench… Behind the new white house
the Yayla mountain range so close and heavy.
Heat-wearied, looking crayon-drawn,
the crane is standing in the bush, tail down,
a cane-like leg… He says, “What, Bird?
It’s nice at Volga now! At Yaroslavl!” Smiling,
he begins thinking of his own funeral,
how they will carry his coffin outdoors, how gray
the vests will be in the hot sunrays,
how yellow light, how white the house against the blue.
“From the porch, a fat old priest goes downstairs.
The choir follows him… Frightened and clicking,
the crane takes wing off the old fence and dances,
and with its beak it knocks on the coffin.”
A tickling in his breast. Dust rushes from the highway,
hot and especially dry.
He takes off his pince-nez and thinks while coughing,

“Yes, vaudeville… and all the rest is guille.”

La Lune Blanche
by Paul Verlaine


The white moon
shines in the woods;
from each bough
comes a voice
under the branch…
Oh, beloved.

The pond reflects,
deep mirror,
the silhouette
of the black willow
where the wind cries…
Let’s dream, now is the hour.

A vast and tender
appeasing
seems to descend
from the firmament
as an iridescent orb...
It’s the exquisite hour.

To Myself, by Leopardi

                    
And so, you’ll quiet down for ever,
o my poor, tired heart.
The deception’s perished--final, ultimate,
which I reckoned immortal within me.
I feel that not only the hope
of the dear deceptions has died,
but the desire for them has gone out.
Calm down, for ever. You thrilled enough.
There is nothing worthy of your
pulsing, and the earth is not worthy of the sighs.
Our life is melancholy and bitterness, no more;
the world is dirtiness. Quiet down and stop.
Despair for the final time. Fate doesn’t give us
other gift than dying.
From now on, despise itself,
the nature,
the insulting strength
that covertly bosses the show
of the universal vice,
despise the futility
of it all.

from the Epigrams by Marcus Valerius Martialis


“King of the birds, tell me whom you are carrying?”            
“The Thunderer.”
“Why he has not thunderbolts in his right hand?”                             
“He’s in love.”
“Whose fire did smite him?”                                                             
“A child’s one.”
“Why are you looking at god, your beak is half-open?”
“I’m whispering of Ganymede.”

* * * 

some of the poems are published as a part of my collected notes and essays The Sunless Parlour. Notes, stories and translations by author of the novels Forever Jocelyn and La Arme Blanche. Oscar Wilde, Tolstoy, Kuzmin, Clodt, Henri de Regnier, Verlaine, Chekhov, Stéphane Mallarmé, poetry, humor. “…in a sunless parlour where an old clock ticked in the shadows and a cat slept by the empty grate.” (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited)











Thursday, June 21, 2012

a gastarbeiter. re-post

it's a repost of my note, first published on the blog.co.uk (about my activity on the site, please, read the intro-post on this blog).


A Gastarbeiter-Sausage king
or 
The Re-posting

Two or three years ago, I was a fan of one TV show, the culinary show Supper Party (now left by me). One of the show competitors was a man from Britain--surprise!--and what was more surprising, the man could speak Russian like a Russian. Stunned, I listened to him, and I could hardly believe my own ears, since Russian language is known as one of most difficult. But it was so: a true English man speaking Russian like a true Russian. Coming in the first apartment, where the first Supper Party was to take place, he greeted the host with one very special greeting, used only in Russian army (why?), though no army-men were before his eyes, only the host, who was neither an army-man nor ex-army-man. The greeting also can be used ironically--but what irony, if he saw the host for the first time in his life, known nothing of the man? Irony to the show viewers? I still can’t understand why he greeted in this way. Before having the first supper, the participants talk sitting at table and introducing themselves, and from the first talk we could learn that the English man studied Russian since he was aged 12 (why? do you know of many young English boys who study Russian language?), that he had his own business in Moscow, that he used to be married in Russia (his wife was an Ukrainian or from south of Russia, but he said she was of Cossack origin because a “Ukrainian woman” sounds too discreditable for Moscow people), he fathered a son and then divorced. Many other participants of the Supper Party Show improved the opportunity advertising their own business on TV, and the Englishman was not an exception (how it could be otherwise, for he seemed so ordinary, so simple; only his Russian sounded outstanding). He had a sausage factory. The recipe of the sausages he brought from Britain--either his family recipe or national, I can’t remember. Tasting the first dish, he announced (for some reason) that British people had no a thought of adding pickled vegetables to salads. Why did he say this? Nobody asked him, and it was slightly off topic. As I think, his intention was hitting hearts of us all, anglophiles, who watched him and who always added pickled vegetables to salads as it is our custom in Russia. If so, then he succeeded, and his intention is either quite unintelligible or quite comprehensible showing how bilious the man was in his inner. A fair-haired 39-year-old man, sincere only when he bit, he told about his successful business and about himself a little. Being able to speak Russian language, he came to Moscow several years ago, got a job of a top manager at a Swiss firm, and then he began his own business in Moscow (why did he leave the good job?). His life story sounded so simple and so suspicious for me that after the show, I visited the website of the TV channel--the English man was on the forum--and I wrote a letter to him, saying that I felt certain that he was a spy. The very mode of his life--seemingly open to such an extent that it made doubt in his sincerity--sounded so usual for a spy, being what a spy was recommended to do in a foreign country (as far as I knew reading novels), that is, mingling as much as possible, improving every opportunity, and his excellent Russian was amazing and somewhat betraying his true profession, and I said that all this seemed so evident for me that I could not help writing to him. He did not reply, but I saw him very soon on a TV talk-show, where his speech he ended by saying something about “silly girls” or “she-fools”. Why? I don’t know why he expressed himself in this way. In virtue of the fact that he spoke in Russian, his words were intended for Russian girls. Taking it personally, I did not take offence, for really, that man never knew me.
The ending of the TV story is this blog posting. Only at present, two or three years later, I have found some free time to write down this true story set on the Net as well as in real life. I still feel certain that the man is a spy or something of the kind (a striking image of a spy for me, if you ask me), and his words about his studying Russian language when he was aged 12 sounds untruth; he simply had a gift for mastering foreign languages to perfection, and he was noticed by someone when he was a student and was invited to join a secret service (which is my supposition.) I find my supposition verisimilar and him I find very nice, though I shudder to think of trusting a man like he or entrusting something dear to him, and I dislike spies in general (who does love them?) Now, here is a link of the TV forum page where you can find his profile, clicking on the nickname Джонни with no photo (if you can’t see the profile, then you have to do registering on the forum):
http://www.ren-tv.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=13949&hl=англичанин
His name is John Warren (the name is so simple, so ordinary, isn’t it?) My British online friends can write to him to ask about a name of his sausages in order to buy the sausages when they are on visit at Moscow.
I sincerely hope that my reader finds this story quite suggestive.
The End of the Re-posting
At present, on the Net, one “John Warren” enjoys a role of DJ, writing on Russian blogs, defaming his homeland Britain, as though by the way, boasting about his Russian, in Russian, making stylistic errors which make suspect his alcohol intoxication, in short, showing himself as a socialite (which seeming half-openness corresponds a secret role of a spy, I’d say again), but I don’t know whether that DJ is the “hero” of my old blog post or not. Commenting the note, one blogger from the UK suggested that the “hero” was a Soviet spy sooner than British. Well it sounds yet more disgusting then.

The End of the Posting
 
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Monday, June 18, 2012

the mysterious date again


in the post…
…I complained about all the authors, whose diaries or memoires I happened to read, and who as if on purpose, avoided mentioning 26 July, and some of them omitted the very month July. I named the date “mysterious” but not in earnest, of course not. Now, about the author, who has no thought of avoiding the date.

The writer's name has much to do with the name of William “Kitty” Courtenay, 9th Earl of Devon (c.1768-1835)

“He was as much a martyr as Wilde, and almost certainly a more interesting and civilised man.”-(Alistair Sutherland) 
  
William Thomas Beckford (1760–1844), English novelist, art collector, travel writer, politician, author of Vathek (1786). 

But the excerpt, which is my latest discovery and which continues my previous post “Mysterious Date”, is not from the famous “Vathek” --







“Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents; in a Series of Letters from Various Parts of Europe”
LETTER VIII
excerpt 

July 22nd. - Joy to the Electors of Bavaria! for planting such extensive woods of fir in their dominions as shade over the chief part of the road from Augsburg to Munich.  Near the last-mentioned city, I cannot boast of the scenery changing to advantage.  Instead of flourishing woods and verdure, we beheld a parched dreary flat, diversified by fields of withering barley, and stunted avenues drawn formally across them; now and then a stagnant pool, and sometimes a dunghill, by way of regale.  However, the wild rocks of the Tyrol terminate the view, and to them imagination may fly, and walk amidst springs and lilies of her own creation.  I speak from authority, having had the pleasure of anticipating an evening in this romantic style.
Tuesday next is the grand fair, with horse-races and junketings: a piece of news I was but too soon acquainted with; for the moment we entered the town, good-natured creatures from all quarters advised us to get out of it; since traders and harlequins had filled every corner of the place, and there was not a lodging to be procured.  The inns, to be sure, were like hives of industrious animals sorting their merchandise, and preparing their goods for sale.  Yet, in spite of difficulties, we got possession of a quiet apartment.
July 23rd. - We were driven in the evening to Nymphenburg, the Elector’s country palace, whose bosquets, jets-d’eaux, and parterres are the pride of the Bavarians.  The principal platform is all of a glitter with gilded Cupids and shining serpents spouting at every pore.  Beds of poppies, hollyhocks, scarlet lychnis, and the most flaming flowers, border the edge of the walks, which extend till the perspective meets, and swarm with ladies and gentlemen in parti-coloured raiment.  The Queen of Golconda’s gardens in a French opera are scarcely more gaudy and artificial.  Unluckily, too, the evening was fine, and the sun so powerful that we were half roasted before we could cross the great avenue and enter the thickets, which barely conceal a very splendid hermitage, where we joined Mr. and Mrs. T., and a party of fashionable Bavarians.
Amongst the ladies was Madame la Contesse, I forget who, a production of the venerable Haslang, with her daughter, Madame de ---, who has the honour of leading the Elector in her chains.  These goddesses stepping into a car, vulgarly called a cariole, the mortals followed, and explored alley after alley and pavilion after pavilion.  Then, having viewed Pagodenburg, which is, as they told me, all Chinese; and Marienburg, which is most assuredly all tinsel; we paraded by a variety of fountains in full squirt, and though they certainly did their best (for many were set a-going on purpose), I cannot say I greatly admired them.
The ladies were very gaily attired, and the gentlemen, as smart as swords, bags, and pretty clothes could make them, looked exactly like the fine people one sees represented in a coloured print.  Thus we kept walking genteelly about the orangery, till the carriage drew up and conveyed us to Mr T’s.
Immediately after supper, we drove once more out of town, to a garden and tea-room, where all degrees and ages dance jovially together till morning.  Whilst one party wheel briskly away in the valz, another amuse themselves in a corner with cold meat and rhenish.  That despatched, out they whisk amongst the dancers, with an impetuosity and liveliness I little expected to have found in Bavaria.  After turning round and round, with a rapidity that is quite inconceivable to an English dancer, the music changes to a slower movement, and then follows a succession of zig-zag minuets, performed by old and young, straight and crooked, noble and plebeian, all at once, from one end of the room to the other.  Tallow candles snuffing and stinking, dishes changing, heads scratching, and all sorts of performances going forward at the same moment; the flutes, oboes, and bassoons snorting and grunting with peculiar emphasis; now fast, now slow, just as Variety commands, who seems to rule the ceremonial of this motley assembly, where every distinction of rank and privilege is totally forgotten.  Once a week, on Sundays that is to say, the rooms are open, and Monday is generally somewhat advanced before they are deserted.  If good humour and coarse merriment are all that people desire, here they are to be found in perfection, though at the expense of toes and noses.  Both these extremities of my person suffered most cruelly; and I was not sorry to retire about one in the morning to a purer atmosphere.
July 24th. - Custom condemned us to visit the palace, which glares with looking-glass, gilding, and cut velvet, most sumptuously fringed and spangled.  The chapel, though small, is richer than anything Crœsus ever possessed, let them say what they will.  Not a corner but shines with gold, diamonds, and scraps of martyrdom studded with jewels.  I had the delight of treading amethysts and the richest gems under foot, which, if you recollect, Apuleius thinks such supreme felicity.  Alas! I was quite unworthy of the honour, and had much rather have trodden the turf of the mountains.  Mammon would never have taken his eyes off the pavement; mine soon left the contemplation of it, and fixed on St. Peter’s thumb, enshrined with a degree of elegance, and adorned by some malapert enthusiast with several of the most delicate antique cameos I ever beheld; the subjects, Ledas and sleeping Venuses, are a little too pagan, one should think, for an apostle’s finger.
From this precious repository we were conducted through the public garden to a large hall, where part of the Sleitzom collection is piled up, till a gallery can be finished for its reception.  ’Twas a matter of great favour to view, in this state, the pieces that compose it, - a very imperfect one too, since some of the best were under operation.  But I would not upon any account have missed the sight of Rubens’s “Massacre of the Innocents.”  Such expressive horrors were never yet transferred to canvas, and Moloch himself might have gazed at them with pleasure.
After dinner we were led round the churches; and if you are as much tired with reading my voluminous descriptions, as I was with the continual repetition of altars and reliquaries, the Lord have mercy upon you!  However, your delivery draws near.  The post is going out, and to-morrow we shall begin to mount the cliffs of the Tyrol; but don’t be afraid of any long-winded epistles from their summits: I shall be too well employed in ascending them.  Just now, as I have lain by a long while, I grow sleek, and scribble on in mere wantonness of spirit.  What excesses such a correspondence is capable of, you will soon be able to judge.
July 25th. - The noise of the people thronging to the fair did not allow me to slumber very long in the morning.  When I got up, every street was crowded with Jews and mountebanks, holding forth and driving their bargains in all the energetic vehemence of the German tongue.  Vast quantities of rich merchandise glittered in the shops as we passed along to the gates.  Heaps of fruit and sweetmeats set half the grandams and infants in the place a-cackling with felicity.
Mighty glad was I to make my escape; and in about an hour or two, we entered a wild tract of country, not unlike the skirts of a princely park.  A little farther on stands a cluster of cottages, where we stopped to give our horses some bread, and were pestered with swarms of flies, most probably journeying to Munich fair, there to feast upon sugared tarts and bottle-noses.
The next post brought us over hill and dale, grove and meadow, to a narrow plain, watered by rivulets and surrounded by cliffs, under which lies scattered the village of Wollrathshausen, consisting of several cottages, built entirely of fir, with strange galleries hanging over the way.  Nothing can be neater than the carpentry of these simple edifices, nor more solid than their construction; many of them looked as if they had braved the torrents which fell from the mountains a century ago; and, if one may judge from the hoary appearance of the inhabitants, here are patriarchs who remember the Emperor Lewis of Bavaria.  Orchards of cherry-trees impend from the steeps above the village, which to our certain knowledge produce no contemptible fruit.
Having refreshed ourselves with their cooling juice, we struck into a grove of pines, the tallest and most flourishing perhaps we ever beheld.  There seemed no end to these forests, save where little irregular spots of herbage, fed by cattle, intervened.  Whenever we gained an eminence it was only to discover more ranges of dark wood, variegated with meadows and glittering streams.  White clover and a profusion of sweet-scented flowers clothe their banks; above, waves the mountain-ash, glowing with scarlet berries; and beyond, rise hills and rocks and mountains, piled upon one another, and fringed with fir to their topmost acclivities.  Perhaps the Norwegian forests alone equal these in grandeur and extent. Those which cover the Swiss highlands rarely convey such vast ideas. There, the woods climb only half way up their ascents, and then are circumscribed by snows: here, no boundaries are set to their progress, and the mountains, from their bases to their summits, display rich unbroken masses of vegetation.
As we were surveying this prospect, a thick cloud, fraught with thunder, obscured the transparence of the horizon, whilst flashes startled our horses, whose snorts and stampings resounded through the woods.  What from the shade of the firs and the impending tempests, we travelled several miles almost in total darkness.  One moment the clouds began to fleet, and a faint gleam promised serener hours, but the next all was gloom and terror; presently a deluge of rain poured down upon the valley, and in a short time the torrents, beginning to swell, raged with such fury as to be with difficulty forded.  Twilight drew on, just as we had passed the most terrible; then ascending a steep hill under a mountain, whose pines and birches rustled with the storm, we saw a little lake below. A deep azure haze veiled its eastern shore, and lowering vapours concealed the cliffs to the south; but over its western extremities a few transparent clouds, the remains of the rays of a struggling sunset, were suspended, which streamed on the surface of the waters, and tinged with tender pink the brow of a verdant promontory.
I could not help fixing myself on the banks of the lake for several minutes, till this apparition was lost, and confounded with the shades of night.  Looking round, I shuddered at a craggy mountain, clothed in dark forests and almost perpendicular, that was absolutely to be surmounted before we could arrive at Wallersee.  No house, not even a shed appearing, we were forced to ascend the peak, and penetrate these awful groves.
Great praise is due to the directors of the roads across them, which, considering their situation, are wonderfully fine.  Mounds of stone support the passage in some places; and, in others, it is hewn with incredible labour through the solid rock.  Beeches and pines of a hundred feet high, darken the way with their gigantic branches, casting a chill around, and diffusing a woody odour.  As we advanced, in the thick shade, amidst the spray of torrents, and heard their loud roar in the chasm beneath, I could scarcely help thinking myself transported to the Grande Chartreuse; and began to conceive hopes of once more beholding St. Bruno. {140}  But, though that venerable father did not vouchsafe an apparition, or call to me again from the depths of the dells, he protected his votary from nightly perils, and brought us to the banks of Wallersee Lake.  We saw lights gleam upon its shores, which directed us to a cottage where we reposed after our toils, and were soon lulled to sleep by the fall of distant waters.
July 26th. - The sun rose many hours before me, and when I got up was spangling the surface of the lake, which expands between steeps of wood, crowned by lofty crags and pinnacles.  We had an opportunity of contemplating this bold assemblage as we travelled on the banks of the Meer, where it forms a bay sheltered by impending forests; the water, tinged by their reflection with a deep cerulean, calm and tranquil.  Mountains of pine and beech rising above, close every outlet; and, no village or spire peeping out of the foliage, impress an idea of more than European solitude.  I could contentedly have passed a summer’s moon in these retirements, hollowed myself a canoe, and fished for sustenance.
From the shore of Wallersee, our road led us straight through arching groves, which the axe seems never to have violated, to the summit of a rock covered with spurge-laurel, and worn by the course of torrents into innumerable craggy forms.  Beneath, lay extended a chaos of shattered cliffs, with tall pines springing from their crevices, and rapid streams hurrying between their intermingled trunks and branches.  As yet, no hut appeared, no mill, no bridge, no trace of human existence.
After a few hours’ journey through the wilderness, we began to discover a wreath of smoke; and presently the cottage from whence it arose, composed of planks, and reared on the very brink of a precipice.  Piles of cloven spruce-fir were dispersed before the entrance, on a little spot of verdure browsed by goats; near them sat an aged man with hoary whiskers, his white locks tucked under a fur cap.  Two or three beautiful children, their hair neatly braided, played around him; and a young woman, dressed in a short robe and Polish-looking bonnet, peeped out of a wicket window.
I was so much struck with the exotic appearance of this sequestered family, that, crossing a rivulet, I clambered up to their cottage and begged some refreshment.  Immediately there was a contention amongst the children, who should be the first to oblige me.  A little black-eyed girl succeeded, and brought me an earthen jug full of milk, with crumbled bread, and a platter of strawberries fresh picked from the bank.  I reclined in the midst of my smiling hosts, and spread my repast on the turf: never could I be waited upon with more hospitable grace.  The only thing I wanted was language to express my gratitude; and it was this deficiency which made me quit them so soon.  The old man seemed visibly concerned at my departure; and his children followed me a long way down the rocks, talking in a dialect which passes all understanding, and waving their hands to bid me adieu.
I had hardly lost sight of them and regained my carriage before we entered a forest of pines, to all appearance without bounds, of every age and figure; some, feathered to the ground with flourishing branches; others, decayed into shapes like Lapland idols.  I can imagine few situations more dreadful than to be lost at night amidst this confusion of trunks, hollow winds whistling among the branches, and strewing their cones below.  Even at noonday, I thought we should never have found our way out.
At last, having descended a long avenue, endless perspectives opening on either side, we emerged into a valley bounded by swelling hills, divided into agreeable shady inclosures, where many herds were grazing.  A rivulet flows along the pastures beneath; and after winding through the village of Boidou, loses itself in a narrow pass amongst the cliffs and precipices which rise above the cultivated slopes, and frame in this happy pastoral region.  All the plain was in sunshine, the sky blue, and the heights illuminated, except one rugged peak with spires of rock, shaped not unlike the views I have seen of Sinai, and wrapped, like that sacred mount, in clouds and darkness.  At the base of this tremendous mass, lies a neat hamlet called Mittenvald, surrounded by thickets and banks of verdure, and watered by frequent springs, whose sight and murmurs were so reviving in the midst of a sultry day, that we could not think of leaving their vicinity, but remained at Mittenvald the whole evening.
Our inn had long airy galleries, and a pleasant balcony fronting the mountain.  In one of these we dined upon trout fresh from the rills, and cherries just culled from the orchards that cover the slopes above.  The clouds were dispersing, and the topmost peak half visible, before we ended our repast.  Every moment discovering some inaccessible cliff or summit, shining through the mists, and tinted by the sun with pale golden colours.  These appearances filled me with such delight and with such a train of romantic associations, that I left the table and ran to an open field beyond the huts and gardens, to gaze in solitude and catch the vision before it dissolved away.  You, if any human being is able, may conceive true ideas of these glowing vapours sailing over the pointed rocks; and brightening them in their passage with amber light.
When all were faded and lost in the blue ether, I had time to look around me and notice the mead in which I was standing.  Here, clover covered its surface; there, crops of grain; further on, beds of herbs and the sweetest flowers.  An amphitheatre of hills and rocks, broken into a variety of glens and precipices, guards the plain from intrusion, and opens a course for several clear rivulets, which, after gurgling amidst loose stones and fragments, fall down the steeps, and are concealed and quieted in the herbage of the vale.
A cottage or two peep out of the woods that hang over the waterfalls; and on the brow of the hills above, appears a series of eleven little chapels, uniformly built.  I followed the narrow path that leads to them, on the edge of the eminences, and met a troop of beautiful peasants, all of the name of Anna (for it was her saintship’s day), going to pay their devotions, severally, at these neat white fanes.  There were faces that Guercino would not have disdained copying, with braids of hair the softest and most luxuriant I ever beheld.  Some had wreathed it simply with flowers, other with rolls of a thin linen (manufactured in the neighbourhood), and disposed it with a degree of elegance one should not have expected on the cliffs of the Tyrol.
Being arrived, they knelt all together at the first chapel, on the steps, a minute or two, whispered a short prayer, and then dispersed each to her fane.  Every little building had now its fair worshipper, and you may well conceive how much such figures, scattered about the landscape, increased its charms.  Notwithstanding the fervour of their adorations (for at intervals they sighed and beat their white bosoms with energy), several bewitching profane glances were cast at me as I passed by.  Don’t be surprised, then, if I became a convert to idolatry in so amiable a form, and worshipped St. Anna on the score of her namesakes.
When got beyond the last chapel, I began to hear the roar of a cascade in a thick wood of beech and chestnut that clothes the steeps of a wide fissure in the rock.  My ear soon guided me to its entrance, which was marked by a shed encompassed with mossy fragments, and almost concealed by bushes of the caper-plant in full red bloom.  Amongst these I struggled, till, reaching a goat-track, it conducted me, on the brink of the foaming waters, to the very depths of the cliff, whence issues a stream which dashes impetuously down, strikes against a ledge of rocks, and sprinkles the impending thicket with dew.  Big drops hung on every spray, and glittered on the leaves partially gilt by the rays of the declining sun, whose mellow hues softened the summits of the cliffs, and diffused a repose, a divine calm, over this deep retirement, which inclined me to imagine it the extremity of the earth, and the portal of some other region of existence; some happy world beyond the dark groves of pine, the caves and awful mountains, where the river takes its source!  I hung eagerly on the gulph, impressed with this idea, and fancied myself listening to a voice that bubbled up with the waters; then looked into the abyss and strained my eyes to penetrate its gloom, but all was dark and unfathomable as futurity!  Awakening from my reverie, I felt the damps of the water chill my forehead, and ran shivering out of the vale to avoid them.  A warmer atmosphere, that reigned in the meads I had wandered across before, tempted me to remain a good while longer, collecting the wild pinks with which they are strewed in profusion, and a species of thyme scented like myrrh.  Whilst I was thus employed, a confused murmur struck my ear, and, on turning towards a cliff, backed by the woods from whence the sound seemed to proceed, forth issued a herd of goats, hundreds after hundreds, skipping down the steeps: then followed two shepherd boys, gamboling together as they drove their creatures along: soon after, the dog made his appearance, hunting a stray heifer which brought up the rear.  I followed them with my eyes till lost in the windings of the valley, and heard the tinkling of their bells die gradually away.  Now the last blush of crimson left the summit of Sinai, inferior mountains being long since cast in deep blue shades.  The village was already hushed when I regained it, and in a few moments I followed its example.