“…Lady Brandon treats her guests exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods. She either explains them entirely away, or tells one everything about them except what one wants to know.”
“Poor Lady Brandon! You are hard on her, Harry!” said Hallward listlessly. (
) The Picture of Dorian Gray
What discussion of aphorism would be complete without Wilde?
Peppermint Patty. Not, fortunately, one of my students.
One of the nicest things about teaching: returning to texts and authors I haven’t read for years. This week, some of my students have been studying Yeats.
Under Ben Bulben‘, I was newly struck by the way Yeats curates his own epitaph.
Yeats’s gravestone, engraved with the last three lines of ‘Under Ben Bulben’
But first, Reader, I will give you a word of warning. This is a foot-off-the-ground novel that came by the left hand…. And if you are a foot-on-the-ground person, this book will be for you a desert of weariness and exasperation. So put it down. Leave it alone. It was a mistake that you made to get this book. You could not know. (Stevie Smith,
Novel on Yellow Paper)
Today I’ve been thinking about feet in
Edward Lear‘s illustrations.
Edward Lear, ‘ There was an old man of Whitehaven/Who danced a quadrille with a raven…’
This week I’ve been teaching George Eliot’s
(1871-2) to my lovely group of first-years. One question that kept coming up centred on the narrator’s voice. Middlemarch
Middlemarch, keeping company (appropriately) with our china phrenology head, and (less appropriately) with a waving gold cat.
For the first time in at least a year: a post not on Stevie Smith!
A fascinating conversation about aphorism with
Professor Holly Laird at the University of Tulsa led me to D. H. Lawrence’s (1929). Pansies
I’ve been back from Tulsa, where I was working in the
Stevie Smith archive, for about three weeks now. It was a very rich trip, and I will take some time to process all the treasures I found there.
Today, though: some of the quirkier finds in the archive.
A lock of Stevie Smith’s hair
A lock of Stevie Smith’s hair. Stevie Smith papers, 1924-1970. Coll. No. 1976.012. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. The University of Tulsa.
I’m in the
McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa right now, going through the Stevie Smith papers. More on that soon. It’s tremendously exciting.
Stevie Smith’s original illustration for ‘Pad, pad’. Stevie Smith papers, 1924-1970. Coll. No. 1976.012. McFarlin Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. The University of Tulsa.
Meanwhile, my first academic article has just come out! It’s an examination of how Stevie Smith’s ‘peculiarity’ is similar to the peculiarities of the artist
M. C. Escher.
You can read it
here. Comments welcomed!