Excerpt from Hawthorne

Everything about Leonard's 2006 book of poetry and Anjani's album
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Manna
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Excerpt from Hawthorne

Postby Manna » Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:39 pm

This is from his short story The Birthmark; this excerpt brings to mind the unfolding of Blue Alert for me.
But to Georgiana the most engrossing volume was a large folio
from her husband's own hand, in which he had recorded every
experiment of his scientific career, its original aim, the
methods adopted for its development, and its final success or
failure, with the circumstances to which either event was
attributable. The book, in truth, was both the history and emblem
of his ardent, ambitious, imaginative, yet practical and
laborious life. He handled physical details as if there were
nothing beyond them; yet spiritualized them all, and redeemed
himself from materialism by his strong and eager aspiration
towards the infinite. In his grasp the veriest clod of earth
assumed a soul. Georgiana, as she read, reverenced Aylmer and
loved him more profoundly than ever, but with a less entire
dependence on his judgment than heretofore. Much as he had
accomplished, she could not but observe that his most splendid
successes were almost invariably failures, if compared with the
ideal at which he aimed. His brightest diamonds were the merest
pebbles, and felt to be so by himself, in comparison with the
inestimable gems which lay hidden beyond his reach. The volume,
rich with achievements that had won renown for its author, was
yet as melancholy a record as ever mortal hand had penned. It was
the sad confession and continual exemplification of the
shortcomings of the composite man, the spirit burdened with clay
and working in matter, and of the despair that assails the higher
nature at finding itself so miserably thwarted by the earthly
part. Perhaps every man of genius in whatever sphere might
recognize the image of his own experience in Aylmer's journal.

So deeply did these reflections affect Georgiana that she laid
her face upon the open volume and burst into tears. In this
situation she was found by her husband.

"It is dangerous to read in a sorcerer's books," said he with a
smile, though his countenance was uneasy and displeased.
"Georgiana, there are pages in that volume which I can scarcely
glance over and keep my senses. Take heed lest it prove as
detrimental to you."

"It has made me worship you more than ever," said she.

"Ah, wait for this one success," rejoined he, "then worship me if
you will. I shall deem myself hardly unworthy of it. But come, I
have sought you for the luxury of your voice. Sing to me,
dearest."
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blonde madonna
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Re: Excerpt from Hawthorne

Postby blonde madonna » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:32 am

It was the sad confession and continual exemplification of the
shortcomings of the composite man, the spirit burdened with clay
and working in matter, and of the despair that assails the higher
nature at finding itself so miserably thwarted by the earthly
part.
I think I see what you mean Manna, desire for an intangible something that you will never have?

It makes me want to hear Leonard sing 'Blue Alert'. The words are from a man's perspective. Can't see that ever happening.
Last edited by blonde madonna on Sat Jul 05, 2008 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1980 -- Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
1985 -- State Theatre, Melbourne
2008 -- Hamilton, Toronto, Cardiff
2009 -- Rochford Winery, Yarra Valley
2010 -- Melbourne
2013 -- Melbourne, The Hill Winery, Geelong, Auckland
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~greg
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Re: Excerpt from Hawthorne

Postby ~greg » Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:41 pm

blonde madonna wrote:I think I see what you mean Manna,
Really?
I think I fell off the carousel on this one.

But I don't doubt that there is something to it.

Hawthorne's Marble Faun is one the few novels I have read.
And I read it in Rome, at a very impressionable age, so that the names
MIRIAM, HILDA, KENYON, and DONATELLO, came to represent real magic to me.

So much so, that later, when I first heard LC's "So Long Marianne",
I had no doubt that he really had Hawthorne's "Miriam" in mind.
The Marble Faun is Hawthorne's most unusual romance,
and possibly one of the strangest major works of American fiction.
Writing on the eve of the American Civil War, Hawthorne set his story
in a fantastical Italy. The romance mixes elements of a fable, pastoral,
gothic novel, and travel guide. The climax comes less than halfway
through the story, and Hawthorne intentionally fails to answer many
of the reader's questions about the characters and the plot.

(Complaints about this led Hawthorne to add a facetious Postscript
to the second edition, wherein he continues to fail - purposefully
- to answer most of these questions.)

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marble_Faun
Quoting from that Postscript --
There comes to the author, from many readers of the foregoing pages,
a demand for further elucidations respecting the mysteries of the story.

He reluctantly avails himself of the opportunity afforded by a new edition,
to explain such incidents and passages as may have been left too much
in the dark; ...
...
...

"The atmosphere is getting delightfully lucid," observed I,
"but there are one or two things that still puzzle me.
Could you tell me—and it shall be kept a profound secret, I assure you
what were Miriam's real name and rank, and precisely the nature
of the troubles that led to all those direful consequences?"

"Is it possible that you need an answer to those questions?"
exclaimed Kenyon, with an aspect of vast surprise.
"Have you not even surmised Miriam's name?
Think awhile, and you will assuredly remember it.
If not, I congratulate you most sincerely; for it indicates
that your feelings have never been harrowed by one of the most
dreadful and mysterious events that have occurred within the present century!"

"Well," resumed I, after an interval of deep consideration,
"I have but few things more to ask. Where, at this moment, is Donatello?"

"The Castle of Saint Angelo," said Kenyon sadly,
turning his face towards that sepulchral fortress,
"is no longer a prison; but there are others which have dungeons as deep,
and in one of them, I fear, lies our poor Faun."

"And why, then, is Miriam at large?" I asked.

"Call it cruelty if you like, not mercy," answered Kenyon.
"But, after all, her crime lay merely in a glance. She did no murder!"

"Only one question more," said I, with intense earnestness.
"Did Donatello's ears resemble those of the Faun of Praxiteles?"

"I know, but may not tell," replied Kenyon, smiling mysteriously.
"On that point, at all events, there shall be not one word of explanation."
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blonde madonna
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Re: Excerpt from Hawthorne

Postby blonde madonna » Sat Jul 05, 2008 4:12 pm

You have 'read' more Hawthorne than I greg because nothing beats reading it at an 'impressionable age' in the place where it is set. Lucky you.

I just watched 'Roman Holiday' and was struck by what a perfect setting Rome is for a fairytale romance.
1980 -- Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
1985 -- State Theatre, Melbourne
2008 -- Hamilton, Toronto, Cardiff
2009 -- Rochford Winery, Yarra Valley
2010 -- Melbourne
2013 -- Melbourne, The Hill Winery, Geelong, Auckland
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Manna
Posts: 1998
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:51 am
Location: Where clouds go to die

Re: Excerpt from Hawthorne

Postby Manna » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:11 am

This story is the only Hawthorne I ever read. I read it as research before I wrote about my birthmark. I really liked it, but never pursued more. Someday, someday...

Greg, so sorry to hear you fell off the carousel. I hope your bruises have healed. If the carousel ever stops, I'm sure you'll be allowed back on, if you're not scared away for good. Only you can decide such a thing.

I should have been more clear. This section brought to mind the unfolding of Blue Alert, the album. Not the album itself, none of the songs, rather the way Anjani rifled through Leonard's notebooks, loving little bits and asking him to finish this one. She had the enviable permission to see his experiments, failures, incompletes, etc. Such closeness in that kind of sharing between people. That, combined with the exquisite way this is written - I'm not sure why, but I made the assumption that Leonard would appreciate the writing here. I also made the assumption that Anjani fell more for Leonard during that time. And I can imaging Leonard saying to Anjani, "I have sought you for the luxury of your voice." That is why I sought Anjani (ahem, bought her albums).

Ahh, me and my silly romantic imaginings.

(Leonard is part of my personal studio audience, so he pretty much likes what I like, of course.)

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