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Sunday, December 31, 2017

'IT'

It seems that the curés in Brittany forbid dancing, except at wedding feasts. Nevertheless, in this village there is dancing in the very shadow of the church every Sunday afternoon after vespers. We saw it yesterday afternoon. About 10 couples. The charcutière [pork butcher’s girl] danced with another girl. Heavy girls. One couple obviously in love. A drum and a brass instrument.
   We cycled this morning to the ferry on the way to Saint-Pol. Beautiful country. There is only one road in and out of this village, and no turning out of it for 6 or 6 kilometres. This afternoon I was too idle to paint, so I did a pastel of the panorama towards Saint-Pol.

   Of the three men here, one is a passementier [lace dealer], and another a commercial traveller, and the third a fabricant [maker] of something. They sit at a table and sing together. The luggage of one married couple arrived tonight, 36 hours  late. The wife is of the odalisque sort, and she put on some more striking clothes at once. She lolls at her bedroom window for 30 to 60 minutes each morning. A beautiful young woman.  Elle se cambre tout le temps. [She arches her back all the time]. She would have made a good courtesan. Alcock says that she leaves a table at which an intellectual conversation is proceeding – about war or feminism, for instance – with a gesture which says, ‘What has all this go to do with IT?’
                                                                           Journal of Arnold Bennett - Monday, July 11, 1910

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Don't put your daughter n the stage

 Milan -We left the Hotel Belvédère [in Paris] on Easter Tuesday. The company there was more interesting than last year. There was also an American, the adopted son of an old American-German woman (both of them came down to breakfast very early, earlier than we sometimes), and he was exceedingly cultivated if not highly intelligent. When he got on to the subject of Charlemagne I had to shut up. They were queer mysterious people. They were very friendly with a young Egyptian nationalist, with whom they constantly went walking. Whenever we came across them basking during one of these walks, there was always a pair of hairbrushes lying near. We never understood those hair brushes. Then there was a Mrs P. and her daughters. I had two long talks with the mother, who is tall and thin, and desired embonpoint (‘comeliness’) to be matronly, as she called it. I told her it wasn’t a sincere desire, and that she was only searching for compliments. A well-meaning but hasty and silly woman, redeemed by a genuine anxiety to bring up her English vicarage-y daughter in the best way. The little Krafft girl, aged 15 or 16, had said to her that she would like to go on the stage, but she couldn’t, because it would be necessary for her not to be an honest woman, and she wished to be an honest woman. Mrs P. pretended ton  be horrified by this candour, and said how glad she was that her daughter had not been there to hear it. We had a long yarn about this, and I told her she was bringing up her daughter entirely wrong, with all this ‘innocence’ convention, which I said was merely Oriental. She vehemently dissented. But I kept repeating she was wrong, and at last she said reflectively, ‘I wonder whether I am!’ Not that I have any hope of having changed her heart; she would fly back to her old notion as soon as I has left her.
                                                                         Arnold Bennett's Journal - Saturday, April 2nd  1910

Monday, December 25, 2017

'The Merry Widow'

M. and I went to see The Merry Widow. I felt I had to see it, in  order to be calé about such things when it comes to writing about London.
   Music much less charming or superficially and temporarily attractive than I had expected. Troupe of about 40. Elaborate costumes, scenery and appointments. Sylvia May, Kate May and the other principals all chosen for their looks. Not one could avoid the most elementary false emphasis. Thus Sylvia May looking at a man asleep on a sofa: ‘But he may wake up’ (when there was no question of another man asleep) instead of ‘He might wake up.’ This sort of thing all the time. Also such things as ‘recognize’. Three chief males much better. All about drinking and whoring and money. All popular operetta airs. Simply nothing else in the play at all, save references to patriotism. Names of tarts on the lips of characters all the time. Dances lascivious, especially one.

   I couldn’t stand more than two acts. Too appallingly bored.
                                                               Journals of Arnold Bennett, Wednesday February 23rd 1910

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The damned Tories

Tuesday, January 11thGrand rolling weather. Foamy sea, boisterous wind, sun, pageant of clouds, and Brighton full of wealthy imperative persons dashing about in furs and cars. I walked with joy to and fro on this unparalleled promenade. And yet, at this election time, when all wealth and all snobbery is leagued together against the poor, I could spit in the face of arrogant and unmerciful Brighton, sporting its damned Tory colours.
   I heard the door-keeper of this hotel politely expostulating with a guest: ‘Surely, Mr -----, you don’t say you’re anything but a Conservative?’ Miserable parrot. After reading some pessimistic forecasts of the election I was really quite depressed by tea time. But I went upstairs and worked like a brilliant nigger, and counted nearly 5,000 words done in two days, and I forgot my depression.

    Certainly this morning as I looked at all the splendid solidarity of Brighton, symbol, of a system that is built on the grinding of the faces of the poor, I had to admit that it would take a lot of demolishing, that I couldn’t expect to overset it  with a single manifesto and a single election, or with 50. So that even if elections are lost, or are not won, I do not care. Besides, things never turn out as badly as our fears. It is only when one does not fear that they go surprisingly and bafflingly wrong, as with the Socialists at the last German general election.

Friday, December 22, 2017

At the Music Hall

 On Friday night, our last night in London, we went to the Tivoli. There were no seats except in the pit, so we went in the pit. Little Tich was very good, and George Formby, the Lancashire comedian, was perhaps even better. Gus Elen I did not care for. And I couldn’t see the legendary cleverness of the vulgarity of Marie Lloyd. She was very young and spry for a grandmother. All her songs were variations on the same theme of sexual naughtiness. No censor would ever pass them, and especially he wouldn’t pass her winks and her silences. To be noted also was the singular naïveté of the cinematograph explanation of what a vampire was and is, for the vampire dance. The stoutest and biggest attendants laughed at Little Tich and G. Formby. Fearful draughts half the time down exit staircases from the street. Fearful noise from the bar behind, made chiefly by officials. The bar-girls and their friends simply ignored the performance and the public. Public opinion keeps the seats of those who go to the bar at the interval for a drink.
Arnold Bennett's Journal - Sunday, January 2nd 1910

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Shopping in 1909

 Bazar de l’hôtel de ville, Fontainebleau.
   I wonder how a description of this shop, the largest in the town, would sound 50 years hence. You go through a rather narrow vestibule, where soap, note-paper and ins, stud, etc. are displayed, into a large hall, height of two stories, a wide staircase at back, wide galleries round, and a roof of which the middle square is glazed. Cheap goods everywhere. Drapery, silks, nails, ironmongery, glass and earthenware, leather good, stationary on the ground floor; arranged on stalls and counters, in between which are spaces for walking. In the basement, articles de menage. The staircase lined on either rail with lighter articles of furniture. In the galleries, chiefly light furniture; extended on the walls, showy carpets flowered, etc., at such prices as 49 fr. We went to buy a screen. They had only one, four-fold, and we wanted three-fold. Ranged below it were several toy screens. The price of the sole screen was 19 fr. Near by were about a dozen cheap marble-top washstands. Wicker chairs and flimsy tables about. Still you could buy there almost everything (non-edible) that goes to the making of an ordinary house. The frontage of the shop is of course an ordinary house frontage. The shop itself must be a courtyard roofed over. It is in charge mainly of women. Sitting high at the cash desk near the entrance are two controlling women – one sharp and imperative in manner; with the table of electric switches at their right hand. They look up from books to direct entering customers, and when they know what customers want they call out a warning to the assistants within. Very smiling, with a mechanical saccharine smile.
   The bulk of the assistants are youngish girls; some pretty, all dressed in black, with black aprons, scissors, etc., and blackish hands. They do not seem keen, but rather bored. Certainly the wages must be low. Hours about 12 or 13 per day – that is to say, hours during which the shop is open. Besides these, there are a few men, who wear black smocks, and attend to furniture, ironmongery and similar departments. One of these, with one girl, is always at the étalage [display] at the front, where trinkets and souvenirs and post cards are exposed. Men seem even more discontented than the girls. I never saw any one there who looked like a proprietor or supreme boss. The whole shop is modelled on the big general shops in Paris. There are similar shops now in most provincial towns. In Toulouse there were half a dozen splendid ones.
   In all, the conditions of labour are disgusting to the social conscience., though probably better than in ataliers. There is a feeling of cutting down expenditure, especially wages, in order to sell cheaply, while making a good profit. A feeling that everybody concerned is secretly at the beginning of a revolt, and that the organisation of the whole organism are keeping out of the way. Yes, there is certainly this feeling! I am always uneasy when in such shops, as if I too were guilty for what is wrong in them. Of course nearly all shops are on the same basis of sweating, but in some it is masked in magnificence, so that one has to search for it.
   A handful of customers always in, and a continuous movement near the entrance.
   At closing time the étalage has to be carried in, and there is left a prodigious litter of bits of paper which has to be swept up. Then early in the morning (less than 12 hours after closing) there is the refixing an arrangement of the étalage, and the gradual recommencement of the day.

   Some of the women have a certain coquetterie, But not the young ones; the controlling women of 40 or so. These have the air of always being equal to the situation, but they are not. I remember once half the staff (it seemed) was worsted in an attempt to make a bicycle pump work that I had bought. They all conspired to convince me that it was quite in order, but I beat them, and they had to take the pump back. One of the controlling women began on a note of omniscient condescension to me, but she gradually lost her assurance, and fled. A man would not so easily have done that.
                                                                        Arnold Bennett's Journal, Monday, September 20th 1909

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Kipling

Saturday, February 20th – I was responding to curiosity about the personalities of authors when Mrs Smith began to talk about Kipling. She said he was greatly disliked in South Africa. Regarded a conceited and unapproachable. The officers of the Union Castle shps dreaded him, and prayed not to find themselves on the same ship as him. It seems that on one ship he had got all the information possible out of the officers, and had then at the end of the voyage, reported them at headquarters for flirting with passengers – all except the old Scotchman with whom he had been friendly. With this exception they were all called up to headquarters and reprimanded, and now they would have nothing to do with passengers. I dare say there is some ‘feeling’ and some exaggeration in this, but Mrs Smith was sure of the facts.
                                                                                                             Journals of Arnold Bennett, 1909

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A voluptuous laugh

Friday, February 12thGirl with voluptuous laugh, short and frequent. Half Scotch, half English. Age 24. Very energetic, obstinate, and ‘slow in the uptake’. Red cheeks. Good-looking. Athletic. Shy – or rather coy. Always the voluptuous laugh being heard, all over the hotel. A wanton laugh, most curious. Her voice also has a strange, voluptuous quality. They say the Scotch women are femme de temperament. This one must be, extremely so. And her athleticism must be an instinctive remède contre l’amour. Manners and deportment quite irreproachable, save for the eternal, rippling, startling laugh. It became more and more an obsession. One waits to hear it.
                                                                                                                 Arnold Bennett's Journal, 1909

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A merry girl and some royal bodies.

 Sunday, January 10th Miss Sains related stories of a young woman well known to her who had charge of a crèche of 30 infants, and amused herself one day by changing all their clothes so that at night they could not be identified. And many of them never were identified,’ said Miss Sains. ‘I knew all her brothers and sisters, too. She wanted to go into a sisterhood, and she did, for a month. The only thing she did there was one day she went into the laundry and taught all the laundry-maids the polka. She was such a merry girl,’ said Miss Sains simply.

Monday, January 11th – Mme Postnay was in the courtyard of the palace  of the King and Queen of Serbia, but knew nothing. 'What are they throwing bolsters out of the windows for?’ she asked. It was the bodies.
                                                                                                                Arnold Bennett's Journal. 1908.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Woman's Place is in the Home

The Anglo-Indian is a major in the army. I only learned this tonight. It probably accounts for his excellent stupidity, which inspires respect. His wife, at first very rébarbative, grows more likable every day. Some of them  began talking about suffragettes last night, and I had said to the major, seeing him reading The Times, ‘So Christabel [Pankhurst] is out, it seems.’ A Yorkshire young woman asked Mrs Major if she was a sympathizer. ‘On the contrary’, said Mrs Major, ‘I am very much ashamed of them.’ The usual rot was talked. However, Mrs Major said she thought women ought to be on certain committees. The young Yorkshire lass said she thought the woman’s place was in the home. (It is incredible how people still talk.) I then burst out, impatiently, ‘Yes, and what about the millions of them that have to leave home every day to earn a living? What about the mill girls, and the typists?’ This quite unsettled them. They then agreed that unmarried women ought to have the vote. But their whole talk and all the phrases they used were too marvelously stupid.
                                                                       Journals of Arnold Bennett - Christmas Eve, 1908

Monday, December 4, 2017

Books, bicycles and ants

At last I have begun to receive catalogues from second-hand book-sellers in Paris. I ordered 3 cheap books this afternoon, to make a commencement. This afternoon M., Emily and I went for a walk in the forest. Many people. A too sophisticated air. At the Caverne Augas a man with candles, on the make. Beautiful paths and glimpses and set panoramas, but unpleasing because part of a set show. Then sudden arrival on the Route Nationale 5 bis. Autos struggling up it, noisily, all the time, in a faint cloud of dust. Bicyclists, chiefly walking. General Sundayish. Something that rouses always the exclusive , aristocrat in one. M. getting tired, and more tired, and assuring herself by questions that I am taking the nearest way home. Then the arrival, amidst forced cheerfulness, and the realization that one’s feet ache. I ran upstairs to read catalogues. The first languors of summer sunsets. House overrun with ants. New  carpets arrived this morning, re-arousing pride in our toy house. I forewent my afternoon sleep in order finally to arrange the second spare bedroom.
                                                                                Journals of Arnold Bennett, Sunday, May 17t 1908.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Deer hunting



Curious affair in the village yesterday. Owners of land bordering the forest have the right to catch such deer as they find on their land. Now is the season when deer stray, in search of young shoot. They stray about dawn. Villagers organise a sort of surprise for the deer. They arise before dawn and lie in wait. Yesterday morning 60 people caught 6 deer. The deer were killed in an open yard close to this house, and blood ran in gallons into and down the road. The 60 people drew lots for the best cuts, and one hears the monotonous calling of the numbers. One-tenth of a deer for each person. This morning I saw 4 biches and 3 cerfs slowly cross the road in the forest, about 100 yards behind me.
                                                                    Journs of Arnold Bennett, Monday, March 30th 1908

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The sexy Highlanders

   Curious example tonight of unconscious and honest sexuality by a decent woman. A Scotchwoman (age about 45) sitting by the fire in the lounge describing to another woman her sensations on seeing a regiment of Highlanders (with music) pass along Princes Street, Edinburgh. ‘I couldn’t bear to look at them – made me cry – my heart was so full. Nothing moves me so much as a regiment of Highlanders. Their costume . . . and so tall . . . such fine men . . . such white skins . . . But I shouldn’t like to be in the same room with them. I shouldn’t like to know them.’  She was quite unaware that phrase after phrase which she used was an expression of sexual feeling.
Journal of Arnold Bennett, January 4th 1904

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The cocotte with a dog

We bicycled yesterday through Montigny, Grez, Villliers-sous-Grez, Larchant and Nemours. And I exhausted myself in pushing Marguerite about 10 mies altogether against a head wind. We had tea at Villiers, just a straggling village without any attraction except that of its own life. During our tea the drone of a steam-thresher was heard rising and falling continually.

   Tea in the street; they brought out and pitched for us a table, also vast thick basins, which we got changed for small coffee-cups. But we could not prevent the fat neat clean landlady from serving the milk in a 2-quart jug which would have filled about a million coffee-cups. We sat in the wind on yellow iron chairs, and we had bread and perhaps a pound of butter, and a plate of sweet biscuits which drew scores of flies. Over the houses we could just see the very high weather-cock of the church. Everything was beaten by wind and sunshine. From the inside of the little inn came hoarse argumentative voices. Curious to see in this extremely unsophisticated village a Parisian cocotte of the lower ranks, She was apparently staying at the inn. With her dog, and her dyed hair (too well arranged), and her short skirt, and her matinée (at 4.30 p.m.), and her hard eyes, she could not keep from exhibiting herself in the road. The instinct of ‘exposition’ was too strong in her to be resisted. She found fifty excuses          for popping into the house and out again.
                                                                                   Journals of Arnold Bnnett - August 26th 1907.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A cure for indigestion

Talking about eating, Mme Bergeret said that in the Midi (neighbourhood of Toulouse specially) there used to be men who prided themselves on enormous powers of eating. They did not usually eat a great deal, but on occasions, when put to it, they would perform terrible feats such as consuming a whole turkey. The result sometimes was that they were very ill. The method of curing them was to dig a hole in the muck-heap, strip the sufferer naked, put him in the hole, and pack him tightly with manure up to the neck. The people who did this did it with gusto, telling the sufferer what an odious glutton he was. The heat generated promoted digestion in a manner almost miraculous, an next day the sufferer was perfectly restored.
                                                                                        Arnold Bennett Journals - July 29th 1907

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rodin's erotic sculpture

At the Cornilliers’ today some talk of Rodin. Henri Havet stated defiantly that he was going mad, was in fact mad. Of erotomania. He said also that he did pieces of sculpture and then deliberately broke them.
   Some one remarked that an artist had the right after all to break up a piece that did not please him.
   ‘Yes,’ Havet explained, ‘but not to send it broken to an exhibition, in imitation of the Venus de Milo etc.’ A Mme Neck (?), a very pretty woman, who knew Rodin personally, gave a curious experience of his peculiarities. He is in the habit of showing little erotic pieces to lady visitors. He took her to one such, a woman seated or bending down in the middle of a plate. ‘Le sujet était assez clair,’ she indicated.
   He asked her what she would call that. By way of a title for it. She said politely, ‘La source de volupté.’ ‘Splendid!’ said Rodin, and scratched the title on the plate. The very next day her sister was at the studio, and was shown the same piece. ‘What would you call that?’ Rodin asked her. ‘The water fairy’, suggested the sister. ‘Splendid!’ said Rodin, and wrote the title on the other side of the plate. Some one said that he got his titles like that, by asking every one and then choosing the best.
   Cornillier said he one sat next to Rodin at lunch, and happened to say that a certain woman was not pretty. ‘What!’ cried Rodin solemnly, ‘It has happened to you sometimes to meet a woman who was not beautiful? I have never met a woman who was not beautiful.’

   I remembered, then, Rodin’s dictum, printed somewhere, that every thing on earth is beautiful. With this, in a way, I agree.’
                                                                              Journals of Arnold Bennett, Sunday, May 6th 1906

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Indecency at Coney Island

I dined at the  Chat Blanc. Aleistair Crowley was there with dirty hands, immense rings, presumably dyed hair, a fancy waistcoat, a fur coat, and tennis shoes. Slanlaws was saying that the indecency of the Moulin Rouge etc, ‘wasn’t 30cents’ by the side of Coney Island. I had heard this before. He described the rag-dance, which used to be danced everywhere but was lately forbidden by the police.  Appeared to be a combination of a waltz and the danse du ventre [the ‘belly dance’ or ‘coochee coochee]. He described a number of other Coney Island contrivances for the exhibition of women’s legs and underclothes. 
                                                                                          Journals of Arnold Bennett, March 19th 1905 1905

Friday, November 24, 2017

La Goulou and 'a fine big girl'

I went to the new Bal Tabarin last night. I think it is the only ball in Paris that is open every night.. I saw the famous ‘La Goulou’ there perched on a high chair at the bar; a round, vulgar, rather merry face, looking more like a bonne than a dancer and a dompteuse des lions [lion tamer]. With an expenditure of 7 francs on drinks with another ex-dancer, I learned something of the life of the paid dancers in public balls. They get 4 francs a night, et elles peuvent trouver de bons amis [and they can find good friends] said the ex-dancer, whose younger sister, a fine big girl with a clear complexion, was dancing the quadrille réaliste on the floor. The sister, I was told, made 5,000 francs besides her pay as a dancer during the short season at the Jardin de Paris last year.
                                                                 Journals of Arnold Bnnett - Tuesday, February 14th 1905

Thursday, November 23, 2017

How do the men arrange for women ?

Friday, July 8th – I went down to Montparnasse for dinner last night. There was also present young P., a youth of 23 or so, rosy, healthy, reserved, mannered, with the University twang; tremendously English; a little shy and nervous but underneath that a happy and proud conviction that Cambridge stood for all that was highest in human civilisation; he had just been made a fellow of his college. At about 11 p.m. I went with P. and B. to the Red Bullier. The Bal and the garden were crowded on this hot summer night and the whole scene was beautiful, charming and entirely wonderful. P. thought the general effect was ‘pretty’. But on the whole neither he nor B. saw much to admire. The spirit of the place, the singular ‘Latin’ charm, escaped them. They looked on it as a haunt of ‘vice’, and dull at that. I told them what I thought of it. I said that when they grew older they might possible admire what they did not admire now. They admitted the possibility, and deplored it. ‘You mustn’t think,’ I sad, ‘that I despise your ideas.’ ‘Oh, don’t trouble about that,’ said P., with that cruel affectation of humility which youth outs on; ‘I’m quite used to having my ideas deplored.’ I could see he was incapable of imaginatively realizing that at the present moment he might be blind to certain forms and aspects of beauty which later would reveal themselves to him. They both thought all the women ugly and graceless. We had a drink in the garden. ‘How do the men arrange for women at Oxford and Cambridge?’ I asked P. bluntly. I meant to startle him. He was startled. However, I got him to talk after a bit. He said that up to 60 years ago (he thought) colleges had their special stews. But these were now done away with. There were cocottes at both places for undergraduates &c. But men found it pleasanter to run up to town. I said, ‘I’m not talking about undergraduates; I’m taking about dons, fellows, etc. – the mature men who are not married.’ He assured me that the vast majority were chaste, and that unmarried public opinion – the opinion of smoking-parties and late evenings – was honestly and sincerely against irregular intercourse. I said that I was astounded. I said I had never heard tell of such a class of men before. They were surprised that I was astounded – P. and B. were. I could see that they regarded me with  mild, impartial and dignified curiosity as a strange sort of person with ill-regulated ideas. P. thought that human nature was becoming more ‘moral’ – that there was ‘a change for the better’ in the last century. He talked neatly, and I think sincerely. He believed in greater freedom for sexual unions of a permanent kind – he knew two couples who were not married and who were nevertheless received everywhere. But (he continued) this increased freedom could only go ‘hand in hand with’ a decrease in prostitution. I listened. I respected him. He could not help being slightly priggish. I did not express my views, but I kept recurring to my amazement at the existence of a body of unmarried men, not priests, in whom chastity was the rule. And they thought more and more what a naïve creature I was. But of course I must have inspired them with doubt as to their own position. ‘Don’t you think women are the most interesting thing in the world?’ I asked. P. considered judicially. ‘One of the most interesting!’ he said. I gathered that both of these men were virgin. Ad I am sure that they looked on the ‘initiation’ as a mere formality to be gone through. They neither of them thought, honestly that they had anything to learn. They were tolerant, from their heights, towards the pathetic spectacle of humanity. Always B was the least priggish and convinced. But I liked them both. Essentially, they were rather girlish, . As I drove home, I thought the whole episode was rather funny. I don’t suppose that P. is likely to change much. He is too deeply impregnated, by heredity and tradition and upbringing, with ‘English culture’ – he is incapable of seeing the ‘Latin’ side of things in general. He is the sort of man who has ;made England what it is.’ He stands for all that is best, and all that is worst and most exasperating, in the English character.

                                                                                        Journals of Arnold Bennett, July 8th 1904

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Child Prostitutes

I took a turn through the Parc Monceau to the Etoile and back through the Champs-Elyseé last night between 9.30 and 11 in order to clear off a headache. Honest love-making in the Parc Monceau. In the Champs-Elysée I saw four girls, aged 14 or less – one didn’t seem more than 11 or 12 – being taken about by older women for the excitement of senile appetites. Some day soon there will be a tremendous outcry concerning this procurement of children. The police will become suddenly active in arrests – and then things will settle down again.

   There were many pretty and well-dressed women in the Champs-Elysée sitting patiently on chairs under the trees awaiting some masculine advance. I was astonished how distinguished some of them were. It was a lovely night, warm and star-lit. Paris at its most Parisian, The lights of the al fresco music-halls, and the occasional bursts of music and applause that came from them, produced an extraordinary effect.
                                                                      Arnold Bnnett's Journals - Thursday July 7th, 1904

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Manly porters

Came to England. Impressed yet again by the extraordinary self-consciousness of travellers. On the platform at the Nord, another man and I tramping up and down the platform got half-smothered in a cloud of malodorous steam. He could not help turning to me as we emerged, to share his sensation with me by means of a gesture. Had he not been on a journey he would have ignored my existence. The English side of the journey has improved. Better carriages: electric light, contrasted with oil in French train. (Strangely medieval – oil lighting, requiring men, ladders, and very heavy lamps.) Permanent way much better in England than in France. Carriages quieter. Porters better and more agreeably man-like.
                                                                                Arnold Bennett;s Journals, December 4th 1907

Monday, November 20, 2017

America and jealousy

Ullman came down yesterday, fresh from U.S.A. I said, ‘What is your general impression? Is the U.S. a good place to get away from?’ He said: ‘On the whole, yes. But for a visit, I am sure it would interest you enormously.’ He said that I could form no idea of the amount of drinking that went on there. I said I could, as I had already heard a good deal about it. He said, ‘No, you can’t.’ He stuck to it, though I tried to treat the statement as exaggeration, that in the principal clubs everybody got fuddled every night.
Noticed in myself: A distinct feeling of jealousy on reading yesterday and today accounts of another very successful production of a play by Somerset Maugham – the third now running. Also, in reading an enthusiastic review of a new novelist in the Daily News today, I looked eagerly for any sign that he was not, after all, a really first-class artist. It relieved me to find that his principal character was somewhat conventional, etc. Curious!
Journals of Arnold Bennett, April 29th 1908

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Called for service

– Young men marched about the village yesterday to the accompaniment of one grotesquely sounding brass instrument – difficult to imagine anything uglier or less dignified than this music, to which even dignified, portly, grave firemen in uniform will consent to parade themselves. I asked the barber what the noise was about and he explained that it was the young conscripts who had the previous day received their marching orders (feuilles de route) and were being merry (no doubt factitiously) previous to their departure a fortnight hence. Immediately afterwards entered another customer, a middle-aged man who put the same question as I had put. ‘C’est qu’il sont reçu leurs feuilles,’ replied the barber; these were his exact words, I think. The enquirer’s eyes questioned for a second or two, and then he understood. Several middle-aged men began talking about the shortness of service nowadays. They were all agreed; ‘Deux ans – c’est rien.'
                                                                                Arnold Bennett;s Journals, September 23rd 1907

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A bicycle ride in France

We bicycled yesterday through Montigny, Grez, Villliers-sous-Grez, Larchant and Nemours. And I exhausted myself in pushing Marguerite about 10 mies altogether against a head wind. We had tea at Villiers, just a straggling village without any attraction except that of its own life. During our tea the drone of a steam-thresher was heard rising and falling continually.
   Tea in the street; they brought out and pitched for us a table, also vast thick basins, which we got changed for small coffee-cups. But we could not prevent the fat neat clean landlady from serving the milk in a 2-quart jug which would have filled about a million coffee-cups. We sat in the wind on yellow iron chairs, and we had bread and perhaps a pound of butter, and a plate of sweet biscuits which drew scores of flies. Over the houses we could just see the very high weather-cock of the church. Everything was beaten by wind and sunshine. From the inside of the little inn came hoarse argumentative voices. Curious to see in this extremely unsophisticated village a Parisian cocotte of the lower ranks, She was apparently staying at the inn. With her dog, and her dyed hair (too well arranged), and her short skirt, and her matinée (at 4.30 p.m.), and her hard eyes, she could not keep from exhibiting herself in the road. The instinct of ‘exposition’ was too strong in her to be resisted. She found fifty excuses for popping into the house and out again.

    Then we rode through woods 5 kilometres to Larchant. You know that the cathedral at Larchant is a show-place because the post cards are 2 sous each. Then the 8 kilometres of straight but atrocious road to Nemours, whence, having deposited our wives at the station, Marriott and I rode home at 2½ miles an hour.
Arnold Bennett's Journals - August 26th 1907

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Handwriting

I think at last I have got into a fairly ‘formed’ formal hand for ;fine writing’, and for the writing of my next novel in particular. I wrote a letter in it yesterday, and gave it to Marriott to criticize.  He found no fault with it at all. Indeed he was very enthusiastic about it and sent his wife up to look at it He said it would puzzle Johnston,  the author of the textbook on writing and illuminating, to produce anything as good in the way of ordinary quick calligraphy. Also that if I wrote a whole book keeping up the standard it would be unique in the world. When I lamented that one could not get a really black ink that would run through a fountain pen, he said he referred the slightly greyish tint of common ink. He dissuaded me from doing the novel in double columns.
                                                                         Arnold Bennett Journals - Saturday August 10th 1907

Monday, November 13, 2017

Talking of Rodin

At the Cornilliers’ today some talk of Rodin. Henri Havet stated defiantly that he was going mad, was in fact mad. Of erotomania. He said also that he did pieces of sculpture and then deliberately broke them.
   Some one remarked that an artist had the right after all to break up a piece that did not please him.
   ‘Yes,’ Havet explained, ‘but not to send it broken to an exhibition, in imitation of the Venus de Milo etc.’ A Mme Neck (?), a very pretty woman, who knew Rodin personally, gave a curious experience of his peculiarities. He is in the habit of showing little erotic pieces to lady visitors. He took her to one such, a woman seated or bending down in the middle of a plate. ‘Le sujet était assez clair,’ she indicated.
   He asked her what she would call that. By way of a title for it. She said politely, ‘La source de volupté.’ ‘Splendid!’ said Rodin, and scratched the title on the plate. The very next day her sister was at the studio, and was shown the same piece. ‘What would you call that?’ Rodin asked her. ‘The water fairy’, suggested the sister. ‘Splendid!’ said Rodin, and wrote the title on the other side of the plate. Some one said that he got his titles like that, by asking every one and then choosing the best.
   Cornillier said he one sat next to Rodin at lunch, and happened to say that a certain woman was not pretty. ‘What!’ cried Rodin solemnly, ‘It has happened to you sometimes to meet a woman who was not beautiful? I have never met a woman who was not beautiful.’

   I remembered, then, Rodin’s dictum, printed somewhere, that every thing on earth is beautiful. With this, in a way, I agree.’
                                                                              Journals of Arnold Bennett - Sunday, May 6th 1906

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Living in a houseboat?

During the last day or two both Marguerite and I have definitely decided that we prefer living in the country. I had settled that we wanted a small chateau, in this district if possible, where there is forest and river and all sorts of other scenery. And we were to have an auto and a small yacht on the river and to give up the Paris flat: this change was to occur in about two years’ time when my lease of No. 3 Rue d’Aumale would expire. Before dinner we went for a walk to Saint Mammès, where the water was busy with great barges. And I had suddenly the great idea of abandoning my deep ambition for a sea-going yacht, and having a barge as big as their barges, fitted up as a luxurious houseboat, with a small motor attached. This would serve as a complete moving home in summer, and we could go all over France in it, (We should keep the flat). Indeed we could go all over Europe init. This scheme took hold of me so strongly that I thought of nothing else all the evening, and became quite moody.
                                                                                           Journals of Arnold Bennett, July 22, 1907.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Conception of a Classic

 Last night, when I went into the Duval for dinner, a middle-aged woman, inordinately stout and with pendant cheeks, had taken the seat opposite to my prescriptive seat. I hesitated, as there were plenty of empty places, but my waitress requested me to take  my usual chair. I did so, and immediately thought, ‘With that thing opposite to me my dinner will be spoilt!’ But the woman was evidently also cross at my filling up her table, and she went away, picking up all her belongings, to another part of the restaurant breathing hard. Then she abandoned her second choice for a third one. My waitress was scornful and angry at this desertion, but laughing also. Soon all the waitresses were privately laughing at the goings on of the fat woman, who was being served by the most beautiful waitress I have ever seen at any Duval. The fat woman was clearly a crochet, a maniaque, a woman who lived much alone. Her cloak (she displayed on taking it off a simply awful light puce flannel dress) and her parcels were continually the object of her attention and she was always arguing with the waitress. And the whole restaurant secretly made a butt of her. She was repulsive; no one could like her or sympathise with her. But I thought – she has been young and slim once. And I immediately thought of a long 10 or 15 thousand  words short story, The History of Two Old Women. I have this woman a sister fat as herself. And the first chapter would be in the restaurant (both sisters) something like tonight – and written rather cruelly. Then I would go back to the infancy of these two, and sketch it all. One should have lived ordinarily, married prosaically, and become a widow. The other should have become a whore and all that; ‘guilty splendour’. Both are overtaken by fat. And they live together in old age, not too rich, a nuisance to themselves and to others. Neither has any imagination. For ‘tone’ I thought of Ivan Ilyich [by Tolstoy], and for technical arrangement I thought of that and also Histoire d’une Fille de Ferne. The two lives would have to intertwine. I saw the whole work quite clearly, and hope to do it.
                                                              Journals of Arnold Bennett - Wednesday, November 18th 1903


   [Bennett’s first idea became the scheme of his great novel The Old Wives’ Tale, which published in 1908 became an instant sensational best-seller in England and America.]

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Satisfactory Day

Sunday, November 8th 1903 – Today I spent such a day as ought to satisfy a man of letters. Having done my correspondence, I went out at 10.15 for a walk and to consider the plot of my story. I strolled about the Quartier de l’Europe till 11.30, and then lunched at my usual restaurant, where I am expected, and where my maternal waitress advised me in the selection of my lunch. I read Le Journal. I came home, finished Le Journal, read Don Quixote, and fell asleep. Then at 1.30 I amused myself at the piano. At 2  began to ponder further on my story, and the plot seemed to be coming, At 3,30  made my afternoon tea, and then read more Don Quixote, and fell asleep for about a minute. The plot was now coming faster and faster, and at 5 I decided that I would, at any rate, begin to sketch the story At 6.45 I had done a complete rough draft of the whole story.
   Then I dressed and went to dine at my other restaurant in the Place Blanche, where the food and wine are good, and the waiters perfect models, and the chasseur charming, where men bring their mistresses and where occasionally a ‘mistress’ dines alone, and where the atmosphere is a curious mixture of discretion and sans gene (the whole place seems to say, ‘You should see what fun we have here between midnight and 3 a.m. with our Hungarian music and our improvised dancing, and so on and so on.’) I dined slowly and well, while reading Le Temps and The Pilot, and also while watching the human life of the place. Then I took coffee and a cigar. I returned home at 8.30, and played the piano. The idea of writing my chronique for T.P.’s Weekly a day earlier than usual came knot my head, the scheme of the article presented itself, and at 9.30 I suddenly began to write it, finishing it at 11.35. I then went to bed and read Don Quixote till 12.15.

Tuesday, November 10th – Of course I did not have a very good night.
                                                                                                    
                                                                                                     from the Journals of Arbold Bennett      


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A popular murderer

Some time ago a man named Martin had relations, comme maquereau [‘like a mackerel’ i.e., through a pimp] with a courtesan. She found a rich protector, and told Martin frankly that she could only see him on the quiet in future, as the rich protector would be jealous. Martin got into her apartment, stood behind the door, and struck her dead with one blow of the knife in the heart as she entered one night. She was only a fille, and the affair was considered as a crime passionel, and Martin was acquitted (doux pays!) [what a sweet country!]. I was told yesterday that Martin, handsome and well dressed, frequents the Folies-Bergère and other places, and has relations with other women. There are a number of women who are proud to shake hands with, and to be the mistress of an assassin. ‘He killed a woman at one stroke!’ In certain circles Martin is the vogue! This is one of the most curious, and yet natural, things I have heard about Paris.
                                                                       The Journals of Arnold Bennett - Friday, June 3rd, 1904

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The cocottes of Paris

Casino de Paris. Plenty of stylish cocottes here, in whom Tertia and Lizzie [his sisters] were tremendously interested. Which reminded me of C’s saying, about the married woman’s way of remarking, ‘Ça dit être une cocotte’ [that must be a whore]. But Tertie and Lizzie now confess their interest, and insist on going to another music-hall on Monday night in order to see more cocottes. Yet when I told them of the idea I had discussed with Frank, of writing a handbook or practical guide for cocottes, for the private joy of friends, they were certainly startled. I can always tell when they are really a little shocked. - Saturday, October 31st 


 I was told today that, as I thought, the most distinguished of the music-hall cocottes went to the Casino de Paris; and also that they did business comparatively infrequently, but what they did was very remunerative. This latter statement I regarded with suspicion, as also the following: that a particular woman, tall, very distinguished, and very well dressed and well jewelled, who I had often admired in various resorts, had an absolute minimum of 250 francs. It seems she goes about in a pair-horse carriage in the evening, by some sort of arrangement with the coachman. I was told that many cocottes pay their coachmen either partly or wholly in love. This woman, by the way, sometimes brings to the Casino her young child, of 7 or 8 years old perhaps, I have seen them together there, and the effect was certainly effective. - Tuesday, November 3rd 
                                                                                         -   from the Journals of Arnold Bennett, 1903

The cocottes of Paris

Casino de Paris. Plenty of stylish cocottes here, in whom Tertia and Lizzie [his sisters] were tremendously interested. Which reminded me of C’s saying, about the married woman’s way of remarking, ‘Ça dit être une cocotte’ [that must be a whore]. But Tertie and Lizzie now confess their interest, and insist on going to another music-hall on Monday night in order to see more cocottes. Yet when I told them of the idea I had discussed with Frank, of writing a handbook or practical guide for cocottes, for the private joy of friends, they were certainly startled. I can always tell when they are really a little shocked. - Saturday, October 31st 


 I was told today that, as I thought, the most distinguished of the music-hall cocottes went to the Casino de Paris; and also that they did business comparatively infrequently, but what they did was very remunerative. This latter statement I regarded with suspicion, as also the following: that a particular woman, tall, very distinguished, and very well dressed and well jewelled, who I had often admired in various resorts, had an absolute minimum of 250 francs. It seems she goes about in a pair-horse carriage in the evening, by some sort of arrangement with the coachman. I was told that many cocottes pay their coachmen either partly or wholly in love. This woman, by the way, sometimes brings to the Casino her young child, of 7 or 8 years old perhaps, I have seen them together there, and the effect was certainly effective. - Tuesday, November 3rd 
                                                                                         -   from the Journals of Arnold Bennett, 1903

Monday, November 6, 2017

Marrying a girl

Saturday, November 7th – I dined at Mrs D.’s, and her sister Mrs L. was there. They were talking about an old lady who had fallen violently in love with a young man, really very violently. He wouldn’t marry her, because he was too proud to have it said that he, a poor young man, had married a rich old woman for her money. On the other hand she wouldn’t have an irregular liaison. So they live together platonically in the same house. It was understood that if he left her the desertion would kill her. At the moment the old lady is dying, not expected to recover.

   They both said that they could see no more objection to a man taking money from a woman than a woman taking it from a man. They could not understand a man marrying a girl; it was too disgusting, cruel, etc. For ‘girl’ read ‘young virgin’. (I said nothing would induce me to marry a girl.) Yet Mrs L. told me that at 16½ she had run away with her present husband, she being then engaged to another man. She said, ‘Passion and all that sort of thing has vanished  long since. All I can say, with regard to my feeling for my husband, is that when he comes into the room I always feel soothed. I could not imagine myself being able to live with any other man.’ I met Mr L. at  Mrs D.’s some months ago, and I was quite sure that intellectually and imaginatively he is decidedly his wife’s inferior.
                                                                      Arnold Bennett's Journal - Saturday, November 7th 1903

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Parisiean Pimp

At the restaurant in the Hippodrome I saw the notorious ‘Pipe-en-bois’ with two young and naïve and rather ugly girls, sisters. ‘Pipe-en-bois’ is a corset-maker in a large and successful way of business, and a shareholder in many Parisian theatres. He is a perfectly ordinary common-looking man, quite without chic, a long spreading auburn beard, and bad necktie, rough hair, short of stature. He has keen eyes. He is a coureur [a chancer]; enjoys himself every night. Known in all the coulisses [back-stage at the theatres] of which he has the run; favourite of all the chorus girls. He gets hold of beginners, dines and sups them, and loves them without further payment. I should say, very shrewd and rusé [smart] under that frank air of simple joyousness. They say he is extremely keen in business, and a grudging task-master. His wife takes a large share in the management of the business. They understand each other, these two, and go their own separate ways. Certainly a ‘type’, this man. Age between 45 and 50.
                                                                    Journals of Arnold Bennett - Friday, November 27, 1902

Friday, November 3, 2017

The corps de ballet

We went to see Faust at the Opéra. A performance exquisitely free from any sort of distinction. But between the acts, from the balcony, we had amazingly good views of the illumination of the Avenue de l’Opéra for the King and Queen of Italy. It was only a trial illumination and was ‘out’ at 11 p.m. The only part of the opera that we enjoyed was the ballet. I noticed the business-like air and habits of the corps de ballet; how they calmly tested shoes and hair in the middle of the stage; and the enormous potential activity of their legs – strong, muscular, and elegant, but not exactly pretty, animals. And how the whole ‘convention’ of the piece was changed, and cleared of all sentimentality and make-believe, and sickliness, while the ballet lasted. As if the corps said: ‘Now understand, no mistake, no pretence, this is a ballet and nothing else, a thing by itself, complete in itself, and we shall execute it regardless of everything except the rules and convention of the ballet. You must forget Faust for a while.’ I was much struck with this.
                                                                Journals of Arnold Bennett - Wednesday, October 14th 1904


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Observing the Nude

At the press view of the New English Art Club, Egyptian Hall. About 10 people, half women, in the one gallery sparsely hung with eccentric landscapes imitative of early Italian and Dutch work, a few soft hazy portraits, a few intelligent originalities, a few sterile meaningless absurdities, and one striking, shouting, insistent, dominant nude by Wilson Steer. In the centre of the gallery a table with sandwiches, wines and cigarettes, which everybody carefully avoided in spite of whispered invitations from a middle-aged male attendant.
   Seated in front of the nude - a slim woman of 30, with full and red cheeks sitting up in a very large bed – were a man and a woman talking In loud Kensington tones which outraged the prim silence of the gallery. After a long time he joined in the conversation of the other two, and they began even more loudly to discuss the nude, dispraising it in a few light easy sentences of condemnation. It certainly was not a masterpiece with its hard, laboured, unreal flesh-painting, but the manner of this condemnation almost made me like it.

   When I next turned round the art critic had withdrawn and the other man was elaborately raising his silk hat from his grey head to the departing woman. She left him to talk to another woman in a corner and then stood alone staring around the gallery. She was a tall, well-developed woman of 34 or less, with the face and bearing of a Sunday-school teacher; her thick mouth worked in that calculating contemplative way that I have noticed in Sunday-school teachers with a passion for gossip at sewing meetings. To see her in the street no-one would have dreamt that she was a professional art critic, capable of discussing – however foolishly – an uncompromising nudity with her male acquaintance for half an hour at a time.
                                                                           Journals of Arnold Bennett - Friday, November 13th 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reading Habits

The appearance today of the first volume of a new edition of Boswell’s Johnson, edited by Augustine Birrell, reminds me once again that I have read but little of that work. Does there, I wonder, exist a being who has read all, or approximately all, that the person of average culture s supposed to have read, and that not to have read is a social sin? If such a being does exist, surely he is an old, a very old man, who has read steadily that which he ought to have read 16 hours a day, from early infancy. I cannot recall a single author of whom I have read everything  - even of Jane Austen. I have never seen Susan and The Watsons, one of which I have been told is superlatively good. Then there are large tracts of Shakespeare, Bacon, Spenser, nearly all Chaucer, Congreve Dryden, Pope, Swift, Sterne, Johnson, Scott, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Edgeworth, Ferrier, Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Wordsworth (nearly all), Tennyson, Swinburne, the Brontës, George Eliot, W. Morris, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, Savage Landor, Thackeray, Carlyle – in fact very classical and most good modern authors, which I have never even overlooked. A list of the masterpieces I have not read would make a volume. With only one author can I call myself familiar, Jane Austen. With Keats and Stevenson I have an acquaintance. So far of English.  Of foreign authors I am familiar with Maupassant and the Goncourts. I have yet to finish Don Quixote.
   Nevertheless I cannot accuse myself of default. I have been extremely fond of reading ever since I was 20, and since I was 20 I have read practically nothing (except professionally, as a literary critic) but what was ‘right’. My leisure has been  moderate, my desire strong and steady, my taste selection certainly above the average, and yet in 10 years I seem scarcely to have made an impression upon the intolerable multitude of volumes which ‘everyone is supposed to have read’.
Journals of Arnold Bennett - Thursday, October 15th 1896


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Contrasts

 The hypnotized audience, crowded tier above tier of the dark theatre, held itself strained and intent in its anxiety not to miss one gyration, one least movement, of the great dancer [Adeline Genée] – that dancer who had enslaved not only New York and St Petersburg but Paris itself. Swaying incorporeal, as it were within a fluent dazzling envelope of endless drapery, she revealed to them new and disturbing visions of beauty in the union of colour and motion. She hid herself in a labyrinth  of curves which was also a tremor of strange tints, a tantalising veil, a mist of iridescent light. Gradually her form emerged from this riddle, triumphant, provocative, and for an instant she rested like an incredible living jewel in the deep gloom of the stage. Then she was blotted out, and the defeated eye sought in vain to penetrate the blackness where but now she had been . . .
It was a marvellous and enchanting performance. Even the glare of the electric clusters and the gross plush of the descending curtain could not rob us all at once of far-off immaterial things which it had evoked in our hearts. We applauded with fury, with frenzy; we besieged the floor with sticks and heels, and clapped till our arms ached. . . . At length she came before the footlights and bowed and smiled and kissed her hand. We could see she was a woman of 30 or more, rather short, not  beautiful. But what dominion in the face, what assurance of supreme power! It was the face of one surfeited with adoration, cloyed with praise.
   While she was humouring us  with her fatigued imperial smiles, I happened to look at a glazed door separating the auditorium from the corridor. There, pressed against the glass, was another face, the face of a barmaid, who, drawn from her counter by the rumour of this wonderful novelty, had crept down to get a glimpse of the star’s triumph.
   Of course I was struck by the obvious contrast between these two creatures. In a moment the barmaid had departed, but the wistfulness of her gaze remained to me as I listened to legends of the dancer -  her whims, her diamonds, her extravagances, her tyrannies, her wealth. I could not withhold from it my sentimental pity.
   Later I went up into the immense gold refectory. Entrenched behind a magnificent counter of carved cedar flanked on either side by mirrors and the neat apparatus of bottles and bonbons, the barmaid stood negligently at ease, her cheek resting in the palm of one small hand as she leaned on the counter. I noticed that she had the feeble prettiness, the voluptuous figure, the tight black bodice inexorably demanded of barmaids. In front of her were three rakish youths whom I guessed to be of the fringe of journalism and the stage. They talked low to her as they sipped their liqueurs, frankly admiring, frankly enjoying this brief intimacy. As for her, confident of her charms, she was distantly gracious; she offered a smile with a full sense of its value; she permitted; she endured. These youths were to understand that such adulation was too her an everyday affair.

   In the accustomed exercise of assured power her fare had lost its wistfulness, it was the satiated face of the dancer over again, and so I ventured quietly to withdraw my sentimental pity.
                                                                                 Arnold Bennett's Journal: 19 February 1899

Monday, October 30, 2017

The 'lower middle class'

How rarely does one find people unaffectedly content with themselves and their social status; keeping well within that status; not deigning in any way to ape the attire of a superior class, or to attempt any other similar deception of manner, and yet attaining to dignity! On the bus I met two of these scarce creatures: a rather ugly but pleasant-featured young man of 30, dressed, with a suspicion of carelessness, in roughly-cut clothes of good material; a girl of 24 or 25, with high cheek-bones and a face which, while indicating firmness of character, was eager to smile; she wore a neat green-and-yellow dress, with a low hat to match, plain and well made, but clearing inexpensive. Both belonged to what is called the lower middle class, and both were well-to-do, in what their means were obviously more than sufficient for their needs. They talked with a Northern accent, quietly, confidentially, about domestic affairs, and were certainly in love with each other – probably engaged to be married.

   On neither side was there any affectation of conventional manners, not a trace of that low instinct to pose which one encounters so frequently in public vehicles. They got off without stopping the bus; the man jumped down first, and running along gave his hand to the girl, who sprang lightly forward into the air, and smiled victoriously  to find herself safe on the ground . . . I very nearly said to the conductor, ‘Isn’t that pretty?’
                                                                                  Arnold Bennett's Journal - Friday, Juy 4th, 1896

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Jane Austen and Others

I dipped into Adam Bede, and my impression that George Eliot will never be among the classical writers  was made a certainty. Her style, though not without shrewdness, is too rank to have any enduring vitality. People call it ‘masculine’. Quite wrong! It is downright, aggressive, sometimes rude, but genuinely masculine, never. On the contrary it is transparently feminine – feminine in its lack of restraint, its wordiness, and the utter lack of feeling for form which  characterises it. The average woman italicises freely. George Eliot of course had trained herself too well to do that, at least formally; yet her constant undue insistence springs from the same essential weakness, and amounts practically to the same expedient Emily and Charlotte Brontë  are not guiltless on this count, but they both have a genuine, natural appreciation of the value of words, which George Eliot never had.
   Jane Austen, now, is different. By no chance does she commit the artistic folly of insisting too much. Her style has the beauty and the strength of masculinity and femininity combined and, very nearly, the weakness of neither.

   In May Chapman’s there is a story by Henry James. His mere ingenuity, not only in construction but in expression is becoming tedious, though one  cannot but admire. Also his colossal cautiousness instatement is very trying. If he would only now and then contrive to write a sentence without a qualifying clause!
                                                                                   - Journal of Arnold Bennett, May 13, 1896

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Good Intentions


In the course of conversation today, a man said to me apropos of the question whether he or I was the most energetic: ‘I get up at 6, go out for a walk; breakfast at 8; then an hour’s work, and afterwards to the office; half an hour for lunch . . .’ The detailed programme, made up of alternated work and exercise, stretched out to 11 p.m.
   ‘Well,’ I said, ‘that’s very good indeed. How long have you been doing that?’
   ‘Oh!’ he said, ‘I’m going to start in the morning!’

   Alcock [a friend] maintained to me at tea that to practice a musical instrument as it should be practised was a fatiguing as creative composition. I deny it.

                                                                                       Journal of Arnold Bennett, May 1, 1896

Friday, October 27, 2017

Portraits and Pictures

This morning (it being the second day of the press view) I spent an hour at the [Royal] Academy. The number of portraits seems to increase year by year. For a man who is engrossed in a single art, this comprehensive selection of portraits of celebrities cannot fail to have a moral value. They remind him that there are several other arts and several hundred other occupations besides his own in which men to genius and men of talent can actually and deeply interest themselves: a fact he is in danger of forgetting. And they do this quite independently of their artistic worth, which in the majority of cases is nearly nil. To study these faces of men and women brings one in contact with activities, ideals, ambitions, of which otherwise one would know little besides the mere names. The attitude of the general public towards a picture – by which they apparently regard it as a story first and a work of art afterwards – is not so indefensible as it seems, or at least not so inexcusable. In the attitude of the perfectly cultured artist himself, there is something of the same feeling – it must be so. Graphic art cannot be totally separated from literary art, nor vice versa. They encroach on each other.

- Journ                                                                                         als of Arnold Bennett, April 30, 1896

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sex in fiction

Talking to Webster about sex in fiction tonight I convinced  him and myself that no serious attempt had yet been made by a man to present essential femininity; also that the chasm between male and female was infinitely wider and deeper than we commonly realized – in fact an absolutely unpracticable chasm.
A woman might draw, and probably has drawn, a woman with justice ad accuracy for her own sex. Buy a woman’s portrait of a woman is not of much  use to a man. Either it is meaningless to him – a hieroglyphic – or it tells him only things which he knew. A woman is too close to woman to observe her with aloofness and yet with perfect insight – as we should do if we had the insight. Observation can only be conducted from the outside. A woman cannot possibly be aware of the things in herself which puzzle us; and our expectations of our difficulties would simply worry her. The two sexes must for ever remain distant, antagonistic, and mutually inexplicable.
                                                                                          Arnold Bennett: Journals - June 9, 1898