Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West And The Creation Of A Garden, Vita Sackville-West & Sarah Raven -- November 28, 2017

Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West adn the Creation of a Garden, Vita Sackville-West & Sarah Raven, c. 2014

Grapevine Library

DDS: 823 SAC

The author:

A presenter and a teacher; has a school for gardening and cooking at her farm in East Sussex.

Married to the writer Adam Nicolson; they live with their family at Sissinghurst.

Vita Sackville-West: born 1892.
  • Husband Harold Nicolson.
  • One of the strangest and happiest love stories; portrayed in Portrait of a Marriage by their son Nigel Nicolson.
  • Vita died at age 70, in 1962. 

Sarah Raven first saw Sissinghurt 30 years prior to writing the book; then in her mid-20s.
  • Training to be a doctor, Charing Cross Hospital. 
  • She writes, "A few years after seeing the garden I married Adam, grandson of Vita and Harold, and when his father Nigel became ill and died in 2004, we moved to Sissinghurst. No longer a doctor and now with two children, I had become a gardener, and as someone passionately interested in the beauty of what's around me, I'm lucky to have spent ten years of my life entwined with Vita and Sissinghurst."
So, book was c. 2014; thirty years earlier, would have been 1984; a few years later (when she married Adam) might have been around 1990.

Ten years at Sissinghurst (since around 2004 which matches exactly when her father-in-law Nigel, who had been living at Sissinghurst, died.)

She could have gotten her doctorate around 1990, practiced medicine for about twelve years, until 2002 or so. Perhaps she left medicine when she and her husband moved into Sissinghurst.

1984, in her mid-20s, she would have been born about 1960. She would never have met Vita, but she obviously new Vita's son Nigel, 1917 - 2004. In 1990, Nigel would have been 73 years old.

Her husband Adam wrote a biography of Sissinghurst in 2008: Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History.

Fantastic story. 


From York, had I known about it, I could have driven it in less than 5 hours; a weekend trip.

The Book

A map of the grounds.

1: A Brief History

2: Finding the Dream

3: Sissinghurst's Design

Part 2: Vita's Garden Themes

4: A Mixture of All Things

5: A Sophisticated Palette

6: Cram, Cram, Cram

7: Flowering Shrubs

8: Scents

9: Painterly Plants

10: Indoor and Container Gardening

11. Cut Flowers

12: The Recent Past


Picture Credits


The Making Of Middle Earth, Christopher Snyder -- November 28, 2017

The Making of Middle Earth: A New Look Inside the World of J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Snyder, c. 2013

Grapevine Library

DDS: 823 SNY

For a long time, only one significant biography of JRR Tolkien, the one by Humphrey Carpenter in 1977.

philology: now called historical linguistics

modern literary genre of fantasy: virtually invented by Tolkien

most successful film franchises:
Harry Potter
James Bond
Star Wars

Chapter 1: Learning His Craft

From Africa to Birmingham

b. January 3, 1892
left Africa at age 3, so not much influence on his writing
left before the outbreak of the Boer war in 1899
exceptions: bitten by a spider while in Africa; led to arachnophobia, and ultimately this fear embodied by his menacing Middle-earth spiders
1900: a place at King Edward's School, Birmingham, which his father had attended


The Great War

Tolkien The Scholar

"Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics"

 "On Fairy-Stories"

Tolkien the Teacher

The Inklings

Fame and Retirement

Writing Tolkien

Chapter 2: Tolkien's Middle Ages

Back to the Sources

Ancient Greece and Rome

Celtic Britain and Ireland

The Anglo-Saxons and Old English

The Vikings and Old Norse

Middle English Literature

King Arthur and the Matter of Britain

Victorian Fairy Tales and the Gothic Revival

Finnish and the Kalevala

William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites

Andrew Lang

George MacDonald

The Northern Land

Chapter 3: "There and Back Again"

Hobbits and Dwarves

Trolls and Goblins, Gnomes and Elves

Mountains, Rings, and Riddles in the Dark


Mirkwood and Lake-Twon



Chapter 4: Tales of the Third Age

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

The Return of the King

Chapter 5: The Son of Iluvatar

The Silmarillion

The Children of Nurin


Appendix I: Monsters and Critics

Appendix II: Media and Middle Earth

Appendix III: Tolkieniana

Appendix IV: The Moral Virtues of Middle Earth

A Tolkien Timeline


Bibliography and Tolkien Resources


Thursday, November 23, 2017

New Words, Phrases, Concepts -- Casanova -- November 23, 2017

New words, phrases, concepts from:
  • Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic, James H. Johnson, c. 2011
  • History of My Life: Giacomo Casanova, Everyman's Library edition, c. 2007
What Goes Around, Comes Around

Through the the 16th to the 19th century, Italy: family cults -- dominated their fellow-citizens and turned nominal republics into autocracies, if not dictatorships
  • Medici in Florence
  • the della Scala in Verona
  • the Gonzaga in Mantua
  • the Este in Ferrara
  • the Sforza and the Visconti in Milan
The Venetians turned away from this. The Most Serene Republic might not have been totally democratic but it was certainly more so (with the arguable exception of Switzerland) than any other country in Europe.
  • the basic principle of the their constitution: no one family or individual could ever wax too great
  • the Doge was a figurehead; only able to act when surrounded by his six Savii or wise men; probably yielded less effective power than the Queen of England today
  • the real government of the country was in the hands of black-robed and faceless committees, their composition constantly changing
Wow, does that sound like the "Deep State" in the United States? Has the president become more and more just a figurehead as Congress and federal judges? Is it the FCC, the FTC, the EPA, and a gazillion other "alphabet" committees and agencies the ones that really run the US government. Just the other day it was said that the second most powerful person in the world, right behind the President of the United States, was the US Federal Reserve chairperson, currently, Janet Yellen.

New Words, Phases, Concepts

The Most Serene Republic

the Grand Tour

  • two of the most important ingredients of greatness: total self-confidence and superabundant energy
  • a third great strength -- a negative strength perhaps, but every bit as important as the other two: Casanova was totally devoid of a sense of morality

Friday, November 17, 2017

Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon, Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend: A Life In One Volume
Jean Moorcroft Wilson
c. 2014.

From the inside back jacket:
Jean Moorcroft Wilson lectures in English Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is married to Leonard and Virginia Woolf's nephew, with whom she runs a publishing house. Her previous books include two other biographies of First World War poets, Charles Hamilton Sorley and Isaac Rosenberg, and she is currently working on a biography of Edward Thomas. She is considered the foremost expert on Siegfried Sassoon.
  • more than any other figure from that period, with the possible exception of Rupert Brooke, Sassoon has become the prototype of the brave young soldier-poet, a serving officer who entered the war ready to lay down his life for his men and country
  • his courageous public protest about the handling of the conflict, once he encountered it at first hand, does not quite fit the stereotype, but his qualifications for the role in almost every other respect are impeccable:
    • he came from the right social background: though half-Jewish, his paternal relatives were wealthy merchant princes, who hobnobbed with Kind Edward VII
    • his maternal relatives were well-known sculptors, painters, and engineers
    • he had received the "correct" education at Marlborough and Cambridge, though he did poorly at both
    • he was an officer adored by his men
    • moreover, he was a conspicuously brave officer, awarded an M.C. for bringing in his wounded Corporal under intense fire in May, 1916, and
    • involved in several other daring raids
    • finally, like Brooke who died before he could qualify fully for the role, Sassoon was extremely handsome, and inestimable advantage for iconhood
  • the one condition Sassoon failed to satisfy was that he did not die in the war, though he told Charles Causeley as late as 1952 that "most people" thought he had
Yet his life after 1918 is as interesting, if not more so, than before it, and not just in personal terms.

Page 5: he threw his Military Cross into the River Mersey; must have been in 1918 before the war was over; frustrated that the war dragged on. Says the M. C. meant as much to him as his "point-to-point cups." "Point-to-point" is steeplechase horse racing. "Cup," of course, is the "trophy" as in "world cup."

Siegfried Sassoon
Family History

Paternal history: Jewish
  • his father's family, the Sassoons, often referred to as the Rothschilds of the East
  • almost completely Oriental in outlook, manners and dress until the arrival of Siegfried's grandfather in England in 1858
  • this made their rapid acclimatization to Europe within one generation all the more remarkable
  • they claimed to trace their ancestry back to King David himself, but it is not until the birth of Sason ben Saleh in 1750 that any reliable documentary evidence exists
  • by the time the family had settle in Baghdad, Mesopotamia (moder day Iraq), among the first Jews to do so
  • Sason ben Saleh was the last in line to serve as "Nasi" (prince of captivity) to the Caliph's court in Baghdad
  • his eldest surviving son, born in 1792, was forced to flee Baghdad (under siege by the Ottoman Empire) in 1817 (or thereabouts)
  • by 1830 David had started a small export trade from Basra to India an din 1832 settled in Bombay
  • the trading venture mushroomed, refounding the Sassoon dynasty
  • to his great-grandson Siegfried Sassoon the story of "old David's starting the enormous merchant business" from scratch was the main interest of his father's family
  • David's third son, Sassoon David ("S.D.") Sassoon, the first child of his second marriage was sent to London to open a small branch, 1858
  • [Siegfried, the grandson, inherited physical and emotional qualities from his grandfather and not from his father, Alfred Ezra
  • S.D. set out for London in 1858; his young wife Fahra (anglicized to Flora) and their two children, 3-y/o Joseph and baby Rachel, would follow
  • S.D.'s next to youngest child, Alfred (Siegfried's father) was the first Sassoon to be born in England, in 1861
  • the Sassoon family became increasingly bound up with England
  • with their wealth, eventually turned to the arts
Maternal history, quite the opposite, the Thornycrofts
  • this family had been dedicated to art, for three generations in some cases by the time Siegfried was born
  • his mother's maternal grandfather, John Francis (1780 - 1861) had begun life as a farmer at Thornham on the Norfolk coast but had become a sculptor
Thornycrofts, continued:
  • Siegfried's maternal grandfather, similar impulse to sculpt: Thomas Thornycroft (Siegfried's maternal grandfather, as noted) gave up farming in 1835 to become a London sculptor apprenticed to John Francis -- fell in love with Francis's sculptor daughter, Mary, whom he married in 1840
But it was not the art that separated the two families
  • Sassoon: urban
  • Thornycrofts: rural
  • Thornycrofts, comfortable but not as rich as the Sassoons
  • Thornycrofts: dominance of women in family history, unlike the Sassoons
  • Jewish Sassoons: matriarchal bias, but produced no significant example of female influence
  • Thornycrofts: marked by its strong women, from Siegried's great grandmother, Ann Cheetham; many of the Thornycroft women, from Cheetham on down, made significant contributions to England; one became an engineer in her own right
  • All that to say this: Siegfried, in early and middle life, said he felt more like a Thornycroft than a Sassoon.
  • His mother was antagonistic toward the Sassoons, who had rejected her for many years.
  • Age 8: his father dies; he meets the rest of the Sassoon family and notes their "foreignness"
  • At that age, began to romanticize about his Oriental genealogy.
  • He always placed his Sassoon family in Persia in his romanticism, even though two generations of Sassoons had lived in India.
  • Upset with Sassoon's attitude toward money, though by his seventies, his feelings had mellowed.
  • When writing poety, he talked about a mystic role in his poetry.
  • He omitted his Jewish side from his thinly veiled autobiographical novel, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, 1928; talked about his love for his country (England)
  • So, associated himself with rural, artsy-craftsy English Thornycrofts.
  • Also, inherited the frugality of the Thorncrofts. By the time he inherited money in 1927, he hardly knew what to do with it.
  • Inherited industriousness, honesty, and ingenuity from both sides of his family.
  • "The daemon in me is Jewish." [If he using 'daemon' in sense it appears, then he is writing, "my muse is Jewish." Daemon in this context means "muse."]
  • His most direct link with his family's past came through his maternal grandmother, Mary Thorncroft, who died just  have his eighth birthday (about very same time as his father died)
  • She died at age 85, in the hard winter of 1894 to 1895
  • Now the story moves to Siegfried's mother Theresa, b. 1853, youngest in her family; became a painter
  • 1860s: Uncle Hamo (his mother's brother) had met Burne-Jones of the Pre-Raphaelites; discussion about the Pre-Raphaelites
  • Theresa: a devout Christian all her life and brought Siegfried up accordingly
  • Theresa: excellent horsewoman; passed that skill to Siegfried; he did not take up swimming, something his mother also loved
  • 1883: Theresa meets her future husband, Alfred Sassoon
  • Theresa's mother had sculpted Alfred's parents in the early 1860s; that meeting reinforced by her brother Hamo's commission to make a half-size statue of Alfred's sister, Rachel, in 1882 -- Theresa became friendly with Rachel and the rest is history as they say.
  • Alfred's father died when Alfred was six; his mother Flora spoiled him; Alfred died of tuberculosis. Siegfried's father was also a good horseman.
  • Family conflict: Flora, brought up in strict Jewish orthodoxy, could not understand how her son could fall in love and speak of marriage to an eminently English and Christian Theresa
  • But Alfred married outside the Jewish faith
  • Married without knowledge of either mother knowing (remember: both fathers had died much earlier). Marriage particulars arranged by Uncle Hamo. Witnesses: Hamo, Eliza Perks, and Alfred's friend Edmund Gosse
  • His Jewish mother essentially disowned Alfred; she declared her son officially dead, saing funeral prayers and even sitting the ritual period of mourning for him; persisted that way until she died; wrote him out of her will
  • But Theresa and Alfred (Siegfried's parents happily in love)

Chapter 2: Childhood in the Garden
1886 - 1895
  • Siegfried Lorain Sassoon was the second of three sons to be born to Alfred and Theresa.
  • Born: September 8, 1886
  • 1886 - 1895, through his 9th birthday.
Chapter 3: Lutes and Nightingales
1895 - 1900
  • Age 9 through 14, comparable to US middle school and high school.
Chapter 4: 'Harum-Scarum Schoolboy'
1900 - 1904
  • Age 14 through 18, comparable to US high school; early college years; coming of age.
Chapter 5: The Chancellor's Muddle
1904 - 1907
  • Age 18 through 21; coming of age through young adulthood
  • By 1907, 21st birthday, had spent nearly two-thirds of his with his mother at Weirleigh
Chapter 6: Sporting Squire and Gentleman Writer
1907 - 1914
  • Age 21 - 28; well-seasoned adult; war drums beating
  • WWI: July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918
  • After spending nearly two-thirds of his life with his mother at Weirleigh, through his 21st birthday, he was now to pass another seven years at home, bringing the time spent there up to three-quarters of his young life -- although he felt he should leave, he was not ready to face the outside world on his own
Chapter 7: 'Big London where Poets Live'
May - July 1914

  • 1914: he was 28 years old; war was declared July 28, 1914
  • Bloomsbury group and Virginia Woolf
Chapter 8: The Happy Warrior
August 1914 - November 1915
  • Age 28 to age 29; slightly old for a brand new recruit by today's standards (for enlisted; not for an officer)
  • the chapter begins: he returns to Weirleigh in the third week of July, 1914; the outbreak of WWI was August 4, 1915 (note: wiki says July 28, 1914; the Austrian duke was assassinated June 28, 1914; the "July Crisis"; July 29: Russia declares a partial mobilization against Austria-Hungary; August 4, the general mobilization of Austria-Hungary
  • poetry: uses words associated with Christianity, though he was moving away from Catholicism 
  • Siegfried eager to go to war; enlists as a private ("trooper") but soon learned that was a mistake; his peers sought officer positions; he remained a private but had to sell his horse to the squadron commander to save his horse from being weighed down with gear; officer's horses carried very little and were always very well-groomed and attended to
  • author mentions the author's horse, Cockbird, a hunter. For a description of "hunters" vs "jumpers," see this link. Sassoon had two other hunters, Jim Murphy and Golumpus; also, a groom, Tom Richardson
  • breaks his arm in a fall while riding; during the 3-week convalescence decides to leave the cavalry, feeling that the cavalry would unlikely be sent overseas to fight in a predominantly infantry war
  • battles of the Meuse, Mons, Marne, Ypres; Germans fell back at the Battle of the Marne but quickly returned to the offensive just over a month later, at Ypres; by Christmas, 1915 - a line barely 20 miles wide from Belgium coast to Switzerland -- that lasted for the next four years
  • after recovery from broken arm, through a Special Reserve commission becomes an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers; station: Litherland, just north of Liverpool; at the mouth of the Mersey; was in 3rd Battalion
  • meets Edward Dent; music; Dent comfortable with his homosexuality; Sassoon still coming to terms with his homosexuality; 
  • Gabriel Atkin: greatest effect, at this time, on Sassoon's feelings about his homosexuality
  • fell in love again; this time with Robert Hanmer; can't have physical relationship with Robert; proposes to Robert's sister to stay close to Robert but relationship with sister does not work out;
  • Sassoon's younger brother Hamo serving in Gallipoli with the Royal Engineers
  • "last leave" before departing for France with Marsh, Dent and Gosse in London (not with his mother) -- and there he met Robbie Ross, 17 years senior to Sassoon
  • Ross was known to have had a relationship with Oscar Wilde; may or may not have been involved with Wilde from the mid-1880s but Ross stood by Wilde's trails through 1895
  • like Sassoon, Ross had left Cambridge without a degree; since war broke out, he worked to get official status for War Artists, an initiative which eventually led to the founding of the Imperial War Museum
  • Ross: anti-war; more than anyone else helped bring about the distinctive change in Sassoon's war poetry during 1916 -- but that all lay in the future
Chapter 9: 'Goodbye to Galahad'
November 1915 - March 1916

29 years old

The chapter begins: "Remarkable though it may seem, Sassoon, who was in the army from the day war broke out to the day it ended and had the reputation of being a fire-eater, spent barely a month out of a possible fifty-one in the Front Line. There were a number of reasons to account for this and chance also played a part. His early riding accident in the Sussex Yeomanry and subsequent change of regiment, for instance, delayed his active service for well over a year. Then, largely because of his late arrival at the Front, he maintained his 'happy warrior' outlook for at least eighteen months after war began."

Chapter 10: 'At the Edge of the World'
March - July 1916

  • 30 years old in a few months
  • these are the four months following David Thomas's death
  • Siegfried's mood very volatile
  • Seemed reckless; seemed like he was trying to get himself killed in the trenches
  • re-directed his anger of the Germans toward those in authority on his own side
  • as the reality of his brother Hamo's loss grew on him and first-hand experience of the trenches brought home the random destructiveness of war

Chapter 11: 'My Killed Friends Are With Me Where I Go'
August 1916 - January 1917

  • 31 years old 
  • Siegfried arrives back in England at the beginning of August, 1916; at No 3 Southern General Hospital; Somerville College; Oxford
  • the battle of the Somme was still raging and would do so until November
  • in the space of four months, the 400,000 dead and wounded Brits; limited gains
  • Siegfried questioned the war further
  • in August, 1916, he was not seriously disaffected
  • he was simply happy to be back in England, and not even wounded
  • the so-called "spots" on his lungs which had helped bring about this miracle, had either quickly disappeared or had been misdiagnosed in the first place
  • trench fever abating; his more long-standing anemia improving
  • delivered from his one great fear in battle, that of being blinded, he feasted on the beauty of his surroundings

Chapter 12: The Wounded Hero
February - April 1917

  • 31 years old
  • left for France on February 15, 1917 after a week's leave divided equally between Weirleigh (his mother's home) and Half Moon Street (first mentioned in chapter 9; a new poetry mentor, Robbie Ross, 40 Half Moon Street, just off Piccadilly; far more hostile to the war than other mentors)
  • frantic socializing in London had exhausted him

Chapter 13: 'Love Drove Me to Rebel'
April - July 1917

  • 31 years old
  • Sassoon's immediate reaction on being told that he was destined for England in April, 1917, was extreme relief (must have sustained an injury)
  • 4th London Hospital at Denmark Hill
  • self-absorption gave way to thoughts of those he left behind
  • he knew things were going badly at Arras, and all the subsequent new from the 2nd RWF was to confirm his sense of lives wasted in a pointless exercise

Chapter 14: Strange Meeting
July - November 1917

  • 32nd birthday
  • by the time Sassoon arrived at Craiglockhart on July 23, 1918, Haig was about to embark on what one historian has called 'the gloomiest drama in British military history', the 3rd Battle of Ypres, known otherwise as "Passchendaele"
  • Gordon's death left an emotional void in Sassoon's life which made him particularly glad to welcome a new friend into it the same month, Wilfred Owen

Chapter 15: 'Love Drives Me Back'
November 1917 - May 1918

  • 32 years old
  • apparently he has made a visible revolt in the last chapter
  • feels embarrassed for letting down his fellow officers
  • not at Litherland Dept, after four months of safety at Craiglockhart, now arriving "sheepishly"

Chapter 16: The Good Soldier
May - July 1918

  • 32 years old
  • Sassoon's own army experience may not have been very eventful in the first half of 1918 but the War itself had entered is most crucial phase by time he arrived back in France in May
  • the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty between Russia and Germany, signed March 3, 1918
  • allowed Germany to move troops from the eastern front to the western front

Chapter 17: 'A Loathsome Ending'
July - November 1918

  • 33rd birthday
  • Sassoon leaves France for the last time on July 18, 1918 (but, of course, he does not know it at the time); he planned to return; he did not want to abandon his men
  • consigned to the American Red Cross Hospital No. 22 at Lancaster Gate, in London

Chapter 18: 'Pilgrimages to Poets, 
Post-Armistice Parties and Other Diversions'
November - December 1918
  • 33 years old
  • the war is over
  • his homosexuality is now fully in bloom; free of the military
Chapter 19: 'A Simpleton's Progress'
January - March 1919

  • 33 years old
  • memories of the War would continue to dominate this period of Sassoon's life
Chapter 20: 'Rootless Re-Beginnings'
April - December 1919
  • 34th birthday
  • becomes the literary editor of the Daily Herald
  • he hopes this will give him a sense of liberation from the War
  • apparently successful: his renewed joy in life sweeps all before it in flowing, irresistible lines
Chapter 21: Broadway and Beyond
January - August 1920
  • 34 years old; 37th birthday
  • leaves England for America
  • it looks like this is a publicity tour for him in the US
Chapter 22: Tufton Street Blues
August 1920 - November 1925
  • 34 - 39 years old
  • Sassoon brings his published autobiography to a neat conclusion in August, 1920, with the assertion that his American trip had freed him from the war
  • cursory look at his life in early 1920 suggests this was not so
  • his main problem was his failure to find a "moral equivalent" for war
Chapter 23: 'Love is the Test'
1921 - 1925
  • 35 - 39 years old 
  • staying with Frankie Schuster was only one of the reasons Sassoon gave for his difficulty in writing poetry during the Tufton Street years
  • another reason: his "cursed complication of sex" which dominated this period
Chapter 24: Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man:
'The Testament of my Youth'
1925 - 1927
  • 39 - 41 years old; entering mid-life
  • no one was more surprised than Sassoon himself when Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, his nostalgic roman a clef so different from the grandiose prose work he had envisaged, became an instatne success
  • so uncertain was he about the work, he initially published it anonymously
  • won hi the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1928 and the Hawthornden Prize in 1929
Chapter 25: 'The Old Earl and Little Lord Fauntleroy'
1927 - 1931

  • 41 - 44 years old
  • author continues to analyze Fox-Hunting Man
  • now, Stephen Tennant
Chapter 26: The Turn of the Screw
1931 - 1933
  • 45 - 47 years old
  • Memoirs of a Infantry Officer
  • more of his personal life
Chapter 27: 'O, Hester, You Must Redeem My Life'
1933 - 1938
  • 47 - 52 years old
  • more on Stephen
  • introduces Edith Olivier and Hester Gatty
  • gathering storm (again)
Chapter 28: War Within an Without
1939 - 1945
  • 53 years - 59 years; an older man
  • war (again)
  • The Old Country and Seven More Years was a direct result of the threat of war (at least in one sense)
  • he wrote to an admirer about the book three days after Chamberlain returned from Munich in September, 1938
Chapter 29: The Wilderness Years
1945 - 1950
  • 59 - 64 years old; quite old now
  • once Hester had been ejected from Heytesbury, Sassoon's life quickly reverted to its pre-marital routine
  • his two main props were friends and work
  • he was back in the round of daily rituals that had been his lifeline up to 1933
Chapter 30: An Asking
1950 - 1956
  • 64 - 70 years old; autumn of his life
  • the cold War; the Korean War
Chapter 31: 'It Has Been a Long Journey'
1957 - 1967
  • 71 - 81 years old; the winter of his life
  • Cold War continues but less threatening over time
  • his return to the Roman Catholic Church, about August, 1957
Family Tree

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Hiltons: The True Story Of An American Dynasty, J. Randy Taraborrelli

c. 2014

Two years before Donald Trump was elected president, and he plays a role in the history of the Hiltons.

Skimming through the book, it reads a bit like a tabloid or a series of articles from celebrity magazines, but it appears the early history will be very, very interesting.

Family history:

Conrad Hilton: about the same generation as my grandfather, Paul Oksol; Conrad, 1887 - 1969

First generation: four children; about ten years older than my father and his four sibs; for the most part,  born just after the Jazz Age; one exception, Francesca, the oldest of this generation, born in 1947

Second generation: same generation as me and my sibs; these would be the 1950's and 1960's boomers' generation

Third generation: about the same generation as our two older daughters. This Conrad generation would include Paris.


Short vignette: Zsa Zsa Gabor giving her deposition in 1969 when Conrad's will was being contested

Part One: Conrad

Curse of the Ambitious
flashback: 1941; Conrad in Beverly Hills; single after recent divorce; very, very lonely
hotels in New Mexico, Texas, and California; looking to go to New York and international

Humble Beginnings
father: August ("Gus") Halvorsen Hilton -- born in Norway, b. 1854
mother: Mary Genevieve Laufersweiler, born in Iowa; German, b. 1861
strong, rigid Catholics
Conrad: named for his maternal grandfather, Conrad Laufersweiler and the Fort Doge doctor that delivered him, Nicholson -- Conrad Nicholson Hilton
born on Christmas Day, 1887
born in San Antonio, Territory of New Mexico
schooled in San Antonio; at Goss Military Institute in Roswell (later renamed the New Mexico Military Institute)
later to St Michael's College; two years there
book that inspired him at this time: Optimism, Helen Keller
by 1904, "Gus" Hilton rich; part of his wealth from selling a Texas coal mine for $135,000
St Louis World Fair; also site of the Summer Olympic Games, first to be held in the US
scoured California for new home for the family
settled on Long Beach, CA
back and forth to San Antonio to monitor his store, A. H. Hilton
1907: financial panic wiped out Hilton's wealth
family devastated
it was Conrad's suggestion (at age 19) that the family open a hotel; they had a huge house (each child had his/her own room (8 children); he suggested 4 - 5 rooms; the home in San Antonio
within six weeks, news of the "Hilton hotel" reached all the way to Chicago: if you have to break up your sales trip, break it at San Antonio and try to get a room at Hilton's
Conrad took control of the hotel
at age 21, he took control; hotel now called A. H. Hilton and Son
now, back on financial feet, Conrad enrolls a the New Mexico School of Mine at nearly Socorro fairly close to San Antonio; invaluable lessons in higher mathematics for future career, no matter what it was
1911: Territory of New Mexico admitted to the Union; Conrad enters politics; becomes the youngest representative; popular member of Santa Fe high society but incredibly bored
returned to San Antonio, New Mexico: opened the small town's first bank with his own money and some money from friends; the bank failed within a year
1916, age 29: managed his sister/two friends musical trio; again failed
returned to the San Antonio, NM, store
then fate intervened
1915: RMS Lusitania sunk; 1917, US enters war; Conrad commissioned a second lieutenant -- Army assigned him to the Quartermaster Corps in Paris
while in Paris, his father died; car accident; Ford jalopy

to Cisco, Texas, oil boom
idea for a bank falls through
staying at the run-down Mobley hotel; bought it for $40,000 with $35,000 from his mom, "it would be the decision of a lifetime"
made use of every bit of space
learned the hotel business; the importance of "service, hospitality"
expanded incredibly fast
by 1923: 500 rooms across Texas; usually small hotels; including the Melba in Ft Worth
soon making $100,000/year -- wanted a hotel with his own name
first hotel with his name: Dallas Hilton, July 26, 1924; he was 37 years old;
first of several Texas hotels over the next ten years: Dallas, Abilene, Long View, Lubbock, El Paso, and Plainview
1927: he was named president of the Texas Hotel Association

Losing It All
the Crash of October, 1929; the beginning of the Great Depression; everything came to a halt
lost everything; $500,000 in debt; all he had left was the El Paso Hilton
refers back to Optimism by Helen Keller

Georgia On His Mind
the story of meeting Zsa Zsa

Loneliness at the Top
he in NYC; calls Zsa Zsa in Los Angeles; learns she is married

Buying the Town House
corner of Wilshire and South commonwealth in the Westlake district of LA; Conrad's most significant LA purchase up to that time
[fell into disrepair after the LA riots of 1992; closed; sold; now low-income housing]
decides he wants to marry Zsa Zsa; Conrad takes her to meet his 81-year-old mother; they get along fabulously

Catholic Stumbling Block
Zsa Zsa's mother was Jewish; hard to say what her father was; Zsa Zsa was cavalier about religion; Conrad was not
Catholic Church did not recognize his divorce from Mary Barron Conrad

Conrad Breaks the News to Zsa Zsa
when he tells her he cannot marry her, Zsa Zsa abruptly leaves
Conrad, at age 55, assumes that's the end, but he begins to contemplate his mortality and asks if he wants to spend the rest of his life alone

Part Two: Mary (a very, very short section; only 9 pages)

The First Mrs Hilton
  • it had been 20 years since Conrad had felt about a woman the way he felt for Zsa Zsa
  • flashback to his time in Paris, WWI; where he wore his Catholic religion on his sleeve
  • "fittingly" it was in a Dallas church he first spied Mary
  • later, happened to see Mary Adelaide Barron accompanied by an acquaintance of his, Mrs Beauregard Evans
  • Mary Adelaide Barron: born 1906
  • looked a lot like his mother at that age; shared his mother's name
  • opened the Dallas Hilton, August 4, 1925; first hotel he had ever built from scratch
  • married, October 19, 1925; he, 38; she 19
  • settled in Dallas
  • first child, son: Conrad Nicholson "Nicky" Hilton JR, 1926 (in 1950, married Elizabeth Taylor, lasted one year)
  • second child, son: William Barron, 1927
Business Affairs
  • goal: to become America's foremost innkeeper
  • before the end of 1920, well ahead of his goal, acquiring at least one hotel a year
  • Dallas, Abilene, Waco; Marlin, Plainview, San Angelo, Lubbock
  • lost his favorite brother during that time to TB meningitis
  • by the fall of 1929, storm clouds -- market crash and Great Depression
  • third child, son Eric Michael was born, 1933
  • quickly skips through how he saved some of his hotels; survived financially; and then how Mary cheated on him; and then the divorce, and the divorce settlement
  • Mary Hilton and Mark Saxon were married a year after her divorce; 1935, Fort Worth, TX
Part Three: Zsa Zsa

Conrad's Inner Turmoil
  • Conrad calls Zsa Zsa; says he can't live without her; have known each other for four months
  • married, 1942, in Santa Fe Hotel in New Mexico; he 55; she, 25
For Love or Money

The Roosevelt

Marriage: His

Marriage: Hers

A Frustrating Business Deal

The Plaza

An Ominous Sign

A Priest's Visit

 Up in Flames

He Never Should Have Done It

What Would It Take?

Zsa Zsa Is Institutionalized

The Divorce

Buying the Stevens and the Palmer House

Zsa Zsa's Daughter

Part Four: Sons of the Father


Raising the Rich

An Offer He Could Refuse

The Question of Francesca

Part Five: Elizabeth

Beautiful Dreamer

Enter: Elizabeth Taylor

The Man Who Bought the Waldorf

Fast Worker

Nicky Takes Elizabeth to Texas

A Party to Celebrate the Caribe Hilton

Nicky and Elizabeth Marry

Honeymoon from Hell

Elizabeth Suffers a Miscarriage

Divorce-- Hollywood Style

Part Six: Spoils of the Rich and Famous

America's Dad

Casa Encantada

"He's Getting Worse"

A Baroness Named Betsy

The Shadow of Her Smile

If Only

Zsa Zsa Finds Her Niche

Flling Elizabeth's Shoes


Magic Words


Marilyn's Party

Dinner at the Manse

Part Seven: The Big Boon

The Hilton Junket

Barron Climbs the Ladder of Success

Nicky's Fast-Paced Life

Eric: From Out of the Shadows

A Troubling Conversation About Francesca

Natalie Wood's Advice


"The Woman to Give My Children Life"

NIcky and Trish Marry

Part Eight: For Love or Money

Zsa Zsa Is Not Wanted

"The Most Beautiful Woman"

Zsa Zsa Teaches Trish About the Hiltons"


Sibling Rivalry on the Rise

Francesca's Summer of Discontent

Olive's Appeal to Zsa Zsa

"Zsa Zsa Who?"

The Simple Life

"It's Going to Be Okay, Brother"

Part Nine: In His Father's House

Nicky Causing Problems

The TWA Merger

"Tired of Being Misunderstood"

Nothing Personal 


A Done Deal

Trish Enters Conrad's Den

Nicky Considers Suing His Family

From Kings to Paupers

Trish Tries Again with Conrad

Marilyn Hilton's Plea to Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Makes a Decision

A Grasp at Happiness

The Death of Nicky Hilton

The Wake at Casa Encantada

Part Ten: Secrets

Conrad's Warning to Zsa Zsa

A Shocking Revelation

Francesca's Requests

"Just in Case"

The Challenge

Part Eleven: Frances

At Long Last Love


A Gentle Nudge

Best Friend's Advice

Family Concerns

The Thorn in His Side

The Marital Agreement

Conrad and Frances Marry

Part Twelve: House of Hilton

Life at the Mansion

"Spoiled Fruit"

Clearing the Air

Barron, Eric, and Francesca

Francesca's Idea

The Great adventure of Her Life

Understanding Zsa Zsa

Death's Door

Conrad Hilton: Rest in Peace

The Way He Wanted It

Part Thirteen: The Fight of Their Lives

Francesca Contests the Will

"Insane Delusion"

Zsa Zsa's Deposition

Smoking Gun?

A Surprise Visitor

Judge's Decision

Part Fourteen: Heir Apparent

Barron's Option

A Windfall for Barron?

The Francesca Factor

Each Other

Eric and Pat Divorce

Barron Is Denied
the mid-1980s
Barron Hilton, still happily married to Marilyn
huge success in gambling in casinos in Las Vegas
but by 1970s, Las Vegas casinos expanded to Atlantic City
then Barron -- huge embarrassment -- NJ did not grant him a gambling license after building a majestic 614-room hotel and 60,000-square-foot casino on an eight-acre site in Atlantic City; the biggest undertaking in the Hilton Corporation's history, $320 million
at same time struggling with his father's will
competition: "you got your Donald Trumps, you got your Steve Wynns ...."
New Jersey turned down gambling request due to his ties to Sidney Korshak; ties to the Mob
Trump enters the picture

Donald Trump Makes an Overture
1984: Trump was 38 years old
already well known as a real estate mogul in NYC before he entered Atlantic City
Trump called Zsa Zsa; said he admired Conrad Hilton; wanted to be another Conrad Hilton
Barron and board considered Trump's offer to buy if the price was right

Hostile Takeover?
Stephen Wynn, 43 years old; chairman of Golden Nugget, Inc; which owned two of the most profitable hotels in Atlantic City and Las Vegas; launched a takeover bid for the Hilton Hotels Corporation by making a surprising bid to buy Conrad's 27.4% block of shares, the same shares that Barron and the foundation had been fighting over for many years
Wynn offered $488 million ($72/share); until then, Barron's best offer, $24/share; thinking: if Wynn could get these shares, he would buy out rest of shareholders at same price / share; in all, $1.8 billion
then, on page 411, the difference between Steve Wynn (cold, impersonal, candid) and Donald Trump (a people person); Barron preferred Trump as a person

Trump Meets Hilton
March, 1984; Hilton director meets with Trump; suggests Barron and Trump should meet
Trump meets Barron for the first time
Trump felt very, very comfortable with Barron

Trump to the Rescue
to stop Steve Wynn, Barron calls Trump with an offer
Trump's first offer was $250 million; Barron had previously told Trump, Hilton had sunk $320 million into the Atlantic City casino
but then immediately raised his offer to a full $320 million
Wynn, sues; counter-offers, $344 million
Barron rejected it
Trump's offer was all cash; Wynn's was a collection of promissory notes and an undeveloped parcel of land in Atlantic City
Trump got the hotel; no problem getting the license; re-named Trump's Castle; opened June 17, 1985
Trump bought it unseen; his first walk-through -- incredible
in March, 2006, Donald Trump paid what might be considered the greatest of compliments to his friend, Conrad's son Barron. He named his third son after -- Barron Trump
Wynn's hostile takeover of Hilton was over but as long as Conrad Hilton's stock in the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation remained, there was always a chance that someone else could enter the picture, attempt to purchase that block, and also entice a majority of shareholders to a better offer, thereby managing a complete takeover -- Barron knew he had to find some way to end his battle with the foundation as soon as possible

Barron finally wins against the Foundation, March, 1988
a very interesting story -- pages 416 - 417
Part Fifteen: Fini

Zsa Zsa's Lapse in Judgement

Francesca: "The Original Hilton Heiress"


"Rather Silly"?

How Did Conrad Do It?

End of an Era

Marilyn Hilton: Rest in Peace

On the Town with Paris

Epilogue: A Final Toast

Acknowledgments and Source Notes

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Letters Of Ernest Hemingway, Three Volumes -- The Second Volume

First Volume
Second Volume: 1923 - 1925
Third Volume

Second Volume: three-year period that forms the crux of Ernest Hemingway's literary apprenticeship in Paris. Living on the Left Bank with his first wife, Hadley, the author learned about writing from Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound.

1925: In Our Time
1926: The Sun Also Rises (his breakthrough book)
John "Bumby" Hemingway, born

Mark Twain's Autobiography -- Three Volumes

First volume: copyright, 2010, one hundred years following Twain's death, as he directed
Third volume: copyright, 2015

The eulogy, as it seems to be, of Jean, is the last entry of his autobiography, pages 310 - 319 of the third volume. If one has no time to read anything of his autobiography, one needs to make time to read these 20 pages. Jean, perhaps his favorite, died on Christmas Eve morning (or perhaps late in the evening before, 1909). Jean's body was taken from the house Christmas Day evening.

Four children:
  • Langdon, son, died at 19 months of age, diphtheria
  • Susy, 1872 - 1896; at time of Jean's death, mentions that he and his wife had laid to rest Susy thirteen years earlier, age 24 years; full name, Olivia Susan Clemens (her mother was Olivia); nicknamed Livy but family called her Susy; of meningitis;
  • Clara, 1874 - 1962; overseas, in Berlin, when Jean died
  • Jean, 1880 - 1909; living at home with her dad when she died; 29 years old; probably drowned following grand mal seizure; living at home because her dad felt she needed to be watched (due to her frequent grand mal seizures)
Their mother, Olivia, had died 5 1/2 years before Jean died, around1904, that would make it, preceded by the death of three of her four children. Olivia died overseas, Florence, Italy.

Twain was 74 years old at the time of Jean's death.

Family burial plots: Elmira, NY. I will have to confirm this, but apparently Olivia's ancestral home. It was at Olivia's ancestral home, if I have this correct, where Twain and Olivia were married 40 years earlier, according to Twain, which would  make it 1869 -- just a few years after the US Civil War.

Susy died in the Twain house in Hartford; her mother Olivia would never enter it again. Therefore, Twain built a new family house in Redding, CT, two years before Jean's death. Katy was the #1 housekeeper. Susy would ride her horse every morning to collect the mail. I don't know but it sounds like the "station" (post office) would have been about a mile distant. Twain's biographer either lived there or spent much time at the Redding house (Paine, the biographer). 

From marktwainhouse.org:
Most Mark Twain scholars mark Susy’s death in August 1896 as the point at which the lives of the families changed‚ but Jean was diagnosed with epilepsy five months before Susy’s death‚ and this news was also a huge blow. Jean was 15‚ and she was not able to experience the idyllic teenage years her sisters had enjoyed. While in Europe the family sought out doctors to treat Jean in England‚ Sweden‚ Germany‚ and Switzerland‚ but constant travel also took its toll.
Homes in later years:
  • Twain and wife, long-time residents of Hartford, CT
  • home in Redding, CT, where Jean died 
Due to financial setbacks, went to Europe for prolonged period when the two older daughters were young adults; Jean will still only 11; never had the idyllic teen years that her older sisters had.

According to Twain's autobiography, p. 312: "Jean, from her babyhood, was a worshipper of Clara.

A Mark Twain Manuscript In The Last Year Of Jean's Life

In the last year, prior to Jean's death at the end of the year, Mark Twain wrote a long manuscript, which he left untitled, but is referred to as the Ashcroft-Lyon manuscript. It was written over several months, from May to September, 1909.

Ralph W Ashcroft: his business manager since 1907
Isabel V. Lyon, his secretary, housekeeper, and then companion, since 1902

Ashcroft and Lyon: married in March, 1909
Clara suspected them as frauds, taking advantage of Mark Twain
Mark Twain "fired" them and the Ashcroft-Lyon manuscript explains his actions

"Lobster Pot" -- a plot of farmland / homestead that Mark Twain had given to his housekeeper, Isabel V Lyon; in redding CT, apparently  adjoining Mark Twain's property; "Lobster Pot" was a house and 16 acres.

The pages in Volume 3 that cover the Ashcroft-Lyon manuscript: 321 - 440.

Page Separator

I think the three volume autobiography would have been better served with better "divisions." For example, the editor should have place a very obvious section separator between the Ashcroft-Lyon manuscript and the "Explanatory Notes" which begin on page 441.

The "Explanatory Notes" are from page 441 to 636, inclusive.

Then begin the "Appendixes," starting on page 637.

A brief chronology:
  • b. 1835
  • m. 1870, February 2; first home in Buffalo, NY
  • first child, son Langdon, born prematurely November 7, 1870; dies June 2, 1872
  • second child, daughter Olivia Susan (Susy) Clemens born March 19, 1872; she is only a few months old when her brother dies
  • third child, Clara Langdon Clemens born June 8, 1874; never knew she had a brother until told
  • 1874: build a house in Hartford, CT - this is Olivia's house until Susy dies
  • 1880: fourth child, daughter Jean born July 26; must have been born just after they return from full year in Europe
  • 1891 - 1894: financial difficulties: travels and lives in Europe all this time
  • 1895: around-the-world lecture tour
  • 1896: Susy dies of meningitis, in Hartford, CT; Jean is diagnosed with epilepsy; resides in London; anchors: London and Hartford, CT
  • 1897: lives in Weggis (Switzeland) and Vienna
  • 1898: pays creditors in full; lives in Vienna and nearby Kaltenleutgegen
  • 1899: moves to London
  • 1901: returns to America in late 1900; lives in NYC, then Riverdale, the Bronx
  • 1903: moves family to Florence
  • 1905: spends summer in Dublin, New Hampshire, with his daughter, Jean
  • 1908: moves into the Redding house; (Innocence at Home, then Stormfield)
  • 1909: dismisses Ashcroft and Lyon; Jean joins father at Stormfield; Clara marries October 6, 1909; 
  • 1910: severe angina in Bermuda; with Paine, his official biographer, leaves for NYC; dies at Stormfield, April 21, 1910 age, 75 years
Casanova lived 75 years: from 1725 - 1800.
Twain lived 75 years: from 1835 - 1910. Just just missed the Jazz Age, WWI.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

History Of My Life, Giacomo Casanova, Introduction By John Julius Norwich; Everyman's Library

c. 2007 (most recent)

Introduction: ix - xxiii (9 - 23)
Chronology: xxiv - lxvii (24 - 67)
Eleven volumes: 1 -1172
Textual Note: 1173 - 1185
Notes: 1186 - 1402
Index: 1403 - 1429

Author's life, some high points

The Age of Reason: you believed in Christianity but not in Hell, certainly not if you lived in Venice.

April 2, 1725: born to an actress; her husband not likely to be the father of Casanova; brought up by his maternal grandmother (his parents were always on the move, touring)

1725 - 1798 (75 years of one of the most important centuries in US / European history)

1734 - 1737, 9 years old - 12 years old: Padua; to be tutored for career in church; coming of age; falls in love with daughter of teacher; schooled in sex; four years in school there

1737, 12 years old; enrolled at Padua University; studies civil and canon law

1739, 14 years old -- moves to Venice where he lives "largely"

1741, 16 years old -- become an abate; graduates from Padua University

1742, 17 years old -- abandons idea of a life in the church; degree in law, though had little interest in law, and "decided instead to enter the priesthood (p. xii -- conflicting statements from different sources); short stay in the seminary of S. Cipriano on Murano ended in his expulsion for suspected homosexuality

1743, 18 years old -- busy, busy year; imprisoned in the fortress of S. Andrea where some two thousand Albanians, soldiers and their families, were temporarily stationed; contracts his first case of STD there; travels to Rome via Naples; affair

1744, 19 years old -- again "expelled" by the church; sent to Constantinople at his own request

1745, 20 years old -- back in Venice; acquires a taste for gambling; loses all his money

1746, 21 years old -- saves the life of a senator who suffers a stroke in a gondola; very important senator adopts Casanova as his son; lived the grand life for three years but bad behavior and the senator asked him to leave; he leaves in 1748 (expelled or on his own volition)

1748, 23 years old -- back in Venice; sexual behavior noted by church; again, expelled from Venice; short-lived affair with Henriette; charges which resulted in his eviction from Venice were dropped

1749, 24 years old -- ends up in Geneva; falls in love with "the love of his life" whom he met in Cesena -- the affair lasted only seven months

1750: back in Venice, but quickly on his own Grand Tour

1750 - 1752, 25 - 27 years old -- first trip to Paris

1752, 27 years old -- to Dresden

1753, 28 years old -- first play well received; travels Europe, Prague, Vienna, and then back to Venice; threesome with Casanova, a nun and one of the girls from her convent; voyeur was the French Ambassador, the Abbe de Bernis loved this

1755, 30 years old -- imprisoned; the prigioni, linked by the celebrated Bridge of Sighs to the Doge's Palace; inmates relegated either to the pozzi (the wells, subject to flooding) or the piombi (small and completed unfurnished apartments); 15 months before his escapt

1756, 31 years old -- escapes prison; flees Venice; lives on that story for five years; fled to Paris

1757, 32 years old -- second time back to Paris; establishes the country's first state lottery and makes his fortune; would have probably continued but invested his growing wealth in the painted silk industry; it proved a disaster; for the next quarter century, almost always on the move

1758, 33 years old -- secret mission to Holland on behalf of France to see bonds

1759, 34 years old -- back in Paris; meets Rosseau (unimpressed with Rosseau); departs for Amsterdam

1760, 35 years old -- travels Europe; meets Voltaire

1761, 36 years old -- to Naples

1762, 37 years old -- assists a transgender operation

1763, 38 years old -- Milan, Marseilles, Paris, and then London (probably hoping to set up another state lottery); fleeced by a prostitute; never rich again from this period on

1764, 39 years old -- destitute, leaves England forever

1765, 40 years old -- two audiences with Catherine the Great

1767, 42 years old -- back to Vienna; breaks gambling laws; expelled from the city

1768, 42 years old -- to Madrid

1769, 43 years old -- to France again

1770, 44 years old -- travels Europe again; meets Bonnie Prince Charlie

1771, 45 years old -- admitted to two famous literary Academies; goes to Florence; resolves to change life; fails; expelled from city

1772, 46 years old -- Bologna; works on his translation of the Iliad

I will stop here for now.

Skip ahead to:

1782: 56 years old -- long story, but again forced to leave Venice

1783: 57 years old -- another Wanderjahr: Vienna, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Aachen, Paris -- where he met Benjamin Franklin and nearly joined an expedition to Madagascar -- Dresden, Berlin, Prague;

1784, 58 years old -- returns to Vienna; saved; offered a permanent position as librarian in his castle at Dux in Bohemia; lived at Dux the last fourteen years of his life; short journeys thereafter; notably to Prague in 1787 where he met Mozart; in the library, wrote and wrote and wrote; produced a long novel -- science fiction before its time; and, also, more surprising still, was the publication in 1790, three mathematical studies on the Duplication of the Cube;

1790: began work on Histoire de ma vie which was to make him name immortal

1797, the Most Serene Republic of Venice came to an end after existing for more than a thousand years; voted itself out of existence; overrun by Napoleon; 

June 4, 1798, 73 years old: died; urinary infection

His history was not seen in its original form until 1967; Professor Willard Trask's superb English translation

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Bram Stoker
Barnes and Noble Classics
c. 2003

Jonathan Harker: new solicitor having just passed the bar; sent to County Dracula by his employer, Mr Hawkins
Mina: Harker's fiance
Count Dracula: looking for a place to buy in England; says Mr Hawkins is his friend

From Dracula, new words and comments

Chapter I
  • diligence: a stagecoach used in France and England during the 1700s and 1800s
  • St George's eve: from wiki, St George's Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century; April 23, May 6, a moveable feast; at the time considered the most dangerous night of the year; folks were terrified of vampires on this night; vampires most active on eves of St George's Day and St Andrews' Day; vampires and wolves
  • leiter-wagon: a peasant wagon
  • cal├Ęche: drawn by one horse; for two passengers, with driver on own seat on/above the splash board
Chapter II
  • traps: luggage
  • Victorian England: one dined in the afternoon; supped in the evening (explains why Linda made a big deal about dinner at noon; and supper in the evening)
  • Carfax: the name of the estate that Hawkins had found for Count Dracula
  • Kodak: mentions this in passing; does not call it a camera; simply a "Kodak"
Chapter III
  • mentions the Vikings and the Berserkers
  • culverin: a kind of handgun of the 15th and 16th centuries; later, a long cannon
  • half-mothered child:
Chapter IV
  • basilisk: mythic reptile that was said to be able to kill with a single glance
  • devils of the Pit: Satan thrown in to a bottomless pit, Book of Revelation
Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII 
  • the storm; the ship of interest makes it safely to harbor
  • East Cliff, the new searchlight was ready for experiment but had not yet been tried
  • silver sand: fine white sand
  • a nine-day's wonder: something that is of interest for a very short period
Chapter VIII