Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Richness and beauty

Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen, especially for anyone crisping and broiling and smoking in oil over public (Trump, Clinton, etc.) and private issues:
Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. The wider one can manage to get one’s overall view of life to become, —and that is about the most vital thing to aim for in life, —the more one comes to see the magnificence and multitudinous facets of existence. But this also involves a real and true freedom from prejudice, so that one does not at the same time try to go on maintaining that this or that is of immense importance, for it is not. --from Ngong, 10 April, 1931

(And that reminds me of Anne Frank, who more than once talked about how she didn't think of misery but of the beauty remaining. Lovely, bracing courage!)

Hemingway said that he would have been happy if Dinesen had gotten the Nobel instead of himself. Me too.

Postscript: Lionel Shriver's speech blowing up identity politics has an interesting relationship to that Dinesen quote. Whether you agree or  not, it's a challenge. (Clip: "Inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about 'community and belonging' is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.") Desiring to support other 5'2" Carolinian novelists, I recommend it be read. Maybe by you.

16 comments:

  1. Life should not be of ones self, but should add reflection to the happiness of others. Kim Holmes

    Thank you Marly for your excellent work. It has taught me as well as enthralled my interest in writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim, thank you for hopping by! Yes, we probably all think too much of ourselves.... Love one another is good advice.

      Delete
  2. Hemingway deferential to a woman? Shocking! Papa surprises me again.

    Now, though, I belatedly tell you how impressed I am with the facelift at your site; I very much like all the blurbs, book covers, links, etc...etc...etc... 'Tis all excellent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, thanks. My own small world.

      I remember being surprised at that as well. Somehow I hadn't imagined that Dinesen would appeal to Hemingway.

      Delete
  3. I think I must read Dinesen, I don't know why I haven't. Loved the film "Out of Africa", an all time favourite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The stories are very different from "Out of Africa," but I like them. They are more surprising than most!

      Delete
    2. I discovered in my ancient notes on some books that I loved reading, that I did read this book, long ago! Reread time methinks!

      Delete
    3. Rereading is the best reading! Enjoy.

      Delete
  4. There is a cadence to her writing that has always appealed to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Mary-Frances, and yes, I like her pauses and rhythm!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for this, Marly. It's a lovely passage and a timely thought.

    The spectacle of our time is that of two arrogant titans flinging boulders at each other on the far horizon, indifferent to the mortals they crush. I've responded by stumbling homeward and getting more involved—in our tiny countryside charitable and arts organizations; in making sure the teacher in my cottage is rested and fed; in the wistful maintenance of poems and art. So far, my only small disappointment is discovering how many people find me a fool and believe I should run back out within range of one of those boulders.

    We each know best where we're needed; now is the season for spurning the mob.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good description, and I think it applies to me as well. I'm definitely more local-looking at the moment. Spurning the mob...

      Delete
  6. "Me too." is ambiguous. It could mean you simply don't like Papa.

    Never mind Out Of Africa, how about Babette's Feast?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is ambiguous. You are quite, unambiguously correct!

      (Okay, well, I at one time read and reread Hemingway's stories. And I've read A Farewell to Arms several times. So there, a little less ambiguous. At this point in my life, I have no desire to read or read his novels. But you never know. I may live many years longer and go back to him. Or I may not have the chance, or I may not wish to do so.)

      And yes, Babette's Feast and all those forms of renunciation, generosity, and sacrifice. Must look at that one again some day. I have a quirky memory that locks on some things and dumps a lot of others, one that likes rereading. I must say that I've read Out of Africa only once, whereas there are many of her stories I have read more than once. I was just thinking about Dinesen because Scott Bailey was talking about the wild close of "The Monkey" and not liking it too much. So I was thinking that it is time to read more Dinesen. But first, must finish some reviews.

      Delete
    2. I'm still confused by the end of "The Monkey," but the rest of Seven Gothic Tales was fantastic. Though I confess that I still prefer Out of Africa. What a beautiful book that is.

      Delete
    3. Dinesen is grand! I expect that I had many disparate thoughts about "The Monkey." Maybe it's helpful to think of the monkey and the prioress as wildly different aspects of one being. But I have not read the story in years. Due for a reread, maybe.

      Delete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.