Ada Monroe and Inman  (Cold Mountain)

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

Babe (Babe)


Bathsheba Everdene (Far from the Madding Crowd)


Beatrice (Much Ado about Nothing)

Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

Cecily Cardew (Importance of Being Earnest)

Champion (Les Triplettes de Belleville)


Collin Fenwick (The Grass Harp)

Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch)

Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz)

Edward Scissorhands

Eleanor Roosevelt

Elizabeth (Frankenstein)

Ellen Foster (Ellen Foster)

Ellie Arroway (Contact)

Eppie (Silas Marner)

Estella (Great Expectations)

Esther Summerson (Bleak House)

Eustacia Vye (Return of the Native)


Flora Poste (Cold Comfort Farm)

Francis Marion Tarwater (The Violent Bear It Away)

Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings)

Gou Wa “Doggie” (King of Masks)

Hadji (Johnny Quest)

Harriet Smith (Emma)

Harry Potter

Harvey Cheyne, Jr. (Captains Courageous)

Hawkeye (Last of the Mohicans)

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)


Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well)

Homer Wells (Cider House Rules)

Huckleberry Finn

Hyacinth Robinson (The Princess Casimassima)

Irwin (Northfork)

Isabelle Archer (The Portrait of a Lady)

Jack Dawson (Titanic)

Jack Redburn (Master Humphrey's Clock)

Jake and Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)

James Henry Trotter (James & the Giant Peach)

Jane Eyre

Jane Fairfax (Emma)

Jen and Kira (The Dark Crystal)

Jo (Bleak House)

Joe Christmas (Light in August)

Jude Fawley (Jude the Obscure)

Kim (Kim)

Leo Tolstoy

Lilo (Lilo and Stitch)

Lillian (The Chimes)

Lily Bart (The Age of Innocence)

Lily Owen (The Secret Life of Bees)

Little Foot (The Land Before Time)

Little Nell (The Old Curiosity Shop)

Little Orphan Annie

Lucinda Leplastrier (Oscar and Lucinda)

*Lucy Manette (Tale of Two Cities)

Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)

Margaret, Helen, and Tibby Schlegel (Howard's End)

Marilyn Monroe

Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden)

Mary McCarthy

Mathilde and Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Mattie Silver (Ethan Frome)

Miette (City of Lost Children)

Millie Theale (The Wings of a Dove)

Miriam Chadwick (Oscar and Lucinda)

Mowgli (The Jungle Book)

Nameless (Hero)

*Neo (The Matrix)

Oliver Twist

Orphan Girl (Gillian Welch)

Oscar Hopkins (Oscar and Lucinda)

Our Johnny (Our Mutual Friend)

Pai (Whale Rider)

Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame)

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys

Philip Carey (Of Human Bondage)

Pip (Great Expectations)


Posthumus (Cymbeline)

Princess Mononoke

Queen Elizabeth I

Rickie Elliot (The Longest Journey)

Rosa (Edwin Drood)

Salvatore “Toto” (Cinema Paradiso)

Sara Crewe (The Little Princess)

Seymour Krelborn (Little Shop of Horrors)

Smike (Nicholas Nickleby)

Solomon Perel (Europa Europa)

Sophie Neveu (The DaVinci Code)

Sophy Viner (The Reef)


Stuart Little
Sue Bridehead (Jude the Obscure)


Tanya Chernova (Enemy at the Gates)

Tertius Lydgate (Middlemarch)

Tom (Water Babies)

Tom Jones

Tom Sawyer


Trinity (The Matrix)

Will Ladislaw (Middlemarch)

Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean)

W. Somerset Maugham




* = new or recent addition



[no name] (The Man Without a Past)

Dory (Finding Nemo)

Eleanor Mannering (Garden of Lies)

Giambattista "Yambo" Bodini (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana)

Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity)

Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Leonard Shelby (Memento)

*Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Nick Petrov (Oblivion)

Peter Appleton (The Majestic)

Rita (Mulholland Drive)

Ryder (The Unconsoled)

Samson Greene (Man Walks into a Room)

Will Barrett (The Last Gentleman)


February 1,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

Two magnificent dicta of Queen Victoria:

    The Queen is most anxious to enlist every one who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Woman's Rights', with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety.

The second comes in a letter to her granddaughter Princess Victoria of Hesse, dated 22 August 1883:

     I would earnestly warn you against trying to find out the reason for and explanation of everything . . . To try and find out the reason for everything is very dangerous and leads to nothing but disappointment and dissatisfaction, unsettling your mind and in the end making you miserable. 

--The Big Bang: Christmas Crackers 2000-2009 (being ten commonplace selections) by John Julius Norwich

January 30,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

What dreadful weather we have! - It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.

                         Jane Austen, in a letter of 18 September 1796

Elsewhere - but I can't remember where - she writes:

Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.

--The Big Bang: Christmas Crackers 2000-2009 (being ten commonplace selections) by John Julius Norwich

January 29,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

A letter from Charles Babbage (1792-1871), mathematician and inventor of the first effective calculating machine, to Alfred Lord Tennyson:


In your otherwise beautiful poem 'The Vision of Sin' there is a verse which reads - 'Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born.'  It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill . . .

I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read - 'Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1 1/16 is born.'  The actual figure is so long I cannot get it on a line, but I believe the figure of 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.

                                        I am, Sir, Yours etc.

                                                  Charles Babbage. 

--The Big Bang: Christmas Crackers 2000-2009 (being ten commonplace selections) by John Julius Norwich

January 28,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

Of all modern phenomena, the most monstrous and ominous, the most manifestly rotting with disease, the most grimly prophetic of destruction, the most clearly and unmistakably inspired by evil spirits, the most instantly and awfully overshadowed by the wrath of heaven, the most near to madness and moral chaos, the most vivid with devilry and despair, is the practice of having to listen to loud music while eating a meal in a restaurant.

--G. K. Chesterton

--The Big Bang: Christmas Crackers 2000-2009 (being ten commonplace selections) by John Julius Norwich

[N.B.:  Luckily for Chesterton, he died long before the invention of the flat-screen television.]

January 27,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

Columbia Studios after the first audition of Marilyn Monroe:

Can't act . . . Voice like a tight squeak . . . utterly unsure of herself . . . Unable even to take refuge in her own insignificance.

And on Fred Astaire:

Can't act.  Slightly bald.  Also dances.

--The Big Bang: Christmas Crackers 2000-2009 (being ten commonplace selections) by John Julius Norwich

January 26,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

My friend David Lanford has produced a marvellous piece by Augustus Hare:

I recall visiting the late Dean of Christ church, known as Presence-of-Mind Smith.  'In my life', he said, 'there has been one most fortunate incident.  A friend of mine persuaded me to go out with him in a boat upon a lake.  I did not wish to go, but he persuaded me and I went.  By the intervention of Providence I took my umbrella with me.  We had not been long on the lake when the violence of the waves threw my friend out of the boat drowning, and he sank.  Soon, as is the case with drowning persons, he came up again, and clutched hold of the side of the boat.  Then, such providentially was the presence of my mind, that I seized my umbrella and rapped him violently on the knuckles till he let go.  He sank and I was saved.'

--The Big Bang: Christmas Crackers 2000-2009 (being ten commonplace selections) by John Julius Norwich

January 25,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

He senses that the warders know what he's up to, but they don't say anything.  And the reason they don't is not because they want to make life easier for the condemned man, but because they've witnessed so much misery it has dulled their feelings.

They don't talk themselves, lest their charges should.  They don't want to listen to any complaints; there's nothing they can do about them anyway.  Everything here takes its rigid course.  They are cogs in a machine, iron cogs, steel cogs.  If an iron cog happened to soften, it would have to be replaced, and the cogs don't want to be replaced--they want to be just the way they are.

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 24,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

And then the tortures had begun all over again, in the hope that the hunchback might spill the beans on some further crime.  Inspector Laub followed the watchword of the times: Everyone is guilty.  You just need to probe for long enough, and you'll find something.

Laub simply refused to believe that he had stumbled upon a German citizen, not a member of the Party, who never listened to enemy radio, or indulged in defeatist whisperings, or fiddled his rations.

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 23,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

In consequence of this suicide, it was the prison chaplain, Friedrich Lorenz, who was suspended from duty, rather than the drunken doctor.  Charges were laid against the priest.  Because it was a crime and the abetting of a crime to enable a prisoner to put an end to his own life: only the state and its servants were supposed to have that prerogative.

If a detective pistol-whips a man so badly that his skull is fractured, and if a drunken doctor allows the injured man to die, both are an example of due process.  Whereas if a priest fails to hinder a suicide, if he allows a prisoner to exercise his or her will--that will is supposed to have been taken away--then he has committed a crime and must be punished.

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 22,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"And what good will that do us, down in our graves?"

"Quangel, I ask you!  Would you rather live for an unjust cause than die for a just one?  There is no choice--not for you, nor for me either.  It's because we are as we are that we have to go this way."

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 21,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Yes, and then they kill us and what good did our resistance do?"

"Well, it will have helped us to feel that we behaved decently till the end.  And much more, it will have helped people everywhere, who will be saved for the righteous few among them, as it says in the Bible.  Of course, Quangel, it would have been a hundred times better if we'd had someone who could have told us.  Such and such is what you have to do; our plan is this and this.  But if there had been such a man in Germany, then Hitler would never have come to power in 1933.  As it was, we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone.  But that doesn't mean that we are alone, Quangel, or that our deaths will be in vain.  Nothing in this world is done in vain, and since we are fighting for justice against brutality, we are bound to prevail in the end."

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 20,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Who can say?  At least you opposed evil.  You weren't corrupted.  You and I and the many locked up here, and many more in other places of detention, and tens of thousands in concentration camps--they're all resisting, today, tomorrow..."

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 19,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Who wants to die?" he asked.  "Everyone wants to live, everyone--even the most miserable worm is screaming for life!  I want to live, too.  But maybe it's a good thing, Anna, even in the midst of life to think of a wretched death, and to get ready for it.  So that you know you'll be able to die properly, without moaning and whimpering.  That would be disgusting to me . . . ."

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 17,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

When the deputy inspector--in spite of his firm conviction that Enno Kluge was not the author nor the distributor of the postcards--when, even so, he intimated to Inspector Escherich that Kluge was probably the distributor of the writings, he did so because a wise inferior should never try to second-guess his superior.  Against Kluge, there was a firm charge from the doctor's receptionist, Fraulein Kiesow, and whether this had substance or not, was something the inspector could determine for himself.

If it had substance, then the deputy was a capable man, assured of the future benevolence of the inspector.  If it remained unsubstantiated, then it merely showed that the inspector was wiser than the deputy, and the determination of this margin of wisdom on the part of the superior can be more useful to the inferior than any bravura of his own.

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 16,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"All things considered," Borkhausen begins, "life is really pretty good.  All these nice things here," he gestures at them, "and we can take our pick of the lot, plus we're doing a good deed because we're taking them off a Jewish woman who only stole them in the first place...."

"You're right there, Emil--we're doing a good deed for the German nation and our Fuhrer.  These are the good time he has promised us."

"And our Fuhrer, you know, he keeps his promises, he keeps his promises, Enno!"

They gaze at each other, eyes welling with tears.

"What on earth are you two doing here?" comes a sharp voice from the doorway.

They jump, and see a little fellow in a brown uniform.

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 15,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

Even the worst Party member was worth more to them than the best ordinary citizen.  Once in the Party, it appeared you could do what you liked, and never be called for it.  They termed that rewarding loyalty with loyalty.

--Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (tr. Michael Hofmann)

January 14,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

A very dirty monk, face and hands stained with earth, appeared at the door, unaware that he was interrupting.  "We found the lamb!" he shouted, then stared slackmouthed at the visitor.

"Good man yourself," the Abbot said.  "Where was it?"

"But that's the story of it.  In an old byre, by the ruin where the Cullens used to live.  And lying down, keeping warm, up against a wee pony."

"With a pony?"

"Right forenenst it.  A wee pony of Taig Murtagh's."

"And the pony didn't mind?"

"Divil a bit."

"There's the power of prayer for you," Father Manus said, his good humor restored.

"It took more than prayer," said the dirty monk.  "It took the whole day."

--Catholics by Brian Moore

January 13,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"And we did it that way for nearly two thousand years and, in all that time, the church was a place to be quiet in, and respectful, it was a hushed place because God was there, God on the altar, in the tabernacle in the form of a wafer of of bread and a chalice of wine.  It was God's house, where, every day, the daily miracle took place.  God coming down among us.  A mystery."

--Catholics by Brian Moore

January 12,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"And the Mass was said in Latin because Latin was the language of the Church and the Church was one and universal and a Catholic could go into any church in the world, here or in Timbuktu, or in China, and hear the same Mass, the only Mass there was, the Latin Mass.  And if the Mass was in Latin and people did not speak Latin, that was part of the mystery of it, for the Mass was not talking to your neighbor, it was talking to God.  Almighty God!"

--Catholics by Brian Moore

January 11,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"The Mass!  The Mass in Latin, the priest with his back turned to the congregation because both he and the congregation faced the altar where God was.  Offering up the daily sacrifice of the Mass to God.  Changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ the way Jesus told his disciples to do it at the Last Supper.  'This is my body and this is my blood.  Do ye this in commemoration of me.'  God sent His Son to redeem us.  His Son came down into the world and was crucified for our sins and the Mass is the commemoration of that crucifixion, of that sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ for our sins.  It is priest and people praying to God, assisting in a miracle whereby Jesus Christ again comes down among us, body and blood in the form of the bread and wine there on the altar."

--Catholics by Brian Moore

January 10,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"But why do the confessions take so long?"

"We still have private confessions.  One person at a time in the box."

Private confessions.  This was not known in Rome.  "What about public confessions?"

"Public confessions, Father?"

"Where the whole congregation stands before Mass and says an act of contrition?"

"Ah, that never took here."

Anger, sudden and cold, made Kinsella say: "It took everywhere else!"  Ashamed, he saw the hotelkeeper bob his head, obedient, rebuked but unconvinced.

--Catholics by Brian Moore

January 9,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

His friend Visher, a behaviorist, had made a study of current Catholic attitudes towards their clergy.  "People are sheep," Visher said.  "They haven't changed.  They want those old parish priests and those old family doctors.  Sheep need authoritarian sheepdogs nipping at their heels from birth to funeral.  People don't want truth or justice, they don't want this ecumenical tolerance.  They want certainties.  The old parish priest promised that."

--Catholics by Brian Moore

January 8,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

Now my aunt swivels around to face me and not so bad-humoredly.  "I did my best for you, son.  I gave you all I had.  More than anything I wanted to pass on to you the one heritage of the men of our family, a certain quality of spirit, a gaiety, a sense of duty, a nobility worn lightly, a sweetness, a gentleness with women--the only good things the South ever had and the only things that really matter in this life.  Ah well.  Still you can tell me one thing.  I know you're not a bad boy--I wish you were.  But how did it happen that none of this ever meant anything to you?  Clearly it did not.  Would you please tell me?  I am genuinely curious."

--The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

January 7,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

Our is the only civilization in history which has enshrined mediocrity as its national ideal.  Others have been corrupt, but leave it to us to invent the most undistinguished of corruptions.  No orgies, no blood running in the street, no babies thrown off cliffs.  No, we're sentimental people and we horrify easily.  True, our moral fiber is rotten.  Our national character stinks to high heaven.  But we are kinder than ever.  No prostitute ever responded with a quicker spasm of sentiment when our hearts are touched.  Nor is there anything new about thievery, lewdness, lying, adultery.  What is new is that in our time liars and thieves and whores and adulterers wish also to be congratulated and are congratulated by the great public, if their confession is sufficiently psychological or strikes a sufficiently heartfelt and authentic note of sincerity.  Oh, we are sincere.  I do not deny it.  I don't know anybody nowadays who is not sincere. 

--The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

January 6,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

They were as kind to me as anyone could be.  But no one could think of anything to say.  Night after night we sat there playing operas on the phonograph and dreading the moment when the end came and someone had to say something.  I became so nervous that one night I slipped on the hearth and fell into the fire.  Can you believe it was a relief to suffer extreme physical pain?  Hell couldn't be fire--there are worse things than fire.

--The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

January 5,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

"You remind me of a prisoner in the death house who takes a wry pleasure in doing things like registering to vote.  Come to think of it, all your gaiety and good spirits have the same death house quality.  No thanks.  I've had enough of your death house pranks."

"What is there to lose?"

"Can't you see that after what happened last night, it is no use.  I can't play games now.  But don't you worry.  I'm not going to swallow all the pills at once.  Losing hope is not so bad.  There's something worse: losing hope and hiding it from yourself."

--The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

January 4,  2016

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I visited them in Mexico, each spoke highly of the other and in the other's presence, which was slightly embarrassing.  "He's quite a guy," Joel told me.  "Do you know what he told me after lying under a cliff for thirty six hours with two inches of his femur sticking out?  He said: Queenie, I think I'm going to pass out and before I do, I'm going to give you a piece of advice--God, I thought he was going to die and knew and was telling me what to do with his book--and he said quite solemnly: Queenie, always stock to Bach and the early Italians--and passed out cold as a mackerel.  And by god, it's not bad advice."

--The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

December 28, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

We have often wondered how many months' incessant travelling in a post-chaise it would take to kill a man; and wondering by analogy, we should very much like to know how many months of travelling in a succession of early coaches, an unfortunate mortal could endure.  Breaking a man alive upon the wheel, would be nothing to breaking his rest, his peace, his heart--everything but his fast--upon four; and the punishment of Ixion (the only practical person, by the bye, who has discovered the secret of perpetual motion) would sink into utter insignificance before the one we have suggested.  If we had been a powerful churchman in those good times when blood was shed as freely as water, and men were mowed down like grass, in the sacred cause of religion, we would have lain by very quietly till we got hold of some especially obstinate miscreant, who positively refused to be converted to our faith, and then we would have booked him for an inside place in a small coach, which travelled day and night: and securing the remainder of the places for stout men with a slight tendency to coughing and spitting, we would have started him forth on his last travels: leaving him mercilessly to all the tortures which the waiters, landlords, coachmen, guards, boots, chambermaids, and other familiars on his line of road, might think proper to inflict.

--Greenwich Fair collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

[N.B.:  Apparently, Dickens was a futurist as well as a humorist given his uncanny description of modern airline flight (even down to the particular evils of the middle seat).]

December 27, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Here and there, where some three of four couple are sitting on the grass together, you will see a sunburnt woman in a red cloak 'telling fortunes' and prophesying husbands, which it requires no extraordinary observation to describe, for the originals are before her.  Thereupon, the lady concerned laughs and blushes, and ultimately buries her face in an imitation cambric handkerchief, and the gentleman described looks extremely foolish, and squeezes her hand, and fees the gipsy liberally; and the gipsy goes away, perfectly satisfied herself, and leaving those behind her perfectly satisfied also: and the prophecy, like many other prophecies of greater importance, fulfils itself in time.

--Greenwich Fair collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

December 26, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

By the way, talking of fathers, we should very much like to see some piece in which all the dramatis personae were orphans.  Fathers are invariably great nuisances on the stage, and always have to give the hero or heroine a long explanation of what was done before the curtain rose, usually commencing with 'It is now nineteen years, my dear child, since your blessed mother (here the old villain's voice falters) confided you to my charge.  You were then an infant,' etc., etc.  Or else they have to discover, all of a sudden, that somebody whom they have been in constant communication with, during three long acts, without the slightest suspicion, is their own child: in which case they exclaim, 'Ah! what do I see?  This bracelet!  That smile!  These documents!  Those eyes!  Can I believe my senses?--It must be!--Yes--it is, it is my child!'--'My father!'  exclaims the child; and they fall into each other's arms, and look over each other's shoulders, and the audience give three rounds of applause.

--Astley's collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

[N.B.:  At least Dickens came by his love of orphans honestly and at an early age.]

December 25, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Telescopes, sandwiches, and glasses of brandy-and-water cold without, begin to be in great requisition; and bashful men who have been looking down the hatchway at the engine, find, to their great relief, a subject on which they can converse with one another--and a copious one too--Steam.

'Wonderful thing steam, sir.'  'Ah! (a deep-drawn sigh) it is indeed, sir.'  'Great power, sir.'  'Immense--immense!'  'Great deal done by steam, sir.'  'Ah! (another sign of immensity of the subject, and a knowing shake of the head) you may say that, sir.'  'Still in its infancy, they say, sir.'  Novel remarks of this kind, are generally the commencement of a conversation which is prolonged until the conclusion of the trip, and perhaps, lays the foundation of a speaking acquaintance between half a dozen gentlemen, who, having their families at Gravesend, take season-tickets for the boat, and fine on board regularly every afternoon.

--Astley's collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

[N.B.:  The late, great, David Foster Wallace noticed the same phenomenon in arguably his best essay.]

December 24, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

On a summer's evening, when the large watering-pot has been filled and emptied some fourteen times, and the old couple have quite exhausted themselves by trotting about, you will see them sitting happily together in the little summer-house, enjoying the calm and peace of the twilight, and watching the shadows as they fall upon the garden, and gradually growing thicker and more sombre, obscure the tints of their gayest flowers--no bad emblem of the years that have silently rolled over their heads, deadening in their course the brightest hues of early hopes and feelings which have long since faded away.  There are their only recreations, and they require no more.  They have within themselves, the materials of comfort and content; and the only anxiety of each, is to die before the other.

--London Recreations collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

December 23, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The gentleman in spectacles having concluded his judgment, and a few minutes having been allowed to elapse, to afford time for the buzz in the Court to subside, the registrar called on the next cause, which was 'the office of the Judge promoted by Bumple against Sludberry.'  A general movement was visible in the Court, at this announcement, and the obliging functionary with silver staff whispered us that 'there would be some fun now, for this was a brawling case.'

--Doctor's Commons collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

[N.B.:  Dickens always had a comical gift for naming his characters--even the most minor of them.  Would you agreed Podsnap?]

December 22, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Why should hackney-coaches be clean?  Our ancestors found them dirty, and left them so.  Why should we, with a feverish wish to 'keep moving,' desire to roll along at the rate of six miles an hour, while they were content to rumble over the stones at four?

--Hackney-Coach Stands collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

[N.B.:  Dickens, a man after Richard Nixon's own heart; Nixon, of course, as President, lowered the nation's speed limit to 55-miles-per-hour.]

December 21, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The inevitable consequence is, that she just steps, milk-jug in hand, as far as next door, just to say 'good-morning' to both of 'em; and as the aforesaid Mr. Todd's young man is almost as good-looking and fascinating as the baker himself, the conversation quickly becomes very interesting, and probably would become more so, if Besy Clark's Missis, who always will be a followin' her about, didn't give an angry tap at her bedroom window, on which Mr. Todd's young man tries to whistle coolly, as he goes back to his shop much faster than he came from it; and the two girls run back to their respective places, and shut their street-doors with surprising softness, each of them poking their heads out of the front-parlour window, a minute afterwards, however, ostensibly with the view of looking at the mail which just then passes by, but really for the purpose of catching another glimpse of Mr. Todd's young man, who being fond of mails, but more of females, takes a short look at the mails, and a long look at the girls, much to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

--The Streets--Morning collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

[N.B.:  Who sez Boz can't write in long, Proustian sentences?]

December 20, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was unanimously resolved, that a deputation of old ladies should wait upon a celebrated orator, imploring his assistance, and the favour of a speech; and the deputation should also wait on two or three other imbecile old women, not resident in the parish, and entreat their attendance. The application was successful, the meeting was held; the orator (an Irishman) came.  He talked of green isles--other shores--vast Atlantic--bosom of the deep--Christian charity--blood and extermination--mercy in hearts--arms in hands--altars and homes--household gods.  He wiped his eyes, he blew his nose, and he quoted Latin.  The effect was tremendous--the Latin was a decided hit.  Nobody knew exactly what it was about, but everybody knew it must be affecting, because even the orator was overcome.

--The Ladies' Societies collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

December 19, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The breath was scarcely out of the body of the deceased functionary, when the field was filled with competitors for the vacant office, each of whom rested his claims to public support, entirely on the number and extent of his family, as if the office of beadle were originally instituted as an encouragement for the propagation of the human species.  'Bung for Beadle.  Five small children!'--'Hopkins for Beadle.  Seven small children!!'--'Timkins for Beadle.  Nine small children!!!'  Such were the placards in large black letters on a white ground, which were plentifully pasted on the walls, and posted in the windows of the principal shops.  Timkins's success was considered certain: several mothers of families half promised their votes, and the nine small children would have run over the course, but for the production of another placard, announcing the appearance of a still more meritorious candidate.  'Spruggins for Beadle.  Ten small children (two of them twins), and a wife!!!'

--The Election for Beadle collected in Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens

December 18, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

There would be pandemonium at the bar, from one little Fleming family party.  Then at ten they would come in and eat solidly for an hour and a half.  Grunting and snorting together.  Mother, father, child.  Everyone a little ball of fat.  That was the sort of example they were setting.  You can't blame the Africans.  The Africans have eyes.  They can see.  The African's very funny that way.  You can drive him hard for weeks on end.  But one day he'll gallop away with you.

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

December 17, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"What you do?"

"I work here."

"I don't see you."

"I work in the south.  The Southern Collectorate."

"Yes, yes.  South."  The African laughed.

"I'm a civil servant.  A bureaucrat.  I have my in-tray and my out-tray.  I also have my tea-tray."

"Civil servant.  That is good."

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

December 16, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Carter says there's a four o'clock curfew in the Southern Collectorate, Bobby.  The army's rampaging somewhat, apparently."

"That's what African armies are for," Carter said.  "They are intended only for civilian use."

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

December 15, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

He said calmly, "I had a breakdown at Oxford."

He had spoken too calmly.  Linda remained bright.  "I've long wanted to ask someone who had one.  Exactly what is a breakdown?"

It was something he had defined more than once.  But he pretended to fumble for the words.  "A breakdown.  It's like watching yourself die.  Well, not die.  It's like watching yourself become a ghost."

She matched his tone.  "Did it last long?"

"Eighteen months."

She was impressed.  He could tell.

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

December 14, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

I love them.  They take my money, they spoil my life, they separate us.  But you can't kill them.  O God, show me the enemy.  Once you find out who the enemy is, you can kill him.  But these people here they confuse me.  Who hurt me?  Who spoil my life?  Tell me who to beat back.  I work four years to save my money, I work like a donkey night and day.  My brother was to be the educated one, the nice one.  And this is how it is ending, in this room, eating with these people.  Tell me who to kill.

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

[N.B.:  Nowadays one needs only to log onto the internet and find the answer to this question.]

December 13, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Then I run into prejudice and regulations.  At home you can put up a table outside your house any time and start selling what you want.  Here they have regulations.  Those suspicious men in tweeds and flannels, some of them young, young fellows, are coming round with their forms and pressing me on every side.  They are not leaving me any peace of mind at all.  They are full of remarks, they don't smile, they like nothing I do. 

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

[N.B.:  And that, in a nutshell, is why the number of start-ups has declined dramatically.]

December 12, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

So I start stunning myself with work, and my life become one long work.  I get up about six.  By seven, Dayo still sleeping, I leave for the cigarette factory.  I come back about six to the basement, sometimes Dayo there, sometimes he is not there.  By eight I leave for the restaurant, and I come back about midnight or later.  London for me is the bus rides, morning, evening, night, the factory, the restaurant kitchen, the basement.  I know it is too much, but for me even that is part of the pleasure.  Like when you are sick and thin, you want to get thinner and thinner, just to see how thin you could get.  Or like some fat people who don't like being fat but still they just want to see how fat they could get: they are always looking at their shadow, and that is like their secret hobby.  So now I am always tired when I go to sleep and tired in the morning, but I like and enjoy the tiredness.

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

December 11, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Stephen's daughters especially take against the boy, when you would think they ought to have been proud of their handsome cousin.  But no, like all poor people, they want to be the only ones to rise.  It is the poor who always want to keep down the poor.

--In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

December 10, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Art deploys the deconstruction of outward appearances as a means of countering the obliteration, in endless series of reproductions, of the visible world. 

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December 9, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The photographic image makes a tautology of reality.  When Cartier-Bresson goes to China, writes Susan Sontag, he shows that there are people in China and that these people are Chinese.  What may be true of photography, though, is not necessarily applicable to art.  The latter depends on ambiguity, polyvalence, resonance, obfuscation and illumination, in short, the transcending of that which, according to an ineluctable law, has necessarily to be the case. 

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December 8, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Gombrich goes on to explain how, in tromp l'oeil painting, the suggestive power of the picture and the expectation on the part of the viewer mutually reinforce each other, and he concludes the section with the remark that the most convincing tromp l'oeil he had ever seen 'simulated' a broken pane of glass in front of the picture.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  7, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Ernst Gombrich, in his comprehensive work on art and illusion, recalls the story Pliny relates of the two Greek painters Parrhasius and Zeuxis.  Zeuxis, it is said, painted grapes in such a deceptively realistic manner that the birds tried to peck at them.   Parrhasius then invited Zeuxis to his studio in order to show him his own work.  When Zeuxis went to draw back the curtain in front of the picture to which Parrhasius led him, he discovered that it was not in fact real, but painted.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  6, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is a scene which Nabokov quotes in his book on Gogol, where we are told that the hero of Dead Souls, our Mr Chichikov, is boring a certain young lady in a ballroom with all kinds of pleasantries which he had already uttered on numerous occasions in various places, for example: 'In the Government of Simbirsk, at the house of Sofron Ivanovich Bezpechnoy, where the latter's daughter, Adelaida Sofronovna, was also present with her three sisters-in-law, Maria Gavrilovna, Alexandra Gavrilovna, and Adelheida Gavrilovna; at the house of Frol Vasilievich Pobedonosnoy, in the Government of Penza; and at that of the latter's brother, where the following were present: his wife's sister Katerina Mikhailovna and her cousins Rosa Feodorovna and Emilia Feodorovna, in the government of Viatka, at the house of Pyotr Varsonophyevich, where his daughter-in-law's sister Pelagea Egorovna was present, together with a niece, Sophia Rotislavna and the two stepsisters: sophia Alexandrovna and Maclatura Alexandrovna' - this scene, none of whose characters makes an appearance anywhere else in Gogol's work, since their secret (like that of human existence as a whole) resides in their utter superfluity - this scene with its digressive nature could equally well have sprung from Robert Walser's imagination.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  5, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The comparison with Gogol is by no means far-fetched, for if Walser had any literary relative or predecessor, then it was Gogol.  Both of them gradually lost the ability to keep their eye on the centre of the plot, losing themselves instead in the almost compulsive contemplation of strangely unreal creations appearing on the periphery of their vision, about whose previous and future fate we never learn even the slightest thing.  

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  4, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Carl Seelig relates that once, on a walk with Robert Walser, he had mentioned Paul Klee - they were just on the outskirts of the hamlet of Balgach - and scarcely had he uttered the name than he caught sight, as they entered the village, of a sign in an empty shop window bearing the words Paul Klee - Carver of Wooden Candlesticks.  Seelig does not attempt to offer an explanation for the strange coincidence.  He merely registers it, perhaps because it is precisely the most extraordinary things which are the most easily forgotten.  And so I too will just set down without comment what happened to me recently while reading the novel Der Rauber [The Robber], the only one of Walser's longer works with which I was at the time still unfamiliar.  Quite near the beginning of the book the narrator states that the Robber crossed Lake Constance by moonlight.  Exactly thus - by moonlight - is how, in one of my own stories, Aunt Fini imagines the young Ambros crossing the selfsame lake, although, as she makes a point of saying, this can scarcely have been the case in reality.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  3, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

If we gaze into this safely bounded orbis pictus for long enough, we can easily imagine that here someone has stopped the clock and said: this is how it should be for ever after.  The ideal world of the Biedermeier imagination is like a perfect world in miniature, a still life preserved under a glass dome.  Everything in it seems to be holding its breath.  If we turn it upside down, it begins to snow a little.  Then all at once it becomes spring and summer again.  It is impossible to imagine a more perfect order.  And yet on either side of this apparently eternal calm there lurks the fear of the chaos of time spinning ever more rapidly out of control.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  2, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Rousseau] finishes the Confessions and reads from them in various salons in sessions lasting up to seventeen (!) hours, to some extent anticipating Franz Kafka's desire to be allowed to read aloud, to an audience condemned to listen, the whole of Stendhal's Education sentimentale at one sitting.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

December  1, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Few things are as immutable as the vindictiveness with which writers talk about their literary colleagues behind their backs.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

November 30, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

I have learned how it is essential to gaze far beneath the surface, that art is nothing without patient handiwork, and that there are many difficulties to be reckoned with in the recollection of things.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

November 29, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

What I found most surprising in the course of these observations is the awful tenacity of those who devote their lives to writing.  There seems to be no remedy for the vice of literature; those afflicted persist in the habit despite the fact that there is no longer any pleasure to be derived from it, even at that critical age when, as Keller remarks, one every day runs the risk of becoming simple-minded, and longs for nothing more than to put a halt to the wheels ceaselessly turning in one's head.  Rousseau, who in his refuge on the Ile Sainte-Pierre -- he is fifty-three years old at this point -- already longs for an end to the eternal business of cogitation, nevertheless keeps on writing up to the very end.

--A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald

November 28, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

It is undoubtedly true that there is no clear and prescriptive relationship between life and art or art and life.  To put it at its most crass, Schubert wrote jolly music when he was gloomy and gloomy music when he was jolly.  but the relationship between artistic expression and lived experience works over a broader span.  It is not just a matter of the mood of the moment, and it also encompasses matters of personal character or predisposition as well as intellectual presuppositions.  Art is created in history by living, feeling, thinking human beings; we cannot understand it without grappling with its associations to and grounding in worlds of emotion, ideology, or practical constraint.  Art is made from the collision between life and form; it does not exist in some sort of idealised vacuum.  Only be investigating the personal and the political, in their broadest sense (and this is especially true of Romantic art), can we properly assess the more formal aspects.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

[N.B.:  Take that New Criticism--and bravo Bostridge.]

November 27, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

We have all had that moment of catching ourselves unexpectedly in a mirror and seeing ourselves as others see us--older, fatter, thinner, distracted, dismayed, happy, sad, but, above all, Other.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

November 26, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Contemporaries spoke of the "entirely new life" which had been given to "the vehicular post in Germany" (1825).  Commentators were impressed: "The reform of the vehicular post that has been carried out in Germany in this century is novel, grand and admirable" (1826).  The road network was expanded, and surfaces improved hand-in-hand with developments in carriage suspension, which gave passengers the feeling that they were "gliding along."  Lengths of stops at post stations were cut down; conductors using clock and logbook ensured that advertised times were adhered to, penalties for slacking expressed no longer in hours or quarter-hours but in minutes.  Journey times were slashed--Berlin to Magdeburg from two and a half days to fifteen hours.  Frankfurt was now only two and a half days distant from Berlin, and ninety-three rapid post vehicles made the journey every week in the 1830s.  The coordination of timetables involved a new and standardised conception of time itself.  In 1825 the main Prussian post office in Berlin installed a "standard clock."  All mail coaches were to carry a portable timekeeper conveying that standardised time to the sleepiest corner of the postal network.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

November 25, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The alternative is to present each song as an individual, self-contained experience.  Some performers do indeed find the near-overlapping of songs, the fusion of their musical stuff, to be a denial of the this-ness of each individual piece.  That is not how a song recital works for me, and I would call Winterreise in aid here as the paradigm.  In constructing an evening of Schubert song, the example of Winterreise is compelling.  It uses variation of key, near and distant, major and minor, to great effect--implying, for example, physical proximity and distance between some of the songs on this long journey.  A short, fast song can form a bridge between two longer, slower songs (something another great song composer, Francis Poulenc, learnt from in his cycles); and, as we have seen earlier in the piece, motivic connections can create an elective affinity between certain songs (the way the impetuous triplets of "Erstarrung" segue into the rustling triplets of "Der Lindenbaum"; the way the repetitive, nagging dotted figure of the last verse of "Lindenbaum" is transmuted into the opening of "Wasserflut").  Solutions will be different for different singers, on different occasions, for different audiences, with different pianists, in different halls, after the challenges of a day that will always have been somehow unique.  That multivalency is part of the fascination of Winterreise.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

November 24, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

One of the most interesting discussions about the meaning and metaphysics of ice flowers took place between Goethe and his intimate friend the poet and translator Karl Ludwig von Knebel.  In 1788 Goethe was off travelling in Italy, enjoying the warm delights of "das Land wo die Citronen bluhn" (the land where the lemon trees blossom), as he famously called it in one of the Mignon songs from his bildungsroman Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjarhre.  Knebel wrote to him playfully reminding him that if the South had its charms, the cold North had its compensations.  On his window, for example, he could see Eisblumen which might well be compared with "echten Pflanzen," true plants, with leaves, branches, vines, even roses.  He praises their beauty, sending his friend a few drawings of them which display their marvellous delicacy of form.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

November 23, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The beautiful, various, and overabundant crystalline forms in which frozen water exists have been seen by many as a sign of divine intelligence at work in the universe.  The great seventeenth-century astronomer, renowned discoverer of elliptical planetary orbits, Johannes Kepler, believed that the soul of water created snow crystals.  In his pioneering work of microscopy, Micrographia (1665), Robert Hooke interpreted the complex and individuated structure of the snowflakes he saw through his instrument as tokens of the divine at work in the world.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

November 22, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

In putting Winterreise together, the issue of tessitura seems not to have been a central concern for Schubert.  Tessitura literally means "texture"; in vocal music, it refers to the area in which most of the singing line lies.  The tessitura of the Evangelist, a tenor, in the Bach Passion is, for example, high, although high B appears only once, and high B-flat not at all.  Even at baroque pitch (A=415 hz, about a semitone lower than modern pitch) the role "sits" high.  On the other hand, many operatic roles for a tenor may have a tessitura which sits lower than the Evangelist's in terms of its vocal centre of gravity, but stretches up much higher for individual notes--those B's, C's, and even C-sharps and D's which operatic tenors call the "money notes."  Singing Winterreise in public concert, projecting in a large hall, none notices that the keys--those published and those higher keys Schubert originally wrote, as in the case of "Wasserflut"--do not really cohere around one voice type.

--Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

November 21, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Like Napoleon, Lloyd George had an uncanny ability to sense what other people were thinking.  He told Frances Stevenson that he loved staying in hotels: "I am always interest in people--wondering who they are--what their lives are like--whether they are enjoying life or finding it a bore."  Although he was a wonderful conversationalist, he was also a very good listener.  From the powerful to the humble, adults to children, everyone who met him was made to feel that he or she had something important to say.  "One of the most admirable traits in Mr. Lloyd George's character," in Churchill's view, "was his complete freedom at the height of his power, responsibility and good fortune from any thing in the nature of pomposity or superior airs.  He was always natural and simple.  He was always exactly the same to those who knew him well: ready to argue any point, to listen to disagreeable facts even when controversially presented."  His famous charm was rooted in this combination of curiosity and attention.

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

[N.B.:  Now which modern president does this description remind you of?]

November 20, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

If anyone was like Napoleon it was not the poor deluded Northcliffe but the man he hated.  Napoleon once said of himself, "Different subjects and different affairs are arranged in my head as in a cupboard.  When I wish to interrupt one train of thought, I shut that drawer and open another.  Do I wish to sleep?  I simply close all the drawers and there I am--asleep."  Lloyd George had those powers of concentration and recuperation, that energy and fondness for the attack.  "The Englishman," he told a Welsh friend, "never respects any fellow unless that fellow beats him; then he becomes particularly affable towards him."

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 19, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Clemenceau did not much like either Wilson or Lloyd George.  "I find myself," he said in a phrase that went round Paris, "between Jesus Christ on the one hand, and Napoleon Bonaparte on the other."  Wilson puzzled him: "I do not think he is a bad man, but I have not yet made up my mind as to how much of him is good!"  He also found him priggish and arrogant.  "What ignorance of Europe and how difficult all understandings were with him!  He believed you could do everything by formulas and his fourteen points.  God himself was content with ten commandments.  Wilson modestly inflicted fourteen points on us . . . the fourteen commandments of the most empty theory.

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

[N.B.:  Any resemblance this description might have with a current or past president is purely coincidental.]

November 18, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

During the Peace Conference, France's allies became exasperated with what they saw as French intransigence, French greed and French vindictiveness.  They had not suffered what France had suffered.  The was memorials, in every city, town and village, with their lists of names from the First World War, the handful from the Second, tell the story of France's losses.  A quarter of French men between eighteen and thirty had died in the war, over 1.3 million altogether out of a prewar population of 40 million.  France lost a higher proportion of its population than any other of the belligerents.  Twice as many again of its soldiers had been wounded.  In the north, great stretches of land were pitted with shell holes, scarred by deep trenches, marked with row upon row of crosses.

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 17, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Across Europe there were squares, streets, railway stations and parks bearing Wilson's name.  Wall posters cried, "We Want a Wilson Peace."  In Italy, soldiers knelt in front of his picture; in France, the left-wing paper L'Humanite brought out a special issue in which the leading lights of the French left vied with each other to praise Wilson's name.  The leaders of the Arab revolt in the desert, Polish nationalists in Warsaw, rebels in the Greek islands, students in Peking, Koreans trying to shake off Japan's control, all took the Fourteen Points as their inspiration.  Wilson himself found it exhilarating but also terrifying.  "I am wondering," he said to George Creel, his brilliant propaganda chief, who was on board the George Washington, "whether you have not unconsciously spun a net for me from which there is no escape."  The whole world was truning tot eh United State but, he went on, they both knew that such great problems could not be fixed at once.  "What I seem to see--with all my heart I hope that I am wrong--is a tragedy of disappointment."

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

[N.B.:  No word yet on whether Wilson was also described as a "light worker" who embodied "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."]

November 16, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Mexican adventure also showed Wilson's propensity, perhaps unconscious, to ignore the truth.  When he sent troops to Mexico for the first time, he told Congress that it was in response to repeated provocations and insults to the United States and its citizens from General Victoriano Huerta, the man who started the Mexican Revolution.  Huerta in fact had taken great care to avoid provocations.  At the Paris Peace Conference Wilson was to claim that he had never seen the secret wartime agreements among the Allies, promising Italy, for example, enemy territory.  The British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, had shown them to him in 1917.  Lansing said sourly of his president:  "Even established facts were ignored if they did not fit in with this intuitive sense, this semi-divine power to select the right."

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 15, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Wilson paid little attention to what he regarded as niggling objections fro Lansing.  He was clear in his own mind that he meant well.  When the American troops went to Haiti or Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic, it was to further order and democracy.  "I am going to teach," he had said in his first term as president, "the South American Republics to elect good men!"  He rarely mentioned that he was also protecting the Panama Canal and American investments.  During Wilson's presidency, the United States intervened repeatedly in Mexico to try to get the sort of government it wanted.  "The purpose of the united States," Wilson said, "is solely and singly to secure peace and order in Central America by seeing to it that the processes of self-government there are not interrupted or set aside."  He was taken aback when the Mexicans failed to see the landing of American troops, and American threats, in the same light.

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 14, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

When it came to making peace, Wilson said, their country would rightly hold the position of arbiter.  They must live up to the great American traditions of justice and generosity.  They would be, after all, "the only disinterested people at the Peace Conference."  What was more, he warned, "The men whom we were about to deal with did not represent their own people."  This was one of Wilson's deep convictions, curious in a man whose own Congress was now dominated by his political opponents.  Throughout the Peace Conference he clung to the belief that he spoke for the masses and that, if only he could reach them--whether French, Italian or even Russian--they would rally to his views.

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

[N.B.:  Does this seem eerily familiar regarding a more contemporaneous personage?--I believe he is about to go off to a global-warming conference.]

November 13, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Wilson's] first wife, whom he had loved deeply if not passionately, had died in 1914; by the end of 1915, he was married again, to a wealthy Washington widow some seventeen years his junior.  That this caused gossip bewildered and infuriated him.  He never forgave a British diplomat for a joke that went around Washington: "What did the new Mrs. Wilson do when the President proposed?  She fell out of bed with surprise."

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 12, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Wilson] loved puns and limericks and he liked to illustrate his points with folksy stories.  He enjoyed doing accents: Scottish or Irish, like his ancestors, or Southern black, like the people who worked for him in Washington.

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

[N.B.:  Oh, that must have been when he started doing Southern black--when he moved to Washington--and had nothing to do with him growing up in the South during the Civil War and having the traits and characteristics of a person with that background.]

November 11, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Wilson remains puzzling in a way that Lloyd George and Clemenceau, his close colleagues in Paris, do not.  What is one to make of a leader who drew on the most noble language of the Bible yet was so ruthless with those who crossed him?  who loved democracy but despised most of his fellow politicians?  Who wanted to serve humanity but had so few personal relationships?  Was he, as Teddy Roosevelt thought, "as insincere and cold-blooded an opportunist as we have ever had in the Presidency"?  Or was he, as Baker believed, one of those rare idealists like Calvin or Cromwell, "who from time to time have appeared upon the earth & for a moment, in burst of strange power, have temporarily lifted erring mankind to a higher pitch of contentment than it was quite equal to"?

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

[N.B.:  Of course, both Calvin and Cromwell could also be described in the words of Teddy Roosevelt.  But, in any event, is there a more modern--dare one say, contemporary--president that this description reminds one of?]

November 10, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Wilson's career was a series of triumphs, but there were darker moments, both personal and political, fits of depression and sudden and baffling illnesses.  Moreover, he had left behind him a trail of enemies, many of them former friends.  "An ingrate and a liar," said a Democratic boss in New Jersey in a toast.  Wilson never forgave those who disagreed with him.  "He is a good hater," said his press officer and devoted admirer Ray Stannard Baker.  He was also stubborn.  As House said, with admiration: "Whenever a question is presented he keeps an absolutely open mind and welcomes all suggestion or advice which will lead to a correct decision.  But he is receptive only during the period that he is weighing the question and preparing to make his decision.  Once the decision is made it is final and there is an absolute end to all advice and suggestion.  There is no moving him after that."  What was admirable to some was a dangerous egotism to others.  The French ambassador in Washington saw "a man who, had he lived a couple of centuries ago, would have been the greatest tyrant in the world, because he does not seem to have the slightest conception that he can ever be wrong."

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 9, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

No other American president had ever gone to Europe while in office.  His opponents accused him of breaking the constitution; even his supporters felt he might be unwise.  Would he lose his great moral authority by getting down to the hurly-burly of negotiations?  Wilson's own view was clear: the making of the peace was as important as the winning of the war.  He owed it to the peoples of Europe, who were crying out for a better world.  He owed it to the American servicemen.  "It is now my duty," he told a pensive Congress just before he left, "to play my full part in making good what they gave their life's blood to obtain."  A British diplomat was more cynical; Wilson, he said, was drawn to Paris "as a debutante is entranced by the prospect of her first ball."

--Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan

November 8, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The power of a banking system lies in three things: first that it is able to create currency uncontrolled by the State, and in amounts not limited save by the bankers' own interest and convenience.  It makes money "out of air" as it were.

Secondly, this "money" is not real wealth as is land or crops or cattle, and can therefore be transferred, expanded or concealed without offering any hold to the sovereign Authority which should properly govern all society.  In other words a banking system is a state within a State.

Thirdly, the bank-currency thus created out of nothing is what is called "liquid."  The whole of it can be used for whatever purposes the bank proposes.   It comes to check industry at will, to bribe or subsidise whom it will or to penalise whom it will, to control as a money-lender the activities of the community and to drain the wealth of that community by the usury it demands.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

November 7, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Aristocracy, the alternative to monarchy, has proved itself in one commercial state after another, not least in our own, eminently capable of conquest by negotiation, of expansion by penetration.  But it has never proved itself capable of a set secret plan followed rapidly and in detail.  That sort of thing is military, not mercantile.  That sort of thing is monarchic nor aristocratic.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

November 6, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

We cannot know the exact date, but it must surely have been some time during the July of 1661, in the full festivities of Fontainebleau that [Louise de la Valliere] fell.  She would be seventeen in August, he twenty-three a week or two later.

Let there be no error; it was an abomination.  Here was not one of those innumerable introductions to life of a lad by some woman in the common tradition of the rich and hardened.  Here was not even a mutual flame of youth to youth, she knowing her way and he his.  I repeat, she was innocent.  He destroyed her innocence without a scruple and as a thing of course.  He desired and did.  He made her wholly his--but not himself hers.  It was to be enjoyed by him, so long as it should be enjoyed, but she was possessed nor ever could be at peace again.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  For a more modern example, meet Mimi Alford.]

November 5, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

As a writer [Saint Simon's] style is admirable for its purpose, and it not only leaves a permanent effect upon the reader but often enough it engraves for us a vivid false impression of reality.  Everyone must value it who desires to visualise, for instance, the famous death scene, and in bulk it properly projects all the last years of the reign.

One may say of Saint Simon's style that it is like his handwriting, not only secure and clear and level but after a fashion convincing.  The trouble is that it is a little too convincing and that just because he was so excellent a writer Saint Simon has been overrated as an historian.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

November 4, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Louvois] was great in intelligence and especially great in his power of command.  But these phrases are abstract.  You can better understand the man himself in the concrete by saying that he was a mixture of ferocity and high talent.  The ferocity was so violent, sometimes so extravagant, and very often so repulsive that it makes posterity misjudge him, because men have difficulty in accommodating their minds to a combination of good and evil.  Hearing that a man has in him something which they hate, they will deny in him qualities which they should admire.  And so it is with Louvois.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

November  3, 2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Colbert had been half in opposition as being out of sympathy with the Dutch war, and it was the Dutch war gradually thrust him aside.

Had that war led as it might have led, to a rapid and complete victory none would have weighed his attitude therein.  But the Dutch war turned out to be something far from a rapid and complete victory.  It half failed after its first beginnings, and since Colbert had always thought it would lead to trouble, therefore, when trouble came, he was the more disliked.

--Louis XIV by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  No one cares for Mr. Told-You-So and once his contrarian counsel has been rejected he must hope that his counsel will be proven wrong lest he serve as a constant visual reminder of the path not taken.]



  1. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron
  2. Cities and Civilizations by Christopher Hibbert
  3. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (tr. William Butcher)
  4. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens


  1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  2. Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis


Patrick: Kathryn:


  • Story by Robert McKee
  • Consilience by Edward O. Wilson



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