Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Also in the show and tell department, Peter brought several books that touched on Charles Ephrussi's life in Paris, and was able to find a print of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, where Charles is that guy in the upper right in top hat.
And there was some talk about the reconstruction of conversations. It's always nice if an author in a nonfiction book acknowledges in the preface that he recreated some scenes. That said, much of The Hare with Amber Eyes seemed to be reconstructed from letters and journals, which could mean he's just telling it as the participant saw it. So I'm not coming down either way on that one.
I was chatting with Elaine, one of our phone customers, trying to convince her for the second time to purchase the book, being that she has a strong interest in Jewish history, particularly concerning the Holocaust. You'd be savaged for looking too Jewish or not Jewish enough; you're savaged for being obsessed with the arts or with money. You're evil for being a communist; worse for being a capitalist. And yet de Waal also portrays the family in most if not all of their warts; this is not an Anne Frank story.
And the story also has an LGBT history element too. Iggie was a bachelor who adopted his Japanese companion, and while there was less clear evidence regarding Charles, he was said to have a mistress who had numerous other men in her stable, while Charles was content to be mentor to a series of younger accolytes, like Proust, for example. And yes, I would consider this must reading for all the Proustian scholars I know. I know one, by the way.
What are we reading next?