Friday 15 January 2016

Back from Siberia


I wanted to write about "Little Women", "Eight Cousins", "Rose in Bloom", other novels by Louisa May Alcott, about their equivalents in British and French literature, as I have been re-reading "Little Women" and some books for girls that were owned by my Godmother's Godmother (old books!). I wanted to add my two pence worth of knowledge through essays about this topic of girls becoming young ladies in the 19th century literature. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.

And there were emails and cooking and talking with The Girls and providing hot tea, and promenading the electric radiators. And I had no time. And night fell. And cold came. And it started being a clear night as I like them when they remind me of Mr Pickwick and his friends in winter when they are rejoicing and I rejoice with them in a warm house. But the house was still without central heating, and it was chillier and chillier. It was nearing zero degree centigrades, freezing level. 

And; lo and behold! Rejoice, rejoice greatly! The plumber cum sweep cum boiler man arrived, honking merrily. Never was a man (or woman) so welcome. We shook hands heartily. Without stopping, he went down in the bowels of the house and fixed the boiler in less time than it takes me to type it! 

And the boiler purred.

Can there be a nicer sound? No, not in winter. Perhaps the air conditioning in summer could equal it but no other in winter time.

Full of gratitude and enthusiasm, I have shown the blessèd man the various things for which he is competent and that could require his attention. We took decisions, made a schedule and a tentative agenda and went back up to the light of the kitchen. The Girls were waiting for us at the top of the stairs and thanked him profusely.

Therefore, there will be no consideration upon the literature for young ladies of the 19th century in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, but the mere annoucement that we are back from Siberia and that the isba is again a house in la Dordogne.

This adventure made me think of one of the great texts of French literature in the early - very early - 20th century, "La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France", by the poet Blaise Cendrars. Of course, it speaks of this famous railway that crosses Siberia but it is also une oeuvre d'art originale as the poem was illustrated by Sonia Delaunay and painting and text go side by side. Here is the link in English:
I am afraid I did not find the text in English but, who knows, you may be more lucky than I.

I shall now wallow in the luxurious warmth of the kitchen again and cook a light dinner that will not have to be piping hot. Tomorrow, we should be touring Pakistan again, if our guide is ready and if you want to go on travelling with us. I may not be available tomorrow but on Sunday, perhaps, the house will be open, if you wish to share a cup of coffee or tea with me...

Blaise Cendrars and Sonia Delaunay

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