Sunday, April 02, 2006

ELLIOT PAUL

"I suppose everyone who is built for a picador wants to wear the cloth of gold, face the bull on his own level, and be fearless and precise. And Anglo-Saxons long to be Latins, and vice versa."

Elliot Paul

Elliot Paul has not gained the Stature of his compatriots of the “Lost Generation” – Gertrude Stein, James Thurber, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway , but he was a very fine writer, perhaps the equal of any of them. In Paris in the twenties he worked as a journalist for the Paris Herald and Tribune, co-edited a monthly literary review “transition” with Eugene Jolas, and produced, under a pseudonym, detective-genre pulp fiction. His work on “transition” yielded surprising results, he gained the regular contributions of the two warring lions of expatriate experimental literature, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. The young Ernest Hemingway said that if you mentioned Joyce twice to Stein, you were dead: Paul was the exception to the rule. In 1931 he suffered a nervous breakdown and disappeared to seek recovery in the village of Santa Eulalia on the island of Ibiza off the coast of Spain. His disappearance caused much consternation on the left bank, prompting Stein to comment on his whereabouts in her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. He was to live in Izbia through the beginning of the Civil War, the takeover of Izbia by the facists and chronicles the crimes, committed on both sides, during this period in his fine book “The Life and Death of a Spanish Town.” But I do not wish to share with you so much the politics of this book, but the beauty of Paul’s prose…

“Far along the shore, among the worn and pocketed ledges, could be seen, before sunrise, a strange figure of a man, Plat‚, nicknamed the Admiral. He would have a short fishing rod or a staff in his hand and he knew where the fish and the small octopi would be lurking and feeding. No one knew the shores or the hills as Plat‚ did. Each mushroom, plant or herb was his familiar friend. He had long shaggy hair and a long unkempt beard, both of which he had shaved clean once a year, in midsummer. His legs and arms were thin; his voice a resonant bass, his face was tanned and wrinkled, except for his large dark blue eyes almost hidden by his shock of hair. He laughed, grinned and talked to himself when he was alone. In company he was silent until the wine began to work on him. Then he sang wild Moorish songs (he knew Spanish,
French, Catalan, Italian and Arabic well) and accompanied himself on the table or bar with the heel of his hand in imitation of African drums. I have heard him walking home drunk in the brightest moonlight, carrying on a reproachful and defensive conversation aloud, one voice in Spanish, the other in French, sometimes softly and persuasively, often reaching an angry crescendo so that two of his selves would be bellowing at each other.
At dawn with his trousers legs rolled up above his diminutive knees, he would be walking along the rocks at the water's edge, around the point which sheltered the harbor to the north, or the other way from town, by the mouth of the small river, looking for his breakfast. He did not catch all the fish or the poulpes that he saw, but chose them as if the Mediterranean were his market, and its produce were laid out for him. Fish, mushrooms, wild strawberries, wild leeks, wild asparagus formed his steady diet. He did odd jobs just often enough to keep himself in wine, and tended a few flower and vegetable gardens because he was the best gardener in the Balearic Islands and was proud of his skill. Because of him, the backyards of Cosmi's and the Royalty were not like other backyards but were luxuriant with flowers - dahlias, golden glow, phlox, petunias, asters, small orange and lemon trees, all planted by Plat‚. They would grow for him almost like performing animals. There were many gardens in town, nearly every house had flowers growing near it, but Plat‚ had absorbed all the arts of the Moors in his long stay in Africa and had learned from the French how to trim and take care of trees.”
--------------------------------
If you have not read “Spanish Town” do yourself a favor and track it down.




22 Comments:

Blogger durrati said...

Hey everyone,

I wanted to ask that you check back on the previous threads, I think our conversation here is proceeding on the last several, and the replies are what I find most enjoyable :).

Thanks

10:14 AM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

Durrati,

Paul's description of the Admiral was a perfect way to start my day. Oh to be able to see what is significant about a man so that you can paint his essence with such deft brush strokes (in language).

Thanks,

Marks

10:20 AM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

I will apologize for contaminating the thread with ugly stuff but the WaPost has an excellent editorial today entitled

How The GOP Became God's Own Party

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/01/AR2006040100004.html

Really damning and compelling analysis. Worth emailing to anyone with a brain.

Marks

10:30 AM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Marks-
Too bad God disagrees. ;)
I got off my digital ass and found what I was looking for- the town is called La Conner, and although I detest shopping, I saw the most breathtaking woodworking I've ever seen in my life in a place called "The Wood Merchant". And the Oyster Bar is on Chuckanut Drive and you can eat local seafood at a table overlooking the Strait. Unbelievable. Plus Deception Bridge- I still have photos of it in 360 degrees. I don't miss my girlfriend, but I miss the scenery.

10:52 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Marks,

I am glad you enjoyed the admiral, whom I would dearly haved loved to break bread with....

And for the link also, a troubling analysis, but before these issues can be confronted they must be identified and defined which the writer does admirably :).

No matter what the topic outfront is, I rely on my friends to help stretch the discussion here beyond preoccupations....

Thanks again

10:54 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

correction: "my preoccupations"...

10:55 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Kid,

"Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive?" what J.D. could do with that line!!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

Kid,

Found La Conner on a map. Never been there. Someday, maybe. Lots of beautiful places tucked away here and there.

Actually, Sedro Wooley is where the fictional Sgt Marks-a-lot and his illiterate master reside.

My non-fictional self, wonderful wife and most excellent large dogs live elsewhere in Washington State. I travel through Sedro Wooley periodically usually on the way to backpack in the North Cascades. Great country up there.

Marks

11:06 AM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

"He did odd jobs just often enough to keep himself in wine"
Now, this is a man to whom I could relate! Durrati, you scoundrel. I've already indicated that my reading list is full, yet you keep tormenting me!

Marks, great link, compelling article, but oh my goodness, so depressing. When the Republican intelligentsia join the fray with great thinkers and advocates such as Gore Vidal, Noah Chomsky and Harold Pinter, it raises issues about how anyone can continue to support the current U.S. administration.
Oddly, I raised the issue of the decline of the Roman empire at a Canadian blog several months ago, but was only speculating that it was coming. What I'm reading in Phillips' article indicates that my surmises were correct, and the Bush/Straussian American Empire experiment is already a failed enterprise. Sadly, it is the people of America who will pay the price for this vainglorious attempt at imperialism, and the results won't be pretty. I have a spare room if you and Lakshmi need it.
Durrati, you get the basement. That's where most of the books are. It's not finished, but my son't friends find it most comfortable and it is the warmest (in the winter) and coolest (in the summer) room in the house. I do not have air conditioning due to my allergies, but I do have four cats, one of which likes to cuddle up to any stranger that comes along.
Marks, they are used to dogs. My beloved Holmes worked magic.

11:14 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Dear whattheheh,

Sorry Darling, my next few post will be about soilders of the International, lumberjacks, plumbers, taxidrivers and the like who had only their lives to contribute to the cause, and no time consuming and remarkable literary talents...

When the feces hits the fan and the vandals mass at our border I might take you up on your offer for asylum, lord knows how many have pointed out my need for such refuge. But for now I feel compelled to stay and fight it out with the braying jackasses for control of the future of America, which is, after all a mere gangling adolescent in the roll call of nations. Perhaps we shall yet grow up and take up again the pursuit of Jefferson's vision....

11:35 AM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

Plus, all of you can stop in Peterborough on the way to whattheh's and we'll go drinking at an incredible belgium-style bar/restaurant called St. Veronus.
Don't forget to bring your appreciation for functioning checks and balances........ ;)
durrati-
I know, JD is probably boiling something up in that twisted mind of his already. I have a picture of a street-sign from that era of my life- "Pull and be Damned Road". Western Wash. State is a very cool, sometimes weird and spectacular to see place.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

It's my day off - Yeah!!
Durrati, you are an evil son of a gun - how you love to torment. I will not let you carry the day. I was the champion speed reader in my class...mind you that was 35 years ago, but it should be like riding a bicycle doncha think? The basement is still yours.
Kid, St Veronus sounds intriguing. Good Food? - not that I eat much but the Jr WhattheH makes up for my lack of appetite and doggie bags are de rigueur. Good wine? Bonus. I really have to come and visit once the weather is stable. I might be able to convince my friends to come as well. Fred is a Peterboroughian born and bred and his mom still lives there. Lynn loves Fred and will go just to make sure he's safe, sane and sensible. I'm along for the ride.

11:55 AM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

whattheh-
It is, reflective of Belgium tastes, a beer drinker's Shangri-La. But decent wine selection, also. Food is spectacular, if a little heavy in the traditional European-flatland, rural style. www.stveronus.com for their site.
It'a a great place to eat and drink and talk. Maybe someday we will do so there.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

I'll check out the site - Thanks for the link.
Perhaps we can meet this summer and check it out together.

2:21 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

whattheh-
Yes. And in the meantime I'll take it upon myself to stop in on occasion and make sure the beer menu is up to snuff. ;)

3:20 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

A noble sacrifice, Kid...

3:45 PM  
Anonymous jackie_o said...

Forgive any typos. I'm typing on a prehistoric windows 98 laptop and I'm just tickled pink to have it. How the hell does one type on a black keyboard? And don't get me started on this thing called a touchpad. I'll have to quit soon or it will become a launching pad and then I'll really have some pain to gripe about. I have been pounding the living daylights out of a space between 2 letters to correct a spelling error for 3 minutes. I think I'm catching on.
Anyway, I have to attend to an alternate Dan Ryan expry route dillemma for my son who's coming in from SD to Chicago. I think my sister's hit on one no one else has thought off.
But on to the real issue. My poor hard
drive crashed. Hubby's goigt to tend to replacing it. BTW, I have given up coerrcting errors. Will check in again.
Blasted computers!!!

9:51 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Jacq,

Hang in there, see ya soon!

2:24 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Jackie, who cares about the errors. It's the toughts that count. Good to hear you're semi-operational again.

WCFTM, read your comment on the earlier thread, and feel your pain. Please keep coming back to visit. We miss you.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

I meant "thoughts" not toughts. Geez, I'm tired. This working gig is wearing me down, but the monthly pension just doesn't cut it, so tis a necessity.
Can you hear me snoring? I keep drifting off, but must stay awake to pick up the Junior from work at 9.

3:55 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

whattheheh,

I love naps....

4:21 PM  
Blogger KidKawartha said...

I prefer "toughts".

5:02 PM  

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