quinta-feira, 25 de novembro de 2010

My observations on 'A Christmas Memory' written by Truman Capote - Francisco Vaz Brasil

My observations on 'A Christmas Memory
written by Truman Capote
                                                Text by Francisco Vaz Brasil

     In a certain day of 2008, the American Literature teacher, Maria Clara Matos, showed me a text by Truman Capote - A Christmas Memory. I read it carefully. Reread it for more four times. And each time that I read it, I felt more interest by the works written by Truman Capote. Capote is an icon of the letters of the United States. Capote knew actually mount the board of words, with the simplicity of a master. The text of Capote is fine, clear, dry and is lyric, like a poem. After A Chistmas Memory was in search of the other works by Capote. Fantastic. I got him some books and I have received the influence of Professor Maria Clara. A Christmas Memory is to be read by all who have the opportunity to read in English and to feel the purest emotion and assess the  sensitivity.
          A Christmas Memory had initially appeared in Mademoiselle magazine in December, 1956, and was reprinted in The Selected Writings of Truman Capote in 1963, it was the 1966 edition that established the story's enduring popularity. Also this short story appear in Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the edition of 1994. The story of a seven-year-old boy and his aging cousin's holiday traditions was made into an Emmy Award-winning television movie starring Geraldine Page in 1968 and continues to be produced by high-school and regional theaters throughout the United States. Truman Capote drew his own experience in rural Alabama to write A Christmas Memory.
          Truman Capote drew on his own youthful experience in rural Alabama to write A Christmas Memory. This story, which he called his personal favorite, is an idealized recollection of one of the few relatively secure periods of his unstable early childhood.
          A Christmas Memory is a holiday classic. It's the autobiographical account of a simpler Christmas celebration.
          Buddy is a young boy living with elderly relatives. He and his friend, a distant cousin in her 60s, hoard pennies to buy the ingredients for fruitcakes to give as gifts. They make kites for each other. Despite her frail condition, they went out to cut down a Christmas tree, accompanied by their dog (Queenie).

          The story can be called as the fiction of nostalgia, in accordance to Nance* (1970: p. 78) in “which Capote looks back fondly upon his Southern childhood. These nostalgic stones evoke a gentle, simple, and secure childhood uncorrupted by the complications of adulthood.”   Autobiographical elements in A Christmas Memory are apparent: Capote lived with relatives in the South as a child, and during this time his older female cousin, the childlike Sook Faulk, was his closest companion. And in accordance to Nance*,

          “The nostalgic mood has prompted some critics to dismiss the story as "saccharine." However, the story also contains darker elements such as loneliness, poverty, social isolation, and death, which demonstrate that the innocence of childhood may protect young people from the elements of the human condition, but not remove them from it. The story is also an example of a common theme in Capote's writings: the friendship forged among social outcasts, many of which are eccentric women. And about A Christmas Memory, Saturday Review called it "one of the most moving stories in the language." 

     By the sheer of his prose and a brilliant economy of ongoing narrative rhythm, Capote cleanses of any possible sentimentality a small array of characters, actions and emotions that might have gone foully sweet in less watchful and skillful hands. “Only Chekhov comes to mind as sufficiently gifted in the treatment of similar matter” (Price)**.
          Never is later to mention the words by Norman Mailer, at the last cover of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and three stories,  referring itself to Capote: “Truman Capote is tart as a grand aunt, but in his way he is a ballsy little guy, and he is the most perfect writer of my generation, he writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm.”

          Truman Capote left us the finest and best literature in short stories and novellas which are: Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), his first novel and a classic Southern Gothic, is the story of a young boy's painful search for identity. His other works include a gentle autobiographical novel, The Grass Harp (1951); a collection of short stories, A Tree of Night (1949); the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958); a report of his trip to Russia with the cast of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, The Muses Are Heard (1956); the musical House of Flowers (1954); and two collections of nonfiction pieces, The Dogs Bark (1973) and Music for Chameleons (1980). In 1966, Capote published his "nonfiction novel," In Cold Blood, a chilling account of the senseless, brutal murder of a Kansas family that is widely considered his finest work. Fragments of his last major book, the unfinished Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel, were collected in 1990. The Complete Stories of Truman Capote was published in 2004. 

 * NANCE, William L , in The Worlds of Truman Capote, Stein and Day, 1970, pp. 78-83
** PRICE, Reynolds. Introduction to  THE COMPLETE STORIES OF TRUMAN CAPOTE. Random House. 2005. 297 pp.

on his blindness by John Milton (1608-1674)

on his blindness

by John Milton (1608-1674)

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Lifelines: Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann

Lifelines: Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann

London Review of Books

     Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann met in Vienna in 1948. Bachmann, the daughter of a prominent Austrian National Socialist, was studying philosophy there; Celan was a stateless German-speaking Jewish refugee. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, the two became lovers, and began a correspondence that would last for many years. Now available in English for the first time, these letters between two of German literatures greatest 20th-century writers provide a deeply moving commentary on the search for love and meaning in post-Holocaust Europe. ‘Scarcely more breathlessly and desperately can two lovers ever have struggled for words’, wrote FAZ of the German edition. ‘Little known among German literary historians, the relationship between these two poets amounts to one of the most dramatic and momentous occurrences in German literature.’
     For this discussion, translator Wieland Hoban will be joined by acclaimed British novelists Toby Litt and Lawrence Norfolk to discuss the lives and letters of these two remarkable writers, and to consider the ability of art to engage with the most pressing public and private concerns.
     Wieland Hoban is a British composer who lives in Germany. He has translated several works from German, including many by Theodor W. Adorno.
     Toby Litt is one of Britain’s leading novelists. The author of ten works of fiction, a committed critic, editor and songwriter, he was nominated in 2003 by Granta magazine as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. He is currently a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck.
     Lawrence Norfolk is an acclaimed novelist known for his hugely ambitious historical works. In 1992 he won the Somerset Maugham Award for his first novel Lemprière's Dictionary. Following his second book, The Pope's Rhinoceros, his most recent fiction is In the Shape of a Boar, which concerns itself directly with the life of Paul Celan.


Ulysses by James Joyce (Excerpt)

Ulysses  by James Joyce

STATELY, PLUMP BUCK MULLIGAN CAME FROM THE STAIRHEAD, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called out coarsely:

--Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!

    Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round gunrest. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head. Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak.

Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and then covered the bowl smartly.

--Back to barracks! he said sternly.

He added in a preacher's tone:

--For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine: body and soul and blood and ouns. Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about those white corpuscles. Silence, all.

He peered sideways up and gave a long slow whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there with gold points. Chrysostomos. Two strong shrill whistles answered through the calm.

--Thanks, old chap, he cried briskly. That will do nicely. Switch off the current, will you?

He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.

--The mockery of it! he said gaily. Your absurd name, an ancient Greek!

He pointed his finger in friendly jest and went over to the parapet, laughing to himself. Stephen Dedalus stepped up, followed him wearily halfway and sat down on the edge of the gunrest, watching him still as he propped his mirror on the parapet, dipped the brush in the bowl and lathered cheeks and neck.

Buck Mulligan's gay voice went on.

--My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?

He laid the brush aside and, laughing with delight, cried:

--Will he come? The jejune jesuit!

Ceasing, he began to shave with care.

--Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly.

--Yes, my love?

--How long is Haines going to stay in this tower?

Buck Mulligan showed a shaven cheek over his right shoulder.

--God, isn't he dreadful? he said frankly. A ponderous Saxon. He thinks you're not a gentleman. God, these bloody English! Bursting with money and indigestion. Because he comes from Oxford. You know, Dedalus, you have the real Oxford manner. He can't make you out. O, my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knife-blade.

He shaved warily over his chin.

--He was raving all night about a black panther, Stephen said. Where is his guncase?

--A woful lunatic! Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?

--I was, Stephen said with energy and growing fear. Out here in the dark with a man I don't know raving and moaning to himself about shooting a black panther. You saved men from drowning. I'm not a hero, however. If he stays on here I am off.

Buck Mulligan frowned at the lather on his razorblade. He hopped down from his perch and began to search his trouser pockets hastily.

--Scutter! he cried thickly.

He came over to the gunrest and, thrusting a hand into Stephen's upper pocket, said:

--Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.

Stephen suffered him to pull out and hold up on show by its corner a dirty crumpled handkerchief. Buck Mulligan wiped the razorblade neatly. Then, gazing over the handkerchief, he said:

- The bard's noserag! A new art colour for our Irish poets: snotgreen. You can
almost taste it, can't you?


. . . Well this side of Paradise! . . .
There's little comfort in the wise.
--Rupert Brooke.

Experience is the name so many people
give to their mistakes.
--Oscar Wilde.


The Romantic Egotist

Amory, Son of Beatrice

    Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while. His father, an ineffectual, inarticulate man with a taste for Byron and a habit of drowsing over the Encyclopedia Britannica, grew wealthy at thirty through the death of two elder brothers, successful Chicago brokers, and in the first flush of feeling that the world was his, went to Bar Harbor and met Beatrice O'Hara. In consequence, Stephen Blaine handed down to posterity his height of just under six feet and his tendency to waver at crucial moments, these two abstractions appearing in his son Amory. For many years he hovered in the background of his family's life, an unassertive figure with a face half-obliterated by lifeless, silky hair, continually occupied in "taking care" of his wife, continually harassed by the idea that he didn't and couldn't understand her.

But Beatrice Blaine! There was a woman! Early pictures taken on her father's estate at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, or in Rome at the Sacred Heart Convent--an educational extravagance that in her youth was only for the daughters of the exceptionally wealthy--showed the exquisite delicacy of her features, the consummate art and simplicity of her clothes. A brilliant education she had--her youth passed in renaissance glory, she was versed in the latest gossip of the Older Roman Families; known by name as a fabulously wealthy American girl to Cardinal Vitori and Queen Margherita and more subtle celebrities that one must have had some culture even to have heard of. She learned in England to prefer whiskey and soda to wine, and her small talk was broadened in two senses during a winter in Vienna.
All in all Beatrice O'Hara absorbed the sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again; a tutelage measured by the number of things and people one could be contemptuous of and charming about; a culture rich in all arts and traditions, barren of all ideas, in the last of those days when the great gardener clipped the inferior roses to produce one perfect bud.

In her less important moments she returned to America, met Stephen Blaine and married him--this almost entirely because she was a little bit weary, a little bit sad. Her only child was carried through a tiresome season and brought into the world on a spring day in ninety-six.

When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion for her. He was an auburn-haired boy, with great, handsome eyes which he would grow up to in time, a facile imaginative mind and a taste for fancy dress. From his fourth to his tenth year he did the country with his mother in her father's private car, from Coronado, where his mother became so bored that she had a nervous breakdown in a fashionable hotel, down to Mexico City, where she took a mild, almost epidemic consumption. This trouble pleased her, and later she made use of it as an intrinsic part of her atmosphere--especially after several astounding bracers.

So, while more or less fortunate little rich boys were defying governesses on the beach at Newport, or being spanked or tutored or read to from "Do and Dare," or "Frank on the Mississippi," Amory was biting acquiescent bell-boys in the Waldorf, outgrowing a natural repugnance to chamber music and symphonies, and deriving a highly specialized education from his mother.


"Yes, Beatrice." (Such a quaint name for his mother; she encouraged it.)

"Dear, don't _think_ of getting out of bed yet. I've always suspected that early rising in early life makes one nervous. Clothilde is having your breakfast brought up."

"All right."

"I am feeling very old to-day, Amory," she would sigh, her face a rare cameo of pathos, her voice exquisitely modulated, her hands as facile as Bernhardt's. "My nerves are on edge--on edge. We must leave this terrifying place to-morrow and go searching for sunshine."

Amory's penetrating green eyes would look out through tangled hair at his mother. Even at this age he had no illusions about her.


"Oh, _yes_."

"I want you to take a red-hot bath as hot as you can bear it, and just relax your nerves. You can read in the tub if you wish."

She fed him sections of the "Fetes Galantes" before he was ten; at eleven he could talk glibly, if rather reminiscently, of Brahms and Mozart and Beethoven. One afternoon, when left alone in the hotel at Hot Springs, he sampled his mother's apricot cordial, and as the taste pleased him, he became quite tipsy. This was fun for a while, but he essayed a cigarette in his exaltation, and succumbed to a vulgar, plebeian reaction. Though this incident horrified Beatrice, it also secretly amused her and became part of what in a later generation would have been termed her "line."