[ilds] Justine's bathing things -- alex photo

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun May 6 11:39:43 PDT 2007

A great photo of Alex now sunken into the sea, Michael.  What does LD 
say in 1980?  Ah.  Here it is:

        The period described in this book is no longer alive. 
        Alexandria today seems to have sunk into the dust; but she has
        so often done this that one cannot be at all sure that she will
        not one day revive and emerge from her sleep, The times are not
        propitious, however. . . .

Arnauti's third novel might tell us more about all of this bathing 
costume query.  I will be working with the Arnauti manuscripts at the 
Monasterium in Ghent this summer, so I will double-check.  Surely there 
must be someting there?

As a Paterian, I love thinking of LD's Alexandria (and Justine) as 
Pater's Lady Lisa.  Here I quote from my notes on the copy of /The 
Renaissance/ that LD left behind after that legendary evening spent 
drinking and talking with Julio Cortázar and Remedios Varo at Borges' 
flat in Buenos Aires.  The underscoring may be LD's, or it may be Robert 
Byron's, who left the book behind him in London before sailing off to 
meet the German U-boat in 1941:

        The presence that thus so strangely rose beside
        the waters is expressive of what in the ways of a
        thousand years man had come to desire. _Hers is
        the head upon which all 'the ends of the world
        are come_,' and the eyelids are a little weary. It
        is a beauty _wrought out from within upon the
        flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell_, of strange
        thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite
        passions. Set it for a moment beside _one of those
        white Greek goddesses_ or beautiful women of antiquity,
        and how would they be troubled by this
        beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies
        has passed? All the thoughts and experience of
        the world have etched and moulded there in that
        which they have of power to refine and make
        expressive the outward form, the animalism of
        Greece, the lust of Rome, the reverie of the
        middle age with _its spiritual ambition and imaginative
        loves_, the return of the Pagan world, the sins
        of the Borgias. She is older than the rocks among
        which she sits; like the vampire, _she has been dead
        many times, and learned the secrets of the grave;
        and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their
        fallen day about her; and trafficked for strange
        webs with Eastern merchants_; and, as Leda, was
        the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne,
        the mother of Mary; and all this has been to her
        but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives
        only in the delicacy with which it has _moulded_
        the changing lineaments and _tinged _the eyelids and
        the hands. The fancy of a perpetual life, sweeping
        together ten thousand experiences, is an old one;
        and _modern thought has conceived the idea of
        humanity as wrought upon by, and summing up
        in itself, all modes of thought and life_. Certainly
        Lady Lisa might stand as the embodiment of the
        old fancy, t_he symbol of the modern idea_.

I hope that we shall have a lot to discuss about that.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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