Sunday, June 03, 2007


I went through the used books I bought yesterday quickly. Most of the time, the preface and or the introduction is very interesting. It gives the author's background, the reason for the book and the process. It is like a director's cut and is very interesting and insightful.
From the book, 'So you're going to Paris - and if I were going with you these are the things I'd invite you to do', by Clara Laughlin. From it I gather it is a guide book; she's supposed to be the 'Rick Steves' of her time. The book was first published in 1924 and all told, had 2 subsequent reprinting. Those days they travel by steam boat over the Atlantic.
'Since our second preface went into print and circulation I have had so many weeks during two Springs and Summers in Paris, to ferret out new suggestions for you, learn how the older ones were serving you. We seem to be such a family- you readers of these books and I! - because of your delightful attitude toward our adventures together.'
Some of her advice then is still applicable today.
2) Go abroad to learn how things are done outside America, not to declaim to others how much better everything is done at home.
19) Keep promising yourself as you travel that you're going to read about the trip when you get home. And when you get home, KEEP THE PROMISE.
I've always heard about Anais Nin and her diaries and her relationship with Henry Miller. She never wrote anything other than her diaries. Some people question the wisdom of that. I started reading the only book I ever bought of hers, 'The diary of Anais Nin Vol 2 1934-1939 and I'm enthralled. She is a fascinating woman, so full of life and her life opens up in her diaries. Wow! Have you read Anais Nin?
'January 1937 - I mastered the mechanisms of life the better to bend it to the will of the dream. With hammer and nails, paint, soap, money, typewriter, cookbook, douche bags, I created a dream. That is why I renounce violence and tragedy. I have made poetry out of science, I took psychoanalysis and made a myth of it. I mastered poverty and restrictions; I lived adroitly, intelligently, critically; I sewed and mended, all for the sake of the dream.'
'The Little Madeleine' by Mrs Robert Henrey is a tale about the real Madeleine, growing up in Paris in the 1900's; of the struggles of the poor French people who moved out of their villages to struggle in poor Parisien neighborhoods. It is not the same as the cartoon of the cute French girl, little Madeleine. Another fascinating book.
'A life of her own' by Emelie Carles is an English translation of the French book, 'Une soupe aux herbes sauvages (A Wild Herb Soup) about Emelie Carles, a French girl born at the turn of the century in the harsh, primitive land that was France's Appalachia of the time.
'With the first nice day of Spring, when the mountainside is drenched with melted snow, I like to stretch out on my deck chair on the terrace beside my house, Le Vivier. A little while later, down by the river, I make good use of my walk gathering the plants I will need for my soup of wild herbs. I don't have to go far. I need only bend down. This one is rib grass and over there, wild sorrel, tall drouille with its broad smooth leaves, nettle or salsify, dandelion, lamb's lettuce, a small creeping thistle we call chonzio, a milky plant, sedge, yarrow, chalabrei with its broadly scalloped leaves and white flowers, tetragonia or wild spinach, some langue bogne of the light pink flowers and slim bright green leaves, a sage leaf and a sprig of chive. Then I add a touch of garlic, a few potatoes or a handful of rice and I get a rich and delicious soup. To make it come out right, you have to watch the proportions. Not more than a bit of each herb is required; no single one should stand out, for if it does the soup may prove inedible - too bitter, too acid or too bland. Such is my wild herb soup. All my life I have lived where I was born, in the mountain country around Briancon. And now I have so many different things to tell, funny, picturesque or cruel, that from the beginning to end, they serve as the ingredients for another kind of wild herb soup.'
Wow! What incredible people these were! And in the days before modern technology.

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