Back March 10.
Sir Harold Acton died twenty years ago today.
I visited the great aesthete at La Pietra, above Florence, the villa in which he was born and died, twice in the ’70s: a story for another time.
Tribute by Luca Vidmaker. L’ultimo grande inglese sull’Arno. Music from Schumann, Piano Quartet.
The Last of the Medici, Florence, G Orioli, 1930 (translation of a lubricious eighteenth-century memoir, by whom?, of Gian Gastone de’ Medici, the last Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, introduction by Norman Douglas)
The Last Medici, Faber and Faber, 1932 (a study of the later Medici Grand Dukes and the first of his own historical works)
The Bourbons of Naples (1734-1825), Methuen, 1956
Ferdinando Galiani, in Art and Ideas in Eighteenth-Century Italy, Rome, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1960 (lectures by various people given in English at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Londra in Rome, 1957-58)
The Last Bourbons of Naples (1825-1861), Methuen, 1961
The Pazzi Conspiracy, Thames and Hudson, 1979
II Florence and Tuscany
Florence, Thames and Hudson, 1960 (photographs by Martin Hürlimann)
Tuscan Villas, Thames and Hudson, 1973 (photographs by Alexander Zielcke)
Edward Chaney, editor, Florence: A Travellers’ Companion, Constable, 1986 (Introduction to anthology)
III Translations from the Chinese; Acton lived in China from 1932 to 1939
With Ch’en Shih-Hsiang, Modern Chinese Poetry, Duckworth, 1936 (contents tba)
With LC Arlington, Famous Chinese Plays, Peiping, Henri Vetch, 1937 (contents tba)
With Lee Yi-Hsieh, preface by Arthur Waley, Glue and Lacquer: Four Cautionary Tales, The Golden Cockerel Press, 1941 (selections from the seventeenth-century writer Feng Menglong’s Tales to Rouse the World)
Aquarium, Duckworth, 1923
An Indian Ass, Duckworth, 1925
Five Saints and an Appendix, Holden, 1927
This Chaos, Paris, Hours Press, 1930
Cornelian, The Westminster Press, 1928 (prose fable)
Humdrum, The Westminster Press, 1928 (novel)
Peonies and Ponies, Chatto and Windus, 1941 (novel about expatriate life in China)
Prince Isidore, Methuen, 1950 (novel)
Old Lamps for New, Methuen, 1965 (novel)
Tit for Tat, Hamish Hamilton, 1972 (stories)
The Gift Horse
A Modern Vestal
“A Sketch, Lent by Miss Temple”
“O Thou I”
Resting on His Laurels
An Old School Pal
Tit for Tat
The Machine Is Broken Down
His Serene Highness
The Soul’s Gymnasium, Hamish Hamilton, 1982 (stories)
The Marchesa Carrie
Leo’s Ivory Tower
Fin de race
Flora’s Lame Duck
The Soul’s Gymnasium
A Phantom Botticelli
A Morning at Upshott’s
The Narcissus Elegy
Memoirs of an Aesthete, Methuen, 1948
More Memoirs of an Aesthete, Methuen, 1970
Nancy Mitford: A Memoir, Hamish Hamilton, 1975
Edward Chaney and Neil Ritchie, editors, Oxford, China and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on His Eightieth Birthday, Thames and Hudson, 1984 (contributions by John A Wood, David Rundle, John Betjeman, Iris Origo, Sacheverell Sitwell, Anthony Powell, Joan Haslip, John Lehmann, Antony Lambton, Cyril Birch, Charles Wilson, Peter Quennell, Christopher Sykes, AL Rowse, Laurence Sickman, Amanda Lillie, Nicolai Rubinstein, Anna Maria Crinò, Maurice Cranston, Peter Gunn, Edward Chaney, Michael Grant, John Fleming, Francis Haskell, Carlo Knight, Hugh Honour, Denys Sutton, John Pope-Hennessy and Neil Ritchie)
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
[Footnote: Browning, R.: Andrea del Sarto, ll. 97-98.]
Andrea del Sarto was regarded highly by his contemporaries. Michelangelo introduced Vasari to him. Vasari, however, was critical of his teacher, alleging that he had the skill of a great artist, but lacked the divine fire which animated the work of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. Browning’s poem is a dramatic monologue in which Andrea addresses his unfaithful wife Lucrezia.
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954
In the course of seventy years – 342-272 B.C. – Rome had imposed political unity, under her own ascendancy, on the whole of Peninsular Italy south of, but not including, the basin of the River Po.
342 was the year, at the beginning of the First Samnite War, in which the Romans defeated the Samnites at Mount Gaurus, and also the year in which Aristotle became tutor to the young Alexander at the court of Philip II at Pella.
These Roman conquests in Cisappennine Italy, rapid though they were, were neither so rapid nor so spectacular as the contemporary conquests of Alexander the Great in South-Western Asia.
Why Cisappennine if they were of the entire peninsula south of the Po? The word must mean south of where the Appennines start, but it seems odd to use it, since the Appennines run north-south, not west-east.
They were, however, not less momentous; for, as a result of them, the Roman Commonwealth made its entry on to the stage of Greek history as one of five Great Powers in an expanding Greek world. Two of the other four – the Carthaginian Empire and the Kingdom of Macedon – had already been on the map before the face of this map had been changed by the Macedonians’ and the Romans’ military achievements. The other two – the Achaemenian Empire’s Seleucid successor-state in South-West Asia and an insurgent native Egyptian Kingdom’s Ptolemaic successor-state in the Lower Nile Valley – were also old empires under new management. The Roman Commonwealth was the only one of the five that was new in reality. Rome had turned herself from a middle-sized city-state into a Great Power by imposing military and political unity upon Italy – an enterprise which had proved to be beyond the strength of the Etruscans in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. and of the Siceliot Greeks in the fifth and fourth.
An expanding Greek world had begun to impinge upon Italy 400 years before the Roman conquest of Italy, and the Roman Commonwealth was entangled in the Greek world because it included two important Italian pieces of it: Magna Graecia (what was left of it, after the infiltration of the Oscan barbarians in the fourth century B.C.) and a semi-Hellenized Etruria, particularly the Etruscan black country (Elba and Populonia).
Black country must refer to Greek-influenced black-figure Etruscan vase painting (seventh century BC-circa 480 BC).
This political entanglement raised questions that were social and cultural; for by the time, in the third decade of the third century B.C., when Rome’s conquest of Italy had thus brought Rome back into the Greek World again, Rome herself and the central Italian heart of her newly-built commonwealth had been out of touch, for some 150 years, with the main movement of Greek history. In the sixth century B.C. Rome had been a partly commercial and industrial city-state ruled by a despot, like the neighbouring Etruscan city-states and the leading Greek city-states of the day: Corinth, Sicyon, Miletus, Athens. But when, towards the end of the sixth century, Rome – again behaving like her more eminent contemporaries – had turned her despot out, she had had to pay for her self-liberation by falling into a state of isolation and weakness that had lasted for about a century; and, when she had exerted her reviving strength in the military and political enterprise of conquering Italy, she had built up her power by turning inland into a culturally and socially backward interior, into which the city-state dispensation had not yet penetrated and in which the native population was therefore more malleable than it was in older and more advanced communities with more deeply engraved memories of a more glorious past. In moulding this native central Italian human raw material, Rome had the institutional advantage of being, herself, a city-state of old standing; but, by the third century B.C., Rome’s way of life had come to be old-fashioned. It was a way that had been put out of date, east of the Adriatic, by the sweeping social and political revolution there in the generation of Alexander the Great; and in 264 B.C. there were at least four signal differences between Rome and some or all of the other Great Powers in the new world into which Rome had now been drawn as a result of her Italian conquests.
One of these differences was constitutional. Since the days of Alexander and his father Philip, the typical constitution of a Great Power in the Greek world had come to be monarchy. Carthage was the only third-century Great Power besides Rome in which the sovereign authority was a city-state. A second difference was a military one. In accordance with the pre-Alexandrine Greek city-state tradition, Rome’s fighting-force was a compulsory levy of free citizens possessing property of at least a minimum value; and the contingents furnished, under treaty, by Rome’s Italian confederate communities were levied from the same class. But there was only one other Great Power, besides Rome, that now still had a citizen army, and this was Macedon. The other three contemporary Great Powers – Carthage, Ptolemaic Egypt, and Seleucid Asia – all employed professional armies largely composed of foreign mercenaries. A third difference, closely connected with the military one, was economic. Rome’s citizen fighting-force consisted of farmers who made their living by subsistence farming, whereas all the other contemporary Great Powers, except Macedon, had gone over to cash-crop farming with a labour-force, not of citizen-soldiers, but of serfs or slaves who were exempt from military service. In the fourth place, there was an administrative difference which distinguished the Roman Commonwealth sharply from contemporary Ptolemaic Egypt, though not so sharply, perhaps, from any of the other three Great Powers. The Roman Commonwealth in the third century B.C. did not possess anything like the contemporary Ptolemaic professional civil service.
272 was the year of the surrender of Tarentum, the last stronghold of Pyrrhus of Epirus, which brought the cities of Magna Graecia under Roman control and left Rome free to complete its subjection of the Samnites. It was also the year, during the First Syrian War, in which Ptolemy II turned Egypt into the leading naval power in the eastern Mediterranean by defeating Antiochus I Soter.
Economic and Social Consequences of the Hannibalic War, lecture, John Rylands Library, Manchester, March 10 1954; Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Vol 37, No 1, September 1954
The Roman Catholic Christian missionaries [in the Americas and in the Philippines] disregarded the Spanish secular authorities’ injunction to impose the Castilian language on the Indians as the medium of religious instruction. In their single-minded concern to preach the Gospel, the missionaries refused to be diverted by raison d’état from taking the shortest way to reach the Indians’ hearts. Even in the Philippines, where there was no pre-Castilian lingua franca, they learnt, and preached in, the local languages; and they went much farther in the Viceroyalty of Peru, where a native lingua franca had already been put into currency by the Spanish conquerors’ Inca predecessors. The missionaries in Peru reduced this Quichua lingua franca to writing in the Latin Alphabet; in A.D. 1576 a chair of Quichua was founded at the University of Lima, where it was maintained until A.D. 1770; and in 1680 a knowledge of Quichua was made an obligatory qualification for any candidate for ordination in Peru to the Roman Catholic Christian priesthood.
The Inca, unlike the Aztecs, had not had a writing system.
An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956
In Mexico [...] the Indians, though they had been converted to Christianity by force and had never been given freedom to reject it, displayed their voluntary attachment to it, 300 years later, in their resistance to the militant anti-clericalism which was in the ascendant during one stage of the long revolution that started in Mexico in A.D. 1910. In A.D. 1953 the Indian peasants were once more free to show their pride in their village churches and their zest for the Roman Catholic Christian liturgy. In the same year, however, the writer found a different spirit prevailing among the Chamulas – a highland people on the remote Las Casas plateau, in the south-western corner of the Mexican Republic [in the state of Chiapas], where Spanish military and political power had been so near to the end of their tether that the local tribesmen had been able to hold their own.
Even in 1953 the city of Las Casas, inhabited by Ladino descendants of sixteenth-century Spanish and Tlascalec colonists, felt like an island of Western Civilization set in an alien sea; and the short drive from this insulated Western city to the village capital of the unassimilated Chamula tribe carried the visitor into another world.
The Tlaxcaltec were indigenous allies of the Spanish against the Aztecs. Their home was in the area of the present state of Tlaxcala.
Among the buildings round the village green, the most prominent was a fine Baroque church; but there was no tabernacle on the altar; the priest from Las Casas ventured to come to officiate there on sufferance not more than once or twice a year, so it was said; and the church was in the hands of shamans who, for decency’s sake, were called “sacristans”. The effigies of the Christian saints on their litters had been transfigured into representations of pre-Christian gods in the eyes of their Chamula worshippers, who, squatting on the rush-covered floor, were making weird music on outlandish-looking instruments. The crosses planted in the open had turned into living presences that were aniconic embodiments of the rain-god. In short, in Chamula the West’s sixteenth-century assault in the form of a Roman Catholic Christian mission had been successfully repelled, and it remained to be seen what would be the outcome of the West’s twentieth-century return to the charge. This post-Christian Western assault upon the Chamula had been mounted in the brand-new co-operative store and brand-new clinic by which the de-Christianized church was now flanked. Would Western medicine and Western business organization prove more effective than Western religion as engines for capturing this obstinately pagan fastness?
The answer to that question seems to be “not much”. Wikipedia (edited):
“San Juan Chamula is a municipio (municipality) and township in the Mexican state of Chiapas, with over 50,000 inhabitants. It is situated some 10 km (6.2 mi) from San Cristóbal de las Casas.
“The town enjoys a unique autonomous status within Mexico. No outside police or military are allowed in the village. Chamulas have their own police force.
“The church of San Juan, in the municipal cabecera (headtown), is filled with colourful candles and smoke from burning copal resin incense, commonly used throughout southern Mexico. Along the walls of the church, as in many Catholic churches, are dressed-up wooden statues of saints in large wooden cases, many wearing mirrors to deflect evil. The local form of Catholicism is a blend of pre-conquest Maya customs, Spanish Catholic traditions, and subsequent innovations.
“There are no pews in the church, and the floor area is completely covered in a carpet of green pine boughs dotted with soda bottles (mostly Coca-Cola). Curanderos (medicine men) diagnose medical, psychological or ‘evil-eye’ afflictions and prescribe remedies such as candles of specific colours and sizes, specific flower petals or feathers, or – in a dire situation – a live chicken. The specified remedies are brought to a healing ceremony. Chamula families kneel on the floor of the church with sacrificial items, stick candles to the floor with melted wax, drink ceremonial cups of Posh, artisanal sugar-cane-based liquor, Coca-Cola or Pepsi, and chant prayers in an archaic dialect of Tzotzil.
“Photography in the town is very difficult as parents will hide their children or they themselves will turn away as soon as they spot a camera. Photography within the church is strictly prohibited, as is photographing the Christmas procession to the church. They can throw you out of town if you attempt to violate this rule.
“The main agricultural products are corn, beans, potatoes, and cabbage.
“Women often make traditional clothing, blankets, and souvenirs that include Zapatista-related items, such as pens with a clay figure on top in the figure of Subcomandante Marcos or Comandante Tacho.”
An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956
The enthusiastic Sir Robert Rogers, Clerk and Chief Executive of the House of Commons. BBC Radio 4, The Westminster Hour, February 9. Podcast at iTunes or the last eleven minutes, starting at 23:40, here.
Wikipedia. 2015 will be the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta and 750th of Simon de Montfort’s parliament. Is an inspired modern reassertion, rejuvenation, reinvention of Westminster democracy too much to hope for?
In Mexico the spirit of a benignant vein in Meso-American visual art that had always been subordinate and had latterly been almost entirely submerged under the savagery of an Aztec ascendancy was reproduced, and given predominance, in a cheerfully extravagant version of the Early Modern Western baroque style. In the ultra-Baroque village churches of the Puebla district the writer found himself in the presence of the aesthetic and emotional equivalent of a pre-Columbian fresco, depicting the merry paradise of the usually grim Mexican rain-god Tlaloc, which he had seen a few days before at Teotihuacán; and the sixteenth-century missionaries’ success in divining and meeting their Indian peasant converts’ spiritual needs was attested in A.D. 1953 by the loving care that the converts’ descendants were still lavishing on these magnificent works of an exotic architecture and art that had been bequeathed to them by the Spanish friars who had arrived in the wake of the conquistadores.
In 1942, Alfonso Caso had identified the central figures in the murals in the Tepantitla apartment complex at Teotihuacan, which are from roughly 400-700 CE, as a Teotihuacan equivalent of Tlaloc (the name Tlaloc is Aztec, but the idea of a rain god identified with mountaintop shrines is as old as Teotihuacan).
This was the consensus when Toynbee was writing, but in 1974 Peter Furst suggested that the figures showed a feminine deity. Esther Pasztory concluded that they represented a vegetation and fertility goddess who was a predecessor of the much later Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal. She is now known as the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan and sometimes as the Teotihuacan Spider Woman.
Reproduction of one of the Teotihuacan murals depicting the Great Goddess, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
The Indian boy (old post).
An Historian’s Approach to Religion, OUP, 1956
Transcript of Roger Scruton, BBC Radio 4, A Point of View. Worth reading in full.
“Suppose then we English were finally allowed a say in the matter, which way would I vote? I have no doubt about it. I would vote for English independence, as a step towards strengthening the friendship between our countries. It was thanks to independence that the Americans were able at last to confess to their attachment to the old country, and to come to our aid in two world wars. Independence is what real friendship requires. And the same is true for those, like the Scots and the English, who live side by side.”
By A.D. 1871 War was not “the sport of kings” any longer. It had become the serious business of peoples who were inspired with all the enthusiasm that Democracy could excite and were armed with all the weapons that Industrialism could forge; and in these circumstances there was a choice between taking active steps to put an end to War altogether, or else seeing it rankle into an enormity without precedent in our Western history.
If the experience of the wars of 1861-71 had evoked an anti-war movement of anything like the same intensity and persistence as the anti-slavery movement which had been set on foot before the end of the eighteenth century, then our position to-day might perhaps have been more favourable than it actually is. It happened, however, that the crop of wars in the seventh decade of the nineteenth century was followed, like the General War of 1792-1815, by half a century of general peace, which was only broken by a few local wars of a semi-colonial character: the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8; the Spanish-American War of 1898; the South African War of 1899-1902; the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. These latter wars at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did not afford much new insight into the general tendency of warfare in the Western World in this age, because they were fought between not more than two belligerents in each case, and not in any instance in regions lying near the heart of the Western World.
1871-1914 was the belle époque. Who, after the First World War, invented that phrase?
Hence the terrible transformation in the character of War which had been brought about by the introduction of the new driving-power of Industrialism and Democracy took our generation by surprise in 1914. This time the shock has been so profound that an eager and active movement for the abolition of War has followed the Armistice of 1918. But this movement is gravely handicapped by its belated birth on the morrow of the World War, when it should have been born in 1871 or, better still, in 1815.
A Study of History, Vol IV, OUP, 1939
In A.D. 1956 the Hinayanian [Theravadan] Buddhist philosophy was the dominant way of life in Ceylon, Burma, Siam, and Cambodia; and in that year a Hinayanian Buddhist oecumenical council was in session at Rangoon, sitting placidly within a stone’s throw of the tense borderline between a Communist-dominated and a Western-dominated hemisphere. This serenity was an heroic example of a spirit that was also in evidence in ordinary life in the Hinayanian Buddhist countries. Many Western observers, including Westerners who were still Christians, were impressed by the strength, pervasiveness, and beneficence of the Hīnayāna’s influence on the êthos of the people at large, beyond the small circle of professed philosopher-monks. If philosophers, as well as prophets, are to be known by their fruits, [footnote: Matt, vii. 16 and 20.] the Hinayanian Buddhist philosophers need not fear comparison with their Mahayanian critics. Yet the local survival of the Hīnayāna in South-Eastern Asia was no more than a modest practical success by comparison with the tenacity of Confucianism; and elsewhere the Hīnayāna, like the Hellenic philosophies, had been superseded by other faiths. In its Indian homeland it had been evicted by a post-Buddhaic Hinduism; and, on the threshold of a vast mission-field in China, Korea, and Japan, the adherents of an advancing Buddhism had fallen away from a Hinayanian philosophy to a Mahayanian religion, in which the social demands of Love and Pity had been given patent precedence over the pursuit of self-sufficiency through self-extinction.
“Singapore is the meeting place of many races. The Malays, though natives of the soil, dwell uneasily in towns, and are few; and it is the Chinese, supple, alert and industrious, who throng the streets; the dark-skinned Tamils walk on their silent, naked feet, as though they were but brief sojourners in a strange land, but the Bengalis, sleek and prosperous, are easy in their surroundings, and self-assured; the sly and obsequious Japanese seem busy with pressing and secret affairs; and the English in their topees and white ducks, speeding past in motor-cars or at leisure in their rickshaws, wear a nonchalant and careless air.”
W Somerset Maugham, P&O, story in The Casuarina Tree, William Heinemann, 1926.
The first sentence there is in what could be called High Baedeker.
EM Forster (who brings Baedekers into A Room with a View) uses it in the first sentence of A Passage to India, Edward Arnold, 1924:
“Except for the Marabar Caves – and they are twenty miles off – the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary.”
Another story, The Letter, in the same Maugham collection, has a similar passage to the one in P&O:
“Outside on the quay the sun beat fiercely. A stream of motors, lorries and buses, private cars and hirelings, sped up and down the crowded thoroughfare, and every chauffeur blew his horn; rickshaws threaded their nimble path amid the throng, and the panting coolies found breath to yell at one another; coolies, carrying heavy bales, sidled along with their quick jog-trot and shouted to the passer-by to make way; itinerant vendors proclaimed their wares. Singapore is the meeting-place of a hundred peoples; and men of all colours, black Tamils, yellow Chinks, brown Malays, Armenians, Jews and Bengalis, called to one another in raucous tones.”
He is enjoying the mixture of black, yellow, brown and white. That isn’t racist.
“Chinks” is still used sometimes in India. It is one of a dwindling number of verbal survivals from the Raj. “Peg”, as in “a peg of whisky”, is another. An Indian man in Delhi – who is married to a Tibetan (Tibetans are a significant minority there) – referred to “chinkies” when talking to me in 2010 and did not in the least mean to be offensive. I am not sure whether he meant to include Tibetans.
Mussoorie, a mere 170 miles away, has the training centre for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
In 1984, when I first visited Singapore, people would still ask where one was “putting up”, to mean where was one staying.
Singaporeans like the phrase “cock and bull story”.
Jews? They were and are an important, though small, minority, mainly Iraqi Jews, whose modern diaspora got under way in the nineteenth century. They settled in Bombay and moved east. I knew one very well in Singapore. See Wikipedia articles on David Sassoon of Bombay and Edward Isaac Ezra of Shanghai, especially. There are Sassoons in Singapore. David Marshall, one of Singapore’s modern founding fathers, was an Iraqi, or Baghdadi, Jew.
Armenians? They were a parallel movement. The Raffles Hotel was founded by Armenians, the Sarkies Brothers. The Straits Times was co-founded by an Armenian, Catchick Moses. Was he also Jewish? I suppose both groups were attracted by a growing trade between South Asia and the West and found little room for their energy in a declining Ottoman Empire.
Raffles, despite its sugar-coating and fakifying, is a fine building, especially from the side. Its architect was Regent Alfred John Bidwell (1869-1918) of a local firm, Swan and Maclaren. He also designed the Victoria Memorial Hall and deserves to be remembered.
You immediately feel that Raffles has taken something from Malay architecture. But what? Compare the Wikipedia picture of Raffles with the main Wikipedia image of the Rumah Melayu, the traditional Malay house. Here are both.
It is hard to pinpoint the architectural feature which defines a hybrid style, but the windows are similar. The Rumah Melayu tradition is indigenous. In its origin, it owes nothing to colonial influences. But does that house in Kedah owe nothing or is it itself done in a local hybrid style which in turn influenced the design of Raffles?
Baker’s and Lutyens’s buildings did not come out of a local hybrid vernacular, but were products of individual genius. That is why New Delhi feels unreal to some people. Not to me. Its architects were too talented. If you want unreal stage sets, go to Putrajaya in Malaysia.
The great indigenous vernacular architectures of East Asia are Japanese and Malay. Some primitive Chinese vernacular is also moving.
Loggia, arcade and shophouse (Singapore architecture)
Why is the history of Singapore so fascinating? It has a strong atmosphere, though the city nowadays is called sterile. The modern founding fathers seem, in the ’50s and ’60s, magnetic, but nobody is attracted to their successors.
A rough guide to British Malaya (old post). Singapore became self-governing in 1959, joined the new Federation of Malaysia in 1963, seceded from it on August 9 1965.
- Nadra. December 11 1950. An argument over the custody of Maria Hertogh between her Malay-Muslim foster mother and her Dutch-Catholic real parents led to rioting by Muslims. Nadra was her Muslim name.
- Hock Lee Bus Riots. May 12 1955. A communist-instigated strike in a bus company.
- Race Riots. July 21 1964. The beginning of the end for Singapore in the new Federation of Malaysia. Thirteen months later, the two nations would separate.
- Konfrontasi. March 10 1965. MacDonald House on Orchard Road was bombed while Malaysia was in an undeclared war with Indonesia.
- Laju Hijack. January 31 1974. Two members of the Japanese Red Army and two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine set off bombs in an oil refinery on Pulau Bukom, an offshore island, and seized the ferryboat Laju.
The films are partly acted (chubbier modern actors in place of slimmer originals, as always; the most absurd example of this I ever saw was a film about the Egyptian pyramids in which pampered, pudgy modern bodies hauled stones), but there are talking heads and old footage. For some surviving witnesses, we are told, “this is the first time they have shared their [...] stories”.
There were riots in Little India last December. There were Anti-National Service Riots in 1954 and riots by pro-communist Chinese school students in 1956. Further race riots in 1969 were a spillover from Malaysia.
Producer and directors: first episode (broadcast order), Joan Chee; second, third, fifth, Tom St John Gray; fourth, Janice Young. Channel NewsAsia is part of MediaCorp, which is owned by Temasek, which is the Lee family. Thanks to Adrian Murdoch for the link. Adrian’s edition of three early lives of Raffles is here.
Singapore pre-1975 (Flickr group).
The civilisation in which we lived was like a labyrinth, so huge and intricate that none of the dwellers in it could altogether grasp its structure, while most of them were barely conscious that it had any structural design at all. But now that the War has caught it and it is all aflame, the unity and symmetry of the building are revealed to the common eye. As the glare lights it up from end to end, it stands out in its glory, in matchless outline and perspective; for the first time (and possibly for the last) we see its parts simultaneously and in proper relation, and realise for one moment the marvel and mystery of this civilisation that is perishing – the subtle, immemorial, unrelaxing effort that raised it up and maintained it, and the impossibility of improvising any equivalent structure in its place. Then the fire masters its prey; the various parts of the labyrinth fall in one by one, the light goes out of them, and nothing is left but smoke and ashes.
Editor, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, by Viscount Bryce, with a Preface by Viscount Bryce, Hodder & Stoughton and His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1916, online here
Cotton, not swedes. Mississippi, perhaps, not Hertfordshire. I know nothing about this picture, but am guessing early or mid-1880s. Clausen used photography in preparing his outdoor paintings circa 1882 to ’84.
Brahms, String Quintet 2 in G. Quartet with extra viola. Performers not stated. Clausen painting. Better image. Music 1890, painting 1883-84.
Winter Work (old post).
The Times, August 5 1914, the day after Britain declared war on Germany.
Private life still came first. Public news did not get onto the front page until one revolutionary day (though not one of any special headline) in 1966. But there are clues here to what was under way.
There are offers to help people who have been stranded, abroad or in England. All Norddeutscher Lloyd bookings have been cancelled. A couple of young gentlemen are offering themselves as secret agents. Large file: will zoom.
Toynbee’s first wife, from 1913 to 1946. Cv (page here).
The Leading Note, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1910
Moonseed, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1911
Unstable Ways, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1914
The Happy Tree, Chatto and Windus, 1926
Hard Liberty, Chatto and Windus, 1929
On the Greeks
The Greeks, Preface by Gilbert Murray, A&C Black, 1931
Religious tracts after conversion to Catholicism
The Good Pagan’s Failure, Longmans, Green & Co, 1939
Time and the Timeless, Centenary Press, 1942
The Life of Faith, Centenary Press, 1943
The Forsaken Fountain, Hollis and Carter, 1948
The Further Journey: In My End Is My Beginning, Harvill Press, 1953
She had a small reputation as a novelist before 1920.
Virginia Woolf, diary, November 12 1917: “I went to Mudies, & got The Leading Note, in order examine into R.T. more closely [...]. I came home with my book, which does not seem a very masterly performance after Turgenev, I suppose [The Leading Note is about a Russian refugee]; but if you dont get your touches in the right place the method is apt to be sketchy & empty.” Both from html sources.
McNeill: “Her career as an apologist resembled her career as a novelist in the sense that The Good Pagan’s Failure attracted much more attention than what followed.” But he regards The Happy Tree as her best novel.
UK publishing dates.
[The] practice of diffusing Hellenism in the Roman Empire by means of the foundation of city-states was reproduced in the Spanish Empire of the Indies; and the Medieval Spanish institution which was thus propagated in the Americas in an Early Modern Age of Western history was in truth a renaissance of the Hellenic institution that had originally been propagated in Spain by Roman conquistadores from Italy. [Footnote: See Haring, C. H.: The Spanish Empire in America (New York 1947, Oxford University Press), p. 159.] Like the Hellenic cities planted in the post-Alexandrine Age by Macedonian empire-builders in South-West Asia and Egypt and by Roman empire-builders round all the shores of the Mediterranean, these Spanish cities in the Americas had individual founders; [footnote: See ibid., p. 160.] they were laid out on the rectangular plan that, in the history of Hellenic town-planning, had been inaugurated in the fifth century B.C. [footnote: See ibid., p. 161.] by Hippodamus’s layout of the Peiraeus; and each civitas had a rural territorium attributed to it, to use the Roman technical term. [Footnote reference to an earlier part of the Study.] In the more settled regions of the Spanish Empire these municipal territoria were conterminous; and, in the undeveloped regions on the fringes, some of them were of vast extent. [Footnote: See Haring, op. cit., pp. 161-2.] By A.D. 1574 about a hundred Spanish city-states had already been founded within the area of the Incaic Empire’s former domain. [Footnote: See ibid., p. 160, n. 4.]
So is all this about the Viceroyalty of Peru rather than of New Spain?
“The Spanish American provinces, therefore, were in many instances a collection of municipalities, the latter … being the bricks of which the whole political structure was compacted.” [Footnote: Ibid., p. 162.]
If these Spanish colonial city-states thus resembled the post-Alexandrine Hellenic colonial city-states in serving as the cells of an intrusive alien régime’s administrative and judicial organization, they likewise resembled them in enjoying little more than a simulacrum of local self-government; for they had no sooner been founded than the Crown took into its own hands the appointment of the municipal officers. [Footnote: See ibid., pp. 164-5.] Above all, they resembled their Hellenic prototypes in being parasitic.
“In the Anglo-American colonies the towns grew up to meet the needs of the inhabitants of the country: in the Spanish colonies the population of the country grew to meet the needs of the towns. The primary object of the English colonist was generally to live on the land and derive his support from its cultivation; the primary plan of the Spaniard was to live in town and derive his support from the Indians or Negroes at work on plantations or in the mines. … Owing to the presence of aboriginal labour to exploit in fields and mines, the rural population remained almost entirely Indian.” [Footnote: Haring, op. cit., pp. 160 and 159.]
A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954
One part of BBC music that is still up to par most of the time is Building a Library (Radio 3). Jonathan Swain last Saturday on Vaughan Williams’s ninth symphony (a kind of continuation of his sixth, also in e minor) proved that. But they need to do some living or recent composers: composers if not specific works. What to buy by Ligeti, Xenakis?
YouTube blurb by Thomas Andrenyi (my links):
“1 Taormina – Ricordo
2 Gustav Klimt – Theater in Taormina, 1886-88, 750 x 400 cm, Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria
3 Taormina – Mappa
4 Taormina – Baedecker 1912
5 Teatro Greco – Wilhelm v Gloeden
6 Entrata di Villa Gloeden
7 Entrata di Villa Gloeden 1904 – Charles King Wood
8 Villa Falconara Duca di Bronte – F Galifi Crupi
9 Taormina – Vista dell’Etna – F Galifi Crupi
10 Grand Hotel Timeo – Giovanni Crupi
11 Vista dell’Etna
12 Taormina – 1920s
Arturo Toscanini conducts the Cantabile from the Overture to I vespri siciliani by Giuseppe Verdi, NBC Symphony Orchestra, 1942
Starting from the 19th century Taormina became a popular tourist resort in the whole Europe: people who spent vacation in Taormina include Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Goethe, Nietzsche, Richard Wagner and many others.
In the late 19th century Taormina gained further prominence as the place where Wilhelm von Gloeden worked most of his life as a photographer. Also credited for making Taormina popular was Otto Geleng, best known for his fine paintings, which he composed and painted in Italy but exhibited in Paris.
During the early 20th century the town became a colony of expatriate artists, writers, and intellectuals. DH Lawrence stayed here at the Fontana Vecchia from 1920 to 1922, and wrote a number of his poems, novels, short stories, and essays, and a travel book, Sea and Sardinia.
Thirty years later, from April 1950 through September 1951, the same villa was home to Truman Capote, who wrote of his stay in the essay Fontana Vecchia.
By this time Taormina had become ‘a polite synonym for Sodom’ as Harold Acton described it. Later, however, after the Second World War Acton was visiting Taormina with Evelyn Waugh and, coming upon a board advertising ‘Ye Olde English Teas’, he sighed and commented that Taormina was ‘now quite as boring as Bournemouth’.”
The worth of a blind and paralyzed painter who has never dipped a brush in paint would be no less than if he were articulate. I do believe that there is an absolute value in the human spirit quite apart from its material effects on society. There are many such people in the world. They would probably say – if they were religious – that their emotional and spiritual life was between them and God, that living and working in the sight of God was sufficient for them; they didn’t need their fellow men. Would this impoverish the spiritual estate of man? Yes, I think it would, not only because the estate of man is poorer for not having these people being articulate, but also because they had some unique and priceless quality to give which they have, in fact, not given.
Toynbee on Toynbee, A Conversation between Arnold J Toynbee and GR Urban, New York, OUP, 1974
Quartet movement: Allegro vivace 1952
String Quartet 1961 To Alexander Goehr
- 1982 To Oriel Glock (In Memoriam)
- 1987 Reconstructed from 1977 sketches
Naxos Quartets 2002-07
- To Ian Kellam
- To Eric Guest
- Children’s Games To Giuseppe Rebecchini
- Lighthouses of Orkney and Shetland To Thomas Daniel Schlee
- To Alexander Goehr
- Metafore sul Borromini To Archie Bevan on his eightieth birthday
- To Her Majesty The Queen on her eightieth birthday
- To Kathleen Ollerenshaw
- To the memory of Fausto Moroni
Blake Dreaming String quartet and baritone 2010 Commissioned by Nicholas and Judith Goodison
Concerto Accademico String orchestra and string quartet 2012 Commissioned by Regia Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna and Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Why this? I’m trying to get to know them.
I am starting with the seventh because of its affinity, via Borromini, with the tenth symphony, whose premiere I attended the other day.
Am also trying to get to know the third symphony (1984), which was inspired in part by the churches of Brunelleschi.
The seventh has been criticised for being all slow movements, seven of them. That is its virtue. It is not overly Beethovenian, nor agitated and expressionist, nor minimalist, nor monotonous, nor funereal.
A big Roman work to parallel the seventh quartet and tenth symphony is the tone poem Roma Amor (1998), which I heard at the Proms several years ago.
This is all a way into Max that does not go via the Orkneys.
I have corrected and added to yesterday’s post on Atlas and Antaeus.
Alan Macfarlane on Oxford and Cambridge; beware his dates; he is at the back of King’s College and Clare:
Toynbee’s paternal ancestors were east of England farmers, but he was an Oxford man who spent most of his working life outside a university. He was, however, invited in 1947 to become Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge in succession to GN Clark. See McNeill, pages 208-10 on his reasons for declining. The chair was taken by JRM Butler instead.
“He makes much of Atlas and Anteaus – the ‘Atlantean stance and the Antaean rebound’. Atlas has to hold up the weight of the Heavens upon his shoulders; Antaeus could not be defeated so long as he was able to evade his enemy’s grasp and touch the earth once again with his feet. Toynbee’s finds in these two contrary movements great meaning for the historical fate of civilizations responding to challenge. The danger of the Atlantean stance is to rigidify into ‘mimesis’ and obsession. The Antaean rebound enables new beginnings, the reappropriation of culture from the depths.”
Atlas’s crime had been an attempt to scale high Heaven; the punishment inflicted on him was to hold high Heaven up; and this was the stance in which the melancholy giant was eventually found by his visitor Hêrakles. In order to grasp the relation between an Atlantean stance and an Antaean rebound, we have to recognize that the Earth, off whose fostering breast a buoyant Antaeus was perpetually bouncing up like an india-rubber ball, and the Firmament whose dead weight was constantly pressing down upon the head and hands of an immobilized Atlas, are merely two different aspects of one and the same psychic continent as seen from opposite quarters of the spiritual compass. This depressing Firmament and refreshing Earth are, in psychic reality, identical. “The choice” between falling into an Atlantean stance and making an Antaean rebound is in truth “fundamentally a question of attitude”.
No footnote to the last phrase, but it is from
Baynes, H. G.: Mythology of the Soul (London 1940, Baillière, Tindall & Cox; 1949, Methuen) [...].
Toynbee, as we know, mistrusts renaissances, using words such as “mimesis”, “necromancy”, “archaism”, and is sometimes reluctant to see them as themselves Antaean.
The Hapsburg stance was Atlantaean:
The Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy had been called into existence after the collapse of the Kingdom of Hungary in A.D. 1526 to serve as a carapace for protecting the south-eastern land-frontier of the Western World against Ottoman aggression [...]; a union of the remnant of Hungary with the lands of the Bohemian Crown and with the hereditary dominions of the House of Hapsburg proved to be a sufficient mobilization of Western strength to prevent the ʿOsmanlis from making further continental conquests at Western expense; and the rest of the Western World therefore left it to the Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy to perform this public service for the Western common weal, without acknowledging its obligation to the Monarchy by submitting to the hegemony of a Caesarea Maiestas whose suzerainty, even within the limits of the Holy Roman Empire, had never been more than nominal, outside the frontiers of the hereditary dominions of the imperial house of the day, since “the Great Interregnum” (vacabat A.D. 1254-73).
The role of unprofitable servants, who had done that which it was their duty to do, without having earned thereby any claim to recognition or reward (Luke xvii. 7-10), was naturally resented by the Hapsburgs of the Danubian line when it was imposed upon them by their Western beneficiaries, and they expressed this resentment by making their weight felt in the interior of the Western World whenever any slackening of the pressure from their Ottoman adversaries gave them an opportunity to neglect their task of serving as wardens of the West’s anti-Ottoman marches. Such opportunities for occasional intervention in the domestic politics of the Western World were expended by the Danubian Hapsburg Power, with remarkable consistency, on Atlantean efforts to uphold lost causes. The ninety-years-long eclipse of the Ottoman Power from the death of Sultan Suleymān I in A.D. 1566 to the appointment of Mehmed Köprülü to be Grand Vezīr in A.D. 1656 – an eclipse that was only momentarily relieved by the meteoric career of Sultan Murād IV (imperabat A.D. 1623-40) – was spent by a Viennese Caesarea Maiestas in Counter-Reformational activities culminating in the Thirty Years’ War (gerebatur A.D. 1618-48). The temporary exhaustion of the Ottoman Power after the Great War of A.D. 1682-99 was taken by the Danubian Hapsburg Power as an opportunity for joining forces with the Netherlands and Great Britain in order to repress King Louis XIV of France for the benefit of British interests. The relief from Ottoman pressure after the collapse of the Ottoman Power in the Russo-Turkish War of A.D. 1768-74 tempted the Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy into committing itself to the forlorn hope of repressing the hydra-headed “Ideas of Seventeen Eighty-Nine”, which had no sooner been crushed in their first avatar in the form of a Napoleonic imperialism than they reasserted themselves in the form of a nineteenth-century Romantic Nationalism which the Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy was so far from being able to repress that it was first encircled and finally disrupted by it.
It is true that these Atlantean reactions to the raising of a ghost of a Roman Caesarea Maiestas at Vienna were not entirely unaccompanied by Antaean symptoms. The most lively of these was the role which Vienna came to play as a melting-pot for transforming Orthodox Christians or ex-Orthodox Christian Uniates into Westerners. An eloquent memorial of this Antaean activity was the Vienna telephone directory [...]; yet, when the history of the Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy from A.D. 1526 to A.D. 1918 is viewed as a whole in perspective, this Antaean twitch does not perceptibly relax the rigidity of the Monarchy’s Atlantean stance.
If one is speaking about immigration, the UK recently has been Antaean, Japan Atlantaean.
The Hapsburgs and the Ottomans (old post).
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954 (footnote)
There seemed to be little sign [in A.D. 1952] of any tendency for a polyglot Hindu Society’s sense of oecumenical solidarity to disrupt itself into parochial national movements animated by the perverse ideal of manufacturing so many political fatherlands out of the areas in which the divers living vernacular languages of the Hindu World happened respectively to be current. If it were indeed true that the Hindus had not reacted in this unfortunate Western way to the literary cultivation of local living vernaculars under the stimulus of a classical language and literature derived from an antecedent civilization, the Hindus’ happier record in this respect was perhaps the consequence of external pressure rather than the fruit of innate virtue. Whereas the Modern Western World had been virtually free from external pressure from A.D. 1683, when the ʿOsmanlis had met with their second, and decisive, reverse before the walls of Vienna, down to A.D. 1917, when the Bolsheviks had entered into the heritage of a Petrine Russian Empire, the Hindu World had been under Muslim pressure since the tenth century of the Christian Era, and under Western pressure since the eighteenth.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954 (footnote)
A hinge year:
Elgar dies Worcester February 23
Britten, Simple Symphony premiered Norwich March 6
Holst dies London May 25
Delius dies Grez June 10
Birtwistle born Accrington July 15
Maxwell Davies born Salford September 8
Walton 1 in b flat minor, first three movements, premiered London December 3
Vaughan Williams 4 in f minor completed
Tippett, String Quartet 1, first mature work, begun
(Coward, I’ll follow my secret heart premiered in Conversation Piece London February 16
Glyndebourne Festival Opera inaugurated May 28)
Vaughan Williams 4, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Vernon Handley
Hoping for the best (image in old post).
Brahms, String Quintet 1 in F. Quartet with extra viola. Performers not stated. Clausen painting, so this gets in. Would anyway. Better image. Music 1882, painting 1883-84.
Since Trevor-Roper’s death, we have had a life of the physician Théodore de Mayerne; a study of Scottish history; a new volume of masterly essays; letters to Berenson; and his wartime journals (many pages of which are about hunting). And the Sisman biography and a volume of letters from Richard Cobb to him and others.
Now we have a hundred of his letters to various people (not Berenson) edited by Richard Davenport-Hines and Adam Sisman and published by OUP. Like the Berenson volume, this one has a few more withering lines on Toynbee, but nothing new.
“Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s founder, is a serious man who means well and tries to keep the bling and glitz out of his forum, but with people like Sean Parker throwing non-stop parties in order to self-promote, his is a Sisyphean task. [...] Still, the WEF is a good thing and many good people attend it and the world’s economy is better off for it.”
Taki, Spectator, February 1. The rest of the article is not interesting, but I agree with those words.
The “pincode of the world” is 1114. 1 bn people live in Europe, 1 bn in the Americas, 1 bn in Africa, 4 bn in Asia.
By 2050 it will be 1125. Europe and the Americas will stay the same, Africa will have doubled, Asia will peak at 5 bn.
By 2100 it will be 1145. The global population will peak at 11 bn, with 4 bn in Africa and 5 bn in Asia. The main maritime thoroughfare will be the Indian Ocean, not the Pacific. The Indian Ocean will link 9 bn of the world’s 11 bn inhabitants.
Numbers may not mean much, but the world will be blacker.
Part of David of Sarasota, a silly undated film sponsored by the Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce, produced by LeRoy Crooks. Via Florida Memory, an initiative of State Archives of Florida. The 14-minute version has a clip of Toynbee, a charter faculty member of New College and in residence from December 20 (probably) 1964 until April 8 1965.
The College, an initiative of local citizens led by the Chamber of Commerce, had been founded in 1960. Toynbee’s appointment was announced October 5 1963 (St Petersburg Times, October 6, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 6). The College opened its doors to students in the fall of 1964.
Charles Ringling (1863-1926) of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus was the older brother of John Nicholas Ringling (1866-1936). The Ringling Brothers Circus acquired Barnum and Bailey in 1907.
Near the campus is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, John Ringling’s gift to Florida, “the museum the circus built”, with its bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David; on its property are the Museum of the Circus and the Asolo Repertory Theater, whose late eighteenth-century interior was shipped from Asolo, near Venice, in 1949.
We are shown the Ringling complex, and the Players Community Theater, Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra, Sarasota Concert Band, Sarasota High School and its Sailor Circus, Emmett Kelly, Ben Stahl, Thornton Outes, Syd Solomon, Al Buell, John D McDonald, Irving Vendig, beach life and sport, Florida Ballet Art School and Hilton Leech Gallery.
Material from Toynbee’s New College lectures found its way into Change and Habit. From 1955 to 1967, Toynbee exploited the possibilities of the American lecture circuit. “Each time he used his host institutions as a base from which to travel far and wide in pursuit of additional lecture fees.” (McNeill)
Tempting as it would be to call this post Bread from circuses, New College was not a Ringling foundation (though the Ringling School of Art was).
The lectures – one was on Food and Population – are likely to have been in the usual mould. Did these recycled talks justify the fees? And as McNeill asks, were his side-trips fair on his hosts, who were paying to have him on their campus?
Florida Memory is wrong in dating the film to “ca. 1950s”. It is 1965, though, admittedly, most of the time Sarasota looks as if it is stuck in a more than ordinarily complete southern time-warp.
Toynbee to Columba Cary-Elwes, February 24:
The students here (all 100 of them, all straight of out high school) are of a very high level, and are very much worth trying to help, but we don’t like this part of Florida. After Denver, where we were very happy, it seems un-genuine.
He had taught at the University of Denver in the last quarter of 1964. April 5:
Though the students at New College are good, in every sense, we shall not be sorry to leave Sarasota: you have here the worst side of American life: frivolity combined with militant conservatism.
“His three months here included:
“Seven major lectures to New College students and guests.
“Appearances on campuses in South Carolina, Tennessee, Gainesville and Miami, Florida [on March 4 he had spoken on The Role of the Generalist in the University Stadium, University of Florida, Gainesville].
“Weekly seminars with students.
“‘Bull Sessions’ with students after each of his formal lectures.
“Appearance with other world figures at the ‘Pacem in Terris’ conference in New York to discuss ways to achieve world peace.
“Broadcasts and telecasts on every major television and radio network at the time of the death of Sir Winston Churchill.
“Special appearance on the Today Show on the NBC network.
“Selected guest appearances, numerous dinners and social occasions.
“Completion of the manuscript for a new book [Hannibal’s Legacy].
“Aside from his public appearances and rigorous class and work schedule, Dr. Toynbee lived quietly with his wife in a home in the Uplands. They were often seen walking in the neighbourhood and the sight of the historian crossing the campus from his home to College Hall was a familiar one.
“Student recollections of Dr. Toynbee will always be of a man of great gentleness, unfailing kindness, simplicity in his approach to even great matters, and directness in his reply to even the most complex questions.”
He had been honest enough to share something of the feeling about Florida that he had expressed to Columba:
“Interesting was his comment that life in Florida somehow seems to be ‘unreal’. He explained that so many people now in Florida had formed their lives in different communities, had lived their working days elsewhere, and had then moved here attempting to begin another life, often a different way of living.”
It was becoming a state of migrants. Low taxes, air conditioning and the Interstate highway system had brought retirees from the Northeast, Midwest and Canada. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 produced a wave of Cuban immigration. There were Haitian and other Caribbean and Central and South American migrants. Since the early twentieth century much of the old African American population had been migrating to the north.
The black population of Florida had been 44 percent at the beginning of the century. It was still 16.5 percent, and Sarasota was presumably not a statistical exception, but you don’t see a single black face in the fourteen minutes of David of Sarasota. De facto apartheid will have added to the feeling of unreality. (Stanley K Smith, Florida Population Growth: Past, Present and Future, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, June 2005)
We have met Toynbee at that first, 1965 Pacem in Terris conference already: New York 1965: Ideology and Intervention (old post). If the audio links there and in Santa Barbara 1967, and the age of planning aren’t working, I hope to restore them.
To Columba, February 24:
I got back late last night from the Pacem in Terris Convocation (I was one of the speakers yesterday morning, [footnote: A.J.T.’s speech was the basis of “Change – Minus Bloodshed,” published in Rotarian 106, no. 6 (June 1965): 40-41.] with Senator Fulbright in the chair). The best of the chairmen was Barbara Ward.
According to the Online Archive of California, the event had ended on February 20. Fulbright opposed the Vietnam policy of the Johnson administration.
My main impression was that Pope John’s love and concern for his fellow human beings has broken through all barriers. Communists, Asians, Africans all spoke about him with affection and gratitude, and I am sure they were being sincere. This is one of those timely acts that cannot be undone. Pope John has “made history”, I should say, in the deepest sense.
He is referring to Pacem in Terris, the encyclical John issued on April 11 1963, a few weeks before he died. It made history because it was explicitly addressed not only to Catholics, but to “all men of good will”.
My second impression is that the American people are committing, pretty heavily, the sin of pride, and are thereby drawing on themselves the moral disapproval of the rest of the world. They are refusing to admit that they may have made a mistake [in Vietnam], that mistakes have to be paid for, and that America cannot be – and ought not to be – always 100 per cent victorious. The choice before them, and this in the near future, is either a compromise over Vietnam or MacNamara’s 1 to 7 million American casualties [where does he get that from?], but they do not seem to be facing the choice. Certainly they are not in our “blood and tears” mood of June, 1940. This is very disturbing in a nation which has mankind’s fate in its hands.
News release, op cit:
“Thursday the college officially bade the Toynbees farewell at a tea in their honor in College Hall. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Music Room and many of the College family found it difficult to move away from the historian after they had shaken his hand, reluctant to say goodby [sic] to this British couple who had been such a part of their lives.”
Reminiscences of his time there are in Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 23 1975. He had a high opinion of the Florida students. He believed that the “bull sessions” and seminars were of more value to them than the lectures.
Christian B Peper, editor, An Historian’s Conscience, The Correspondence of Arnold J. Toynbee and Columba Cary-Elwes, Monk of Ampleforth, with a Foreword by Lawrence L Toynbee, OUP, by arrangement with Beacon Press, Boston, 1986, posthumous
Certain works of literature [...] are concerned with public affairs in the histories of civilizations and for this reason can only be classified as historical, although the technique of “fiction” is employed throughout, so that [they] are indistinguishable in form from other dramas and novels. Such works are Aeschylus’s Persae, Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts, Feuchtwanger’s Jew Süss, and Benet’s John Brown’s Body.
Solzhenitsyn’s The Red Wheel would be another. Will the first part, August 1914, which is about the Battle of Tannenberg, be rediscovered this year? It made a big impression when it came out in England in 1972 and seems to have sunk without trace.
[Footnote: Tolstoy’s War and Peace does not, on the whole, come under this category. It does, of course, contain elements of historiography – for example the thesis, on which the author harps, that military commanders are passive instruments who register events without determining them, and again the rather wearisomely repeated comparison of the Grande Armée in retreat to a wounded beast. In essence, however, War and Peace is a true novel in the popular sense inasmuch as it is primarily concerned with the personal relations of human beings.]
Persae is about the defeat of Xerxes’ navy at Salamis. The Dynasts is a verse drama about the Napoleonic wars, allegedly the longest English drama in existence, and never staged. Jew Süss is a novel about the life of Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, a Court Jew or financial aide to Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg in Stuttgart (reigned 1733-37). John Brown’s Body is an epic poem about the white American abolitionist John Brown (1800-59).
Bodley Head, 1972
A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934
Gabriel Prokofiev, London-dwelling garage and classical composer, DJ, record producer, grandson of Sergei, slight Nigel Kennedy accent, has a good basic programme on BBC Radio 4 for a few more days about what happened to classical music in the twentieth century and why it became difficult and alienated people.
Johnson is good on Darmstadt orthodoxy and total serialism, on the audience as the class enemy, on serialism as a reaction to fascism, and on the USSR, where composers may, paradoxically, have had more freedom and at least retained their publics.
Hewett and Prokofiev make a connection between Paganini and Hendrix.
Goehr says that Darmstadt was particularly misguided in rejecting Dallapiccola and Britten. Why is Goehr not better known by now and not a grand old man? Is it his music?
Prokofiev’s conclusion: we now have so many possibilities, since we are free from the socio-political hangups of the post-1945 generation, that we can all look forward to a bright future. Or are too many possibilities the problem?
Henze would have said: stop worrying. This prolific composer who, nevertheless, could not think of writing a violin concerto without thinking about the entire tradition of violin concerti, every violin concerto ever written, and what it meant to be a German writing one now, told young composers to shake all that off and, still loving and studying the past, go ahead.
He trusted the globalised world to forge its own disciplines.
Scotland, like the Baltic states, is within Scandinavia’s gravitational field.
Scandinavian unions (old post).
“To the south of a zigzag boundary which stretches from Fernando Pó on the west to Mombasa on the east, lies the sphere of the Bantu speech. … There is but one indigenous language-family over the whole of Central and South Africa, the only exceptions to this universality of type being a few patches of Sudanian tongues on the Northern Congo, Nilotic dialects in East Africa, a click language south of the Victoria Nyanza, and the nearly extinct Hottentot and Bushman languages of South-West Africa” (Johnston, Sir H. H.: The Opening Up of Africa (London, no date, Williams & Norgate), pp. 131-2).
Swahili is a Bantu language and, of course, is spoken in Kenya north of Mombasa. Afro-Asiatic, once called Hamito-Semitic, must be a rather loose group. The Hottentot and Bushman languages are also Khoisan or click languages.
Parts of West Africa and the Sudan are extremely linguistically diverse. Nigeria has 522 living languages (Ethnologue, 358 classed as “vigorous”), one of the greatest concentrations of languages in the world. Bantu languages are themselves diverse.
A Study of History, Vol III, OUP, 1934
I find that I wrote to some friends on September 7 2006 an email headed The facelessness of Abbado and continuing
“… is a myth. There’s an immediately recognisable Abbado sound: a spray or zest which flies out of the pit.
It isn’t like Karajan’s smooth sound, and Rattle doesn’t have a sound with them, only an over-careful attention to dynamics.
There is nostalgia in Berlin for Abbado and a suspicion that Rattle is somehow empty. Or is it Rattle criticism that’s empty? Vide current articles by the Lebrechts, even in Germany, which share the tone, if they can’t rival the triviality, of restive talk about our prime minister.
The Phil was on pretty good form under Sir (as the Germans invariably call him) Simon with their Bruckner 7. You could have mistaken his performance for Furtwängler. Even the patina of an old recording seemed to be there. It was the same ensemble. (Furtwängler, whom Rattle’s only rival in Germany, Thielemann in Munich, more consciously imitates.) Only the light and shade told you it was Rattle.
Up with Abbado. Karajan was Karajan and at his best in London, not Berlin. F was unsurpassable except when classical values were called for, which is why I have issues even with his sometimes hysterical Brahms. And Rattle’s crisis in music making is part of a more general one which doesn’t really exist, but is mainly a crisis of the auditor. So two and a half cheers for Sir Simon.”
“Hinduism has often and justly been compared to a jungle. As in the jungle every particle of soil seems to put forth its spirit in vegetable life and plants grow on plants, creepers and parasites on their more stalwart brethren, so in India art, commerce, warfare, and crime, every human interest and aspiration seek for a manifestation in religion, and since men and women of all classes and occupations, all stages of education and civilization, have contributed to Hinduism, much of it seems low, foolish and even immoral. The jungle is not a park or garden. Whatever can grow in it, does grow. The Brahmans are not gardeners but forest officers. To attempt a history or description of Indian creeds seems an enterprise as vast, hopeless and pathless as a general account of European politics. As for many centuries the life of Europe has expressed itself in politics, so for even longer ages the life of India, which has more inhabitants than Western Europe, [footnote: The population of India (about 315 millions) is larger than that of Europe without Russia.] [This would now be true even if you included all of Russia.] has found expression in religion, speculation, and philosophy, and has left of all this thought a voluminous record, mighty in bulk if wanting in dates and events. And why should it chronicle them? The truly religious mind does not care for the history of religion, just as among us the scientific mind does not dwell on the history of science.” [Footnote: Eliot, Sir Charles: op. cit. [...].] [Referring to Eliot, Sir Charles: Hinduism and Buddhism (London 1921, Arnold, 3 vols.) [...].]
A Study of History, Vol III, OUP, 1934
By a freakish stroke of Fortune, there was born into the purple of the Russian Orthodox Christian universal state at Moscow, on the 30th May, 1672, a genius endowed with a completely Western êthos – and this not even the êthos of his own Western contemporaries, but the êthos of their descendants in the sixth or seventh generation, whose time was not to come till some two centuries had gone by! Peter the Great was an incomprehensible and therefore disagreeable lusus Naturae in the eyes of an English Bishop Burnet or a Dutch King William III, as well as in the eyes of a Russian Arch-Priest Avvakum [leader of the Old Believers]. When Burnet met Peter in A.D. 1698, he pronounced him sordid-minded, and saw nothing more in him than a young Barbarian potentate who happened to be a good ship’s carpenter. When William met him, he complained that he had no aesthetic sense, and no knowledge of the Dutch language apart from a jargon of nautical technicalities. These worthy representatives of the modern culture of the West did not, and could not, guess that, in their encounter with this repulsive mechanically-minded barbarian, they were being given a glimpse into their own society’s future and were being shown a prototype of the typical Homo Occidentalis who was to adorn an age two centuries beyond their own! For us, their descendants, who have the fortune to live in these latter days, the figure of Peter has ceased to be enigmatic. We have no hesitation in placing Peter the Great in the same portrait-gallery as Edison and Ford and Rhodes and Northcliffe and Mark Twain’s Yankee at the Court of King Arthur and Mr. Shaw’s Straker in Man and Superman.
A Study of History, Vol III, OUP, 1934