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This item is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.Letters from Jeremy Hawthorn, Anthony Rudolf, Adam Czerniawski, John McAuliffe
In PNR 220, Roger Caldwell has a letter about Essex. In it he writes: ‘Conrad at one point lived in the Essex village of Stratford-le-Hope, though [James] Canton’s researches fail to identify which house he occupied.’ Owen Knowles and Gene Moore’s Oxford Reader’s Companion to Conrad (OUP, 2000) notes that ‘[the] newly married Conrads had their first two homes in Stanford-le-Hope […]. Conrad was initially attracted to the village in 1896 by the prospect of living near his oldest English friends, G.F.W. Hope and his wife, and of resuming with Hope their long-standing tradition of taking boat-trips together. After a six-month stay in a semi-detached villa in Victoria Road – which Conrad damned as ‘a jerry-built rabbit hutch’ […] the Conrads made the short move in March 1897 to Ivy Walls Farm, a spacious Elizabethan house on the edge of the Essex marshes and the birthplace of their first son Borys’ (p. 160). So: not Stratford-le-Hope but Stanford-le-Hope. And Conrad may, as Caldwell suggests of those writers who lived in Essex, have wanted ‘a more or less “rustic” retreat that was in relatively easy reach of London’, but his primary interest in the area seems to have been a desire to be near friends.
… and elsewhere
David Gascoyne’s New Collected Poems (Enitharmon Press, 2014), impeccably edited by Roger Scott, contains a hitherto forgotten poem, ‘Elsewhere’ (‘ailleurs’ in French), whose epigraph reads: ‘La vraie vie est ailleurs (Rimbaud)’. In fact, in Une Saison en enfer, Rimbaud wrote: ‘La vraie vie est absente’.
Milan Kundera, Alan Bennett and many other authors, as well as film and play titles, deploy the misquotation. Even Online Larousse has ‘La vraie vie est ailleurs’! There is a possible explanation. André Breton, in his First Surrealist Manifesto, a text as familiar to Gascoyne as Une Saison en enfer, writes: ‘Rimbaud est surréaliste dans la pratique de la vie et ailleurs’. The manifesto ends: ‘L’existence est ailleurs’, patently a direct allusion to Rimbaud but not necessarily a misquotation. Could this phrase be the unconscious source of Gascoyne’s phrasing?
In the Poet’s Country
In ‘A Woman Without a Country: A Detail’ (PNR 220), Eavan Boland quotes what she calls Goethe’s ‘paradigm’ as ‘Who wants to understand the poem / Must go to the land of poetry’. But Goethe wrote ‘Wer den Dichter will verstehen / Muss in Dichters Lande gehen’. That is ‘If you want to understand a poet / you must visit his country’, which is a totally different meaning.
Beaver Row Press
Further to my email about a case of mistaken identity in the obituary for Dermot Healy, I seem to have muddied the waters myself by conflating Dermot Bolger’s Raven Arts Press with the Beaver Row Press, run by Glenda Cimino and Kevin Byrne from 1977 to 1997. Beaver Row did not publish work by either Dermot Healy or Dermot Bolger, but did publish Brendan Kennelly’s Cromwell, as well as early work by Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Tony Curtis and Paula Meehan, who graciously brought this to my attention.
This item is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.