Sunday, 23 December 2012

Somerset Maugham "Theatre"

Everyone wants to know how a cinema or theater star looks like in everyday life. Do they really fall in love, suffer, read newspapers?

Somerset Maugham is a writer who miraculously describes female characters (Tiare in "Moon and Sixpence" or Ata of the same novel), but he is not too fond of putting women at the center of his works. The image of the actress, Julia Lambert, from the novel "Theater" is quite unique.

The answer to the question: “where do the actress end and a real woman begin?” will not be received. Only in a few episodes a mocking, able to speak vulgarly, mischievous "another Julia" looks at us from under her mask, but then again she hides somewhere in the corner of her dressing room. It is interesting what Roger, her son, thinks of her: "Sometimes I think that when you do not play, I can go to your room and find that it is empty, you simply do not exist."

Do you think fans and admirers want a real woman? I
n literature we encountered the phenomenon where a man starts living with an actress, but soon keeping her close to himself becomes boring (Zerbinetta from "Captain Fracasse" of Theophile Gautier runs away from the grand seigneur realizing that he does not love her, but her characters). So Julia is perhaps right that she does not remove the mask from her face.

Her assistant, Evie, a middle-aged London cockney - for whom Julia is transparent as glass -  sees everything, but does not criticize or comment, only utters sometimes : "Well, well" and wipes her nose. For everyone else it is hard to imagine the true motives of Ms. Lambert’s actions.

Did the young accountant Tom Fennel fall in love with a woman? Oh, no. While Julia looks marvelous and no one would give her more than 30 years, the main thing is his vanity - what a woman was he able to conquer!

"Do not touch idols, their gilding remains on your fingers", says an old truth. Tom begins to lose interest in Julia. But she discovers unexpectedly that she is seriously in love with him. Oh, the love of a woman over the age of forty! How tragic it is, if the beloved man is young! Julia tries to throw her feelings on stage. But her husband (the best looking gentleman in London, who manages not to notice anything, though the affair unfolds under his nose) picks an overlap???. "You overact - he tells her - you work on cheap effects." Her truth shown on stage is not convincing in real life. How ironic.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Women characters in Dickens's novels

Dickens is known by his delicate attitude to women; I mean his novels of course. Following women characters we see that, as a rule, women in Charles Dickens’s books are the embodiments of the highest ideals – a dear young lady, or a kind old lady. If you come across, say, members of thieves’ gang, such as Nancy in “Oliver Twist”, then you notice that even they aspire to kindness, they repent of their behavior, they die in an effort to get closer to the circle of respectable women. 

All sins in the novels of Dickens (stealing, drinking, cheating, selfishness) are expressed through men: Fagin (fence),  and, to say the least, not a kind Mr Dombey, and a whole string of selfish parish beadles, dishonest judges, indifferent jailers. Men in the works of Charles Dickens are bearers of rationality emasculated to complete callousness; they are not up to sentiments. Rare samples of Mr Pickwick type are rejected by the society, they are seen as cranks, and nobody chooses them as a role model.

A man must be cautious, not to let the emotions take his heart, be occupied by business rather than by emotions – that is the image of men in the works of Dickens. Among them, of course, sometimes a good old squire or a bookshop owner flashes through, but for the most part these are men with strong jaws, energetic, pursuing careers or supporting businesses, rearing sons to help themselves, as for the daughters…

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ivan Bunin "Dark Avenues"

I would like to come back to the topic of beauty that was discussed in earlier posts. I re-read the "Easy Breathing" by Ivan Bunin, and could not but admire his talent. Piercing story,  it takes, maybe, fifteen minutes to read the story but the memories of it you have for the rest of your life. The protagonist is a young girl who, I would say, represents a symbol of joy of life, of everything sincere in us. And her death makes you deeply sad, as if something in you died.

I find this story is a perfection from all points of view. Chekhov said that writing for him meant striking out. Bunin  demonstrated that rule brilliantly. For example, the author does not describe the image of Olya Meshcheriyakova in details, he leaves it to the reader's imagination. He emphasizes the important thing - her presence in life, ease and elegance, which contrast with gloomy environment. Easy breathing is an association with a slight breeze, something beautiful and elusive to which we all aspire.

The image of the school mistress is interesting - an old spinster, a complete opposite to the main character. She is one of those who live long and poorly, stuck to a fictional dream or some other idea. After the death of Olya, she regularly visits the young girl's grave as if servicing funerals of her own soul.
Somehow, I have associations with Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's, I don't know, probably you will have different ones.