Review: The Latin Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. and trans. Martin Moynihan

May I tell you a cute story? It’s very cute, and I can’t proceed with this review until I tell you the cute story, so if you are not in the mood for a sweet story, you should depart precipitously. Once upon a time there was an Italian priest called Don Giovanni Calabria who read C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters and loved it. He wanted to write to C. S. Lewis to express his admiration for the book, but he didn’t speak English, and he suspected (rightly) that C. S. Lewis didn’t speak Italian. Knowing that Lewis was a scholar of the classics and knew Latin, he wrote to him in that language, and they carried on a correspondence! In Latin!

Lewis and Calabria corresponded periodically over the course of seven years, from Calabria’s first letter to Lewis until Calabria’s death in 1954, after which Lewis continued writing now and then to another member of Calabria’s congregation. Their relationship is touching. They always write to ask each other for prayers, and they ask each other for guidance on theological questions. It is sweet.

As sweet as this is, I don’t know that I’d have been interested in these letters if they had just been published in English. Most of the letters are from Lewis to Calabria, rather than the other way around, so you don’t have a good sense of the correspondence as a whole. The letters discuss the wars, schisms in the church, and the moral tone of the present century, but they are short and cannot explore the issues deeply.

However, I read the Latin half of the letters, and that was fun. The editor helpfully put the Latin and English text on facing pages, so when I got confused about syntax or vocabulary, I could refer to the translation to set me straight. I most pleasingly referred to the translation more rarely as I carried on reading, which made me feel great about myself and totally ready to translate Ovid’s Metamorphoses which I am absolutely going to do one of these days because I love Ovid and Fagles didn’t translate him.

Two books I didn’t like (sad, sad)

I put the words “sad, sad” in the title line here, but that was silly.  I am not sad at all.  I am still very happy, because as you may recall, THE SAINTS WON THE SUPER BOWL, causing me to tear up happily every time Drew Brees opens his mouth (he’s such a sweet dear) or every time I see a picture of all the confetti and rejoicing.  And everyone is all “If only my daddy were alive to see this day,” and New Orleans is throwing the biggest party possibly every thrown, like even bigger than that party in “Death in Venice” with the elephants, and somebody predicted on Saturday that Porter would not be able to block Wayne effectively, and (he did though)—

(Dear Crazy Jenny, Hush about the Super Bowl.  Kisses, Sane Jenny)

So here are some books that I did not enjoy so far in February.

Clara Callan, Richard B. Wright

When I first read about this book, I discovered within myself a love for epistolary novels that was greater (I thought) than my unlove of novels set during the Great Depression. But do you know, I was completely wrong.  I mean if there was ever going to be a Great Depression book that I could manage, it should have been this one.  It is epistolary, it focuses on the relationship between two sisters, and one of the sisters becomes, I swear to you, a radio soap opera star in New York.  Those are some ingredients that should mix together to create a book that I would love – but they did not.

So I’m swearing off Great Depression books forever, unless you tell me with great conviction that you have a Great Depression book that transcends its Great Depression-ness and manages to be amazing anyway.  And not dreary.  And it obviously can’t be set in England or it doesn’t count.  Any thoughts?

Other reviews:

an adventure in reading
Books for Breakfast
Kristina’s Book Blog

Gray Horses, Hope Larson

I read this for the Graphic Novel Challenge, making it my one, two, third book read for the Graphic Novel Challenge, and the second one about which I was just not that crazy.  I wanted to like it because I have read nice things about Hope Larson’s Salamander Dreams, which the library didn’t have but they did have this.  Lesley read it and said there wasn’t enough to it, for a book, and I said, I don’t care what you think, I’m reading it anyway.  And no, she was totally right.  There is not enough to it.

Noemie is a French exchange student trying to find her way in an American city, and she has vivid dreams where she has a horse and helps a kid.  Back in real life, she makes a friend, and a dude follows her and takes her picture and leaves the pictures for her to find, which she finds sweet.  That is not romantic at all; it is completely creepy.  In fact I always felt that the creepiest deed committed by the Big Bad Villain of Season Two of Buffy was when he drew pictures of her sleeping and left them on her pillow.  This doesn’t feel so different from that; except that when the Big Bad Villain of Season Two of Buffy behaved in this manner, steps were taken.

I read this for the February mini-challenge, graphic novels with animals in, hosted by (fellow Louisianian & Super Bowl celebrator & I’m really shutting up about this now) Chris at Stuff as Dreams Are Made On.  But I am going to read that Darwin book if I can get it, and that will be for the mini-challenge too and hopefully I will enjoy it more.

Other reviews:

A Life in Books
A Striped Armchair
The Zen Leaf

Tell me if I missed yours!

P.S. Okay, I am a little bit sad.  A very little bit sad, though still mostly happy about the Saints.  I am a little sad because I found out today that I didn’t get into one of my grad schools.  Mostly I am still pleased about the Saints, and I reminded myself of this by watching Porter and Shockey give man hugs, and by watching Drew Brees holding his little son.  But a small part of me is a bit sad that I didn’t get into one of my grad schools.

Review: Can Any Mother Help Me?, Jenna Bailey

In 1935, a mother wrote in to a British motherhood magazine saying this:

Can any mother help me?  I live a very lonely life as I have no near neighbors.  I cannot afford to buy a wireless. I adore reading, but with no library am very limited with books.  I dislike needlework, though I have a lot to do!  I get so down and depressed after the children are in bed and I am alone in the house….Can any reader suggest an occupation that will intrigue me and exclude ‘thinking’ and cost nothing?

In response, a group of women formed a privatecorrespondence magazine.  They submitted articles about their lives; the articles were bound into a magazine and sent around to each woman in turn.  They wrote comments on each other’s articles, offering advice and support.  The correspondence magazine lasted for over 50 years and was a lifeline to the women involved.  Can Any Mother Help Me? excerpts articles the women wrote about their children, the war, family sickness, marital problems, etc.

The book was fascinating – it reminded me so much of blogging!  The women who participated in the magazine would put in little notes on the articles, “love what you have written!”, etc.  Before each excerpt, Jenna Bailey included a biography of the woman who wrote it, to put the articles in the broader context of the author’s life.  Although there isn’t enough room in the book to give a lot of information about each woman, their descriptions of their lives are still vivid and individual.  I liked Yonire and Accidia the best as writers, but I enjoyed many of the stories.

If I were doing the Women Unbound Challenge – which I am not, I swear I can resist the temptation to enter these things because I have no idea whether I will be able to finish them – but if I were, I’d include this book as part of it, because, you know.  Hooray for women supporting each other!  (Thanks to Tara for the recommendation.)

This review seems a smidge perfunctory, but that is only because I am currently in the middle of The Mask of Apollo, a book by Mary Renault that I have been saving and saving for many years and finally decided to read and it is wonderful.  I wish I could travel back in time and give Mary Renault a hug.  Should be finished with it soon though my review may be delayed as my little sister just got back into town and we have A LOT of stuff to catch up on, like going to the mall and trying on prom dresses, and talking about who we would cast in the movie versions of every book we have read since we last saw each other, and eating Mexican food and going out for cheese fries, and watching Doctor Who and Angel and Better Off Ted – y’all, there are many things we are going to do.

In other happy news, my parents got a puppy.  She is the sweetest little puppy, though I am glad I am grown-up and not at home and thus no longer responsible for cleaning up after a brand new puppy, or for puppy-proofing all my things.  I named her Jasmine (Jazz for short!), and her proper name is Jasmine Mouton because she looks like a little sheep when she romps all over the house.  Of course, after we had already agreed on the name, I discovered she was born on Oscar Wilde’s birthday.  BORN ON OSCAR WILDE’S BIRTHDAY Y’ALL.  If I had known this, I would have pushed to name her Ada Leverson.  Ada Leverson Puppy.

See that koala bear in the corner?  Jasmine loves it.  We caught it at a St. Patrick’s Day parade a few years ago, I believe, and it is nearly as big as she is, but she still carries it all around and worries at it and tries to rip its ears off.  I think that means affection, from a puppy?  Anyway she is extremely sweet and seems very, very clever.  She is already starting to head for the back door when she needs to go out, though of course once she is out, all she wants to do is to chew on the air conditioning and run under the house.  We hope she grows too tall for under the house VERY SOON.

The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers, ed. Barbara Reynolds

This is the first volume of Dorothy Sayers’s letters, actually. It’s properly called, The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899 – 1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist.  I am displeased at having two colons in the title.   You know what was most satisfying about this book?  How when I got all through with it, I kept remembering bits of it and thinking, Darn, wish I’d marked that passage, and then glancing back through the book and finding that I had.  Hurrah for me!

Dorothy Sayers was an interesting lady, and this book covers the period of her life with which I am most familiar.  She goes to school, she goes to Oxford (before the women actually, you know, got degrees at the end), she works as a teacher, she works in publishing, she works in advertising, she finally settles down to being a writer.  I found these career difficulties rather soothing, as I am having a hard time of adulthood so far.  It is nice to know that someone whose writing I admire had the same difficulties.

Barbara Reynolds, the editor, also a Sayers biographer, does a brilliant job of selecting and editing the letters.  I expect most times when people produce volumes of letters, it’s for the sake of scholars.  I know that my Oscar Wilde letters book contains zillions of letters of no particular importance or significance to someone not researching him (and probably loads of people who are).  And I can see why people don’t do volumes of letters like this very often, for a more casual audience, because really, how much of a readership can they expect in that case?  But it’s lovely when they do it, and Dorothy Sayers was an excellent letter-writer.  These made me want to read a proper biography of Dorothy Sayers, and I shall as soon as I go to the library.

So this is the best Dorothy Sayers story I know so far.  Ready?  Okay.  Once upon a time she had an affair with a writer called John Cournos.  He sounds terrible.  “John was ‘nice’ enough Friday week in a general way, but I fear he has no sympathy with Lord Peter, being the kind of man who takes his writing seriously and spells Art with a capital A.”  Anyway she was madly in love with him and wanted to get married and have babies, but he kept saying he didn’t love her, she wasn’t interesting, and he  just wanted to get laid.  She refused to use contraception, and he refused to have sex without it, and what with one thing and another they broke it off.  And he made fun of her for writing detective stories.

(Do you know that Edna St. Vincent Millay poem that says He laughed at all I dared to praise / And broke my heart, in little ways?  I love that bit.  I bet that is just how Dorothy Sayers felt.)

Anyway, she went off and had an affair with a guy she didn’t care much about, and although they did use contraception, she still got pregnant; and he went off and married a detective novelist and told her, essentially, that if she’d had sex with him he would have married her and it was a test and she failed.  Cad.  She had the baby in secret and fostered it with a cousin and never told her parents.  It’s not clear to me yet whether she ever told the baby; later on in his life, she and her husband (not the baby-daddy; a different person) “adopted” him, and he was told to regard her as his adopted mother.  Which must have been strange.

She never told her parents.  I mean, I think her life would have been easier if she had, but serious props to her secret-keeping ability.  She would write them letters that referenced the cousin, Ivy, who was keeping the baby, along with some other children, and even referenced the baby, without saying it was hers.  Behold:

I think [Ivy] would be sorry to give up the children and the girl would hate leaving her – though no doubt she will have to sometime.  The baby, I gather, can, if necessary, be disposed of, if time is given to make arrangements.

(But don’t worry.  Ivy sorted out her living arrangements and carried on fostering John Anthony.)

There are also a quantity of letters to John Cournos, written after she had the baby and he got married, where she tells him her secret and they apparently rehash their whole affair.  Terrible idea!  I wanted her to stop, as he had obviously won the break-up, but she carried on writing to him.  I can’t blame her, poor baby, with that enormous secret on her mind.  Eventually she fictionalized him as Philip Boyes in Strong Poison and poisoned him with arsenic, and I imagine it was tremendously satisfying.

He got revenge by fictionalizing their affair in one of his books, and talking all about all the stuff they did and quoting from her letters like a cad, but you will be pleased to hear, it was terribly dull and silly and only had the effect of making him look like a prat.  But at least he didn’t burn all her letters like some writers I could mention who didn’t want to look bad even though they are bad, yes Ted Hughes, I am talking to you (it was journals really, in Ted Hughes’ case).

It was interesting too, reading about her work on the Harriet Vane books, especially Gaudy Night.  It is fun reading about the process that created characters and books – I suppose because in spite of what Barthes says I am still intrigued by knowing what the author intended, especially here when she managed it so nicely.  Sayers sounded rather apologetic when she sent Gaudy Night to her publisher, saying that it wasn’t really one thing or another, but it had to be written.  It must have been a hell of a thing to get finished, and I felt triumphant on her behalf that it turned out so good.  And apparently nobody liked Harriet Vane!  I can’t imagine why.  Harriet Vane is utterly one of my favorite characters ever!  But here’s the evidence:

You are one of the very few people with intelligent sympathy for Lord Peter and his Harriet.  Most of them beg me not to let him marry ‘that horrid girl’.  They don’t understand the violent conflict underlying her obstinacy – I am glad you do.  There’s stuff in Harriet, but it isn’t the conventional heroine stuff, you see.  My only reason for holding her up is that the situation between her and Lord P. is psychologically so difficult that it really needs a whole book to examine and resolve.

And, on writing Gaudy Night (I sympathize!):

I think I have got over most of the technical snags in Gaudy Night now, but the writing is being horribly difficult.  Peter and Harriet are the world’s most awkward pair of lovers – both so touchy and afraid to commit themselves to anything but hints and allusions!

On the mysteries question:

I have also been annoyed (stupidly enough) by a lot of reviewers who observed the identity of the murder was obvious from the start (as indeed it is also in Unnatural Death and The Documents in the Case).  Personally, I feel that it is only when the identity of the murderer is obvious that the reader can really concentrate on the question (much the most interesting) How did he do it?

And why.  Sensible woman.  I can’t proceed to her next volume of letters until I’ve read some of the works referenced therein, her plays and Christian writing.  I love reading letters.  Do y’all have any suggestions of interesting letters I can read?  I’ve done Tolkien, I’m in the midst of Sayers right now, and of course I’ve done the lovely Browning letters.  Bless.

While I’m on letters, this is brilliant.  Van Gogh’s letters are all nicely digitized, in facsimile and in translation, and with useful notes as well as images of any pictures he references.  The Van Gogh Museum is made out of win.

Several books at once

Ack, I am so behind on reviews.  I am working on a project that requires a lot of attention (fortunately I can work on it while still watching classic Doctor Who), which is the excuse I’m using for my negligence.  Feel free to be distracted from this by a picture of my beautiful hat:

Hatty hat 007

Gerald Morris’s The Squire’s Tale and The Quest of the Fair Unknown

Essentially, Gerald Morris writes very sweet retellings of King Arthur legends from various sources, making fun of impractical chivalry rules and having Gawain be the coolest knight of all the knights.  Instead of Lancelot, who starts out really lame and gets much less lame as time goes on.  Every time he writes a new one, I’m afraid he’s going to have Mordred show up, which finally did happen in The Quest for the Fair Unknown (or maybe it happened before?  I haven’t been reading his new books faithfully because they have insufficient Gawain & Terence in them), and now I am far too worried to read any future books in case Arthur dies.  DO NOT WANT.  (The ostrich approach to literature.)  Oh, and Gerald Morris’s books are for children, and rereading them as an adult I find they are a smidge simplistic.  Still charming though and if I have children I will assuredly procure these books for them.

Gerald Morris’s early books (including The Squire’s Tale) are better than his later ones.  This is because he started with all the best stories.  The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady is best of all, because it is Sir Gawain & the Green Knight.  And who doesn’t love that story?  So The Quest of the Fair Unknown, you know, it had moments that were really fun, but none as good as those early stories that were all about Gawain and Terence.  However, the covers I am linking to are all pretty and matchy, and they make me want to buy all of Gerald Morris’s books at once.

P.S. It is possible that part of the reason I am writing these half-assed reviews is that I am addicted to  Don’t go to that website.  I am not even going to provide a link to it.  I am telling you that if you enter you won’t be able to get out again.  Hey, did you see my hat (above)?

Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine, Sabine’s Notebook, and The Golden Mean

Did you ever read these books?  Essentially these two people Griffin and Sabine, are mentally connected.  Sabine can see the pictures that Griffin draws, and one day she writes to him.  They write each other angsty letters about the power of love and how much they miss each other; they overcome a bunch of obstacles and eventually find each other and have major reunion snuggles.

Which I realize doesn’t sound all that great.  If you were to accuse these books of being short on plot, you would be correct.

But.  But but but!  Here is why it is that great!  Because the letters are there, in the book!  Griffin and Sabine are both artists, so they create beautiful postcards and envelopes, which are eye candy for me, and sometimes you get to take the letters out of the envelopes.

And yes, okay, mostly the letters themselves are not thrilling (it gets more interesting when they introduce a villain character), but you get to TAKE THEM OUT OF THE ENVELOPES.  It is like The Jolly Postman for adults.  With darker, edgier art.  And did I mention that there are actual letters that you can physically take out of the envelopes?  Envelopes containing removable letters?  GLORIOUS.

Speaking of glorious, did you see my hat?  Wasn’t it good?

84 Charing Cross Road & The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, Helene Hanff

My sister has this magical ability to get people to do things for her.  It is amazing.  Everyone in my family does stuff for her even when we have just said, “No!  Lazy!  Do it yourself!  My God you are so lazy!”  Like, we’ll both be at my parents’ house, and I’ll be curled up comfortably on the couch reading something, and she’ll be all, “Why are you reading that?  It looks stupid.  What’s it about?  Sounds stupid.  You should be reading something with quality like Whatever Happened to Janie.  Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?  Please?  I really want some ice cream.  Please?” AND I WILL.  She has a power that other people don’t have.

She is on this spree of reading Caroline B. Cooney books right now.  The last few times we’ve gone to my parents’ house, she has used her powers to get everyone in the house helping her look for all the books in the Face on the Milk Carton series.  My parents have a lot of books, and my sister has taken this opportunity to complain about as many of them as possible. It’s been all, “Why do you have seven copies of The Trumpet of the Swan?  Look!  Here is another copy of The Castle in the Attic!  Why do you own Izzy Willy Nilly when it’s awful?  How can you possibly have TWO COPIES of The Clan of the Cave Bear and not one single copy of Whatever Happened to Janie!  I should be reading Kafka!”

In the midst of all this, I discovered that my parents own (as well as thousands of copies of the Narnia books, a displeasingly high number of Hemingway books (one), loads of Georgette Heyer, E.B. White’s oeuvre, though apparently not the middle two books in the riveting Janie series) Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.  Hooray for my parents and their house with its gravitational pull on books!

84 Charing Cross Road is a book of letters between Helene Hanff, an American writer, and a bookshop on Charing Cross Road that supplied her book addiction.  Over the years, she became very friendly with the chief purchaser, Frank Doel, his family, and the staff at the little bookshop, sending them sweets and eggs and nylons while Britain was still on rations.  It’s terribly sweet, how everyone writes to each other (bother email!  why don’t we write letters anymore!).  Anyway, in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, Helene comes to London herself, too late to see the bookshop in action, but she writes about all the things and people she does see (finally!  finally!).

I love these books.  I imagine the bookshop to be exactly like Henry Pordes, my favorite of the Charing Cross bookshops.  I spent absolutely hours there the first time I was in London – there’s a massive collection of literary biographies and letters by the front window, which I love, and I love the narrow staircase down to Litrature and History (I got a book about the scandalous and beautiful Lady Colin Campbell (doesn’t she look like she was wicked fun!) there, and idiotically left it in England.

If I cried while reading this book (and I don’t say that I did!), it is because I miss London.  I miss London!  Why am I not in London?  Helene gets to do everything, and I didn’t enjoy Duchess as much as I should have, because I was green with envy and cross when Helene didn’t go to the places I want to go.  However:

Ena was shocked that I hadn’t been to a single gallery [insane!  INSANE.] and firmly dragged me to the National Portrait Gallery after lunch – where I amazed myself by going clean out of my mind meeting old friends face-to-face.  Charles II looks exactly the dirty old man he was, Mary of Scotland looks exactly the witch-on-a-broomstick she was, Elizabeth looks marvelous, the painter caught everything – the bright, sharp eyes and strong nose, the translucent skin and delicate hands, the glittering, cold isolation.  Wish I knew why portraits of Mary and Elizabeth always look real and alive, and portraits of Shakespeare, painted in the same era and the same fashion, always look stylized and remote.

I stared at every face so long we never got out of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  We’re going back next week for the eighteenth and nineteenth, I am now determined to see everybody.

Well.  Quite rightly.  Oh how I miss London.  I miss the lovely National Portrait Gallery, that amazing, enormous picture of Lady Colin Campbell, and the Brownings in their opposite-side frames, and John Donne looking mysterious and sexy; Branwell Bronte painted out, and Emma Hamilton all coy and pretty.  I miss how present the past is, in England.  Helene Hanff always has this effect on me, because she appreciates it so much herself.  She writes to one of the girls at the bookshop:

Please write and tell me about London. I live for the day when I step off the boat-train and feel its dirty sidewalks under my feet.  I want to walk up Berkeley Square and down Wimpole Street and stand in St. Paul’s where John Donne preached and sit on the step Elizabeth sat on when she refused to enter the Tower, and like that.  A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always find exactly what they go looking for.  I told him I’d go looking for the England of English literature, and he said:

“Then it’s there.”

Okay, I confess.  I cried when I read that.  I miss my lovely London.  Reading this book, it seemed perfectly viable to just drop everything, abandon my lease, and go live in London with my friend Marie until she or the visa people kicked me out.  I would come back destitute, but first I would have been there again, eating picnics on the South Bank and seeing magnificent masterpieces of art for free.

Wonderful Sphinx

The other day I was reading through my blogroll, and the double-barrelled Elaine Simpson-Long – who reads L.M. Montgomery’s journals and so shall I soon, I dearly hope, and who lives in Colchester, my old Colchester, darling Colchester! – had received a cute pink copy of one of Ada Leverson’s books.  From Bloomsbury which apparently has put it back into print as part of a series of delightful charming books that I want to read all of.  (Pls ignore that sentence.)

Ada Leverson is amazing.  Out of all of Oscar Wilde’s friends, Ada Leverson is maybe my favorite.  I do not go on and on about her the way I do about sweet faithful doglike devoted Robbie Ross, but that is only because she was mysterious and hard to know, and so it is hard to find out all about her; and also because Ada did not get UTTERLY PERSECUTED by Bosie after Oscar Wilde died, the way Robbie did, and thus I don’t have to go on and on about her in tones of righteous indignation.

Still, in the last analysis, I like her best.  Robbie was a sweet dear but he did do that slightly inexcusable thing with those boys that time, and Ada has no such dreadful advantage-taking blot on her record.  I think that she and Oscar Wilde had a very sweet relationship.  He called her “Sphinx” and told her often and at length how great she was (poor baby in not a very happy marriage, I’m sure it was much needed), and she wrote amusing pieces in Punch poking fun at him, which he loved.  When he was out on bail in between trials, Ada Leverson let him stay secretly at her house, and she didn’t make him talk about the trials, one bit, just carried on amusing him and finding him amusing.

Here are two excerpts from letters & reminiscences that are a perfect example of their friendship (I think). When Oscar Wilde got out of jail, Ada and her husband Ernest (really!) were among the first people he saw.  Afterwards he wrote to her:

Dear Sphinx, I was so charmed with seeing you yesterday morning that I must write a line to tell you how sweet and good it was of you to be the very first to greet me.  When I think that Sphinxes are minions of the moon, and that you got up early before dawn, I am filled with wonder and joy.

I often thought of you in the long black days and nights of my prison life, and to find you just as wonderful and dear as ever was no surprise.  The beautiful are always beautiful.

This is my first day of real liberty, so I try to send you a line, and with kind regards to dear Ernest whom I was pleased to see again, ever affectionately yours, Oscar Wilde

I am staying here as Sebastian Melmoth – not Esquire but Monsiour Sebastien Melmoth.  I have thought it better that Robbie should stay here under the name of Reginald Turner, and Reggie under the name of R. B. Ross.  It is better that they should not use their own names.

Later, Ada wrote about seeing him again:

We all felt intensely nervous and embarrassed….He came in, and at once he put us at our ease.  He came in with the dignity of a king returning from exile.  He came in talking, laughing, smoking a cigarette, with waved hair and a flower in his buttonhole, and he looked markedly better, slighter, and younger than he had two years previously.  His first words were ‘Sphinx, how marvellous of you to know exactly the right hat to wear at seven o’clock in the morning to meet a friend who has been away.’

Typical self-concealing Sphinx, she hardly says a word about herself.  But it’s obvious, don’t you think, how fantastic she thought he was?

…I wanted to end on that happy note, but when I was pawing through my book of Oscar Wilde’s letters that I love but feel guilty for having, I found this letter that Oscar Wilde’s wife, Constance, wrote to their psychic, when Oscar Wilde was in jail, and everything was just going spectacularly to hell.  And it’s the most pitiful thing I think I’ve ever read in my life.  Poor dull little Constance.

My dear Mrs. Robinson, What is to become of my husband who has so betrayed and deceived me and ruined the lives of my darling boys?  Can you tell me anything?  You told me that after the terrible shock my life was to become easier, but will there be any happiness in it, or is that dead for me?  And I have had so little.  My life has been all cut to pieces as my hand is by its lines….Do write to me and tell me what you can.  Very sincerely yours, Constance Wilde

I have not forgotten that I owe you a guinea.

Oh I do not care much for dull serious Constance, and it was mean never letting the boys ever see their father again, but still this letter hurts my heart.