underneath the lid in these polished and elegant districts? was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to He seemed to have a notion that there was some sort of esoteric cookery book, full of literary recipes, which you had only to follow attentively to become a Dickens, a Henry James, a Flaubert—"according to taste", as the authors of recipes say, when they come to the question of seasoning and sweetening. I said that dignity and detachment, stalked away. met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. friend. would lash the air in a tragical gesture of despair. characteristic of the mature and conquering male (he was now the feline But, like her big sisters and brothers of the human world, she had to bear her unhappiness in solitude, uncomprehended, unconsoled. For it was good advice—the fruit of much experience and many meditations. I suspect that, contrary to what happened in Hamlet's family, the wedding baked meats would soon be serving for a funeral. Waged between creatures as big as men, such battles would bring death and destruction to everything within a radius of hundreds of yards. At first sight there would seem, in this specimen of feline behavior, no special “message” for humanity. educated, or should he confine his reading exclusively to other novels? Politics : Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. a vanished happiness, faintly and plaintively mewing to herself in a voice and And so spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can This lid can be very conveniently Wouldn't I let him have a glimpse of this cookery book? noise of lambs; sometimes like the agonized and furious howling of lost souls. studied in Mayfair, shall we say, or Passy, or Park Avenue. After These sermons in cats can be exceedingly depressing. boredom so insolently as does a Siamese tomcat, when he yawns in the face of Was it a good thing for a writer of novels to try to be well educated, or should he confine his reading exclusively to other novels? Subscribers have complete access to the archive. This mournful truth was overwhelmingly borne in on me as I watched the abandoned and love-sick cat as she walked unhappily round my room. them living from day to day; to mark, learn, and inwardly digest the lessons little; and, if we cannot infer what is going on under other lids from what we Snow-white I laughed at the time; but I see now that he was quite right. the drawing-rooms of the rich and fashionable? book, full of literary recipes, which you had only to follow attentively to I have always prevented this tragical consummation by simply shutting up the bride in a room by herself and leaving the bridegroom for a few hours to languish outside the door. For in spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody. Their tails, when they have tails—and I would always recommend the budding novelist to buy the tailed variety; for the tail, in cats, is the principal organ of emotional expression and a Manx cat is the equivalent of a dumb man —their tails are tapering black serpents endowed, even when the body lies in Sphinxlike repose, with a spasmodic and uneasy life of their own. Primitive people, like children and animals, are simply civilized people with the lid off, so to speak — the heavy elaborate lid of manners, conventions, traditions of thought and feeling beneath which each one of us passes his or her existence. he wanted to write a novel about life in Mayfair and so was just off to the with a spasmodic and uneasy life of their own. occasion, but with every demonstration of affection. I will cite only one more of the innumerable sermons in cats which my memory holds—an acted sermon which, by its ludicrous pantomime, vividly brought home to me the most saddening peculiarity of our human nature: its irreducible solitariness. Our life is a sentence of Unlidded, the cats make manifest this These sermons in cats can be exceedingly depressing. For it was good advice — the fruit of much experience and many meditations. expression and a Manx cat is the equivalent of a dumb man - their tails are This lid can be very conveniently studied in Mayfair, shall we say, or Passy, or Park Avenue. "je ne suis pas heureuse ici." I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. become a Dickens, a Henry James, a Flaubert - "according to taste," The patience of the mother was angelical. The young wife's first reaction to the advances of her would-be husband is to fly at his throat. One is thankful, as one watches the fur flying and listens The young wife's first reaction to the advances of her would-be husband is to There was no communication from cell to cell. if she became too importunate, got up and slowly, with an insulting air of After witnessing a cats’ wedding no young novelist can rest content with the falsehood and banalities which pass, in current fiction, for descriptions of love. I had never even seen such a work. are gloved almost to the shoulder like the long black kid arms of Yvette No man has ever dared to manifest his in current fiction, for descriptions of love. each one of us passes his or her existence. these. Absolutely no communication. It was as though a slap-stick comedian had broken in on the lamentations of Melisande—not mischievously, not wittingly, for there was not the smallest intention to hurt in the little cat's performance, but simply from lack of comprehension. But even this was not enough to satisfy the young man. not the smallest intention to hurt in the little cat's performance, but simply My she-cat, by now a wife of long standing and several times a mother, Rops so perversely and indecently clothed his pearly nudes. Yes, a pair of cats. Direct observation came and licked his face. "The first thing," I said, "is … It The tail, the tragical, despairingly gesticulating tail, was for him the most irresistible of playthings. As things are, one is able, at the risk of a few scratches, to grab the combatants by the scruffs of their necks and drag them, still writhing and spitting, apart. despairingly gesticulating tail, was for him the most irresistible of Knowing that I When the opportunity presented itself, he that you merely have to write." Time passes and, their honeymoon over, the cats begin to tell us things about humanity which even the lid of civilization cannot conceal in the world of men. What would happen if the newly wedded pair were allowed to go bn fighting to the bitter end I do not know and have never had the scientific curiosity or the strength of mind to try to find out. Primitive people, like children and animals, are simply civilized people with the lid off, so to speak—the heavy elaborate lid of manners, conventions, traditions of thought and feeling beneath which each one of us passes his or her existence. The essential substance of every thought and feeling remains incommunicable, locked up in the impenetrable strong-room of the individual soul and body. And as the young man still looked rather disappointed, I as I could. For it was good advice - the said, "is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. No man has ever dared to manifest his boredom so insolently as does a Siamese tom-cat, when he yawns in the face of his amorously importunate wife. The patience of the mother was angelical. I did my best to explain. Disappointed in his hope that I would give him the fictional equivalent of "One Hundred Ways of Cooking Eggs" or the "Carnet de la Menagere", he began to cross-examine me about my methods of "collecting material". Also the strangest and, if not the most beautiful, certainly the most striking and fantastic. Their tails, when For in the drawing-rooms of the rich and fashionable? It was as though a slap-stick comedian had broken in Did I keep a notebook or a daily journal?
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