Thursday 11 January 2018

ALS: 'Een mooi figuur'

quite a character

When I copied the words of De Montherlant, I thought: can such a large, heavy fish leap? And afterwards I thought: no, it can’t, but I suppose De Montherlant must be right. Why did I think that? Anyone who knows me can answer that question.
Fortunately, L.H. Wiener is there. He writes: ‘That Montherlant is quite a character, isn’t he, but carp don’t leap. They “rub”, though, during the spawning season in shallow water, scouring their bellies against the bed of the river or lake. Apart from that, they stay close to the bottom, where their root with their snouts.’

In reply, I send Wiener a piece of De Montherlant from 1932:

r... said to me: ‘You’re a man from antiquity.’ I replied: ‘I am at any rate when it comes to the following and which you are sure not to have thought of. Namely, my respect and friendship for those advanced in years: a quality that is peculiar to old age.’ I listen to them, I believe that they know more than me, I pity them for their approaching death, their shortcomings, their helplessness, for the disparagement people display towards them. Furthermore, I think that can only feel a rapport with people who no longer believe in anything. And finally – most of all, perhaps – I have pity in advance for the moment when I will become one of them. I feel affection for those advanced in years, for children, for certain animals. I do not feel affection for young people or adults. I like women to take to bed when they are still young, but I do not like femininity.

I’ve kept pigs for a long time, and sometimes get the thought: shall I again? Now that I know that carp root in the ground, now that for some inexplicable reason I find myself thinking of Kuinre, now that I chanced yesterday to speak of my pigs to my vet, now that I know that Henry de Montherlant likes me, the moment has come to start reading his collected works.

Oh, I mustn’t forget to send another entry by M. from 1968 to Wiener.

I have only once worn fancy dress, for the carnival at Binche (near Brussels), where at the moment that Annunzio died I was dancing on the square with the wife of the Brazilian ambassador. I was dressed up as a bull; well, my head was at least dressed up: covered with a bull’s head out of cardboard. It appears that the ambassador’s wife later said that I had greatly ‘disappointed’ her. I do not know if I disappointed her as a dancer, or as a bull.

1 comment:

John Irons said...

In actual fact, carp can 'leap', or very nearly. But they do so for a different reason: