They say it is a seminal influence on Proust's "Remembrance Of Things Past". They say you'll have to wade through pages upon pages of tedious reportage about 17th century French military campaigns to get to the yummy gossip about life in Louis the XIV's court. The duke is accused of being frequently long-winded and terribly ungrammatical in his sentence structures (sigh). But the soap opera of the machinations and power struggles and the aura of a certain era dwindling into the twilight of myth.... It' s a hot read!
Submitted by Wayne on Wed, 2008-02-27 23:40.
Did you know the father of industrial design was French? The things you can discover on an Air France flight! But Raymond Loewy has an excellent case for the audacious claim, given his design for everything from Lucky Strike cigarettes to the Shell Oil Company logo to the Air France signage.
TI is influenced by his MAYA principile (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) principle referenced in the lead quote which proves this visual genius also had an arsenal of literary dexterity to boost his skill set. Loewy's book (sadly out of print but begging to be reissued) is a great example of that dry Gallic wit which I'm learning to love this week.
raymondloewy.com does a champion job of chronicling the oevure, but the book with that "lipstick to locomotives" blurb! I would have given a left pinky to have come up with that zinger! All hail!
CURRENT READING: The Man Without Qualities Vol. 1: A Sort of Introduction and Pseudo Reality Prevails: Robert MusilSubmitted by Wayne on Mon, 2008-02-18 10:30.
"In the realm of the aesthetic . . . even imperfection and lack of completion have their value."
Prepping for a burst of travel which means digging into a good book. The reason why Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities" feels like perfect reading right now is because this Austrian novelist proves it's possible to craft prose that is very erudite and very funny at the same time. The wry way it looks at the declining aristrocratic culture of Vienna in 1913 has brought many a comparison to Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu". The contemporary application of this masterpiece is in the wise things Musil has to say about living in a society on a moral, cultural and political precipice. From one fin de siecle era to another, this book has an eerie sense of prescience. Known to be a literary perfectionist, due to his obsessive rewriting, Musil never really finished the two volumes that make up "The Man Without Qualities" but the fact that the work still proved to be so potent is what is very inspiring to me right now.
Submitted by Wayne on Mon, 2007-11-26 16:43.
It is said that legendary English decorator John Fowler was so fastidious in his standards that he had a wall painted 17 times in different layers of paint, and then sanded and repainted to achieve a certain "alabaster-gloss" effect. It's a fantasy of mine to one day have such a wall (if not such a decorator). In the meantime TI will make do with Martin Wood's long awaited book on the life and the decorating style of one of the founders of the Colefax and Fowler design firm. It is no surprise to find out that Fowler climbed his way up from working as a painter for Thorton Smith to being the veritable inventor of the "English Country House Style", a style often imitated but never duplicated by generations of followers.
Current Reading:Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist: Columbia University Press by Lois GordonSubmitted by Wayne on Sun, 2007-10-14 18:11.
Yes I confess, TI is a bit of a Nancy Cunard cultist. As much as she would probably have hated the idea, Madame Cunard keeps bobbing up as a reference point in the fashion trade . As recently as two years ago, Ralph Lauren of all people used her as a touchstone in his FW 05 campaign and both Vogue Italia and L'Uomo Vogue have been known to invoke her as an icon.
I love her literary biography "These Were The Hours", about her years as a publisher and today I'm locked in the house with Lois Gordon's masterful new biography on NC. Fluid, detailed and a little worshipful (even I have to admit Nancy's poetry was NOT the kismet), Gordon's overview of Cunard's life is a must buy nonetheless. It is chockfull of brilliant tid bits, like King George changing the family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to "Windsor" during the anti-Hun frenzy of WW1, as well as great stories of Nancy's laison with the original Imagist, Ezra Pound.
That's just for starters. Cunard tallied with modernist literary icons like T.S Eliot and Wyndham Lewis. The summary at the American Library Review says it all. "Scandalous, gifted, and, in her own tormented way, heroic, Cunard blazed brightly at the epicenter of a brutal yet creative epoch." I love this woman. If she had had a great-grandaughter I'd have hunted her down with a marriage proposal. It would have kept the family tradition going, no?