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Archive A-B

«« Previous page · Marlena by Julie Buntin · David S. Brown: Paradise Lost. A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald · Evelyne Bloch-Dano: Une jeunesse de Marcel Proust · Clementine Beauvais: Piglettes · Pierre L.Th.A. Maréchal: Frans Babylon – herinneringsgewijs · Samuel BECKETT: Kort proza · Vincent BERQUEZ: Vera Rich · In Memoriam: John BERGER (1926 – 2017) · NELLIE BLY: Ten days in a Mad-house (Chapter IV: Judge Duffy and the Police) · EVA ROVERS nieuwe biografie: BOUD. Het verzameld leven van BOUDEWIJN BÜCH · NELLIE BLY: TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE (CHAPTER III: IN THE TEMPORARY HOME) · NELLIE BLY: TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE (CHAPTER II: PREPARING FOR THE ORDEAL)

»» there is more...

Marlena by Julie Buntin

The story of two girls and the wild year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades.

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat is quickly drawn into Marlena’s orbit and as she catalogues a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss, first pill—Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try again to move on, even as the memory of Marlena calls her back.

Told in a haunting dialogue between past and present, Marlena is an unforgettable story of the friendships that shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.

“It’s still so early in 2017 that calling something a best debut novel of the year is a dicey thing to try and do.  But if the Lorrie Moore blurb on the front cover doesn’t tip you off that Julie Buntin’s Marlena is a book you should be paying attention to, the fact that the author created something that could easily be called the millennial Midwestern version of the celebrated Elena Ferrante Neapolitan Novels crossed with Robin Wasserman’s great Girls on Fire, should do the trick.” –Rolling Stone

Julie Buntin is from northern Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, O, The Oprah Magazine, Slate, Electric Literature, and One Teen Story, among other publications. She teaches fiction at Marymount Manhattan College, and is the director of writing programs at Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Marlena is her debut novel.

MARLENA
By Julie Buntin

Hardcover
$26.00
Henry Holt and Co.
04/04/2017
ISBN: 9781627797641
288 Pages

Trade Paperback
$16.00
Picador
04/03/2018
ISBN: 9781250160157
288 Pages

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David S. Brown: Paradise Lost. A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pigeonholed in popular memory as a Jazz Age epicurean, a playboy, and an emblem of the Lost Generation, F. Scott Fitzgerald was at heart a moralist struck by the nation’s shifting mood and manners after World War I.

In Paradise Lost, David Brown contends that Fitzgerald’s deepest allegiances were to a fading antebellum world he associated with his father’s Chesapeake Bay roots. Yet as a midwesterner, an Irish Catholic, and a perpetually in-debt author, he felt like an outsider in the haute bourgeoisie haunts of Lake Forest, Princeton, and Hollywood—places that left an indelible mark on his worldview.

In this comprehensive biography, Brown reexamines Fitzgerald’s childhood, first loves, and difficult marriage to Zelda Sayre. He looks at Fitzgerald’s friendship with Hemingway, the golden years that culminated with Gatsby, and his increasing alcohol abuse and declining fortunes which coincided with Zelda’s institutionalization and the nation’s economic collapse.

Placing Fitzgerald in the company of Progressive intellectuals such as Charles Beard, Randolph Bourne, and Thorstein Veblen, Brown reveals Fitzgerald as a writer with an encompassing historical imagination not suggested by his reputation as “the chronicler of the Jazz Age.” His best novels, stories, and essays take the measure of both the immediate moment and the more distant rhythms of capital accumulation, immigration, and sexual politics that were moving America further away from its Protestant agrarian moorings. Fitzgerald wrote powerfully about change in America, Brown shows, because he saw it as the dominant theme in his own family history and life.

David S. Brown is Raffensperger Professor of History at Elizabethtown College.

“[An] incisive biography.”—The New Yorker

“Paradise Lost accomplishes much in its aim to contextualize Fitzgerald within both American historical and literary historical parameters. This new biography manages to get past the trappings of Fitzgerald’s boozy flapper-era persona and to credit his talent for taking the pulse of the America in which he lived.”—Christina Hunt Mahoney, The Irish Times

Paradise Lost
A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald
David S. Brown
424 pag. – 2017
Harvard University Press
Belknap Press
Isbn 9780674504820

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More in: - Book News, - Book Stories, Archive A-B, Art & Literature News, BIOGRAPHY, Fitzgerald, F. Scott


Evelyne Bloch-Dano: Une jeunesse de Marcel Proust

Who hasn’t heard of Proust’s famous questionnaire? The writer’s answers have travelled across time and all around the world, but people have forgotten that they came from an album called Confessions that belonged to Antoinette Faure, daughter of the future French President.

Marcel Proust didn’t realize that, by taking part in what was a fashionable parlour game, he would be revealing clues about his teenage self. His answers have elicited commentaries but have never been contextualised or compared, never dated accurately.

Where and when did he answer this questionnaire? What sort of boy was he at the time? And most significantly, how much of that period and those friendships fed into his future work? What traces are left of Gilberte on the Champs-Élysées, Albertine’s little group and the “young girls in flower”?

Évelyne Bloch-Dano conducted this enquiry over many years. Using sometimes tiny clues, she managed to identify Antoinette’s other friends, some of whom may have known Proust.

A whole world came to life, revolving around the daughters of the late nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, many of them with connections to Le Havre like the Faure family. Some boys appear too. Through their ideas, their books, their customs, what they study and what they dream of, the portrait of a whole generation emerges.

Marcel Proust’s generation. Young people born to the defeat at Sedan in 1870, in a vengeful republican France. The generation of General Boulanger, of political scandal and the Dreyfus Affair, but also of schools for girls, electricity, Great Exhibitions and the Belle époque. And later the First World War.

The biographer and essayist Évelyne Bloch-Dano is the author of several prize-winning and widely translated books, including most notably biographies of Madame Zola (1997, Grand Prix of Elle readers), Madame Proust (2004, Prix Renaudot for an essay), Le Dernier Amour de George Sand (2010), but also Jardins de papier (2015), and the more personal La Biographe (2007) and Porte de Champerret (2013).

Evelyne Bloch-Dano: Une jeunesse de Marcel Proust
(Marcel Proust as a young man by Évelyne Bloch-Dano)
Collection: La Bleue
Éditions Stock Paris
Parution: 20/09/2017
304 pages
Format: 135 x 215 mm
EAN: 9782234075696
Prix: €19.50

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More in: Archive A-B, Art & Literature News, BIOGRAPHY, FDM in Paris, Marcel Proust, Proust, Marcel


Clementine Beauvais: Piglettes

A wickedly funny and life-affirming coming-of-age roadtrip story – winner of France’s biggest prize for teen and YA fiction Mireille, Astrid and Hakima have just been voted the three ugliest girls in school by their classmates on Facebook. But does that mean they’re going to sit around crying about it? . . .

Well, maybe a little, but not for long! Climbing onto their bikes, the friends set off on a summer roadtrip to Paris. The girls will find fame, friendship and happiness on their journey, and still have time to eat a mountain of food (and drink the odd glass of wine) along the way.

But will they really be able to leave all their troubles behind? Piglettes is a hilarious, beautiful and uplifting story of three girls who are determined not to let online bullying get them down.

Clémentine Beauvais (born 1989) is a French children’s author living in the UK. She started reading children’s books early, and somehow never stopped. Now she writes her own, in both French and English, for a variety of ages, and is a lecturer in English and Education at the University of York.

Piglettes won four prizes in France, including the biggest children’s book prize, the Prix Sorcières. Film and stage versions are also in production. Now Clémentine has translated her book into English!

Clementine Beauvais
Piglettes
Publisher: Pushkin Children’S Books
Engelsh
288 pages
paperback
ISBN 9781782691204
june 2017
Reading age: 12 years and older

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Pierre L.Th.A. Maréchal: Frans Babylon – herinneringsgewijs

Volgens Pierre Maréchal was de Brabantse dichter Frans Babylon een zieke poète maudit die zowel de poëzie als de kunst stimuleerde te vernieuwen. Brabant liep sterk achter bij de ontwikkelingen.

Uiteindelijk verwierp hij de traditionele dichtstijlen en schreef hij gedichten op gevoel. Met vrienden vormde hij de Bredero-club en stimuleerde hij kunstenaars om zich verder te ontwikkelen. Babylon bevorderde eveneens de ontwikkeling van openbare kunstexposities voor groot publiek.

Naast Brabant en Amsterdam was Frankrijk een geliefde omgeving. Ondanks zijn bipolaire stoornis en dankzij zijn creativiteit bracht Frans Babylon veel tot stand.

Pierre Maréchal werkte onder meer voor de internationale trekvogel-bescherming. Ruim twintig jaar is hij actief bezig met poëzie. Hij schrijft en organiseert maandelijks diverse podia en optredens. De laatste jaren doet hij dit bij de PoëzieClub Eindhoven en de werkgroep ‘Boekenkast’. Frans Babylon – herinneringsgewijs is typisch zo’n onderwerp. Het is een project over een bekende en tegelijk een minder bekende dichter, wiens daden van betekenis waren voor de ontwikkeling van de poëzie en de kunsten in het zuiden van ons land.

Pierre L.Th.A. Maréchal
Frans Babylon – herinneringsgewijs
Biografie Frans Babylon,
pseudoniem van Franciscus Gerardus Jozef Obers (1924 – 1968)
ISBN: 978-94-0223-720-7
Paperback 12,5 x 20 cm
186 pag. – 2017
€ 19,99

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Samuel BECKETT: Kort proza

Samuel Beckett kreeg in 1969 de Nobelprijs voor de Literatuur. De in deze uitgave opge­nomen vertalingen van Anneke Brassinga zijn alle geschreven in het decennium rond dit jaartal.

De teksten, die duidelijk minimalistisch van opzet zijn, kunnen het beste worden gesavou­reerd met de stem – dus hardop gelezen. Daarbij komt de muzikale, repetitieve trant ten volle tot haar recht, evenals het poëtische aspect met veel assonantie en elliptische plastiek.

Beckett heeft al deze teksten nadrukkelijk gekarakteriseerd als verhalend proza, we kunnen er een soort bezweringen in horen van een bewustzijn dat aan zichzelf het eigen (voort)bestaan bewijst als een soort grensgebied tussen autonomie en ontlediging.

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett (Dublin, 1906 – Parijs, 1989) was een Ierse (toneel) schrijver en dichter. Hij studeerde Frans, Italiaans en Engels in Dublin, reisde vervolgens door Europa om zich tenslotte permanent te vestigen in Parijs. Het merendeel van zijn werk schreef hij in het Frans, waarna hij het grotendeels ook weer zelf in het Engels vertaalde. Zijn teksten zijn vaak kaal, minimalistisch en diep pessimistisch over de menselijke natuur en de lotsbestemming van de mens. In 1969 ontving hij de Nobelprijs voor de Literatuur.

Samuel Beckett
Kort proza
Vertaling: Anneke Brassinga
48 pagina’s
isbn 978 90 78627 33 3
Uitgeverij Vleugels, 2017
€ 20,85

# meer info website uitgeverij vleugels

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More in: - Book News, Archive A-B, Samuel Beckett


Vincent BERQUEZ: Vera Rich

Vera Rich

She smelt of time
walking slowly
like a mountain.

She railed
heavily
and flowed internally
and cared profoundly
but slowly,
at her own pace.

She smelt the energy
of her people,
of their language
on her lips.

Like a mother river
she carried many
with her on a raft
towards themselves.

01.03.10

Vincent Berquez

 

Vincent Berquez is a London–based artist and poet

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In Memoriam: John BERGER (1926 – 2017)

John Berger (London, November 5, 1926), art critic and author of Ways of Seeing, died in Paris (January 2, 2017)

Berger’s best-known work was Ways of Seeing, a criticism of western cultural aesthetics. His novel G. won the Booker Prize. Half of the prize money Berger donated to the Black Panthers an radical African-American movement.
Berger began his career as a painter. But he also was a storyteller, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, dramatist and critic. He was one of the most internationally influential writers of the last fifty years.
His editor Tom Overton, who is writing John Berger’s biography, has said that the writer Berger “has let us know that art would enrich our lives”.

John Berger was author of: Another Way of Telling, About Looking, Photocopies, The Shape of a Pocket, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos, Selected Essays of John Berger, Pig Earth, Once in Europa, King, Titian, Lilac and Flag, To the Wedding, Here Is Where We Meet, G., Pages of the Wound, Three Lives Of Lucie Cabrol.

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NELLIE BLY: Ten days in a Mad-house (Chapter IV: Judge Duffy and the Police)

bly_madhouse14Ten Days in a Mad-House
(Chapter IV: Judge Duffy and the Police)
by Nellie Bly

But to return to my story. I kept up my role until the assistant matron, Mrs. Stanard, came in. She tried to persuade me to be calm. I began to see clearly that she wanted to get me out of the house at all hazards, quietly if possible. This I did not want. I refused to move, but kept up ever the refrain of my lost trunks. Finally some one suggested that an officer be sent for. After awhile Mrs. Stanard put on her bonnet and went out. Then I knew that I was making an advance toward the home of the insane. Soon she returned, bringing with her two policemen–big, strong men–who entered the room rather unceremoniously, evidently expecting to meet with a person violently crazy. The name of one of them was Tom Bockert.

When they entered I pretended not to see them. “I want you to take her quietly,” said Mrs. Stanard. “If she don’t come along quietly,” responded one of the men, “I will drag her through the streets.” I still took no notice of them, but certainly wished to avoid raising a scandal outside. Fortunately Mrs. Caine came to my rescue. She told the officers about my outcries for my lost trunks, and together they made up a plan to get me to go along with them quietly by telling me they would go with me to look for my lost effects. They asked me if I would go. I said I was afraid to go alone. Mrs. Stanard then said she would accompany me, and she arranged that the two policemen should follow us at a respectful
distance. She tied on my veil for me, and we left the house by the basement and started across town, the two officers following at some distance behind. We walked along very quietly and finally came to the station house, which the good woman assured me was the express office, and that there we should certainly find my missing effects. I went inside with fear and trembling, for good reason.

A few days previous to this I had met Captain McCullagh at a meeting held in Cooper Union. At that time I had asked him for some information which he had given me. If he were in, would he not recognize me? And then all would be lost so far as getting to the island was concerned. I pulled my sailor hat as low down over my face as I possibly could, and prepared for the ordeal. Sure enough there was sturdy Captain McCullagh standing near the desk.

He watched me closely as the officer at the desk conversed in a low tone with Mrs. Stanard and the policeman who brought me.

“Are you Nellie Brown?” asked the officer. I said I supposed I was. “Where do you come from?” he asked. I told him I did not know, and then Mrs. Stanard gave him a lot of information about me–told him how strangely I had acted at her home; how I had not slept a wink all night, and that in her opinion I was a poor unfortunate who had been driven crazy by inhuman treatment. There was some discussion between Mrs. Standard and the two officers, and Tom Bockert was told to take us down to the court in a car.

In the hands of the police.

“Come along,” Bockert said, “I will find your trunk for you.” We all went together, Mrs. Stanard, Tom Bockert, and myself. I said it was very kind of them to go with me, and I should not soon forget them. As we walked along I kept up my refrain about my trucks, injecting occasionally some remark about the dirty condition of the streets and the curious character of the people we met on the way. “I don’t think I have ever seen such people before,” I said. “Who are they?” I asked, and my companions looked upon me with expressions of pity, evidently believing I was a foreigner, an emigrant or something of the sort. They told me that the people around me were working people. I remarked once more that I thought there were too many working people in the world for the amount of work to be done, at which remark Policeman P. T. Bockert eyed me closely, evidently thinking that my mind was gone for good. We passed several other policemen, who generally asked my sturdy guardians what was the matter with me. By this time quite a number of ragged children were following us too, and they passed remarks about me that were to me original as well as amusing.

“What’s she up for?” “Say, kop, where did ye get her?” “Where did yer pull ‘er?”

“She’s a daisy!”

Poor Mrs. Stanard was more frightened than I was. The whole situation grew interesting, but I still had fears for my fate before the judge.

At last we came to a low building, and Tom Bockert kindly volunteered the information: “Here’s the express office. We shall soon find those trunks of yours.”

The entrance to the building was surrounded by a curious crowd and I did not think my case was bad enough to permit me passing them without some remark, so I asked if all those people had lost their trunks.

“Yes,” he said, “nearly all these people are looking for trunks.”

I said, “They all seem to be foreigners, too.” “Yes,” said Tom, “they are all foreigners just landed. They have all lost their trunks, and it takes most of our time to help find them for them.”

We entered the courtroom. It was the Essex Market Police Courtroom. At last the question of my sanity or insanity was to be decided. Judge Duffy sat behind the high desk, wearing a look which seemed to indicate that he was dealing out the milk of human kindness by wholesale. I rather feared I would not get the fate I sought, because of the kindness I saw on every line of his face, and it was with rather a sinking heart that I followed Mrs. Stanard as she answered the summons to go up to the desk, where Tom Bockert had just given an account of the affair.

“Come here,” said an officer. “What is your name?”

“Nellie Brown,” I replied, with a little accent. “I have lost my trunks, and would like if you could find them.”

“When did you come to New York?” he asked.

“I did not come to New York,” I replied (while I added, mentally, “because I have been here for some time.”)

“But you are in New York now,” said the man.

“No,” I said, looking as incredulous as I thought a crazy person could, “I did not come to New York.”

“That girl is from the west,” he said, in a tone that made me tremble. “She has a western accent.”

Some one else who had been listening to the brief dialogue here asserted that he had lived south and that my accent was southern, while another officer was positive it was eastern. I felt much relieved when the first spokesman turned to the judge and said:

“Judge, here is a peculiar case of a young woman who doesn’t know who she is or where she came from. You had better attend to it at once.”

I commenced to shake with more than the cold, and I looked around at the strange crowd about me, composed of poorly dressed men and women with stories printed on their faces of hard lives, abuse and poverty. Some were consulting eagerly with friends, while others sat still with a look of utter hopelessness. Everywhere was a sprinkling of well-dressed, well-fed officers watching the scene passively and almost indifferently. It was only an old story with them. One more unfortunate added to a long list which had long since ceased to be of any interest or concern to them.

Nellie before Judge Duffy.

“Come here, girl, and lift your veil,” called out Judge Duffy, in tones which surprised me by a harshness which I did not think from the kindly face he possessed.

“Who are you speaking to?” I inquired, in my stateliest manner.

“Come here, my dear, and lift your veil. You know the Queen of England, if she were here, would have to lift her veil,” he said, very kindly.

“That is much better,” I replied. “I am not the Queen of England, but I’ll lift my veil.”

As I did so the little judge looked at me, and then, in a very kind and gentle tone, he said:

“My dear child, what is wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong except that I have lost my trunks, and this man,” indicating Policeman Bockert, “promised to bring me where they could be found.”

“What do you know about this child?” asked the judge, sternly, of Mrs. Stanard, who stood, pale and trembling, by my side.

“I know nothing of her except that she came to the home yesterday and asked to remain overnight.”

“The home! What do you mean by the home?” asked Judge Duffy, quickly.

“It is a temporary home kept for working women at No. 84 Second Avenue.”

“What is your position there?”

“I am assistant matron.”

“Well, tell us all you know of the case.”

“When I was going into the home yesterday I noticed her coming down the avenue. She was all alone. I had just got into the house when the bell rang and she came in. When I talked with her she wanted to know if she could stay all night, and I said she could. After awhile she said all the people in the house looked crazy, and she was afraid of them. Then she would not go to bed, but sat up all the night.”

“Had she any money?”

“Yes,” I replied, answering for her, “I paid her for everything, and the eating was the worst I ever tried.”

There was a general smile at this, and some murmurs of “She’s not so crazy on the food question.”

“Poor child,” said Judge Duffy, “she is well dressed, and a lady. Her English is perfect, and I would stake everything on her being a good girl. I am positive she is somebody’s darling.”

At this announcement everybody laughed, and I put my handkerchief over my face and endeavored to choke the laughter that threatened to spoil my plans, in despite of my resolutions.

“I mean she is some woman’s darling,” hastily amended the judge. “I am sure some one is searching for her. Poor girl, I will be good to her, for she looks like my sister, who is dead.”

There was a hush for a moment after this announcement, and the officers glanced at me more kindly, while I silently blessed the kind-hearted judge, and hoped that any poor creatures who might be afflicted as I pretended to be should have as kindly a man to deal with as Judge Duffy.

“I wish the reporters were here,” he said at last. “They would be able to find out something about her.”

I got very much frightened at this, for if there is any one who can ferret out a mystery it is a reporter. I felt that I would rather face a mass of expert doctors, policemen, and detectives than two bright specimens of my craft, so I said:

“I don’t see why all this is needed to help me find my trunks. These men are impudent, and I do not want to be stared at. I will go away. I don’t want to stay here.”

So saying, I pulled down my veil and secretly hoped the reporters would be detained elsewhere until I was sent to the asylum.

“I don’t know what to do with the poor child,” said the worried judge. “She must be taken care of.”

“Send her to the Island,” suggested one of the officers.

“Oh, don’t!” said Mrs. Stanard, in evident alarm. “Don’t! She is a lady and it would kill her to be put on the Island.”

For once I felt like shaking the good woman. To think the Island was just the place I wanted to reach and here she was trying to keep me from going there! It was very kind of her, but rather provoking under the circumstances.

“There has been some foul work here,” said the judge. “I believe this child has been drugged and brought to this city. Make out the papers and we will send her to Bellevue for examination. Probably in a few days the effect of the drug will pass off and she will be able to tell us a story that will be startling. If the reporters would only come!”

I dreaded them, so I said something about not wishing to stay there any longer to be gazed at. Judge Duffy then told Policeman Bockert to take me to the back office. After we were seated there Judge Duffy came in and asked me if my home was in Cuba.

“Yes,” I replied, with a smile. “How did you know?”

“Oh, I knew it, my dear. Now, tell me were was it? In what part of Cuba?”

“On the hacienda,” I replied.

“Ah,” said the judge, “on a farm. Do you remember Havana?”

“Si, senor,” I answered; “it is near home. How did you know?”

“Oh, I knew all about it. Now, won’t you tell me the name of your home?” he asked, persuasively.

“That’s what I forget,” I answered, sadly. “I have a headache all the time, and it makes me forget things. I don’t want them to trouble me. Everybody is asking me questions, and it makes my head worse,” and in truth it did.

“Well, no one shall trouble you any more. Sit down here and rest awhile,” and the genial judge left me alone with Mrs. Stanard.

Just then an officer came in with a reporter. I was so frightened, and thought I would be recognized as a journalist, so I turned my head away and said, “I don’t want to see any reporters; I will not see any; the judge said I was not to be troubled.”

“Well, there is no insanity in that,” said the man who had brought the reporter, and together they left the room. Once again I had a fit of fear. Had I gone too far in not wanting to see a reporter, and was my sanity detected? If I had given the impression that I was sane, I was determined to undo it, so I jumped up and ran back and forward through the office, Mrs. Stanard clinging terrified to my arm.

“I won’t stay here; I want my trunks! Why do they bother me with so many people?” and thus I kept on until the ambulance surgeon came in, accompanied by the judge.

Ten Days in a Mad-House
(Chapter IV: Judge Duffy and the Police)
by Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)

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EVA ROVERS nieuwe biografie: BOUD. Het verzameld leven van BOUDEWIJN BÜCH

Eva Rovers: Boud
Het verzameld leven van Boudewijn Büch

Eva Rovers schreef eerder de veelgeprezen biografie van kunstverzamelaar Helene Kröller-Müller, De eeuwigheid verzameld. Hiervoor ontving zij onder meer de Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema Biografieprijs.

rovers-boud-2016-11Goethe, Mick Jagger, eilanden, dodo’s en eeuwenoude boeken: Boudewijn Büch liet Nederland kennismaken met de meest uiteenlopende onderwerpen en wist met zijn aanstekelijke enthousiasme literatuur en geschiedenis even toegankelijk te maken als popmuziek. Als kind had hij al ontdekt dat hij met verhalen in staat was het leven naar zijn hand te zetten. Uit atlassen, poëzie en rock & roll bouwde hij een eigen wereld op en sleurde daarin iedereen mee met wie hij sprak. Dat bezorgde hem invloedrijke vrienden, toegang tot de literaire wereld en heel veel aandacht. Maar zijn betoverende verhalen brachten hem ook talrijke demonen, die hij zijn leven lang moest bevechten.
Eva Rovers kreeg exclusief inzage in Boudewijn Büchs persoonlijke archief, met dozen vol brieven, foto’s en dagboeken. Daarmee begon een reis door een leven dat even onwaarschijnlijk als fantastisch was; een leven dat Büch transformeerde tot een literair spel met feit en fictie, dat hij tot de uiterste consequentie doorvoerde en dat jaren na zijn dood culmineerde in een grande finale.

Na het overlijden van Boudewijn Büch in 2002 is in talloze boeken, krantenartikelen, opiniestukken, interviews en televisieprogramma’s geprobeerd het leven van dit fenomeen te vangen. Verreweg de meeste aandacht ging uit naar Boudewijn Büch de mystificateur, de man die aan de werkelijkheid niet genoeg had en daarom een parallel universum schiep.

Na zijn dood was er nauwelijks aandacht voor de rol die Büch de voorgaande twee decennia had gespeeld binnen de culturele wereld. Door het literaire establishment werd hij weggezet als straatschoffie dat ook eens een boek had gelezen. Deze biografie laat zien dat Büch meer was dan een fantast. Hij was iemand die een breed en jong publiek wist te interesseren voor onderwerpen die op het eerste gezicht weinig sexy lijken. Op aanstekelijke wijze liet hij zien dat een mens geen stoffige professor hoeft te zijn om van geschiedenis of poëzie te houden. Hij was een culturele alleseter, die zijn loopbaan als dichter begon en als televisiepersoonlijkheid eindigde. In de tussenliggende jaren werkte hij met evenveel plezier aan columns voor Penthouse en Nieuwe Revu als voor NRC Handelsblad. Hij beschreef de wereldliteratuur in het literaire tijdschrift Maatstaf om vervolgens in het VARA-programma Büch de nieuwste publicaties door de studio te smijten als deze hem niet bevielen. Dankzij deze veelzijdigheid en het scala aan podia waarmee Büch zijn voorkeuren wereldkundig maakte, wist hij bij een breed publiek de interesse voor literatuur, geschiedenis en poëzie nieuw leven in te blazen.

‘Voor Büch waren leven en literatuur onderdeel van dezelfde caleidoscopische verzameling, waar hij naar hartenlust facetten aan toevoegde zodat er telkens nieuwe verbindingen ontstonden. Zijn brieven en dagboeken waren onlosmakelijk verbonden met de interviews die hij gaf, de boeken die hij schreef en de programma’s die hij maakte. Met ieder boek, ieder gedicht, ieder interview en met iedere column, brief en dagboekpassage lijkt hij gewerkt te hebben aan zijn eigen totaaltheater: de Comédie Büchienne.’

Eva Rovers
Boud
Het verzameld leven van Boudewijn Büch
Omvang 608 p.
Gebonden
Druk 1 verschenen op 11-11-16
Uitgeverij Prometheus
isbn 9789035137424
€ 29,90

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NELLIE BLY: TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE (CHAPTER III: IN THE TEMPORARY HOME)

bly_madhouse14Ten Days in a Mad-House
(Chapter III: In the temporary home)
by Nellie Bly

I was left to begin my career as Nellie Brown, the insane girl. As I walked down the avenue I tried to assume the look which maidens wear in pictures entitled “Dreaming.” “Far-away” expressions have a crazy air. I passed through the little paved yard to the entrance of the Home. I pulled the bell, which sounded loud enough for a church chime, and nervously awaited the opening of the door to the Home, which I intended should ere long cast me forth and out upon the charity of the police. The door was thrown back with a vengeance, and a short, yellow-haired girl of some thirteen summers stood before me.

“Is the matron in?” I asked, faintly.

“Yes, she’s in; she’s busy. Go to the back parlor,” answered the girl, in a loud voice, without one change in her peculiarly matured face.

At the temporary home for women.

I followed these not overkind or polite instructions and found myself in a dark, uncomfortable back-parlor. There I awaited the arrival of my hostess. I had been seated some twenty minutes at the least, when a slender woman, clad in a plain, dark dress entered and, stopping before me, ejaculated inquiringly, “Well?”

“Are you the matron?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “the matron is sick; I am her assistant. What do you want?”

“I want to stay here for a few days, if you can accommodate me.”

“Well, I have no single rooms, we are so crowded; but if you will occupy a room with another girl, I shall do that much for you.”

“I shall be glad of that,” I answered. “How much do you charge?” I had brought only about seventy cents along with me, knowing full well that the sooner my funds were exhausted the sooner I should be put out, and to be put out was what I was working for.

“We charge thirty cents a night,” was her reply to my question, and with that I paid her for one night’s lodging, and she left me on the plea of having something else to look after. Left to amuse myself as best I could, I took a survey of my surroundings.

They were not cheerful, to say the least. A wardrobe, desk, book-case, organ, and several chairs completed the furnishment of the room, into which the daylight barely came.

By the time I had become familiar with my quarters a bell, which rivaled the door-bell in its loudness, began clanging in the basement, and simultaneously
women went trooping down-stairs from all parts of the house. I imagined, from the obvious signs, that dinner was served, but as no one had said anything to me I made no effort to follow in the hungry train. Yet I did wish that some one would invite me down. It always produces such a lonely, homesick feeling to know others are eating, and we haven’t a chance, even if we are not hungry. I was glad when the assistant matron came up and asked me if I did not want something to eat. I replied that I did, and then I asked her what her name was. Mrs. Stanard, she said, and I immediately wrote it down in a notebook I had taken with me for the purpose of making memoranda, and in which I had written several pages of utter nonsense for inquisitive scientists.

Thus equipped I awaited developments. But my dinner–well, I followed Mrs. Stanard down the uncarpeted stairs into the basement; where a large number of women were eating. She found room for me at a table with three other women. The short-haired slavey who had opened the door now put in an appearance as waiter. Placing her arms akimbo and staring me out of countenance she said:

“Boiled mutton, boiled beef, beans, potatoes, coffee or tea?”

“Beef, potatoes, coffee and bread,” I responded.

“Bread goes in,” she explained, as she made her way to the kitchen, which was in the rear. It was not very long before she returned with what I had ordered on a large, badly battered tray, which she banged down before me. I began my simple meal. It was not very enticing, so while making a feint of eating I watched the others.

bly_madhouse17I have often moralized on the repulsive form charity always assumes! Here was a home for deserving women and yet what a mockery the name was. The floor was bare, and the little wooden tables were sublimely ignorant of such modern beautifiers as varnish, polish and table-covers. It is useless to talk about the cheapness of linen and its effect on civilization. Yet these honest workers, the most deserving of women, are asked to call this spot of bareness–home.

When the meal was finished each woman went to the desk in the corner, where Mrs. Stanard sat, and paid her bill. I was given a much-used, and abused, red check, by the original piece of humanity in shape of my waitress. My bill was about thirty cents.

After dinner I went up-stairs and resumed my former place in the back parlor. I was quite cold and uncomfortable, and had fully made up my mind that I could not endure that sort of business long, so the sooner I assumed my insane points the sooner I would be released from enforced idleness. Ah! that was indeed the longest day I had ever lived. I listlessly watched the women in the front parlor, where all sat except myself.

One did nothing but read and scratch her head and occasionally call out mildly, “Georgie,” without lifting her eyes from her book. “Georgie” was her over-frisky boy, who had more noise in him than any child I ever saw before. He did everything that was rude and unmannerly, I thought, and the mother never said a word unless she heard some one else yell at him. Another woman always kept going to sleep and waking herself up with her own snoring. I really felt wickedly thankful it was only herself she awakened. The majority of the women sat there doing nothing, but there were a few who made lace and knitted unceasingly. The enormous door-bell seemed to be going all the time, and so did the short-haired girl. The latter was, besides, one of those girls who sing all the time snatches of all the songs and hymns that have been composed for the last fifty years. There is such a thing as martyrdom in these days. The ringing of the bell brought more people who wanted shelter for the night. Excepting one woman, who was from the country on a day’s shopping expedition, they were working women, some of them with children.

As it drew toward evening Mrs. Stanard came to me and said:

“What is wrong with you? Have you some sorrow or trouble?”

“No,” I said, almost stunned at the suggestion. “Why?”

“Oh, because,” she said, womanlike, “I can see it in your face. It tells the story of a great trouble.”

“Yes, everything is so sad,” I said, in a haphazard way, which I had intended to reflect my craziness.

“But you must not allow that to worry you. We all have our troubles, but we get over them in good time. What kind of work are you trying to get?”

“I do not know; it’s all so sad,” I replied.

“Would you like to be a nurse for children and wear a nice white cap and apron?” she asked.

I put my handkerchief up to my face to hide a smile, and replied in a muffled tone, “I never worked; I don’t know how.”

“But you must learn,” she urged; “all these women here work.”

“Do they?” I said, in a low, thrilling whisper. “Why, they look horrible to me; just like crazy women. I am so afraid of them.”

“They don’t look very nice,” she answered, assentingly, “but they are good, honest working women. We do not keep crazy people here.”

I again used my handkerchief to hide a smile, as I thought that before morning she would at least think she had one crazy person among her flock.

“They all look crazy,” I asserted again, “and I am afraid of them. There are so many crazy people about, and one can never tell what they will do. Then there
are so many murders committed, and the police never catch the murderers,” and I finished with a sob that would have broken up an audience of blase critics. She gave a sudden and convulsive start, and I knew my first stroke had gone home. It was amusing to see what a remarkably short time it took her to get up from her chair and to whisper hurriedly: “I’ll come back to talk with you after a while.” I knew she would not come back and she did not.

When the supper-bell rang I went along with the others to the basement and partook of the evening meal, which was similar to dinner, except that there was
a smaller bill of fare and more people, the women who are employed outside during the day having returned. After the evening meal we all adjourned to the parlors, where all sat, or stood, as there were not chairs enough to go round.

It was a wretchedly lonely evening, and the light which fell from the solitary gas jet in the parlor, and oil-lamp the hall, helped to envelop us in a dusky
hue and dye our spirits navy blue. I felt it would not require many inundations of this atmosphere to make me a fit subject for the place I was striving to
reach.

I watched two women, who seemed of all the crowd to be the most sociable, and I selected them as the ones to work out my salvation, or, more properly speaking, my condemnation and conviction. Excusing myself and saying that I felt lonely, I asked if I might join their company. They graciously consented, so with my hat and gloves on, which no one had asked me to lay aside, I sat down and listened to the rather wearisome conversation, in which I took no part, merely keeping up my sad look, saying “Yes,” or “No,” or “I can’t say,” to their observations. Several times I told them I thought everybody in the house looked crazy, but they were slow to catch on to my very original remark. One said her name was Mrs. King and that she was a Southern woman. Then she said that I had a Southern accent. She asked me bluntly if I did not really come from the South. I said “Yes.” The other woman got to talking about the Boston boats and asked me if I knew at what time they left.

For a moment I forgot my role of assumed insanity, and told her the correct hour of departure. She then asked me what work I was going to do, or if I had ever done any. I replied that I thought it very sad that there were so many working people in the world. She said in reply that she had been unfortunate and had come to New York, where she had worked at correcting proofs on a medical dictionary for some time, but that her health had given way under the task, and that she was now going to Boston again. When the maid came to tell us to go to bed I remarked that I was afraid, and again ventured the assertion that all the women in the house seemed to be crazy. The nurse insisted on my going to bed. I asked if I could not sit on the stairs, but she said, decisively: “No; for every one in the house would think you were crazy.” Finally I allowed them to take me to a room.

Here I must introduce a new personage by name into my narrative. It is the woman who had been a proofreader, and was about to return to Boston. She was a Mrs. Caine, who was as courageous as she was good-hearted. She came into my room, and sat and talked with me a long time, taking down my hair with gentle ways. She tried to persuade me to undress and go to bed, but I stubbornly refused to do so. During this time a number of the inmates of the house had gathered around us. They expressed themselves in various ways. “Poor loon!” they said. “Why, she’s crazy enough!” “I am afraid to stay with such a crazy being in house.” “She will murder us all before morning.” One woman was for sending for a policeman to take me at once. They were all in a terrible and real state of fright.

No one wanted to be responsible for me, and the woman who was to occupy the room with me declared that she would not stay with that “crazy woman” for all the money of the Vanderbilts. It was then that Mrs. Caine said she would stay with me. I told her I would like to have her do so. So she was left with me. She didn’t undress, but lay down on the bed, watchful of my movements. She tried to induce me to lie down, but I was afraid to do this. I knew that if I once gave way I should fall asleep and dream as pleasantly and peacefully as a child. I should, to use a slang expression, be liable to “give myself dead away.” So I insisted on sitting on the side of the bed and staring blankly at vacancy. My poor companion was put into a wretched state of unhappiness. Every few moments she would rise up to look at me. She told me that my eyes shone terribly brightly and then began to question me, asking me where I had lived, how long I had been in New York, what I had been doing, and many things besides. To all her questionings I had but one response–I told her that I had forgotten everything, that ever since my headache had come on I could not remember.

Poor soul! How cruelly I tortured her, and what a kind heart she had! But how I tortured all of them! One of them dreamed of me–as a nightmare. After I had been in the room an hour or so, I was myself startled by hearing a woman screaming in the next room. I began to imagine that I was really in an insane asylum.

bly_madhouse21Mrs. Caine woke up, looked around, frightened, and listened. She then went out and into the next room, and I heard her asking another woman some questions. When she came back she told me that the woman had had a hideous nightmare. She had been dreaming of me. She had seen me, she said, rushing at her with a knife in my hand, with the intention of killing her. In trying to escape me she had fortunately been able to scream, and so to awaken herself and scare off her nightmare. Then Mrs. Caine got into bed again, considerably agitated, but very sleepy.

I was weary, too, but I had braced myself up to the work, and was determined to keep awake all night so as to carry on my work of impersonation to a successful end in the morning. I heard midnight. I had yet six hours to wait for daylight. The time passed with excruciating slowness. Minutes appeared hours. The noises in the house and on the avenue ceased.

Fearing that sleep would coax me into its grasp, I commenced to review my life. How strange it all seems! One incident, if never so trifling, is but a link more to chain us to our unchangeable fate. I began at the beginning, and lived again the story of my life. Old friends were recalled with a pleasurable thrill; old enmities, old heartaches, old joys were once again present. The turned-down pages of my life were turned up, and the past was present.

When it was completed, I turned my thoughts bravely to the future, wondering, first, what the next day would bring forth, then making plans for the carrying out of my project. I wondered if I should be able to pass over the river to the goal of my strange ambition, to become eventually an inmate of the halls inhabited by my mentally wrecked sisters. And then, once in, what would be my experience? And after? How to get out? Bah! I said, they will get me out.

That was the greatest night of my existence. For a few hours I stood face to face with “self!”

I looked out toward the window and hailed with joy the slight shimmer of dawn. The light grew strong and gray, but the silence was strikingly still. My
companion slept. I had still an hour or two to pass over. Fortunately I found some employment for my mental activity. Robert Bruce in his captivity had won confidence in the future, and passed his time as pleasantly as possible under the circumstances, by watching the celebrated spider building his web. I had less noble vermin to interest me. Yet I believe I made some valuable discoveries in natural history. I was about to drop off to sleep in spite of myself when I was suddenly startled to wakefulness. I thought I heard something crawl and fall down upon the counterpane with an almost inaudible thud.

I had the opportunity of studying these interesting animals very thoroughly. They had evidently come for breakfast, and were not a little disappointed to
find that their principal plat was not there. They scampered up and down the pillow, came together, seemed to hold interesting converse, and acted in every way as if they were puzzled by the absence of an appetizing breakfast. After one consultation of some length they finally disappeared, seeking victims elsewhere, and leaving me to pass the long minutes by giving my attention to cockroaches, whose size and agility were something of a surprise to me.

My room companion had been sound asleep for a long time, but she now woke up, and expressed surprise at seeing me still awake and apparently as lively as a cricket. She was as sympathetic as ever. She came to me and took my hands and tried her best to console me, and asked me if I did not want to go home. She kept me up-stairs until nearly everybody was out of the house, and then took me down to the basement for coffee and a bun. After that, partaken in silence, I went back to my room, where I sat down, moping. Mrs. Caine grew more and more anxious. “What is to be done?” she kept exclaiming. “Where are your friends?” “No,” I answered, “I have no friends, but I have some trunks. Where are they? I want them.” The good woman tried to pacify me, saying that they would be found in good time. She believed that I was insane.

Yet I forgive her. It is only after one is in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are in the world. The women in the Home who
were not afraid of me had wanted to have some amusement at my expense, and so they had bothered me with questions and remarks that had I been insane would have been cruel and inhumane. Only this one woman among the crowd, pretty and delicate Mrs. Caine, displayed true womanly feeling. She compelled the others to cease teasing me and took the bed of the woman who refused to sleep near me. She protested against the suggestion to leave me alone and to have me locked up for the night so that I could harm no one. She insisted on remaining with me in order to administer aid should I need it. She smoothed my hair and bathed my brow and talked as soothingly to me as a mother would do to an ailing child. By every means she tried to have me go to bed and rest, and when it drew toward morning she got up and wrapped a blanket around me for fear I might get cold; then she kissed me on the brow and whispered, compassionately:

“Poor child, poor child!”

How much I admired that little woman’s courage and kindness. How I longed to reassure her and whisper that I was not insane, and how I hoped that, if any poor girl should ever be so unfortunate as to be what I was pretending to be, she might meet with one who possessed the same spirit of human kindness possessed by Mrs. Ruth Caine.

Ten Days in a Mad-House
(Chapter III: In the temporary home)
by Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)

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More in: Archive A-B, Bly, Nellie, Nellie Bly, Psychiatric hospitals


NELLIE BLY: TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE (CHAPTER II: PREPARING FOR THE ORDEAL)

bly_madhouse14Ten Days in a Mad-House
(Chapter II: Preparing for the ordeal)
by Nellie Bly

BUT to return to my work and my mission. After receiving my instructions I returned to my boarding-house, and when evening came I began to practice the role in which I was to make my debut on the morrow. What a difficult task, I thought, to appear before a crowd of people and convince them that I was insane. I had never been near insane persons before in my life, and had not the faintest idea of what their actions were like. And then to be examined by a number of learned physicians who make insanity a specialty, and who daily come in contact with insane people! How could I hope to pass these doctors and convince them that I was crazy? I feared that they could not be deceived. I began to think my task a hopeless one; but it had to be done. So I flew to the mirror and examined my face. I remembered all I had read of the doings of crazy people, how first of all they have staring eyes, and so I opened mine as wide as possible and stared unblinkingly at my own reflection. I assure you the sight was not reassuring, even to myself, especially in the dead of night. I tried to turn the gas up higher in hopes that it would raise my courage. I succeeded only partially, but I consoled myself with the thought that in a few nights more I would not be there, but locked up in a cell with a lot of lunatics.

The weather was not cold; but, nevertheless, when I thought of what was to come, wintery chills ran races up and down my back in very mockery of the perspiration which was slowly but surely taking the curl out of my bangs. Between times, practicing before the mirror and picturing my future as a lunatic, I read snatches of improbable and impossible ghost stories, so that when the dawn came to chase away the night, I felt that I was in a fit mood for my mission, yet hungry enough to feel keenly that I wanted my breakfast. Slowly and sadly I took my morning bath and quietly bade farewell to a few of the most precious articles known to modern civilization. Tenderly I put my tooth-brush aside, and, when taking a final rub of the soap, I murmured, “It may be for days, and it may be–for longer.” Then I donned the old clothing I had selected for the occasion.
I was in the mood to look at everything through very serious glasses. It’s just as well to take a last “fond look,” I mused, for who could tell but that the strain of playing crazy, and being shut up with a crowd of mad people, might turn my own brain, and I would never get back. But not once did I think of shirking my mission. Calmly, outwardly at least, I went out to my crazy business.

I first thought it best to go to a boarding-house, and, after securing lodging, confidentially tell the landlady, or lord, whichever it might chance to be, that I was seeking work, and, in a few days after, apparently go insane. When I reconsidered the idea, I feared it would take too long to mature. Suddenly I thought how much easier it would be to go to a boarding-home for working women. I knew, if once I made a houseful of women believe me crazy, that they would never rest until I was out of their reach and in secure quarters.

From a directory I selected the Temporary Home for Females, No. 84 Second Avenue. As I walked down the avenue, I determined that, once inside the Home, I should do the best I could to get started on my journey to Blackwell’s Island and the Insane Asylum.

Ten Days in a Mad-House
(Chapter II: Preparing for the ordeal)
by Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive A-B, Bly, Nellie, Nellie Bly, Psychiatric hospitals


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