E. du Perron
Oxford, 29-30 oktober 1929
18hr - mardi 29 octobre 1929 -
‘C'est fou d'écrire comme ça: vous n'aurez jamais le temps de lire le tout à la fois...’ I love it! Go on, please! First of all I've got to confess. These last three days have been rotten. The news of your marriage turned me numb - & I almost hated you at moments. Then, as one can't go on forever living in a constant state of great hate or great love, I shook myself free of the great love & the great hate with an angry gesture - & went round yesterday night in a state of indifference. I was tired - & sick of having my heart torn into bits. I wanted to forget about everything that I either - hated - or loved. I wanted to push Belgium right away off the map - & turn with a sigh of relief to England - I dined - & then went to call up a friend with whom I usually go to the Poetry Club. - Then began again the complications of the social life. This woman is supposed to be in love with somebody - but she is doing all she can to attract another man - the 28 years'-old one - Justin. Now Justin came to call on me on Sunday night being probably fed-up with artificial Oxford & scenting the possibility of ‘vrainess’ in me. We hardly know each other, had met lots, - but I always imagined he was Ena's - property - from the way she talked. However, I gathered he does not like her - is rather scared of her, in fact. I howled when he told me he always felt she was thinking ‘How he will come in useful for my tea-parties: I need a tenor....’ Lovely, isn't it? Well, he asked me to go to a dance with him tonight. I didn't know... However, before dinner yesterday, I met him by chance again - & said I would go. -
9h - mercredi 30 octobre 1929
(I'll explain in a moment why I stopped there).
- Well, after dinner I went for Ena to go to the Poetry Club. Justin had asked us to call in to his rooms after the Poetry Club. Ena didn't want to go to the latter... but preferred to go earlier to Justin's. I didn't mind in the slightest. So we went to Justin's - & I got interested in trying to play on the piano a Chopin Prelude I had merely heard (one with a Durham Cathedral flavour - very majestic & dignified & profound, I think it's the Fifth.) - I gathered in a very short time that Justin liked me a lot. So we all had a jolly time - although I thought it curious when Justin showed me four letters he'd written to me - all about nothing - He said he just wanted to write to me. - Well, he set us home: we saw Ena to her apartment - & Mary, her friend - the one who always calls me ‘Lady Billikins’ or ‘Lady Bill’ - came down & cast mournful glances at Justin - for she also is busy falling in love with him although she too is engaged. (God!) She had gazed equally mournfully into the fire when she had heard that Justin had asked me to go to the ball & said. ‘I wonder why he didn't ask me?’ - I didn't mind anything except that there were no complications. - Well, we said goodbye & Justin & I continued to Warnborough Road. I was tired & Justin was a dear. He's a Celt too - Welsh - & although he looks just like any normal Englishman - is fair & wears ‘plus fours’ (= pantalon de golfe) - he has the Celtic fantasy. - It was a lovely night: there were no stars & a little fresh breeze & the trees were wet. I was tired. Justin & I embraced... Then everything seemed to have gone quite wrong. I knew that the embrace was right (for we were both feeling a trifle weary of the artificial side of Oxford) & good & pure & honest & childish & natural - only... I told him I thought I had better not go to the ball after all...
Yesterday I spent mostly in bed. The Fates had decided to make the ‘phénomène mensuel’ a little more painful than usual - so that I'd come back quicker to the ‘Harmonie universelle’. - (That doesn't sound logic - but it is - quite.) So I groaned a little (you men, of course, can't possibly understand how damnable the phénomène mensuel can be: that's where we have the pull over you - for it makes us more patient & stronger, I think) - & was able to allow myself the large joy of a whole day to myself. Various good friends call in to say ‘hallo’ - & finally Suzette & I spent the evening together. (She came in where I left off at 6 p.m. yesterday). We talked lots & laughed - & laughed - & laughed. - When she went at 11 p.m. I was going to finish my letter - but I was so awfully tired that I just slept. - This morning all goes well. -
There! I'm not going to analyze things anymore for the moment - but just accept them. In this letter, you have been my paternal parent - & will understand - everything. -
Your last letter was delightful, dear.
‘Sea-Harmony.’ Yes, I think it's better than ‘The consolation.’ You have mis-read one line though. It is not ‘Pain & - and - wait’ - but ‘Pour in - and - WAIL’. You see now? ‘Wail’, of course, rhymes with ‘Fail’. - Then ‘My song will not be sung’... I prefer this to ‘This song will not be sung’. The meaning is different. Think about it. I mean that what I want to sing is somehow so deep & so part of the U.H. that I only death would loose it - & that it, the soul of my song, might perhaps might find expression on another's lips - another who is more ‘sage’ than I - more in touch with the U.H. - ‘And rising up with a magnificent cry.’ - This I prefer too. The rhythm suggests the great rushing movement which I want to convey.
‘And, rising up with a magnificent cry.’ - I'll say it to you when you come. As for the ‘vagueness’ of magnificent, see my notes on Humbert Wolfe. - Had I began with ‘Rising’ the effect would not be as you imagine. - But do go on telling me what you think - & I shall do my best to defend my cause. -
I have done quite a lot of poetry. I'll show you some when you come. It would be topping to try & publish it in Belgium. - My novel: I've done about a third - & only need time to do the rest. I know exactly what will happen down to the dernier détail. - Yes, I agree with what you say about ‘l'atmosphère’. - As too my youth being against the production of ‘personnages vivants’ - that may well be - only - ‘Suzette says’ (as do ‘the others’) that she never knew any one who so completely understood all different types of people, could please them all, at will, & could get hold of all the various traits & reproduce them perfectly. - We must talk lots about the ‘Cerveaux Amoureux’. Personally, I should prefer another title - such as ‘Two after Harmony’ (‘A la recherche de l'harmonie’ with apologies to Marcel Proust!) - but la sagesse of course, I haven't thought previously, yet. The ‘Cerveaux Amoureux’, would certainly be more pleasing to the Continental reader, - but it is not English.
Now, my situation. I left school at eighteen, spent four years getting two degrees (one year in France) - in English & French. Had I so desired, I could easily have got a post in a ‘lycée’ after last June - A B.A. is about between the French licence & agrégation. - However, I came on to Oxford & shall go on to London to do research work - at least two terms of it. For a doctorate I need at least six terms residence at a University. An English D.Phil. (‘Doctor of Philosophy’) is a much higher degree than the continental doctorate. - Even after nearly two terms research work, I may easily get a post as ‘conférencier’ in a Université. - I should have about 10 hours work a week - six months vacation - & at the very least £ 300 a year. - I think I told you I am seriously thinking of looking for a post after two terms research - that is round about next Easter. - I should like to go abroad - anywhere - but do not know whether I shall consider it ‘franc jeu’. I'll tell you all about it when you come. - At the moment I do not give lectures: I merely go to one or two on methods of cubism. The two ‘rotten lectures’ were among these. - In the vacation, I gave lots - as I wanted more practical experience - & managed to get asked to give public ones. -
‘Fellow’ - Fellowship of a University, is as I said, the highest honour a University can give one of its members. Besides the honour, one is presented with anything from £ 400 onwards. -
I can't quite tell what I'm afraid of, dear, I'll have to wait till I see you. -
About your stay in England. Come straight to Oxford - sometime about November 24th (I'll tell you exactly when it would be best.) I'll go up to Durham on the 18th - do the exam - & come back about the 24th. I would like you to come to Oxford the day I return from Durham, so that we can celebrate together, dear. I shall just have done about 10 three-hour papers - & shall have got the fellowship or not. I don't at all mind. - You will have quite sufficient money, (you funny old Edward!) - I find it will be impossible for you to stay too at 21 Warnborough Road (les convenances d'Oxford) - but shall arrange for you to be near. I shall have to get you at least two rooms - a sitting-room being indispensable because of the ‘convenances’. Otherwise we couldn't be together in your home at Oxford. It won't be dear though, I'll see about it this afternoon. - Couldn't you stay from say November 24th till December 7th - & then we could go down to London? - and then on to Belgium (provided I'm not bankrupt by then. I've spent a hang of a lot money lately) -
The ‘smoking’. My dentist sees that my teeth keep white! He says they are as strong as iron - just as the doctor (whom I only visit to get medical certificates of fitness for academic purposes) says I'm as a strong as a horse!! -
I never knew Suzette's brother.
‘La Recontre’ sounds interesting. What a lot of things we'll have to discuss, dear! It's lovely.
‘Je me laisserai dorloter en silence.’ - I don't know what is going to happen in that connection. Certainly, if we love each other - & I can't stop wanting to kiss you - it will be you & not me who will make the first move - naturally, dear. I am very much a woman - & would hope your love for me would not be able to stop taking me - in your arms. O my darling .. Aren't we funny? -
Goodbye for now, love. I am so glad I have you. I wish - we could have - married. - God knows what will happen.
I shall send this by air so you will have something from me tomorrow. -
I'm very well now, dear. - You must think me funny talking about these things.
Origineel: Den Haag, Letterkundig Museum