My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–Visits of Friends

Hello all.  I have been away from my computer as we took a trip out west, and then my “little” brother had both a birthday and a baby in the same week, so I HAD to pop down to the farm to go see both.  More about both trips later.  Here is another chapter from “Out of Africa.”

“To the great wanderers amongst my friends, the farm owed its charm, I believe, to the fact that is was stationary and remained the same whenever they came to it.  They had been over vast countries and had raised and broken their tents in many places, now they were pleased to round my drive that was steadfast as the orbit of a star.  . .They came back to it longing for books and linen sheets and the cool atmosphere in a big shuttered room. . .”–may my home be a place to rest.

“. . .fantastical quick phosphoric growth of matter and thought.” –say that three times fast.  Then think about it for a long time.

“He was going mad, he said, in a country which expected a man to keep alive on talk of oxen and sisal, his soul was starving and he could stand it no longer.”  Change this sentence a bit to suit your situation.  “Mommi was going mad, I said, in a house which expected a mom to stay alive on talk of diapers, Nursery Rhymes, and “Momma said ‘No.'”.  Her soul was starving for some Adult conversations!

” . . .dark carmoisin curvilinear shoots. . .”  –excellent description of Peony shoots.

p.  213:  Bedar = I’m not sure what the meaning is.  It seems to be a title.  I believe the origins are Arabic.

p. 214:  omelette a la chasseur = French.  The Hunter’s Omelette.  Here is the recipe.

p.  214:  Petrouchka = from Wikipedia. 

Petrouchka or Petrushka (French: Pétrouchka; Russian: Петрушка) is a ballet with music by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, composed in 1910–11 and revised in 1947.

Petrushka is a story of a Russian traditional puppet, Petrushka, who is made of straw and with a bag of sawdust as his body, but who comes to life and develops emotions.

According to Andrew Wachtel, Petrushka is a work that fuses music, ballet, choreography and history in perfect balance. It evokes Richard Wagner‘s Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork), but with a Russian approach.[1]

p. 214:  My Silvan Retreat = a section of a poem from Destruction of Troy by John Lydgate.

Here is an excerpt.  Depite the Old English, I think you can appreciate the compliment of Karen’s house being a “Silvan Retreat.”

Till at the last, among the bowes glade,

Of adventure, I caught a pleasant shade;

Full smooth, and plain, and lusty for to seen,

And soft as velvet was teh younge green:

Where from my horse I did alight as fast,

And on the bow aloft his reine east.

So faint and mate of wariness I was,

That I me laid adown upon the grass,

Upon a brinke, shortly for to tell,

Beside the river of a crystal well;

And the water, as I reherse can,

Like quicke silver in his streams y-run,

Of which the gravel and the brighte stone,

As any gold, against the sun v-shone.

From Wikipedia.

John Lydgate of Bury (c. 1370 – c. 1451)[1] was a monk and poet, born in Lidgate, Suffolk, England.

Lydgate is at once a greater and a lesser poet than John Gower. He is a greater poet because of his greater range and force; he has a much more powerful machine at his command. The sheer bulk of Lydgate’s poetic output is prodigious, amounting, at a conservative count, to about 145,000 lines. Life at the monastery of Bury St. Edmund’s, where he spent most of his life, gave him a leisure that many another poet might have envied, and enabled him to explore and establish every major Chaucerian genre, except such as were manifestly unsuited to his profession, like the fabliau. In the Troy-book (30,117 lines), an amplified translation of the Trojan history of the thirteenth-century Latin writer Guido delle Colonne, commissioned by Prince Henry (later Henry V), he moved deliberately beyond Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and his Troilus, to provide a full-scale epic. The Siege of Thebes (4716 lines) is a shorter excursion in the same field of chivalric epic. The Monk’s Tale, a brief catalog of the vicissitudes of Fortune, gives a hint of what is to come in Lydgate’s massive Fall of Princes (36,365), which is also derived, though not directly, from Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium.[2] The Man of Law’s Tale, with its rhetorical elaboration of apostrophe, invocation, and digression in what is essentially a saint’s legend, is the model for Lydgate’s legends of St. Edmund (3693) and St. Albon (4734), both local monastic patrons, as well as for many shorter saints’ lives, though not for the richer and more genuinely devout Life of Our Lady (5932).

Early life and education

He was admitted to the Benedictine monastery of Bury St. Edmunds at fifteen and became a monk there a year later.


Having literary ambitions (he was an admirer of Geoffrey Chaucer and a friend to his son, Thomas) he sought and obtained patronage for his literary work at the courts of Henry IV of England, Henry V of England and Henry VI of England. His patrons included, amongst many others, the mayor and aldermen of London, the chapter of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and Henry V and VI, however his main supporter from 1422 was Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. In 1423 he was made prior of Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex but soon resigned the office to concentrate on his travels and writing. He was a prolific writer of poems, allegories, fables and romances, yet his most famous works were his longer and more moralistic Troy Book, Siege of Thebes and the Fall of Princes. The Troy Book was a translation of the Latin prose narrative by Guido delle Colonne, Historia destructionis Troiae. At one time, the long allegorical poem The Assembly of Gods was attributed to him,[3] but the work is now considered anonymous. Lydgate was also believed to have written London Lickpenny, a well-known satirical work; however, his authorship of this piece has been thoroughly discredited. He also translated the poems of Guillaume de Deguileville into English. In his later years he lived and probably died at the monastery of Bury St. Edmunds.File:John Lydgate.jpg

p. 214:  marabout feathers = Here is an interesting link.

From Wikipedia.  The Marabou Stork, Leptoptilos crumeniferus, is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in Africa south of the Sahara, occurring in both wet and arid habitats, often near human habitation, especially waste tips. It is sometimes called the “undertaker bird,” due to its shape from behind: cloak-like wings and back, skinny white legs, and sometimes, a large white mass of “hair.”File:Leptoptilos crumeniferus -Masai Mara -Kenya-8-3c.jpg

p. 214:  Duchesse de Nemours =

p. 214:  Lady McMillan of Chiromo = she was a friend to Karen Blixen.  Refer to this website to learn more about Lady McMillan.

p. 215:  “. . .he called me Candide. . .” = from Wikipedia.

Candide, ou l’Optimisme (play /ˌkænˈdd/; French: [kɑ̃did]) is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: or, Optimism (1947).[5] It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply Optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide’s slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not outright rejecting optimism, advocating an enigmatic precept, “we must cultivate our garden”, in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds“.

Candide is characterised by its sarcastic tone, as well as by its erratic, fantastical and fast-moving plot. A picaresque novel with a story similar to that of a more serious bildungsroman, it parodies many adventure and romance clichés, the struggles of which are caricatured in a tone that is mordantly matter-of-fact. Still, the events discussed are often based on historical happenings, such as the Seven Years’ War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.[6] As philosophers of Voltaire’s day contended with the problem of evil, so too does Candide in this short novel, albeit more directly and humorously. Voltaire ridicules religion, theologians, governments, armies, philosophies, and philosophers through allegory; most conspicuously, he assaults Leibniz and his optimism.[7][8]

As expected by Voltaire, Candide has enjoyed both great success and great scandal. Immediately after its secretive publication, the book was widely banned because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naïveté.[7] However, with its sharp wit and insightful portrayal of the human condition, the novel has since inspired many later authors and artists to mimic and adapt it; most notably, Leonard Bernstein composed the music for the 1956 comic operetta adapted from the novel.[9] The original 1956 libretto of Candide, written by Lillian Hellman, was an intensely bitter and somewhat loose adaptation of Voltaire, but Hugh Wheeler‘s new libretto, first produced in 1974, was a far more faithful adaptation of the novella, and the one which is still in use today. Today, Candide is recognised as Voltaire’s magnum opus[7] and is often listed as part of the Western canon; it is likely taught more than any other work of French literature.[

p. 215:  Doctor Pangloss = from Wikipedia.  The tale of Candide begins in the castle of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia, home to the Baron’s daughter, Lady Cunégonde; his bastard nephew, Candide; a tutor, Pangloss; a chambermaid, Paquette; and the rest of the Baron’s family. The protagonist, Candide is romantically attracted to Cunégonde. He is a child of “the most unaffected simplicity,” whose face is “the index of his mind.”[4] Dr. Pangloss, professor of “métaphysico-théologo-cosmolonigologie” and self-proclaimed optimist, teaches his pupils that they live in the “best of all possible worlds” and that “all is for the best.”

Today, the word means an optimist.

p. 216:  Hansun = from Wikipedia.

Knut Hamsun (August 4, 1859 – February 19, 1952) was a Norwegian author, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. He was praised by King Haakon VII of Norway as Norway’s soul.[1]

Hamsun’s work spans more than 70 years and shows variation with regard to the subject, perspective and environment. He published more than 20 novels, a collection of poetry, some short stories and plays, a travelogue, and some essays.

The young Hamsun objected to realism and naturalism. He argued that the main object of modern literature should be the intricacies of the human mind, that writers should describe the “whisper of blood, and the pleading of bone marrow”.[2] Hamsun is considered the “leader of the Neo-Romantic revolt at the turn of the century”, with works such as Hunger (1890), Mysteries (1892), Pan (1894), and Victoria (1898).[3] His later works—in particular his “Nordland novels”—were influenced by the Norwegian new realism, portraying everyday life in rural Norway and often employing local dialect, irony, and humour.[4] The epic work Growth of the Soil (1917) earned him the Nobel Prize.

Hamsun is considered to be “one of the most influential and innovative literary stylists of the past hundred years” (ca. 1890–1990).[5] He pioneered psychological literature with techniques of stream of consciousness and interior monologue, and influenced authors such as Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Maxim Gorky, Stefan Zweig, Henry Miller, Hermann Hesse, and Ernest Hemingway.[6] Isaac Bashevis Singer called Hamsun “the father of the modern school of literature in his every aspect—his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism. The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun”.[7] Ernest Hemingway stated that “Hamsun taught me to write”.[6]

As a young man, Hamsun had anarchist sympathies, but in the years following the Second Boer War—during which he was sympathetic to the Boers—he gradually adopted staunchly conservative and anti-British views. He publicly expressed his support for Germany during both world wars, and his statements during the latter led to controversy.

On August 4, 2009, the Knut Hamsun Centre was opened in Hamarøy.[8] Since 1916, several of Hamsun’s works have been adapted into motion pictures.

p. 216:  “. . . white teeth of a laughing Valkyrie.” = from Wikipedia.  In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja “chooser of the slain”) is one of a host of female figures who decide who will die in battle. Selecting among half of those who die in battle (the other half go to the goddess Freyja‘s afterlife field Fólkvangr), the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin. There, the deceased warriors become einherjar. When the einherjar are not preparing for the events of Ragnarök, the valkyries bear them mead. Valkyries also appear as lovers of heroes and other mortals, where they are sometimes described as the daughters of royalty, sometimes accompanied by ravens, and sometimes connected to swans.File:The Ride of the Valkyrs.jpg

p. 216:  “. . .acted as a Duenna to her three small daughters. . .” = duenna.  From Spanish.  An elderly woman retained by the family to act as a governess or chaperone for girls.

p. 218:  La Belle Otero = from Wikipedia.

File:La Belle Otero - 1905 Postcard.jpg

p. 219:  Armand Duval or the Chevalier des Grieux = from Wikipedia.  Manon Lescaut (L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut) is a short novel by French author Antoine François Prévost (the Abbé Prévost). Published in 1731, it is the seventh and final volume of Mémoires et aventures d’un homme de qualité (Memoirs and Adventures of a Man of Quality). It was controversial in its time and was banned in France upon publication. Despite this it became very popular and pirated editions were widely distributed. In a subsequent 1753 edition, the Abbé Prévost toned down some scandalous details and injected more moralizing disclaimers.

until next chapter,


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