Book: Show us one of your favorite works of fiction.
Like Queen Elizabeth I was reputed to have had, I have many favorites. But this is the one that came to mind first:
I own this particular edition, published in 1913. It's displayed on a marble (OK, imitation marble) pedastal by my desk. Many times I'll leave off blogging for a moment to gaze at it fondly.
'Under The Hill' was written by a person I follow so devoutly that I own a book of his published letters (a sure sign of adulation!) – Aubrey Beardsley. It was written in 1896, and is a delicate, naughty, baroque, surreal, erotic tale loosely based on the story of Tannenhauser: the German knight who founded the home of Venus, 'under the hill', and spent a year there, to enjoy and to worship. Honestly, I had to hoist my jaw off the ground at the end of each chapter. Aubrey combined words in a way that couldn't be more delightful: 'slender voices', 'tender gloves', 'malicious breasts', 'golden embrace'…golly!
And this dovetails nicely with the Question of the Day. What author of fiction would I want to write like? Well, and believe me this does not come from vanity – a well I've never plumbed – but I would only want to write like myself. Just like I would only want to look like myself. If I woke up tomorrow with a face like Cleo de Merode's (you didn't really think I'd choose someone living, did you?) or the gentle writing skill of Max Beerbohm…I would be downcast indeed. I have been working on creating my personality since Junior High School, when I realized it was my responsibility alone to build one. I've worked too hard on this to want another's face or talents.
But, for the record, I would have been very joyous indeed to have written things like these:
"…there were buckles of very precious stones set in most strange and esoteric devices; there were ribbons tied and twisted into cunning forms; there were buttons so beautiful that the button-holes might have no pleasure till they closed upon them…"
"Gad Madam; sometimes I believe I have no talent in the world, but to-night I must confess to a touch of the vain mood."
"Would to heaven," he sighed "I might recieve the assurance of a looking-glass before I make my debut!"
One more thing about this book. In addition to writing like this, there are the illustrations. I remember seeing them for the first time: I was so overwhelmed, I had to close the book and walk away. I needed some quiet time, to come to terms with such mastery:
You're just not going to find anything like this book anywhere.