Vox Hunt: Fictional Favorite: Aubrey For Me

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.

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14 responses to “Vox Hunt: Fictional Favorite: Aubrey For Me

  1. Oh, yeah? I bet I could find it next to your desk.
    *books trip to LA to sneak into Aubrey's place and read presious tome*
    Seriously, though, thanks for sharing. I must find a sorry modern copy to read, as I'm sure it won't be nearly as wondrous to gaze upon as yours.

  2. 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… and then you show them to us without warning. I have to go sit down. No, no, I'll be okay.Um, I'm coming with AmyH?

  3. i love abreay beardsley's work too. i don't have this particular book but i have all the art books i could find about him, and i also wrote my art history exam paper about him.it's been a long time since then so it was really nice to find someone else who loves his work. it was like seeing an old friend again. thanks for posting this. 🙂

  4. sorry about the typo. i know his name is aubrey… *blush*

  5. Aubrey's the man. No way around it! When I was in Brighton, I insisted that the tour bus drive me to the house where he was born – I had the address and everything. My picture was taken in front of it – it was a jewel of a photo op.
    However, he had been born some 100 years earlier. And in that time address numbers shift. And they get repainted. Bottomline, I was posing in front of the wrong house. And the owner of the house was looking out the window, wondering what I was doing there. Still. Gives me an excuse to go back again.
    And I'd LOVE to read your exam paper!

  6. Wow — the book cover and the illustrations are *beautiful*! And the phrasing/combination of the words is so soft and beautiful too. I'm starting to realize what you and jaypo are talking about now. &:o)

  7. I hadn't thought about this book in probably fifteen years. Thanks for reminding me. When I was a nanny for one of my college profs, he had a copy of this tucked away in an obscure bookcase, which I used to sneak out and enjoy. Love especially the erotic button-holery.

  8. (Sneaks in behind AmyH after she swipes the book. Replaces the book with a copy of, "Learn to Play the Kazoo in 3 Easy Lessons." Sneaks back out.)

  9. Ah, Aubrey Beardsley. The man who makes us modern graphic artists look like utter retards using Illustrator and Photoshop.

  10. oh…..yeah……I'm SURE she'll never notice the switch, pyrit…..(you just can NOT behave yourself, can you!?)&:o)

  11. Nice of you, pyrit, to give up one of your own books all for the sake of a joke. I know how that must have hurt!

  12. "Love especially the erotic button-holery."
    I know – wasn't that just so fabulously rude?

  13. DElightful!!!!And, the absolute wonder of having something speak to you so strongly. Isn't it fantastic? It thrills me down to my toes.Each person has that "something" that will grip their soul so deeply they have to step back and regroup for a moment. And what a precious gift that you, Aubrey, have found that "something."Ah, the sorrow of those who don't recognize theirs. But, let's not worry about them for now…..

  14. oh i'd love for you to read it too (nothing like another enthusiast!) but unfortunately it's in norwegian…

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