“Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I: But when the trees bow down their head, The wind is passing by.”-Christina Rossetti (born on 12/5/1830)
Robert Louis Stevenson died on 3 December 1894. He was forty-four years old. Here he is, looking elegant in a John Singer Sargent portrait…
He was as dashing as the best of them…
His spirited wife, Fanny, also excelled at living life to the fullest …
“So long as we love, we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I should say that we are almost indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.”-Robert Louis Stevenson
Rex Todhunter Stout was born on 1 December 1886. He gave the world that singular detective, Nero Wolfe (and his unremittingly charming factotum Archie Goodwin!), writing dozens of excellent genre novels and short stories during a four decade period. Stout’s version of New York City is one of the best (fictionalized) settings in all of literature. Here he is, mixing patterns and still looking casually dapper in his eighty-seventh year…
“To say that a man is a reasoning animal is a very different thing than to say that most of man’s decisions are based on his rational process. That I don’t believe at all.”-Rex Stout
Oscar Wilde died on 30 November 1900. He was 46 years old.
“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”-Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”-Oscar Wilde
Eugene O’Neill died on 27 November 1953. He was sixty-five. Here he is, as a wee laddie…
“Man’s loneliness is but his fear of life.”
Reading Suggestions: Bound East for Cardiff; The Long Voyage Home; Beyond the Horizon; Anna Christie; Desire Under the Elms; Strange Interlude; Mourning Becomes Electra; Ah, Wilderness!; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day’s Journey Into Night; A Moon for the Misbegotten
REASON: When snow started falling today, my mind immediately turned to Christina Rossetti. Her words, no matter how passionate, are of the winter.
“And all the winds go sighing, for sweet things dying.”
If you missed My Top Six Cold Weather Writers, go here.
“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”-F. Scott Fitzgerald
George Eliot was born on 22 November 1819.
George Eliot was rebellious in ways that actually meant something. She had guts, too, and a wide talent.
“The beginning of compunction is the beginning of a new life.”-George Eliot
Novels: Adam Bede; The Mill on the Floss; Silas Marner; Romola; Felix Holt, the Radical; Middlemarch; Daniel Deronda
Cold weather never travels alone. It packs many well-loved delights in its frosty bag of tricks, including: hot chocolate, gingerbread, nifty patterned gloves and scarves, pumpkin-flavored everything, frozen breath, crackling wood fires, mulled beverages, and fairy lights. Whilst those are wonderful there are other, lesser extolled, pleasures in which to indulge: mint chocolate brownies, hot water bottle cozies, the scent of real pine, watching snow fall at midnight, and seasonal reading. Oh, seasonal reading! How I adore thee.
Yearly I turn to you, as the calendar begins its long hike through winter’s desolate days…
I seek you out to warm my cold soul and chapped heart…
You do things to me that hot drinks and heavy blankets never could…
What a comfort you are, my winter writers!
There is but one solution when faced with the inevitable onslaught of nasty, chilling weather: arm yourself to the teeth with a weighty supply of wonderful books, and dig in for the duration. As soon as temperatures sink, an instinctual survival mode kicks in and I start to ritualize my life-including a long-standing pattern of reading works by the same authors. The books themselves vary, of course, but their progenitors remain fixed. This time of year my preferences tend towards the following qualities of language, attitude, or thought: severity, hardiness, bareness, intellectual passion, bluntness, pluckiness, and mental or emotional resilience.
Do you read in such seasonal ways? If so, please share your favourite cold weather books and/or writers in the comments! Here is my list.
MY TOP SIX COLD WEATHER WRITERS
REASON: Her solitary, willful disposition.
“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide.”
REASON: No one speaks to my deepest soul the way nineteenth-century Russian writers do, Chekhov chief amongst them.
“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”
REASON: The economy of her writing.
“One need not be a chamber to be haunted.” Continue reading