I used her words and lit my cigarette in the same way and spoke with her tone on the telephone so that the duke used to carry on long and intimate conversations with me, thinking that I was her. It was largely that which put his mind on pistol and sabres in such an old-fashioned manner. My step-father thought it an excellent education for me. Poor man, he is very South American, I never heard anyone speak an ill word of Stefanie, except the Duke: It came floating back to him, momentarily, with the coffee and liqueurs.
There are five distinct tastes as it trickles over the tongue. It is like swal- lowing a sp-spectnim. Do you wish Sebastian was with us? Of course you do. How our thoughts do run on that little bundle of charm to be sure, I think you must be mesmerizing me, Charles. I bring you here, at very considerable expense, my dear, simply to talk about my- self, and I find I talk of no one except Sebastian.
Well, anything you like. And Julia, you know what she looks like. Who could help it? Nothing greenery-yallery about her. So gay, so correct, so unaffected. I doubt it; all she wants is power. There ought to be an Inquisition especially set up to burn her. Nothing is known of her yet except that her governess went mad and drowned herself not long ago.
So you see there was really very little left for poor Sebastian to do except be sweet and charming. My dear, stick a pair. How does Lady Marchmain manage it? It is one of the questions of the age. You have seen her? Very, very beautiful; no artifice, her hair just turning grey in elegant silvery streaks, no rouge, very pale, huge-eyed - it is extraordinary how large those eyes look and how the Kds are veined blue where anyone else would have touched them with a finger-tip of paint; pearls and a few great starlike jewels, heirlooms, in ancient settings, a voice as quiet as a prayer, and as powerful.
And Lord March- main, well, a little fleshy perhaps, but very handsome, a magnifico, a voluptuary, Byronic, bored, infectiously sloth- ful, not at all the sort of man you would expect to see easily put down. And that Reinhardt nun, my dear, has destroyed him - but utterly. He is the last, historic, authentic case of some- one being hounded out of society. No one else goes near him. She never went near the Lido, of course, but she was always drifting about the canals in a gondola with Sir Adrian Person - such attitudes, my dear, like Madame Recamier; once I passed them and I caught the eye of the Fogliere gondolier, whom, of course, I knew, and, my dear, he gave me such a wink.
Full text of "Brideshead Revisited"
She came to ail the parties in a sort of cocoon of gossamer, my dear, as though she were part of some Celtic play or a heroine from Maeter- linck; and she would go to church. Well, as you know, Venice is the one town in Italy where no one ever has gone to church. Lord Malton put him and his valet into a dinghy, my dear, and transhipped him there and then into the steamer for Trieste. It was her yearly holiday. No one ever knew how they heard Lady Marchmain was there. And, do you know, for a week Lord Malton slunk about as if was in disgrace?
And he was in disgrace. The Principessa Fogliere gave a ball and Lord Malton was not asked nor anyone from his yacht - even the de Panoses. How does Lady Marchmain do it? She has convinced the world that Lord Marchmain is a monster. And what is the truth? They were married for fifteen years or so and then Lord Marchmain went to the war; he never came back but formed a connexion with a highly talented dancer.
There are a thousand such cases. She refuses to divorce him because she is so pious. Well, there have been cases of that before. Usually, it arouses sympathy for the adulterer; not for Lord Marchmain though. And she meanwhile keeps a small gang of enslaved and emaciated prisoners for her exclusive enjoyment.
She sucks their blood. There are five or six others of all ages and sexes, like wraiths following her around. You know, when I hear him talk, I am reminded of that in some ways nauseating picture of '"Bubbles'". Conversation should be like juggling; up go the balls and the plates, up and over, in and out, good solid objects that glitter in the footlights and fall with a bang if you miss them. But when dear Sebastian speaks it is like a little sphere of soapsud drifting off the end of an old clay pipe, anywhere, full of rainbow hght for a second and then - phutl vanished, with nothing left at all, nothing.
Within an hour of tumbling drowsily to bed I was awake again, thirsty, restless, hot and cold by turns, and unnaturally excited. I had drunk a lot, but neither the mixture, nor the Chartreuse, nor the Mavro- daphne Trifle, nor even the fact that I had sat immobile and almost silent throughout the evening instead of clearing the fumes, as we normally did, in puppyish romps and tumbles, explains the distress of that hag-ridden night.
No dream distorted the images of the evening into horrific shapes. I lay awake and clear-headed. Once during the hours of darkness I brought to light the drawings in my sitting-room and sat at the open window, turning them over. Everything was black and dead-still in the quadrangle; only at the quarter-hours the bells awoke and sang over the gables. I drank soda- water and smoked and fretted, until light began to break and the rustle of a rising breeze turned me back to my bed. When I awoke Lunt was at the open door. As I went to my bath, the quad filled with gowned and surpliced undergraduates drifting from chapel to hall.
As I came back they were standing in groups, smoking; Jasper had bicycled in from his digs to be among them. I walked down the empty Broad to breakfast, as I often did on Sundays, at a tea-shop opposite BallioL The air was full of bells from the surrounding spires and the sun, cast- ing long shadows across the open spaces, dispelled the fears of night. I ate my scrambled eggs and bitter marmalade with the zest which in youth follows a restless night. In the Commarket a party of tourists stood on the steps of the Clarendon Hotel discussing a road map with their chauffeur, while opposite, through the venerable arch of the Golden Gross, I greeted a group of undergraduates from my college who had breakfasted there and now lingered with their pipes in the creeper-hung courtyard, A troop of boy scouts, church-bound, too, bright with coloured ribbons and badges, loped past in unmilitary array, and at Carfax I met the Mayor and corporation, in scarlet gowns and gold chains, preceded by wand-bearers and followed by no curious glances, in procession to the preaching at the City Church.
In St Aldates I passed a crocodile of choir boys, in starched collars and peculiar caps, on their way to Tom Gate and the Cathedral. So through a world of piety I made my way to Sebastian. I read the letters, none of them very reveal- ing, that littered his writing table and scrutinized the invitation cards on his chimney-piece - there were no new additions. Then I read Lady into Fox xmtil he returned.
How was dinner with Antoine? What did you talk about? Tell me, did you know him at Eton? I know Mummy said something about it when I told her he was a friend of mine. Anyway, no one objected to Antoine - much, 1 gather. He claims to have had an affair with her. Why all this interest? Do you know he spent the whole of yesterday evening trying to turn me against you, and almost succeeded? My next allowance was not due until October. I had started the term with my battels paid and over a hundred pounds in hand.
AH that had gone, and not a penny paid out where I could get credit. There had been no reason for it, no great pleasure unattainable else; it had gone in ducks and drakes. His own finances were perpetually, vaguely distressed. Anyway, I never seem to get much. Of course, mummy would give me anything I asked for. Now Sebastian had disappeared into that other life of his where I was not asked to follow, and I was left, instead, forlorn and regretful. How ungenerously in later life we disclaim the virtuous moods of our youth, living in retrospect long, summer days of unreflecting dissipation.
There is no candour in a story of early manhood which leaves out of account the home-sick- ness for nursery morality, the regrets and resolutions of amendment, the black hours which, like zero on the roulette table, turn up with roughly calculable regularity. Thus I spent the first afternoon at home, wandering from room to room, looking jfrom the plate-glass windows in turn on the garden and the street, in a mood of vehement self- reproach.
My father, I knew, was in the house, but his library was inviolable, and it was not until just before dinner that he appeared to greet me. He came to me now, with the shuffling, mandarin-tread which he affected, and a shy smile of welcome. When he dined at home - and he seldom dined elsewhere - he wore a frogged velvet smoking suit of the kind which had been fashionable many years before and was to be so again, but, at that time, was a deliberate archaism. Did you have a very exhausting journey?
They gave you tea? I have just made a somewhat audacious purchase from Sonerscheins - a terra-cotta bull of the fifth century. I was examining it and forgot your arrival. Was the carriage my full? You had a corner seat? There is no news, of course - such a lot of nonsense. My father from long habit took a book with him to the table and then, remembering my presence, furtively dropped it imder his chair.
Hayter, what have we for Mr Charles to drink? Perhaps you like something else? What else have we? You must tell Hayter what you would like and he will get it in, I never keep any wine now. I am forbidden it and no one comes to see me. But while you are here, you must have what you like. You are here for long? I expect they still go on. You might try that. And yet what else could you say? Let us say you are in Queer Street and leave it at that. Go to those gentlemen in Jermyn Street who offer advances on note of hand only. He went to Australia. For the rest of dinner he was silent save for an occasional snuffle of merriment which could not, I thought, be provoked by the work he read.
He sat in an attitude which to anyone else would have been one of extreme discomfort, askew in his upright armchair, with his book held high and obliquely to the light.
Now and then he took a gold pencil-case from his watch-chain and made an entry in the margin. I had thought it impolitic to smoke a cigar while pleading poverty; now in desperation I went to my room and fetched one. My father did not look up. Eventually all over the room clocks of diverse pattern musically chimed eleven. My father closed his book and removed his spectacles. Often I saw trays going up to him at odd hours, laden with meagre nursery snacks rusks, glasses of milk, bananas, and so forth. The dinner table was our battlefield. On the second evening I took my book with me to the dining-room.
When we sat down, he said plaintively: I was looking forward to a little conversation. Why, at your age, your cousin Melchior was part-owner of a musical piece. It was one of his few happy ventures. You should go to the play as part of your education. If you read the lives of eminent men you will find that quite half of them made their first acquaintance with drama from the gallery, I am told there is no pleasure like it. It is there that you find the real critics and devotees. We will sit with the gods together one night. She gave Mrs Abel ten menus, and they have never been varied.
When I am alone I do not notice what I eat, but now that you are here, we must have a change. What would you like? What is in season? Are you fond of lobsters? Hayter, tell Mrs Abel to give us lobsters tomorrow night. She laid it down that a three-course dinner was middle-class. But your aunt ordained that at home I must have soup and three courses; some nights it is fish, meat, and savoury, on others it is meat, sweet, savoury - there are a number of possible permutations.
Now she made unremitting efforts to take me out of myself. She used to tell me about her reading. It was in her mind to make a home with me, you know. She thought I should get into funny ways if I was left on my own. Perhaps I have got into funny ways. I got her out in the end. I knew nothing, then, of the nightly agonies at the dinner table. My aunt made herself my companion, and I accepted her without question. That was for a year.
In the summer we went to lodgings together at the seaside. As we left the dining-room my father said, 'Hayter, have you yet said anything to Mrs Abel about the lobsters I ordered for tomorrow? I rather think not. Do you know, I believe he thought I 'wz. I met an old acquaintance of school-days, a contemporary of mine named Jorkins. I never had much liking for Jorkins.
Now I greeted him with en- thusiasm and asked him to dinner. He came and showed little alteration. He never pos- sessed a dinner jacket. So nice of you to come ail this way. He has been much in my mind. My father fixed him with a look of reproach. Once I thought my father had gone too far, when he said: My father glanced from him to me and his expression changed from kindness to malice; then back to kindness again as he turned once more to Jorkins. It was the look of a gambler who lays down fours against a full house. He seemed almost to think I was American. He only came to dinner.
Such a versatile young man. But you will be dining in? You think Mrs Abel is up to it? But our guests are not exacting. Sir Cuthbert and Lady Orme-Herrick are what might be called the nucleus. I hope for a little music afterwards. I have in- cluded in the invitations some young people for you. I saw my father snuffling at me from behind a case of ceramics as he stood with them. That evening he wore, like a chivalric badge of battle, a small red rose in his button-hole. Dinner was long and chosen, like the guests, in a spirit of careful mockery.
They and the wine were equally tasteless. After dinner my father led the German publisher to the piano and then, while he played, left the drawing-room to show Sir Guthbert Orme-Herrick the Etruscan bull in the gallery. It was a gruesome evening, and I was astonished to find, when at last the party broke up, that it was only a few min- utes after eleven. My father helped himself to a glass of barley-water and said: You know, without the spur of your presence I should never have roused myself to invite them.
I have been very negligent about entertaining lately. Now that you are paying me such a long visit, I will have many such evenings. Was it her little moustache you objected to or her very large feet? Do you think she enjoyed herself? I doubt if any of our guests will count this as one of their happiest evenings. That young foreigner played atrociously, I thought.
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- 'Icarus Revisited'.
Where can I have met him? And Miss Constantia Smethwick - where can I have met herl But the obligations of hospitality must be observed. As long as you are here, you shall not be dull. It was written on, and enveloped in, heavy late-Victorian mourning paper, black-coroneted and black-bordered. I read it eagerly: It never looked like living.
The doctors despaired of it from the start. Soon I am off to Venice to stay with my papa in his palace of sin. I wish you were coming. I wishyou were here. I am never quite alone. Members of my family keep turning up and collecting luggage and going away again but the white raspberries are ripe. I have a good mind not to take Aloysius to Venice. I donH want him to meet a lot of horrid Italian bears and pick up bad habits.
Love or what you will. He stood in the hall with his panama hat still on his head and beamed at me. It was most agreeable; the animals seem to enjoy the sunshine so much. I must go to him at once. Reading this message I should not say that the accident was as serious as you seem to think - otherwise it would hardly be signed by the victim himseE Still, of course, he may well be folly conscious but blind or paralysed with a broken back. Why exactly is your presence so necessary? You have no medical knowledge. You are not in holy orders.
Do you hope for a legacy? I should doubt whether Lady Orme-Herrick would welcome me. However, I see you have no such doubts. I shall miss you, my dear boy, but do not hurry back on my account. The train was nearly empty. I had my suitcase put in the comer of a third-class carriage and took a seat in the dining-car. Gan I get you anything now?
The knives and forks set up their regular jingle; the bright landscape rolled past the windows. But I had no ET IN ARCADIA EGO 73 mind for these smooth things; instead, fear worked like yeast in my thoughts, and the fermentation brought to the surface, in great gobs of scum, the images of disaster; a loaded gun held carelessly at a stile, a horse rearing and rolling over, a shaded pool with a submerged stake, an elm bough falling suddenly on a still morning, a car at a blind corner; all the catalogue of threats to civilized life rose and haunted me; I even pictured a homicidal maniac mouthing in the shadows, swinging a length of lead pipe.
I recognized her at once; I could not have failed to do so. Have you had dinner? Weil, I expect it was beastly. But they X-rayed it yesterday, and told him to keep it up for a month. Everyone else has gone.
He tried to make me stay back with him. Well, I expect you know how maddeningly pathetic he can be. He lost his temper and tripped over a hoop. Not a very honourable scar. Thus, looking through strong lenses, one may watch a man approaching from afar, study every detail of his face and clothes, believe one has only to put out a hand to touch him, marvel that he does not hear one and look up as one moves, and then, seeing him with the naked eye, suddenly remember that one is to him a distant speck, doubtfully human.
I knew her and she did not know me. She wore a bangle of charms on her wrist and in her ears little gold rings. Her light coat revealed an inch or two of flowered silk; skirts were short in those days, and her legs, stretched forward to the controls of the car, were spindly, as was also the fashion. Because her sex was the palpable difference between the familiar and the strange, it seemed to fill the space between us, so that I felt her to be especially female, as I had felt of no woman before. Sebastian and I are practically camping out here.
We both thought it very odd of you not to stay to tea with me. A man was waiting to take my luggage. He was in pyjamas and dressing-gown, with one foot heavily band- aged. The pain was excruciating. Julia, do you think, you asked him, Wilcox would give us cham- pagne tonight? Charles drinks cham- pagne at aU hours. It was a spacious octagon, later in design than the rest of the house; its walls were adorned with wreathed medallions, and across its dome prim Pompeian figures stood in pastoral groups.
I promised nanny a last game of halma. I opened the door for her. It lay on the side of the house that overlooked the lakes; the windows were open to the stars and the scented air, to the indigo and silver, moonlit landscape of the valley and the sound of water falling in the fountain. How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! These things are a part of life itself; but languor - the relaxation of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding - that belongs to Youth alone and dies with it.
Perhaps in the mansions of Limbo the heroes enjoy some such compensation for their loss of the Beatific Vision; perhaps the Beatific Vision itself has some remote kinship with this lowly experience; I, at any rate, believed myself very near heaven, during those languid days at Brideshead. We had a castle a mile away, down by the village. Then we took a fancy to the valley and pulled the castle down, carted the stones up here, and built a new house.
If it could only be like this always - always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe, and Aloysius in a good temper. Is that what they teach you at College? It was embraced by the two arms of the colonnade; beyond the pavilions groves of lime led to the wooded hill- sides. Sebastian set me to draw it. It was an ambitious subject for an amateur - an oval basin with an island of sculptured rocks at its centre; on the rocks grew, in stone, formal tropical vegetation and wild English fern in its natural fronds; through them ran a dozen streams that counter- feited springs, and round them sported fantastic tropical animals, camels and camelopards and an ebullient lion, all vomiting water; on the rocks, to the height of the pediment, stood an Egyptian obelisk of red sandstone - but, by some odd chance, for the thing was far beyond me, I brought it off and, by judicious omissions and some stylish tricks, produced a very passable echo of Piranesi.
I did so, and she put it among the collection on the top of her chest of drawers, remarking that it had quite a look of the thing, which she had often heard ad m ired but could never see the beauty of, herself. For me the beauty was new-found. Since the days when, as a schoolboy, I used to bicycle round the neighbouring parishes, rubbing brasses and photographing fonts, I had nursed a love of architecture, but, though in opinion I had made that easy leap, charac- teristic of my generation, from the puritanism of Ruskin to the puritanism of Roger Fry, my sentiments at heart were insular and medieval.
This was my conversion to the Baroque. One day in a cupboard we found a large japanned-tin box of oil-paints still in workable condition. Someone told her that you could only appreciate the beauty of the world by trying to paint it. We laughed at her a great deal about it. In the end we all protested and made mummy stop. Here, in one of the smaller oval frames, I sketched a romantic landscape, and in the days that followed filled it out in colour, and, by luck and the happy mood of the moment, made a success of it.
The brush seemed somehow to do what was wanted of it. It was a landscape without figures, a summer scene of white cloud and blue distances, with an ivy-clad ruin in the foreground, rocks and a water- fall affording a rugged introduction to the receding park- land behind. I knew little of oil-painting and learned its ways as I worked. When, in a week, it was finished, Seb- astian was eager for me to start on one of the larger panels. I made some sketches.
He called for champitre with a ribboned swing and a Negro page and a shepherd playing the pipes, but the thing languished. I knew it was good chance that had made my landscape, and that this elaborate pastiche was too much for me. We ought to have laid down the eighteens and twenties. We would sit, he and I, in the Painted Parlour with three bottles open on the table and three glasses before each of us ; Sebastian had found a book on wine-tasting, and we followed its instructions in detail.
We warmed the glass slightly at a candle, filled it a third high, swjrled the wine round, nursed it in our hands, held it to the light, breathed it, sipped it, filled our mouths with it, and rolled it over the tongue, ringing it on the palate like a coin on a counter, tilted our heads back and let it trickle down the throat.
Then we talked of it and nibbled Bath Oliver biscuits, and passed on to another wine; then back to the first, then on to another, until all three were in circulation and the order of glasses got confused, and we fell out over which was which, and we passed the glasses to and fro between us until there were six glasses, some of them with mixed wines in them which we had filled from the wrong bottle, till we were obliged to start again with three clean glasses each, and the bottles were empty and our praise of them wilder and more exotic.
It is a little, shy wine like a gazelle. And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck. There was the agent, a lean and pouchy colonel, who crossed our path occasionally and once came to tea. Usually we managed to hide from him. On Sundays a monk was fetched from a neighbouring mon- astery to say mass and breakfast with us. He was the first priest I ever met; I noticed how unlike he was to a parson, but Brideshead was a place of such enchantment to me that I expected everything and everyone to be unique; Father Phipps was in fact a bland, bun-faced man with an interest in county cricket which he obstinately believed us to share.
That must have been an innings. The account in The Times was excellent. Did you see him against the South Africans? Father Graves managed to look up a train which gave us three hours to wait on the after- noon of the match against Lancashire. I remember every ball of it. Since then IVe had to go by the papers. You seldom go to see cricket? Sebastian always heard his mass, which was ill-attended. Brideshead was not an old-established centre of Catholic- ism. Lady Marchmain had introduced a few Catholic ser- vants, but the majority of them, and all the cottagers, prayed, if anywhere, among the Flyte tombs in the Httie grey church at the gates.
I had no religion. I was taken to church weekly as a child, and at school attended chapel daily, but, as though in compens- ation, from the time I went to my public school I was excused church in the holidays. The masters who taught me Divinity told me that biblical texts were highly untrust- worthy. My father did not go to church except on family occasions and then with derision. My mother, I think, was devout. It once se'emed odd to me that she should have thought it her duty to leave my father and me and go off with an ambulance, to Serbia, to die of exhaustion in the snow in Bosnia.
Later, too, I have come to accept claims which then, in , I never troubled to examine, and to accept the supernatural as the real. I was aware of no such needs that summer at Brideshead. Often, almost daily, since I had known Sebastian, some chance word in his conversation had reminded me that he was a Catholic, but I took it as a foible, like his teddy-bear.
Are you struggling against temptation? You, I should think. I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me. Do you think you can kneel down in front of a statue and say a few words, not even out loud, just in your mind, and change the weather; or that some saints are more influential than others, and you must get hold of the right one to help you on the right problem? I was just getting interested. It was a modest two-day show serving the neighbouring parishes, and surviving more as a fair and social gathering than as a centre of serious competition.
Preparations had been going on for a week. Brideshead came down by train in the morning and lunched with Colonel Fender, the agent. I met him for five minutes on his arrival. We could see him now, through the telescope, moving awk- wardly among the tenants, stopping to greet the judges in their box, leaning over a pen gazing seriously at the cattle. He wanted to be a priest, you know. It was awful for mummy. The Church has been enough trouble to him without that happening. There was a frightful to-do - monks and mon- signori running round the house like mice, and Brideshead just sitting glum and talking about the will of God.
Finally they persuaded him to go to Oxford and think it over for three years. He talks of going into the Guards and into the House of Commons and of marrying. I should have gone, only papa went abroad before I was old enough, and the first thhig he insisted on was my going to Eton. When he went off, he left that behind with the rest of us. You must meet him. She was too young. It upset me at the time. I believe she wishes I did. I was always his favourite.
I wish I liked Catholics more. They try and hide it as much as they can, but it comes out all the time. I guessed you were here. I came down with Bridey and stopped to see Francis Xavier. Then we had lunch with Colonel Fender and then the show. Francis Xavier got a special mention. That beast Randal got first with a mangy animal.
Darling Sebastian, I am pleased to see you again. I went in to look for a shooting-stick and saw it. I say, did you really? I heard him making plans not to. Brideshead was three years older than Sebastian and I, but he seemed of another generation. The young woman at the travel agency in the hotel lobby marks the location of a synagogue that still operates, the cemetery, the ghetto and the monument to the , Jewish victims of the ghetto. We walk a lot. The city is full of superb buildings that have not been renovated since the war.
Inside, the building is very interesting. The walls are dovered with frescos depicting scenes of Jerusalem. The outside of the building is still in disrepair. The guard tells us that there is a minyan 3 twice a day. We leave the synagogue and head for the cemetery. It is enormous and has a Jewish section way in the back. Many trees, but the tombstones are recent. Aside from a Magen David 4 instead of a cross, they are exactly like Ukrainian tombstones. Everything is written in Cyrillic, with the exception of a few traditional ones with inscriptions in Hebrew.
The first of in long series of such experiences in public facilities. We have lunch on the market square. David and I visit the monument commemorating the ghetto. A menorah 5 in cast iron, a text in Ukrainian carved into black marble. On the ground, a text from Ezekiel in Hebrew and Ukrainian. It is very humid and it looks like a storm is brewing as it did yesterday at the same time. I meet Marianne and Leo at the bar at six. They are working on a book about the second generation of Czernowitzians.
Marianne and Leo interview me over a glass of good wine, a slightly chilled local Merlot. We get along very well together. We go out to have dinner in town. We take a taxi back to the hotel afterwards. We plan two stops. The landscapes are magnificent and the houses are neat and tidy. There is not much traffic, there are carts drawn by horses, geese, cows resting along the road, and on the sides, a lot of run-over dogs. The countryside is truly splendid. At the top of the electricity poles there are stork nests with their inhabitants.
We look for the Jewish cemetery. We ask the farmers for directions. Behind the last houses in the village is a field. A very old woman, with a windburned face and a scarf tied around her head is letting a few sheep graze. Pieces of very old tombstones are scattered everywhere.
We have found the cemetery, or rather what is left of it. The carved tombstones were all taken by the Soviets, the woman explains, to build a school. We are a little surprised. He wants to have us stop at a monument to the Jewish victims of Kolomea, assassinated by the Nazis. If my memory is correct, the local farmers gave a helping hand. I feel like I am floating. Through the windows of the car I film the whole route that I have traced so often on maps of the town: The hotel is indeed expensive and ugly. During the Soviet era, the Intourist hotel was the only place where foreigners were allowed to stay.
The building is ten stories high, and dates back to the s. The gigantic entrance, in the style of the Orsay train station, is much less esthetic, and is made of cement and glass. At the check in desk, blond, plump women give us a fairly lukewarm reception. A reminder of the former USSR. The room is extremely large. It has everything you might need, more maybe, but everything is sinister, in particular the view. A half an hour later, in the lobby, I meet David who is talking with an Israeli couple from Holon. The night before there had been a group of sixty Israelis at the hotel.
The man was born in the city and the woman was born in Galicia and lived in Paris. She speaks with me in French. They complain about almost everything. Clearly we have not had the same experiences. There is no hot water before 6 p. We were not to have a drop of hot water for the duration of our stay. We head out to visit Rosa Roth- Zuckerman, a cousin of Marianne's and almost the last Czernowitizian from the interwar period.
She lives on the Austrians' Pardinigasse, a small street in the center of the city that has scarcely changed since the Empire. Rosa is an amazing 91 year old. Her son arrives a few minutes later. We spend two hours talking, three-quarters of the time in German, the rest in English. Her library contains all the books dealing directly or indirectly with Czemowitz, Paul Celan and Rose Auslander. The biography of Celan by Halien was translated into Japanese.
The translator carefully underlined all the passages that mention Rosa. I take some pictures of her, her library and her collection of portraits of Franz-Joseph and the Empress Sissi. The inhabitants of Tchernivistsi still call it the Kinagoga. Inside, the toilets in the basement are another type of unforgettable experience.
We walk to Elisabethplatz, also known as Theaterplatz, a long square with the theater at one end, and on the right hand side, the building that housed the Judische Haus. The proportions are classic and almost ethereal. The statue in the center of the flowerbed exemplifies the ethnic and cultural changes in the city.
The statue of Schiller, replaced by Eminescu is today Olga Kobylanskaya, the Ukranian poetesse carved in black marble. The locals have clearly forgotten, or never knew that before writing in her native language, she wrote her first texts in German, the language of culture. The light of the setting sun caresses the stucco of the facades. The Hutsuls, a Carpathian mountain folk, were one of the ethnic groups in the city in the interwar period. They were famous for their horses.
The waiters are dressed in traditional costumes, with tunics and white trousers decorated with multicolored embroidery where red dominates. The restaurant is located at the beginning of Herrengasse, where fine ladies and gentlemen of the day used to promenade, and coffee houses, the Rapeanu, the Habsbourg, and others, lined the street. The golden youth of Czernowitz party every night until the wee hours.
The discotheque is full to brimming although the prices appear to be beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen. Is this new generation, these incredibly elegant and made-up young women, dancing to the tunes of the latest American hit parade, to become the new middle class of the city? Bouncers, KGB style, however protectively guard the passage from the public area to the upper floors where the rooms are. I feel that I am vicariously experiencing how it feels to lose my house, to have my country occupied, to leave the dead without tombstones or commemoration.
Soon I am going to come in contact with the most concrete parts of my past: The framework has been dictated by the end of my research. I will also need to locate the sole operating synagogue out of the 63 that used to exist in the city. I realize that I was so concerned with safety issues that I didn't prepare for this trip well enough. It drives through a neighborhood of villas, on the other side of the Volksgarten. The houses, like private mansions, are still lovely.
Romanian civil servants lived in them between the Wars, as did wealthy Jews. Now some of them are being renovated and serve as official buildings; others are very run down. We are meeting Felix Zuckermann and Mrs. Finkel in front of the Judische Haus. The Jews have reclaimed part of this house which belonged in its entirety to the community before World War II. The office today is the headquarters for the Czernowitz Jewish Culture Society, which is headed by Mrs.
A few years earner I had written to this Society but never received a reply. Did the letter really ever reach its destination? I want to reconstruct the day now. We met Felix and Mrs. Behind a prestigious facade, the building was used before the war as an administrative and religious center. Rooms were regularly rented out for cultural events that drew large crowds.
The Soviets turned it into a house of culture and light industry, where they gave shows to entertain the workers. To avoid having to cope continuously with the ethnic origins of the building, they systematically sawed off the two points of all the stars of David that embellished the staircase. Since then the points have been restored but one of them still bears the scar of its ideological amputation.
The names of the streets have of course changed, but primarily the numbers. I have a few slim clues. Our house was on a corner. I remember a picture taken from the window of the apartment where you can see the house opposite. I think I recognize it in what used to be the Residenzgasse and which today is University Street, because the magnificent building, the headquarters of the Greek-Orthodox archbishopric which now houses the University. I am sure I have found the right place. I have a strange feeling of great familiarity.
Bizarre for a place that has only existed in fantasy for me. The first floor has been made into three apartments. No one answers the door on the left when we ring. In the middle there is a sort of storeroom, where we can hear voices. Felix doesn't try to enter. We follow his intuition. We ring on the door to the right and a Ukrainian woman in a pajama top answers. She is young — maybe. Felix explains that my family used to live here before the war and that I want to visit the apartment.
She shows no signs of distrust. No comparison with the images of closed-mouthed Poles, fearing the return of the Jews. In one room, a green porcelain gas burner is a recent one, according to Felix. In the other room, on the contrary, there is a much larger white porcelain stove that must be older. It must have been a wood burning or charcoal stove, turned into a gas heater. A doll's house, like a Barbie house, sits on top of it. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Not Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Screen Reader: Enabled Amazon Best Sellers Rank: Would you like to report this content as inappropriate?
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