Item 46 - Letter from Oswald Valentine Sickert to R. C. Trevelyan

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Letter from Oswald Valentine Sickert to R. C. Trevelyan


  • 11 Dec 1921 (Creation)

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Apartado 847, Madrid. - Thanks Trevelyan for his letter [in response to 6/45]: is writing to Birrell and Garnett for Ormond, "Milton's Prosody" [by Robert Bridges] and Bradley; asks Trevelyan to check if they received the order if he is there before he goes to Florence. Tells him not to stop writing verse but do his work on metre as well. Finds his age [fifty] which Trevelyan is approaching is 'difficult and depressing', and asks what is to be done about it; their upbringing requires them to 'grin and bear it', but 'since this idiotic Freud one suspects that is no solution'. Not in Sevilla yet but waiting for a second proof from the printer; does not know what they will think of Sevilla, having been there for a week; supposes it is all right if you live there and fall in love 'with a girl behind a reja [grid]' like Michel Bréal, but 'for a contemplative person... [it] is not different enough, not a sufficient spectacle to remain outside'. Japan 'the only fit place of exile'.

Menéndez has given up his post at Toulouse; he says the French and French literature are too 'middle class'. Duran 'the most amusing & capable person, & lovable too', he ought to be doing something more with his gifts, though Sickert suspects his dreams of revolution will not come true. His wife sees Mrs Jimenez sometimes, who has a second baby. Much enjoyed a conference of Cossio's on some pictures going to the Casa del Greco in Toledo, which reminded him of 'a perfectly rounded little effort of Ruskin's'. Ocaña still consul in Lille [?], spending weekends in Paris. Has been into the little palace at Mancha, which Trevelyan might remember; they are making it into a museum; he loved it. Had a lovely month when Argentina was at the Romea [theatre]; is sorry Trevelyan never saw her, as he thinks she is the best dancer of any kind he has seen. Describes her at length. They went backstage and 'worshipped' twice; 'then she is like a very intelligent Jewish pianist'.

Thinks Trevelyan has not heard any canto flamenco; La Niña de los Peines has been on, in better form than last time. In contrast to the views of the 'stupid critics' who write on 'difficult composers', canto flamenco is popular but 'much too subtle & difficult for the educated young people who... could take such a thing as Parsifal like milk'. Arthur [Waley?] is right that records are needed to 'cope with such music', but records have a different and unpleasant timbre so it is necessary to know the music already. Wishes he got on better with the words, but they are hard to catch and understand; they are not poetical. Is very interested in the prospect of [Lascelles] Abercrombie's book; remembers how good he was when discussing the article for a children's encyclopædia they were going to publish, but wonders if Abercrombie is right to select a scene from Shakespeare. His love for Don Quixote.

No-one has talked about anything but the 'Morocco tragedy' [during the Rif War] since July; 'self-deprecation all-round. Spaniards are the least chauvin [sic] people in the world.' Don Julio [Álvarez del Vayo] flew back from Berlin, gave a talk on Russian literature which Sickert could not attend, and returned at once. Posters out about the revival of "España". Bagaria the caricaturist has 'outdone himself' in "El Sol". The theatres are very dull: younger people may criticise Benevente, but since he stopped writing plays there is nothing worth going to see, and Catalina Barcena is having a baby so there is no good acting.

Could not find a house during their week in Sevilla so his wife returned to try again, once more in vain; she wants a house belonging to 'the mad Marques de la Vega Inclán', who wants 2000 pesetas per month; their rent in Madrid is 550 pesetas. The Marques owns the Casa del Greco in Toledo, which Trevelyan may remember is a 'duck of a place', and has 'invented' what seems to be an equally charming Casa de Cervantes in Valladolid. Remembers the 'jolly lunch' the day he left. Goldie [Dickinson] was 'a dear'.

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