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Belcaro Being Essays on Sundry Aesthetical Questions   By: (1856-1935)

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First Page:

BELCARO

BEING

ESSAYS ON SUNDRY ÆSTHETICAL QUESTIONS,

BY VERNON LEE, AUTHOR OF "STUDIES OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY IN ITALY."

LONDON: W. SATCHELL & CO., 12 TAVISTOCK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.

TO

A. MARY F. ROBINSON.

CONTENTS. PAGE

I. THE BOOK AND ITS TITLE 1 II. THE CHILD IN THE VATICAN 17 III. ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE 49 IV. FAUSTUS AND HELENA 70 V. CHAPELMASTER KREISLER 106 VI. CHERUBINO 129 VII. IN UMBRIA 156 VIII. RUSKINISM 197 IX. A DIALOGUE ON POETIC MORALITY 230 X. POSTSCRIPT OR APOLOGY 275

I have to thank the Editors of the Cornhill and of Fraser's Magazines , and of the Contemporary Review , for kind permission to republish such of these studies as have previously appeared in print.

THE BOOK AND ITS TITLE.

TO ONE OF MY READERS THE FIRST AND EARLIEST.

A little while ago I told you that I wished this collection of studies to be more especially yours: so now I send it you, a bundle of proofs and of MS., to know whether you will have it. I wish I could give you what I have written in the same complete way that a painter would give you one of his sketches; that a singer, singing for you alone, might give you his voice and his art; for a dedication is but a drop of ink on a large white sheet, and conveys but a sorry notion of property. Now, this book is intended to be really yours; yours in the sense that, were it impossible for more than one copy of it to exist, that one copy I should certainly give to you. Because these studies represent the ideas I have so far been able to work out for myself about art, considered not historically, but in its double relation to the artist and the world for whom he works; ideas which it is my highest ambition should influence those young enough and powerful enough to act upon them; and, this being the case, my first thought is to place them before you: it is, you see, a matter of conversion, and the nearest, most difficult, most desired convert, is yourself.

To you, therefore, before any one else, must I explain what manner of book this is, what are its origin and its aims. And first, the meaning of its title. Logically, this title means nothing; it is a mere negation, a mere arbitrary combination of letters chosen from sheer despair to find any name which should tell, what this title certainly does not, what is the contents of the volume. Yet, a meaning the name has: a meaning of association. For, even as a snatch of melody will sometimes, for no apparent reason, haunt us while we are about any particular work, follow us while we are travelling through a definite tract of country (as, two years since, Wagner's Spinning Chorus travelled with me from Mantua to Verona, and from Verona to Venice) in such a way that the piece of work, the tract of country, bring with their recollection the haunting tune to our mind; so, also, during the time of making up this volume, I have been haunted by the remembrance of that winter afternoon, when last we were together, on the battlements of Belcaro. Perhaps (if we must seek a reason), because, while driving to the strange, isolated villa castle, up and down, and round and round the hills of ploughed up russet earth, and pale pink leafless brushwood, and bright green pine woods, where every sharp road turning surprises one with a sudden glimpse of Siena, astride, with towers and walls and cupolas, on her high, solitary ridge; while dashing up the narrow hedged lanes whose sere oak and ilex branches brushed across our faces; or, while looking down from the half fortified old place on to the endless, vague, undulating Sienese fields and oak woods; perhaps, because at that moment I may, unconscious to myself, have had a vague first desire to put together more of the helter skelter contents of the notes over which we had been looking, and give it you in some intelligible shape... Continue reading book >>




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