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Old 08-03-2008   #11
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
PS: More of a yellow patch of the day!
I live in Delft. There are always many French tourists here, all thanks to Proust, I think! Re Vermeer's famous 'View' - he clearly played around with the lighting on that painting. The foreground is dark, there are shadows which suggest the sun is above your head, while at the same time some roofs to the north are as bright as anything. Vermeer uses clouds literally to 'obscure' this impossibility...;)
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Old 08-03-2008   #12
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

Hi, Johan. I'm so pleased that I am now privileged to know someone who lives in Delft. That 'Yellow Patch' passage above is my favourite passage from literature of all time.
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Old 08-03-2008   #13
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

Hello, Des. Well, it is a great passage, certainly, containing also one of the greatest acts of advertising ever committed to paper, for Delft and Johannes Vermeer! And I must say that being in the heart of Delft on a violet summer evening, with the shadows gradually steeping the canals and the churches in darkness, constitutes a very real Purple Patch of the Day!
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Old 08-04-2008   #14
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

Steerpike, when he had reached the spine of the roof, sat astride it and regained his breath for the second time. He was surrounded by lakes of fading daylight.

He could see how the ridge on which he sat led in a wide curve to where in the west it was broken by the first of four towers. Beyond them the sweep of roof continued to complete a half circle far to his right. This was ended by a high lateral wall. Stone steps led from the ridge to the top of the wall, from which might be approached, along a cat-walk, an area the size of a field, surrounding which, though at a lower level, were the heavy, rotting structures of adjacent roofs and towers, and between these could be seen other roofs far away, and other towers.

Steerpike's eyes, following the rooftops, came at last to the parapet surrounding this area. He could not, of course, from where he was guess at the stone sky-field itself, lying as it did a league away and well above his eye level, but as the main massing of Gormenghast arose to the west, he began to crawl in that direction along the sweep of the ridge.

--Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan
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Old 08-05-2008   #15
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

Parrhasius, a painter of Athens, amongst those Olynthian captives Philip of Macedon brought home to sell, bought one very old man; and when he had him at Athens, put him to extreme torture and torment, the better by his example to express the pains and passions of his Prometheus, whom he was then about to paint. I need not be so barbarous, inhuman, curious, or cruel for this purpose to torture any poor melancholy man; their symptoms are plain, obvious and familiar, there needs no such accurate observation or far-fetched object, they delineate themselves, they voluntarily bewray themselves, they are too frequent in all places, I meet them still as I go, they cannot conceal it, their grievances are too well known, I need not seek far to describe them.

-- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
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Old 08-07-2008   #16
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

The skeleton clock, in daylight, was threatening to a degree its oddness could not explain. Looking through the glass at its wheels, cogs, springs and tensions, and at its upraised striker, awaiting with a sensible quiver the finish of the hour that was in force, Clara tried to tell herself that it was, only, shocking to see the anatomy of time. The clock was without a face, its twelve numerals being welded on to a just visible wire ring. As she watched, the minute hand against its background of nothing made one, then another, spectral advance. [...]
‘I’ll tell you something, Clara. Have you ever SEEN a minute? Have you actually had one wriggling inside your hand? Did you know if you keep your finger inside a clock for a minute, you can pick out that very minute and take it home for your own?’ So it is Paul who stealthily lifts the dome off. It is Paul who selects the finger of Clara’s that is to be guided, shrinking, then forced wincing into the works, to be wedged in them, bruised in them, bitten into and eaten up by the cogs. ‘No you have got to keep it there, or you will lose the minute. I am doing the counting – the counting up to sixty.’ . . . But there is to be no sixty. The ticking stops.
From ‘The Inherited Clock’ by Elizabeth Bowen 1944

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Old 08-07-2008   #17
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

You are fast becoming a very persuasive advocate of Elizabeth Bowen's work, Des! I have known her name for decades without ever having felt the urge to read her before...
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Old 08-09-2008   #18
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

The set of temple bells had not yet been struck for dinner, so Portia sat down near her chest of drawers and looked hard at the pastel-portrait of Anna. She did not know what she looked for in the pastel – confirmation that the most unlikely people suffer, or that everybody who suffers is the same age?
]But that little suffering Anna – so much out of drawing that she looked like a cripple between her cascades of hair – that urgent soul astray in a bad portrait, only came alive by electric light. Even by day, though, the unlike likeness disturbs one more than it should: what is it unlike? Or is it unlike at all – is it the face discovered? The portrait, however feeble, transfixes something passive that stays behind the knowing and living look. No drawing from life just fails: it establishes something more; it admits the unadmitted. All Mrs Heccomb had brought to her loving task, besides pastels, had been feeling. She was, to put it politely, a negative artist. But such artists seem to receive a sort of cloudy guidance. Any face, house, landscape seen in a picture, however bad, remains subtly but strongly modified in so-called real life – and the worse the picture, the stronger this is. Mrs Heccomb’s experiment in pastels had altered Anna for ever. By daylight, the thing was a human map, scored over with strawy marks of the chalks. But when electric light struck those shadeless triangles – hair, the face, the kitten, those looking eyes – the thing took on a misguided authority. As this face had entered Portia’s first dreams here, it continued to enter her waking mind. She saw the kitten hugged to the breast in a contraction of unknowing sorrow.
From Part II (6) ‘The Death of the Heart’ 1938 by Elizabeth Bowen

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Old 08-10-2008   #19
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

I would like to go meta on this thread by quoting a couple of paragraphs from a George Steiner essay on Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. In addition to discussing Durrell's tetralogy, Steiner has this to say about "baroque prose" in general:

"But this does not mean that this jeweled and coruscated style springs full-armed from Durrell's personal gift. He stands in a great tradition of baroque prose. In the seventeenth century, Sir Thomas Browne built sentences into lofty arches and made words ring like sonorous bells. Robert Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, used the same principal device as Durrell: richness through accumulation, the marshaling of nouns and epithets into great catalogues among which the eye roves in antiquarian delight. The feverish, clarion-sounding prose of De Quincey is a direct ancestor to that of Justine. And more recently, there is the example of Conrad. In the later parts of Lord Jim and throughout The Rescue, Conrad uses words with the sumptuous exuberance of a jeweler showing off his rarest stones. Here also, language falls upon the reader's senses like brocade.

"This baroque ideal of narrative style is, at present, in disfavor. The modern ear has been trained to the harsh, impoverished cadence and vocabulary of Hemingway. Reacting against the excesses of Victorian manner, the modern writer has made a cult of simplicity. He refines common speech but preserves its essential drabness. When comparing a page from the Alexandria novels to the practice of Hemingway or C. P. Snow or Graham Greene, one is setting a gold-spun and jeweled Byzantine mosaic next to a black-and-white photograph. One cannot judge the one by the other. But that does not signify that Durrell is a decadent show-off or that his conception of English prose is erroneous. We may be grateful that Hemingway and his innumerable imitators have made the language colder and more astringent and that they have brought back into fiction the virtue of plain force. But they have done so at a price. Contemporary English usage is incredibly thin and unimaginative. The style of politics and factual communication verges on the illiterate. Having far fewer words at our reach than had the educated man of the seventeenth and even of the late nineteenth century, we say less or say it with a blurred vagueness. Indeed, the twentieth century has seen a great retreat from the power of the word. The main energies of the mind seem directed toward other modes of 'language,' toward the notation of music and the symbol-world of mathematics. Whether in its advertisements, its comic-books, or its television, our culture lives by the picture rather than the word. Hence a writer like Durrell, with his Shakespearean and Joycean delight in the sheer abundance and sensuous variety of speech, may strike one as mannered or precious. But the fault lies with our impoverished sensibility."

-- George Steiner, "Lawrence Durrell I: The Baroque Novel" (from Critical Essays on Lawrence Durrell)

Last edited by gveranon; 08-10-2008 at 11:55 PM..
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Old 08-11-2008   #20
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Re: Purple Patch Of The Day (or Week)

Beautiful stuff, gv. Not come across these passages before. Glad I started this thread just for that! Long been a fan of Lawrence Durrell. In fact, I think he became part of my brain in the Sixties.
BAROQUE PROSE - much better than 'Purple Patch'. Ah well. :-)

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