Monday, June 16, 2008

Casual and Imponderable

Alex Waugh's Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family is almost good enough to read while mosquitoes thrash threateningly about one's head. I'm bundled up in long-sleeved shirt buttoned up to the neck, jeans, velcro sneakers and socks, and the cat is meowing because it wants to join me, and suddenly I can't bear the swoop of several mosquitoes at once.

So I went inside, but not without some irritation at Alex's uncle Alec Waugh, who wrote in MYSELF WHEN YOUNG: "The best-seller is written for women, usually by women. And it is by a masculine intelligence that the masterpieces of prose literature have been produced...Art is the fine raiment in which the civilized man arrays himself before a woman. And it is, perhaps, because women have need of such artifice that their contributions to the museum of the world's art have been so casual and so imponderable."

We've all heard that before, though he somehow trailed off weakly with that "casual and so imponderable" bit. Perhaps he didn't dare be too insulting to his first wife, who "was not a fan of Alec's writing at the best of times." Alec and Barbara, by the way, never consummated their marriage. It was attributed to her "impenetrable hymen"......

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