Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Agnes Repplier 1855 - 1950

Agnes Repplier: 1855 – 1950 Bio. note
I associate wit with compression and the ability to ignore your own felicities of expression. She combined this with perfectly weighted sentences that do not detain you with sententious uplift. Perhaps it was her Catholic, French and German background that saved her from this Puritan vice. The advanced thought of the day like that of our day or any day being vacuous fashion did not breach the consciousness of this independent woman who took to writing when the family finance foundered due to Papa’s unwise investment. She was a pert miss who was dismissed from two schools but by the end of her long life had received honorary degrees from several universities.

There are many collections of her essays in Internet Archive, cleanly scanned:

Is it, then, the mere desire to be obliging which induces a millionaire to surround himself with things which he does not want, which nobody else wants, and which are perpetually in the way of comfort and pleasure ? Does he build and furnish his house to support the dealers, to dazzle his friends, or to increase his
own earthly happiness and well-being ? The serious fashion in which he goes to work admits of no backsliding, no merciful deviations from a relentless luxury. I have seen ghastly summer palaces, erected presumably for rest and recreation, where the miserable visitor was conducted from a Japanese room to a Dutch room, and thence to something Early English or Florentine; and such a jumble of costly incongruities, of carved scrolls and blue tiles and bronze screens and stained glass, was actually dubbed a home. A home! The guest, surfeited with an afternoon's possession, could escape to simpler scenes; but the master of the house was chained to all that tiresome splendour for five months of the year, and the sole compensation he appeared to derive from it was the saturnine delight of pointing out to small processions of captive friends every detail which they would have preferred to overlook. It is a painful thing, at best, to live up to one's bricabrac, if one has any ; but to live up to the bricabrac of many lands and of many centuries is a strain which no wise man would dream of inflicting upon his constitution.
(From The Discomforts of Luxury (In the Dozy Hours coll.))

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