Wonderful day yesterday! Our friend Hillel Bromberg came down from Boston the night before, to accompany us to the Horace Mann School in Riverdale for their Book Day - this year's book was Alice in Wonderland
; we were presenting, but the keynote speaker was to be Marina Warner
! So we all got up at the crack of dawn and rolled into the car the school sent and up the Henry Hudson Parkway to Riverdale in time for Opening Assembly and a terrific speech by Warner, thoughtfully illustrated with slides. The thing that struck me the most was her suggesting that Alice Liddell looks like a rather sad and withdrawn child in the photos, and that maybe Lewis Carroll, who loved making children laugh (and remembered his own childhood miseries), had made it his particular mission to cheer her up. ( Read more... )
More of the poem, and many of Dodgson's photographs - including some of Alice - are here
. [And here I cannot help pointing out that there are images of Dodgson's actual glass-plate negatives
up at the National Portrait Gallery site. One of the lectures we wandered into pointed out that Dodgson's own negatives were a backwards/inside out "through the looking glass" version of our world.]
My dream was to shake Warner's hand, tell her how much I admired her work
(From the Beast to the Blonde
and Joan of Arc: the Image of Female Heroism
being 2 notable examples), and maybe to listen to what pearls might drop from her lips at lunch - instead, we ended up bonding over being the day's outside guest speakers, as one sometimes does, and running from classroom to classroom together trying to figure out what was what! We had a great talk at lunch about contemporary novels - which she also writes! Delia got to tell her how much she'd admired The Leto Bundle
- and she seems to feel the same way we do about current novels that are nothing but a collection of place names, brand names, and loathsome characters - she actually called them "costume dramas" (I think! lousy no good memory!) which I love.
Now that I'm looking at all her achievements on her website, I can't believe I even had the nerve to speak to her - but she truly is a remarkably warm and pleasant person. I loved spending time with her.
Delia & I gave a talk about Alice's influence in our lives and writing, and about how Carroll's book both is and is not like the kind of fantasy novel we write, with copious examples and free advice given to the young writers & readers of Horace Mann, who are a truly engaging bunch. (Warner came to our talk and sat on the windowsill of the crowded classroom. Intimidated much? Good thing we're both old troopers.)
Then we all went to our friend (& former English Dept. head) "fabulist" Tom LaFarge
's workshop on surrealist poetry, and wrote some very silly stuff together. (Tom will be at Wiscon - maybe we can convince him to lead us in something similar....)
Then a car drove us home ("I could get used to this!" said Hillel. We explained that in our looking-glass life, some days it's like this, and others you're hauling groceries home on the bus....), and we took a nap, and then went out to Broadway to see Curtains
, a musical with cheap tix available and that was about all I knew. Wow!!! Total fun, hilarious, huge stellar ensemble cast - I'm a sucker for Backstage Comedies, and the lyrics
were smart and funny and even, dare I say it, literate - one of my faves( Read more... )
I know I'm always recommended pointy-headed stuff - or stuff that's about to close - so this one's for you!
We came home. We went to sleep.
And now we are going out to buy a new mattress.