A Publication of
THE JOHN MEADE FALKNER SOCIETY
Founded 8th May 1999
|Newsletter No.11||03 January 2003|
Since the last Newsletter in July, the Society has welcomed three more members.
The Hon. James Stourton
Thanks to a chat with Alan Bell, James has not only joined the Society but dropped in to look at my JMF collection. Peter Davison, now Regius Professor at Aberdeen, first drew James' attention to "this subtle antiquarian novelist". Since Cambridge, James has worked for 23 years at Sotheby's where he is now Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Europe. He has a private press, The Stourton Press.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Anthony Quinton
who, in turn, has been persuaded to join by James! A Fellow of All Souls (1949-55] and a former President of Trinity College, Oxford [ 1978-87]. he is a distinguished philosopher. His publications include The Nature of Things , Francis Bacon  and From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein , and he has contributed over 20 articles to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, published in 1995 by the OUP.
Professor Robert Cross
who came across us on the Internet. He studied German and French literature at the University of Wales and holds a PhD from Lancaster University. After teaching at the Universitaet Tuebingen in Germany, he is currently Professor of British Studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto. He is presently on a Sabbatical at Cambridge. Aside from his work as an academic, he is also a screenwriter of some repute.
The Nebuly Coat
Anyone surfing the Internet 'bookshops' will soon realise that, whereas Moonfleet and The Lost Stradivarius are relatively easy to find, the same can not be said for The Nebuly Coat. Recently a first edition was for sale from Brick Row Book Shop in the USA. The book had an interesting owner provenance. It was once Michael Sadleir's, with his label on the front paste-down, and later the property of Robert Lee Wolff, who apparently had two copies. He gave this one to a visitor in 1967, who enclosed a note on Ritz-Carleton stationery,
"Given to me by Robert Lee Woltf this afternoon... a remarkable book from an even more remarkable gentleman".The present seller comments -"an outstanding novelist of his time". Selling at £204, if not a bargain, then good value.
"though still not quite nine, walked out from Dorchester, on over Ridgeway Hill and down to the coast"to the Weymouth home of three aunts. This was at 5, Brunswick Buildings, which
"regularly suffered a shower of pebbles thrown up from the beach in wild weather".When Falkner was twelve, his father
"accepted a curacy at Melcombe Regis and the family moved to 82, St. Thomas Street, now a restaurant. ...John spent eighteen months at Weymouth Grammar School, which no doubt reinforced his knowledge of the local history and legends which were to provide the background ofhis most famous work."No doubt.
"were in the south transept, and the rector had duly pointed out the dilapidations of the roof, which, in truth, wanted but little showing. 'Some call this the Blandamer aisle', he said, 'from a noble family of that name who have for many years been buried here.'"However, [by page 114] Lord Blandamer is clear that he was
"under some sort of moral obligation for the north transept, from having annexed it as a burying-place. It used to be called, I fancy, the Blandamer Aisle".For those readers who mistrust Lord B's every pronouncement, unfortunately Westray replies immediately: "Yes, it is called so still". The north seemingly wins, as [on page 124] Lord B. commits himself, in a subsequent letter to Westray, to spend £7,800 for "the repairs to the north transept". Let us hope he was correct.
"the novel is, by the by, clearly the best of the three JMF wrote, although I must admit my favourite, now that I have read all of JMF's fiction. is still The Lost Stradivarius".
"situated on the seaward side of a small square peninsula that stretches out into the Mediterranean".And here is the rub. More than one passage of description suggests a 'greater hand' than Sir John's is at work. It has been suggested that his brother-in-law may well have helped him in their composition. A challenge to you all!
"In The Lost Stradivarius, Falkner refers to a work called l'Areopagita by Graziani for violin and harpsichord; he names four movements -Coranto, Sarabanda, Gagliarda and Minuetto. The playing of the Gagliarda movement is very important in the development of the story. It was the fact that I am a violinist which originally drew me to The Lost Stradivarius, and as a violinist I would love to lay my hands on l'Areopagita. I would even dare to play the Gagliarda with all the risks that might entail!
But, of course, it's all fiction... Or is it? There was a composer called Graziani -in fact there were three. First, there was Tomaso Graziani [1550 -1634], maestro de capella at Ravenna Cathedral, and later at Reggio Emilia. He was much too early to have written a suite. Then there was Bonifazio Graziani [1604-1664]. He composed sacred choral works and is not known to have written any instrumental music. Thirdly, there was Carlo Graziani, who died in 1787. In the novel the transcript of the l'Areopagita is said to be dated 1774, "many years after the death of that composer", but this could be Falkner feeding us a red herring. In fact, Carlo produced three volumes of sonatas for 'cello and continuo, the third of which is in the British Library, and it is dedicated to Maximilian Joseph, Duke of Bavaria. It is not uncommon to find music written for one instrument transcribed for another. I have managed to obtain one of these sonatas, but, alas, it is not the l'Areopagita. But what of the first two volumes -do they lie in some Italian library, or were they burnt, as Mr. Gaskell burnt his, because of the devilish nature of the Gagliarda? Did Carlo in fact compose a suite which he called l'Areopagita? I promise, if I find it, you will read about it first in the JMF Newsletter...... provided I survive the first performance.
N.B. Falkner's knowledge of violins was almost certainly acquired from Violin-making: as it was, and is, by Ed. Heron-A1len, first published in 1884. Some of Heron-Allen's short fiction has been published by the Tartarus Press, who recently produced a new edition of The Lost Stradivarius."
"of a severe, and anxious heart seizure, which came when I was in Manchester some three months ago".I intend to publish the letters in full in the next issue of the Society Journal.
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