In The House

Entry by: Godai41

23rd October 2015
Out of . . . and . . . in the House

In the house or one in one of the “houses” they occupy we meet our favorite authors. We, especially as children, visited these houses, abodes, in libraries and bookstores. Frequently we brought our favorite houses, volumes, ok, yes, books, home from the libraries. In cases of true love for the “houses” we bought!-- and brought-- them home and gave them a lasting residence, houses within the house.

Yes, surely, authors abide in the words they scrawl, pour out, utilize, invent, maneuver; add your own favorite name for ces mots.

Betimes, though, we followers, fans, yes, say it, disciples of the scribblers seek our heroes, heroines, gods as it were, out in their own domiciles.

Admit it, eh! We do.

And, surprisingly, or not so surprisingly perhaps, they still reside there waiting to reveal their personas, profiles, dimensions, and more.

Where you ask? Pour it out, man. Tell us here and now.

All right.

First jaunt

First stop, not only this trip itself but the first author met on his own turf, house, even his own room, occurred 1 092 kilometers, 11 hours 14 minutes from my own childhood locale, by turnpike, interstate, and mountain roads. There I meet up with Thomas (not Tom) Wolfe, not at the front door of his Asheville home but at the door of and also literally in his own room. No tourist guide or hired expert intervenes: the essential Thomas Wolfe spirit, back from grad school in Harvard, teaching at New York University while living on and roaming about the Brooklyn streets, and returned even from his demise after a 1938 US tour, sprints out. The wafts of Elisa’s—his mom’s—victuals coil up the stairs to the door of the room from which he verbally sparred with his mom day in and day out.

Where are you going, Elisa, the daunting Elisa, asks her rambunctious offspring, Tom, in Look Homeward, Angel, dubbed Eugene.

Ah, you missed it, his persona retorts.

I’ve already gone.

In the house of Wolfe’s own emerging the dialogue rebounds against the author’s very hideaway and resounds along the rails, through time, on the river itself.

Second jaunt

Prelude: the cold starts to move in to London, penetrating NW3, infiltrating the flat. Time to set off for a warmer clime. A short rail journey leads to a dock and the yacht ☺ !!! that buoys one to Bilbao to flee the freeze. Later, a circumlocuted return includes meandering to Rome to visit the remaining Keats vibes on site at the palpable volume, easier than any urn or nightingale to parse, of his 23 February 1821 demise in Rome. There he sits, between coughs and thwarted breath, emitting phrasal longing not only for Fanny but also for porridge, roast beef, a nourishing serving of filberts. In his house, his bed of legal necessity disposed of, he transmits on site his last moments. In his last house, 26 Piazza di Spagna, we meet and fully read him, even more than in any number of odes.

Third jaunt

No one’s home. Yes, yes, yes, and yes again. Perfect. The trek to see Emily on the turf to which she tightly knit, yea, embedded herself, fails. Rather, succeeds. The house—wouldn’t be museum—is closed. No one’s home. Perfect. I read you Emily. After all, volume after volume, poem after poem, word after word, if deciphered correctly by Dickinson followers, reports, “I’m not here; don’t you see!” Yes, I not only see but hear, taste, touch, smell you in your precious UNparadoxical absent-presence. The closed door, no sign of any open hours to come, resounds again “This is my letter to the world/That never wrote to me--
. . . .” My hands cannot see her but my spirit knows she’s “home” in the truest sense. Unseen, untouched, unheard, she still, 150 plus years later, fully resides in this Amherst venue. She may tell you she is not at home. Trust her. Go away—fulfilled.

Fourth jaunt

In the Poe house now, one of the many. This one, known from nascent childhood days, exists in Baltimore. (Others recur on the Upper West Side (UWS) of Manhattan and, yes, even in the Bronx (read Bronks ;-). The door of the Baltimore volume opens to all readers. A bent-over resident greeter and inviter into the Poe storm stands at the entrance. Stalwart even in her palsied posture, her abiding Poeian friend comes forth along the floor, a slithery, sleuth-like Poe cousin on four feet. Yes, you guessed it, the Black Cat exists, thrives, earns its pence daily snarling at and slithering around customers--released from “The Black Cat” imprisonment within the wall! How much better could the poet, drunk en route to seek a mercenary post that would have allowed him to live and write at ease, have conjured it. Yes, Black Cat, we know who you are and who sent you; we, lost in your oblong lunar system, read you. You live here! We see you clearly.

Fifth jaunt

Absence does make the heart grow fonder. So Paul Gallico, The Snow Goose master, reports. In a lighthouse lives the main personage, physically deformed but emotionally vibrant, replete with humanity. Like Emily Dickinson not home, but in this case truly not home, he rows and rows and rows his boat, bringing trapped, soon to be bombed out would-be victims of World War II safely back to the British coast. His narrators, the snow goose itself, and its caretaker, Frith, Fritha if you will, stand in for him then and forever. In the house that he will no longer ever again live in they stay together, framed by him, Philip Rhayader, the artist, yes painter, himself. No Diego Rivera type abandoning his fellow artist and wife Angelina Beloff, Rhayader staunchly constructs a life, a world, an abiding inheritance for his not-kin-but-more-than-kin Fritha and the snow goose itself. His sailboat and his enclosure—we cannot call it a residence—leave us an eternal message on their “pages.”

Yes, in a library one reads much.

In a house one also reads much, perhaps even more.

One of course deciphers “the house I live in, the goodness everywhere,” yes, and thank you Paul Robeson.

Yet, far adrift from any library, reading room British Museum, Keats library, or otherwise, or even home bookcase, in multiple, varied houses of wood and brick, one also reads—reads profoundly.

In addition, in the houses of authors and authors’ creations exist many worlds. They include the words and messages the authors present.

In the physical houses, betimes residences themselves of authors, however, much more intangible, subtle ephemera await our visits.

Come along, won’t you?

Let us depart.

Let us visit and hang out a bit in the house, an author’s house, now and always.