Regarding Juan Sebastian Elcano, Basque

Rick Barot’s collection The Galleons is on the National Book Award’s longlist for poetry! Kudos, sir!

Self finds it interesting: she is writing about the galleons, too! Her book invents a character and puts him in the Philippines at the close of the 16th century.

Today, in her leisurely read of The Economist of 12 September 2020 (She’s fairly sure they skipped an issue; the 19 September issue should have arrived last week. What gives, USPS?), there is a letter about Magellan. Truly, self has entered a zone! A zone where everyone else is also thinking about Magellan! Galleons! The 16th century!

Letter to The Economist from Marques de Tamaron, Madrid:

Ferdinand Magellan was not “the first known circumnavigator (Obituary for Marvin Creamer, August 29th). He commanded the flotilla of five ships and 239 sailors that sailed in 1519 from Spain but he died in combat in the Philippines in 1521 before completing the round-the-world voyage. Juan Sebastian Elcano was then elected leader for the rest of it, reaching Spain in the only remaining ship, Victoria, in 1522. He and the emaciated survivors who dragged themselves ashore were indeed the first true circumnavigators.

Prompted by curiosity (mebbe she should have written about Elcano instead of making up a fictional character for her novel! Oh well, too late now!), self does some google research. Elcano died only four years after his return from that epic voyage. And there is a Spanish thinktank named after him that addresses such topics as climate change, cybersecurity, and international migration. Here is a link to their very interesting blog.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Who Would Make a Better Fabrizio (The Charterhouse of Parma)

Just for fun (because self would rather look at possible Fabrizios than at clowns)

Why do both men wear glasses. Anyhoo, just imagine them without glasses, riding on a horse, saber outstretched.

Self has one more candidate. But she hasn’t found a suitable picture of him. She’ll keep looking.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

How To Be

Fabrizio’s looks save him over and over again. After the defeat of the French, he stumbles across the canteen woman who, despite having lost her cart and her horse, is still intent on protecting him.

Chapter Four, The Charterhous of Parma:

Canteen Woman (That’s all she ever goes by) to Fabrizio: “Get yourself away from this defeated army; find some way out . . . The first chance you get, buy yourself some civilian clothes. Once you’re eight or ten leagues away and you don’t see any more soldiers, take the mail-coach and rest up for a couple of weeks in some nice town where you can eat beefsteaks . . . As soon as you’ve got a gentleman’s clothes on your back, tear up your travel-permit . . . never say you were in battle, and don’t breathe a word about Bonaparte . . . When you want to go back to Paris, get yourself to Versailles first, then enter Paris from that side, walk right in as if you were out for a stroll. Sew your napoleons into your trousers. And above all, when you have to pay for something, don’t let anyone see more than what you need to pay. The saddest thing of all is that people are going to cheat you and gouge you out of all you have, and what will you do once you have no money, when you don’t even know how to take care of yourself?”

Fabrizio: “I want to fight right away”

Good Friday morning. Self spent all last night howling over Chapter Three of The Charterhouse of Parma.

Self will summarize events leading to this chapter.

Fabrizio, hero of the novel, has been trying to join the Battle of Waterloo. He heads towards the scene of battle, but keeps encountering women who point him in the wrong direction because they don’t want a young man so beautiful to die. One, who Stendhal refers to only as “the canteen-woman,” even decides to accompany him, to keep him out of harm’s way.

Chapter Three:

Many delightful conversations later, the canteen-woman caught sight of three or four French soldiers running toward her as fast as they could; she quickly jumped down from her cart and managed to hide fifteen or twenty feet off the road, crouching in a hole where a huge tree had been uprooted. “Now,” Fabrizio decided, “now I’ll find out if I’m a coward!” He stood beside the little cart the canteen-woman had abandoned and drew his saber. The soldiers paid no attention to him and ran past him through the grove to the left of the path.

“Those are our men,” the canteen-woman said calmly . . .

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Last Thursday of August 2020

The Charterhouse of Parma, Chapter Two, ends:

  • An hour before daylight, Fabrizio was on the road again, and by lavishing caresses on his horse, he managed to persuade it to trot. By about five in the morning, he heard the cannonade: Waterloo had begun.

On to Chapter Three!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Charterhouse of Parma, Chapter One

Milan, 1796, at the Palazzo of The Marchese Del Dongo:

Eight days later . . . when it was widely acknowledged that the French were guillotining no one, the Marchese del Dongo returned from Grianta, his castle on Lake Como, where he had valiantly taken refuge at the French army’s approach, abandoning his sister and his loving young wife to the chances of war.

The Shadow King, p. 73

Why is self reading so slowly these days? There was a time when she used to average 60 books/year. Anyhoo, she is absolutely enthralled by her current book, a novel by Maaza Mengiste. Set in  1930s (?) Ethiopia. It’s written in impressionistic style, so the dates don’t matter all that much. It feels very much like one flowing river of memory.

A young servant girl feels a strange connection between herself and the man of the house. The cook tries to set her straight. Meanwhile, her mistress rides across the countryside on a horse, dressed in jodhpurs like a man.

We all know that war destroys mankind, and in spite of their differences in race, creed, and religion, women all across the world despise war because the fruit is nothing but destruction.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

“The Vanishing” : Rosebud, Issue 67

“The Vanishing,” self’s story of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, had been making the round of slush piles when Rosebud‘s editor reached her on her cell and told her he was pulling hers from the slushpile.

Rosebud is a very ambitious magazine.

The section Once Upon a . . . features re-tellings of Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel.

A section called Songs of the City are stories set in . . . what else? Cities.

A section called Looking Up features stories about the moon and other planetary bodies.

“The Vanishing”

Pope Alexander VI draw a line from pole to pole, dividing the world like the two halves of an orange: everything east of the line belonged to Portugal, everything west to Spain. In one stroke, centuries of struggle between the two arch-rivals came to an end, and the world at last seemed able to contain the two countries’ teeming ambitions, ambitions that had taken root and flowered in a dream born as a whisper in the ear of a friend of a friend of a friend: Francisco Serrao, Portuguese, who wrote to the crown from the Moluccas, in words both ardent and teasing. “Gold and riches,” Serrao wrote. “Spices and women.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More Writing in a Pandemic

Further in self’s novel about the World War II occupation of the city of Bacolod in the central Philippines (72k words so far):

Don Geronimo entered Honorato’s room just as his eldest son was about to get dressed. It was eight o’clock.

“The Japanese are here,” he said.

Honorato said nothing.

There was a group of them, some in uniform, some in civilian clothing. They had told Don Geronimo they were there to put the Daku Balay under the protection of the Imperial Japanese Army. “We are forbidden to leave the premises without permission. Go through the kitchen. Moses is waiting for you by the side gate.”

20190908_170235

The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Bacolod City: It was used by the Japanese High Command during World War II. Self’s grandfather sent her uncle to the mountains. Her father, only 12 at the time, stayed home.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Writing In a Pandemic: Self’s Other Novel

So far, 299 pages, set on the island of Negros in the central Philippines, in the opening months of World War II. Self has not looked at it in almost two years. She’s been devoting most of her time to her 16th century novel, Camarote de Marinero:

In mid-April, Honorato was sent to the mountains.  He had just turned 18.  Don Geronimo worried because he was tall, because he was good-looking, because he was the eldest and bore the hopes of his parents on his slender shoulders.  Hide, his father told him.  Get as far away from here as you can.

The boy, Honorato, spends the war wandering in the mountains with his Dad’s enkargado, Moses. Moses has a bolo and a 32 Colt. Honorato can’t even shoot. But he learns a lot. (Meanwhile, self, who hasn’t shot a gun in her entire life, has to do internet research on the mechanics of a 32 Colt. So she’s learning just as much as Honorato)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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