View Full Version : The best of times and the worst of times

Ron Price
02-07-2012, 08:41 PM
There is a similarity in my writing to the works of various artists in the last century: Picasso's revolutionary paintings, T.S. Eliot's verse with its strange juxtapositions and odd perspectives, Igor Stravinsky’s music and its clashing sounds. Even if one accepts these similarities, readers may find that their natural reaction to my work is to want to throw it into the dustbin of autobiographical history.

I would anticipate this response given the conventional, the natural, reaction to literary works of this type on the part of many a student I have taught and got to know over the years. The desire for an orderly impulse, a simple, an exciting, narrative sequence may produce in many readers of my work an initial discomfort due to their perception of what they see as my disorder and complexity as well as the sheer length of my work. In this autobiography, as Henry James once put it, “nothing is my last word on anything.” This disorder, this complexity, therefore, could continue for such readers almost indefinitely, at least theoretically. " My life and times, were, as Charles Dickens once said, "the best of times and the worst of times."(1)

In my more than thirty years of teaching I came across hundreds of students whom I know would take little to no delight in an analysis of these times in a form like the one found in my writing.-(1) Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

02-08-2012, 03:16 PM
The best is in the worst and the worst is in the best. It's always been that way. No escape. That's not a matter or the times. It's a matter of accounting.

Ron Price
02-09-2012, 12:33 AM
Thanks, cafolini, for your prompt response. You've been a busy beaver in your relatively short time at this site. Your words have a provocative edge and, for that, I thank you. Yes, as you say, "it's a matter of accounting." Writers, in all sorts of different ways "account" for their life, their times, their ideas, inter alia. I'll add another piece below on Dickens to keep this thread alive and healthy seeing we are all celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth in 1812.-Ron in Tasmania:idea:

D. H. Lawrence, writing in 1916 during the Great War, felt that two thousand years of civilization were collapsing before his eyes. “So much beauty and pathos of old things,” he wrote, "were passing away and no new things coming: my God it breaks my soul.” He did not see any new things coming, although he hypothesized many things he would have liked to see. Little did he know that the 20th century was about to bring, what it had already begun to bring, an immense cornucopia of invention, scientific advance and social progress amidst, of course, millions upon millions of dead.

In May 1919 the pre-eminent British composer of his generation, Edward Elgar, had his three new chamber works premiered. Adrian Boult wrote that they possessed “a new note of fantasy, of freedom and of economy.” From May through early August 1919 Elgar composed his Cello Concerto. Elgar’s work was haunted by an autumnal sadness, the sadness of compassion not pessimism.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Elgar: Cello Concerto--Creating A Classic—How Elgar Came to Write the Concerto,” at www.elgar.org/3cello, 28 August 2008.

After reading Elgar Unmasked
by Dr. David C. F. Wright at the
website: www.wrightmusic.org
I began to wonder at the many
reactions to a piece of music!!

The number of musicians who
hated Elgar’s music includes
many famous names of much
considerable literary weight--
Herbert von Karajan said:

"I don’t know what is better,
the moment before Elgar begins
or the great relief when it is all
over."….I believe that a man’s
music is the man himself…It is
the same for artists…poets and
writers of factual matters or….
matters of spiritual belief, yes..

Charles Dickens wrote about social
issues in his novels because that is
the way he felt about them and he
had so much energy when he was
at the high end of his bipolarity he
could channel his energy year after
year between terrible depressions.

Ron Price
28 August 2008
Updated for: Literature Network Forums
On: 9/2/'12