Sunday 21 May 2023


George Santayana: “What is life but a form of motion and a journey through a foreign world?”

Anthony Powell: “The English . . . never really believe in the existence of the world around them.” He meant by this abroad. How different the English are now, thoroughly globalised and Americanised. More has been lost than gained.

King George VI to W.H. Auden: 'Abroad is bloody'.

L.P. Hartley, opening line to The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

Mircea Eliade: 'One travels abroad to explore one's unconscious mind.'

Dan Chaon, You Remind Me of Me: 'Her name...was Mrs. Marina Orlova, and she had grown up in Siberia. Later, she would tell him that she loathed the American custom of constantly smiling: '"They are like chimpanzees," she said, in her bitter exclamatory voice. She grimaced, baring her teeth grotesquely. "Eee!" she said. "I smile at you! Eee! It is repulsive."'

Mokokoma Mokhonoan: 'We can ruin our enjoyment of a song by finding a translation of the lyrics into a language we understand.'

G.K. Chesterton, The Resurrection of Father Brown: 'The visitor would probably have described them as natives, though some of them were very proud of Spanish blood. But he was not one to draw any fine distinction between Spaniards and Red Indians, being rather disposed to dismiss people from the scene when once he had convicted them of being native to it.'

R.L. Stevenson: 'I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.'

Cindy Yu in this week's Spectator: 
'A friend recently moved back to the UK after living in China for ten years. Being English, he was always going to be an outsider in China, but what surprises him now is how foreign he feels in England too. He asked me whether this feeling ever ended. I told him that I suspect people like us will never fully belong anywhere again.' 

Me: 'As we grow older we all find ourselves living in a foreign country.'


  1. "The Covid shot identifies as a vaccine and that's all that matters."
    Jimmy Dore

  2. In the 1930s, Bulgakov barely managed to make ends meet: His works weren’t published and his plays weren’t staged. In despair, he wrote a letter to the government asking either for permission to emigrate or for the opportunity to work in the theater. Soon after, he got a phone call from Stalin himself, who according to the recollection of Bulgakov's wife, posed a trick question: "What, are you really so sick and tired of us?" The question caught Bulgakov off guard, but he replied that a writer could not work so creatively when far from his homeland. Stalin advised him to put in an application for a job at MKhAT: "I think they will agree to take you."
    After that call, Bulgakov got the job.

    1. Interesting. I must read 'The Master and Margarita'.

    2. Heart of a Dog
      Film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Mikhail Bulgakov

    3. The Days of the Turbins

      In 1926, the Moscow Art Theater produced Mikhail Bulgakov's play The Days of the Turbins, based on his novel The White Guard, directed by Konstantin Stanislavsky.

      The first Soviet play to portray the White Army officers realistically, not as caricature villains but as likeable people, caused furore. In its first season, in 1926-1927, The Days of the Turbins ran for 108 performances, the most that year for Moscow theatres.

      Despite numerous attempts at obstruction, it became a huge hit, especially with the non-party public. The Soviet press panned it, however, but as the time went by, the severity of the criticism increased. In April 1929 the MAT leadership succumbed to the pressure, and the production was canceled.

      On 28 March 1930 Bulgakov sent a letter to the Soviet government to protest the treatment to which the play had been subjected in the Soviet press.

      In 1932, unexpectedly, the production of the Days of the Turbins was revived, and the play re-entered the Moscow Art Theatre's major repertoire. It ran for 987 performances until June 1941.

      It was obvious that the "extraordinary" order could not have been issued by any one other than Stalin himself. Later, it was revealed that the Soviet leader had seen the play at least 15 times in the course of three years and often visited the theatre incognito.