Friday, September 22, 2006

Notes on the book “The Rings of Saturn” by W.G. Sebald, published by Harvill Press, London, 1998


He talks about the writer Edward FitzGerald:

The writer Edward FitzGerald grew up at the beginning of the 19th century in East Anglia, in England, and he was buried there in the Summer of 1883.

The FitzGeralds were an Anglo-Norman family and had lived in Ireland for more than six hundred years before Edward FitzGerald’s parents decided to settle in the county of Suffolk in England. Edward’s mother Mary Francis married John Purcell. The motto of the Purcell family was “stesso sangue, stessa sorte.”

After his studies in Cambridge, Edward kept himself occupied in the main with reading, in a variety of languages, with writing countless letters, with making notes towards a dictionary, with making a compete glossary of all words and phrases relating to the sea and to seafaring and with pasting up scrap books of every conceivable description. He had a particular predilection for the correspondence of bygone ages, such as that of Madame de Sévigné, who became far more real to him than even his friends who were still alive. The only task FitzGerald finished and published in his lifetime was his marvellous rendering of the Rubaiyat of the Persian poet Omar Khayyam, with whom he felt a curiously close affinity across a distance of eight centuries.

Elsewhere he talks about Vicomte de Chateaubriand:

The Vicomte de Chateaubriand spent some time in Norfolk, England at the end of the 18th century. During the summer of 1795 the young French nobleman, Chateaubriand, visited the Abrams family in Ilketshall St Margaret. He had fled to England to escape the terrors of the French revolution. Another visitor to Abram’s at that time was the vicar of Ilketshall, the Reverend Ives. Ives was a mathematician and Hellenist of some standing, who lived with his wife in Bungay. Ives talked with the Vicomte about Homer’s epics, Newton’s mathematical theories, and the journeys which both of them had made in America.

Chateaubriand took on the role of tutor and confidant for the vicar’s daughter, Charlotte, and they spent long hours in the afternoon together reading Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberate and the Vita Nuova. He describes his time in Norfolk in detail in his Mémoires d’outre-tombe. He was aware that their studies brought them closer every day, and, convinced that he was not fit to pick up her glove, sought to conduct himself with the utmost restraint. With some dismay, as he later wrote in his Mémoires d’outre-tombe, I could foresee the moment at which I would be obliged to leave.

"stesso sangue, stessa sorte”

in English this means:

"same blood, same destiny"

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