Thursday, February 25, 2016

From a Van Gogh letter

The religious fervor and sermonizing of Van Gogh’s early letters is occasionally interrupted by a passage of perfect description. Or better: composition. From a letter to brother Theo, October 31, 1876:

It was a bright autumn day and a beautiful walk from here to Richmond along the Thames, in which were mirrored the tall chestnut trees with their burden of yellow leaves and the bright blue sky, and through the tops of those trees the part of Richmond that lies on the hill, the houses with their red roofs and uncurtained windows and green gardens and the grey spire above them, and below, the great grey bridge, with the tall poplars on either side, over which the people could be seen going by as small black figures.

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh , ed. Ronald de Leeuw, trans. Arnold Pomerans (New York: Penguin, 1997).
In 1876, Van Gogh had not yet begun to paint.

Also from a Van Gogh letter
Admire as much as you can”

comments: 6

Chris said...

Nice. For me though, it's rooves.

Michael Leddy said...

I had to look it up. The OED: “rooves appears sporadically in the 19th cent., but remains relatively unusual in print until the later 20th cent., and is treated as nonstandard or regional (or is passed over in silence) by many 20th cent. grammars and usage guides.” But I’m going to resist the temptation to look further.

I remember my eleventh-grade English teacher pronouncing roof as ruff — it took several of us by surprise.

Chris said...

That reminds me of a terrible (and now dated) joke. A man goes into a bar with his dog, and tells the bartender he can make the dog talk. The bartender says, "okay, you're on," and promises him a free drink if the dog can really talk. So the guy points up at the ceiling and asks the dog, "what's that?" "Roof," says the dog. The bartender just stares at him. Then he asks the dog, "who hit the most home runs?" The dog says "roof." The bartender throws them both out. Once outside the dog turns to the man and says, "was it DiMaggio?"

Michael Leddy said...

I like that!

stefan said...

That was one of my grandfather's favorite jokes, and he actually taught his border collie to play along. Bucky would "answer" the questions: what's on top of the house? and who was the greatest slugger? As children, we thought this was about the greatest thing ever.

Michael Leddy said...

“As children, we thought this was about the greatest thing ever.”

I would think that right now. :)