Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Bohemian Girl

Although I didn't find the startling image below on the Caustic Cover Critic blog, I felt I should tip my hat in that direction, because we're linked to each other, and this is a more significant connection than "Friending," IMHO. A few of Caustic's commenters in 2009 used this photo as a jumping off point for a "writers you'd least like to see naked" thread. (God, where to begin?) So I feel bound to say, and not in the spirit merely of being gallant, that I like this picture quite a bit. That if I'd run into her back in the day (though a 30-year time shift would have been needed to bring us into congruence) I might have been dazzled.

Perhaps some of those who professed dismay at the sight were influenced by their knowledge of how grimly the novelist in question actually aged, as a lifelong chain-smoker with osteoperosis? But why not turn it around? This sense or that of her physical appearance, this way or that, all equally notional, at this point in time. Why not allow your mental image of this brilliant writer to be infused with the knowledge that this is what she looked like when she was 20?



JRSM said...

Good points! It's true that my mental images of many of my favourite writers are of them looking old(ish) and wise on the backs of their reissued books, rather than as the young, sometimes eminently beautiful, people they were before.

Tulkinghorn said...

Others who made first impressions when young and fresh: Iris Murdoch, Margaret Drabble, Muriel Spark, and even, god help us, Martin Amis and his pal Christopher Hitchens.

Evelyn Waugh always looked odd, though.