Won’t You Send $5 and Subscribe to The Observer for a Texas Public Library? COME FIRE AND SMOKY RAIN Brush Country Don Quixote A PRIVATE WORLD William Faulkner all costs. It was next to impossible to extract from one of them a single Faulkner anecdote. None who sat at his table consented to write a magazine article about his home life. Each knew, although it seems to be something they learned by a kind of osmosis, that the door of the rambling old white frame house where Faulkner lived since he returned to Oxford would be closed to him forever the moment such an article appeared in print. LITERARY-MINDED people who did not enjoy his friendship, therefore, were ravenous for stories about him. When he visited New York City, gossip columnists vied for items about. his big-city adventures. A couple of years ago, for instance, Faulkner visited Manhattan and, according to Leonard Lyons, a local society hostess, in her eagerness to lure Faulkner into her parlor, promised to show him a social registery lady with a tattoo on her chest if he would attend a cocktail party. This was more than Faulkner could resist, so he went and stayed until the tattooed lady arrived and showed him her mark of distinction; then he departed. All this shows how Faulkner’s living personality enhanced the Faulkner legend. It is the fact that he continued to write to please only himself which disturbed many critics and builders of academic legends. In 1959, when The Mansion came out, scores of them reacted to what THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 July 7, 1962 MARTIN ELFANT Sun Life of Canada Houston, Texas CA 4-0686 they called Faulkner’s “mellowing.” He had definitely mellowed in his attitude toward Flem Snopes, they cried, with complete disregard for the natural fact that Flem had aged considerably since those days of his ambitious youth in the first book of the Snopes trilogy. One critic wrote that Faulkner had, finally, succumbed to the temptations every author faces to “become a parody of himself,” whatever that means, and he based his conclusion on the shocking fact that, in the picture on the book’s jacket, the author wore, of all things, “professorial tweeds,” when, as any resident of Oxford could testify, Faulkner had worn tweed suits for at least a quarter of a centuryif anyone insists that the way a writer dresses is an indication of the current condition of his talent. Now Random House is going about the land distributing this latest frustrating example of why any legend with an ounce of kindness in his soul would not live as long as Faulkner had lived. The Reivers is not “dark and brooding.” It is not even mysterious. It is funny; hilarious in places, as a matter of fact. Remarkably few remembered that The Town, the second of the Snopes series, was one of the funniest novels ever written with its retelling of incidents, years after they happened, which were, in his earlier books darkly tragic, but recalled in The Town with a double-edged, humor of almost the same quality as the more clever of the modern “sick jokes.” THE REIVERS is warmly hum orous. It is a story told by a grandfather to his grandson about a time. at the turn-of-thecentury when he traveled from Jefferson to Memphis with an older relative and a young Negro retainer with the agile mind of a con artist. It is another angled look at the world of Yoknapatawpha County. It is another grand examplewhether it is the best or the worst cannot be determined so soonof the fascinating result of William Faulkner’s decision to “write only for himself.” JAY MILNER AUSTIN My daughter Beth asked me for a good translation of Don Quixote, rousing me out of my year of reading about the old American frontier. Off-hand, knowing there are few good translations of anything of anything, especially the deathless tale of the madman with the sad face, I named the Mentor edition done in spritely English by Walter Starkie. Starkie at least attempts to capture the spirit before the letter and to make the second language as bright as when the first came minted from Cervantes’ mind. And a very wise book for only fifty cents. “What is the book about?” Beth wanted to know. My mind traveled back down old literary trails to the sunbathed heights and poetic glades of Sixteenth Century Spain. But somehow the explanation that came out was in the Brush Country talk of my childhood listening. OLD DON QUIXOTE, I said, lived on a place out in the country where most of what he made went to feed himself and the help. He had a hound and an old horse and liked to hunt in his spare time, which was considerable, until he took up reading. After that he was hooked. He couldn’t quit, even sold off part of his property to buy books, got steadily worse, wouldn’t do anything night or day but read old books and stories, and finally wound up a little crazy. Don Quixote got it into his head to do like the heroes in the books. He decided he wanted to be one of those gentlemen like they had in old times, ride up and down roads with a pointed stick and ram people with it when they wouldn’t do right. It was his idea to go out and do good, help troubled folks, and beat the mischief out of any devils that might be to blame. First Don Quixote thought up a good name for his horse .Then he got ready to be in love, since that helps a gentleman no end when he’s trying to do good. He laid his sights on a neighbor lady, though he never told her about it, nor introduced himself, figuring that way there would be more future for the sentiment. Then he rustled around and found a hand named Sancho to follow along on his donkey and help out around camp and be handy when Don Quixote needed somebody to talk to. It was rough on Sancho, because he hadn’t read books on gentlemen, or on anything else, not being able to read, and therefore didn’t know the rules. He was ignorant about giants and magicians and enchanters and all those aggressive characters that make it their business to mess up and plague the lives of decent people and that hate the sight of a gentleman. Sancho was as likely as not to take the old devils for a windmill or a herd of goats. Don Quixote had to explain everything . . . which is one of the drawbacks of cheap labor. In fact, the only interest Sancho had in the whole do-good business was to get on an island, where Don Quixote said he would appoint him governor. Of course, Don Quixote had to find it first and take it over from a big bullying giant and latch on to the patronage. Sancho waited such a frazzling long time for his appointment that he concluded he was being given the run-around. It never occurred to Don Quixote, however, that they wouldn’t win out in the end, he was that sure of the success of gentlemen. THESE TWO FELLOWS didn’t have any special plans or road map or place to go but just rode around the country on the lookout for trouble. They had some good talks together and ran into a raft of interesting situations, most of them complicated by discomfort. Don Quixote’s main hold was helping ladies that he thought needed help. He didn’t expect to get anything out of it except for the lady to hold still while he made her a speech or two, one before he started in, as a rule, and another after he was nrough. While riding along with a bloody ear from the last and one of his better fights, Don Quixote came to the place where he made his most famous speech. Night caught him and Sancho near a goatherder in an oak mottle. The goat herders told the two drifters to light and eat. Don Quixote decided that a gentleman ought to be democratic and accept their invitation. He told Sancho to consider himself an equal and to eat with him and use the same cup and plate. Sancho said he didn’t want to be an equal: it was too much trouble and cramped him, especially when he needed to sneeze or belch or do any of the other things that Don Quixote and his equals couldn’t do according to the gentleman’s rule book. Don Quixote made Sancho sit with him anyhow. The goat-herders got a big kick out of all of this, not that they knew what was going on or ever stopped wolfing their food and washing it down with wine. After dinner, they got out some toasted acorns to finish off on. The acorns, like nearly everything, reminded Don Quixote of a speech, which he cut loose and let them have in grand style while they grazed on the nuts and guzzled. In the good old golden ages of the past, Don Quixote said, everybody was happy and lucky to be alive, because folks were not so dead set on the notion of “Mine” and “Yours.” All a man had to do to stay fat ‘and sassy was to eat off the big oaks, which were loaded down with acorns ready to fall into his lap. If he was thirsty, the springs were all flowing the year round, and if he felt hot or dusty, the creeks ran crystal clear, with still pools where he could dive in among the perch and big catfish. Bees had their thriving settlements in every hollow of the cliffs, where they did a going business and never charged the customers. Everybody got along together fine, without any fuss or hard feelings. Pretty girls ran around with next to nothing on. None of them wore lipstick or funny hair-dos, and nobody got too fresh with them. The boys told the girls how they felt without any special line of lies ing the COPE convention, which will furnish the first real development in the general election campaigning. frif Former El Paso County Judge Woodrow Bean is on probation for the next three years after paying a $5,000 fine for failure to file income tax returns from 1966 to 1960. But he must now pay the amount missing over a ten-year period, plus a 50 percent penalty and interest. 10.0 Anti-trust investigators for Atty. Gen. Will Wilson, Stuart Long reports, are develop ing a case on the cement indus try’s pricing practices, and on laboratory supplies and labratory a nd the girls leveled with the boys. The truth was the most common article to be found. The law worked the same for the big shots and the judge’s friends as for the plain people. That’s how it was in the Golden Age, but times changed for the worse. It soon got to where it wasn’t safe for a gal to be out, or for that matter, in, and other things went to the dogs likewise. That’s why gentlemen had to be invented: to take up for women, children, and other poor helpless types. IN WINDING up his speech, Don Quixote thanked the goat-herders for feeding him without knowing that he was a gentleman or being aware that the rules required that gentlemen be fed whenever they showed up. The goat-herders seemed satisfied. One of them sang a song. and another one doctored Don Quixote’s ear with a poultice made out of rosemary and salt, without charging anything for the nrescription. It did the old gentleman as much good as if he had been any ordinary fellow. All in all, this was one of Don Quixote’s better days. “But what is the good of a book about a crazy old fool like that?” Beth asked, stopping my translation of the Spanish ma sterniece. Why right there in one fool, I exclaimed. is the great wisdom and humility of it all! Who of us knows whether he or his strange brother is the fool? And where can you find more noble mistakenness than in Don Quixote, if in fact he was mistaken. Of all th’ characters of fi”tion, iha t gentleman gives us Possession of a mad dreaming that enhances our humn nay and hives it room to grow. Hamlet dies in heart-sick desperation, Othello is killed by jealousy, Macbeth by ambition, Lear by ingratitude, and all are monuments to human misery; but the spare figure on the gaunted horse, a timeless sadness in his face, rides on forever with an undefeated glitter in his eye, ready to fight any and everything the Enemy may set against him. And as a matter of sober fact, there are giants and magicians in human form who seek to destroy all the goodness and gentleness that people have been able to arrive at on the winding road of time; and every gentle person must face the monster form of his magician on the way. For fifty cents and a quiet hour, taking Don Quixote as an exampie, a man or woman can perceive how to hold on to what he believes, through all the accidents of the roadcome giants and magicians, enchanters, witches, devils, demons and all their harnessed tribe and consortscome all their accumulated threats and tales of hOrrorcome wind, come wrack, come fire, come smoky rain. T.S. glassware. The division has been spurred, he writes, by the drops in prices on school buses since anti-trust suits were filed last summer against major distributors for bus chassis. vor Bill Gardner of the Hous ton Post believes a major problem facing conservative By ron Tunnell as House speaker is the 1961 change in House rules requiring seniority in the corn position of one-fourth of each committee. The new rules would give the liberals committee rep resentation they otherwise would not have. “Tunnell may just de cide to scrap it,” Garner writes, “and go back to the old system of to the victors belong the spoils.” Political intelligence
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