He thought her crown ‘suited her so well’ that he made her wear it during dinner.Afterwards they went to bed.” “Eighteen, with slanting cat-eyes, Marie-Louise was more sensual than Josephine.
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To have it, sweetheart, is to know you have it Rather than think you have it; To think you have it is a wish to take it – Though afterwards you will not have it – And thus a fear to take it.
Yet if you know you have it, you may take it And know that you still have it.
She was prolific, pink, frilly, the heroine of many real-life humanitarian campaigns in her lifetime (including fair wages for midwives and nurses, strangely enough an issue highlighted again today) – and perhaps economical in her writing practice.
In her 1978 art history hardcover focusing on art and its romantic subjects through the centuries, you can detect the skill she had in sparse, glossy (of the time), attention-grabbing, scandal-suggestive (but not explicit) prose – brief and to the point, rather like the gossip columnists of today’s celebrity magazines: “On the night of the Coronation in the Tuileries, ablaze with thousands of lights, Napoleon dined alone with Josephine.
Another couplet of Graves’ at the end of the poem , “With end to grief, With joy in steadfastness” illustrates how humanity as a whole – not just readers and writers – endlessly seek the comfort and escapism of a ‘happy ever after’.
If it evades us in reality, magical words on the page, perfect words read aloud, and words of everlasting love, whether spoken or sung, are summoned to feed our empty unrequited souls.
Unless your mood is ‘wooden’ or ‘flat-packed furniture’ you wouldn’t set your scenes by basic stage direction: He walked in and closed the door behind him. ” she beamed, and went to make a lot of noise in the kitchen, turning on the fan oven and rummaging in the cupboards, while she discreetly rang Domino’s and ordered a large stuffed crust Pepperoni and two rounds of garlic bread…
He went to the chair in the living room and sat in it. She came in from the kitchen and asked what he wanted for dinner. She went back to the kitchen and switched on the oven. Must be the new doggy kibble mix,” she greeted him, appearing in the doorway, drenched from head to foot, holding a sink plunger in one hand and a dog-lead in the other. Well, I’m already hooked, knew I shouldn’t have started that one… Same scene – two different ways of writing and setting the mood.
By that, I don’t mean we introduce them asleep, or on the lavatory.
Imagine if going to the toilet was considered to be the universal narrative – no wonder artists and poets had to invent the concept of falling in love, so much more scope for plot in the complexities of relationships than in solitary bodily functions! What if as much discourse in life and literature was dedicated to the analysis of lavatorial visits as it is to love and sex?
On her wedding night, delighted with Napoleon’s love-making, she asked him to ‘do it again’.