Uit: The Land of Promis
„Nora opened her eyes to an unaccustomed consciousness of well-being. She was dimly aware that it had its origin in something deeper than mere physical comfort; but for the moment, in that state between sleeping and wakening, which still held her, it was enough to find that body and mind seemed rested.
Youth was reasserting itself. And it was only a short time ago that she had felt that never, never, could she by any possible chance feel young again. When one is young, one resents the reaction after any strain not purely physical as if it were a premature symptom of old age.
A ray of brilliant sunshine, which found its way through a gap in the drawn curtains, showed that it was long past the usual hour for rising. She smiled whimsically and closed her eyes once more. She remembered now that she was not in her own little room in the other wing of the house. The curtains proved that. How often in the ten years she had been with Miss Wickham had she begged that the staring white window blind, which decorated her one window, be replaced by curtains or even a blind of a dark tone that she might not be awakened by the first ray of light. She had even ventured to propose that the cost of such alterations be stopped out of her salary. Miss Wickham had refused to countenance any such innovation.
Three years before, when the offending blind had refused to hold together any longer, Nora had had a renewal of hope. But no! The new blind had been more glaringly white than its predecessor, which by contrast had taken on a grateful ivory tone in its old age. They had had one of their rare scenes at its advent. Nora had as a rule an admirable control of her naturally quick temper. But this had been too much.
“I might begin to understand your refusal if you ever entered my room. But since it would no more occur to you to do so than to visit the stables, I cannot see what possible difference it can make,” Nora had stormed.“
William Somerset Maugham (25 januari 1874 – 16 december 1965)
Portret door Philip Steegman, 1931
Uit: A room of one’s own
„Be that as it may, I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare on the shelf, that the bishop was right at least in this; it would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably,—his mother was an heiress—to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin—Ovid, Virgil and Horace—and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door.
Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter—indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them.“
Virginia Woolf (25 januari 1882 – 28 maart 1941)
Portret door Christiaan Tonnis, 1998
Uit: De Stiefmoeder
„Het is alsof ze de lachende uithalen weer hoort, als de soundtrack onder een film die uit louter vrolijke beelden bestaat. Kijk dan, kijk. Daar hebben we een schaterend Josefientje in de eerste jurk die Claire voor haar maakte, een stoere overgooier met zonnebloemen op de bretels. En daar zit ze, zes jaar oud, op een smoorhete zomerdag naast Claire op het stoepje voor het huis en roept tegen haar vriendinnetje van de overkant: ‘Nee, ik kom niet, ik blijf lekker bij Claire.’ Hier staat ze, met enigszins openhangende mond, geconcentreerd de kunst af te kijken als Claire voor de spiegel haar lippen stift. En even later maakt ze maar liefst twee tekeningen voor Claires verjaardag, eentje van een reus met een knuppel en een van een ontzagwekkende heks die als twee druppels water lijkt op haar stiefmoeder.
Twaalf jaar film, het is niet niks. Kijk, Axel komt net op het verkeerde moment de keuken binnen, als Josefien omstandig aan haar stiefmoeder zit uit te leggen dat haar vader een sukkel is die niks van haar leven begrijpt. En hier heb je Josefien die haar vader zo enthousiast om de hals vliegt dat hij bijna omvalt. Nu lopen vader en dochter gearmd door een Spaans dorp, allebei in korte broek, en vrijwel even groot. En op het strand houdt Axel voor zijn vrouw een reusachtige blauwgestreepte handdoek omhoog, waarachter zij haar natte badpak kan uittrekken, gadegeslagen door een misprijzende Josefien: getver, dat doe je toch niet in het openbaar. En tot slot zitten ze gedrieën met roodverbrande neuzen sangria te drinken.
Wat een harmonieus gezin. Maar vergis je niet. Schijn kan bedriegen. Als stiefmoeder kun je je maar het beste opstellen als een antropoloog die te gast is bij een vreemde stam. Er valt van alles te bestuderen en interessant te vinden, maar zelfs tijdens het gezamenlijk stampen in de kring of het doorgeven van de piri-piri moet je niet de illusie hebben dat je een onlosmakelijk onderdeel van het geheel bent geworden. Of ooit gaat worden.“
Renate Dorrestein (Amsterdam, 25 januari 1954)
„In the spring of 1998, I was working a temp job, and my boss hated me. I didn’t particularly blame him for this, considering I stayed up all night writing and arrived every morning bleary eyed from lack of sleep between ten to fifteen minutes late as a result. When I finally did show up, if I wasn’t using the Internet to check basketball scores or NFL draft picks, I was calling my friends and daydreaming of a time when I would not be crushed by poverty and debt. It was on a Thursday that my boss told me not to use the phone for personal calls anymore, even if I was using my calling card and even if he had nothing better for me to do. It was on a Friday that I “bent” this rule and received what would become my last personal phone call at that office. It was my friend Heather, and I only remember her saying one thing: “They want to publish your book, Steve.”
I had learned not to get my hopes up. I had learned that in the great lottery of artistic chance, if you hear that the head of Pocket Books is going to read your manuscript by the end of the week, give her about three weeks, and don’t be surprised if she says no. As a matter of fact, count on it, and then pick yourself up the next day and keep trying. Keep temping. Keep writing.
I stayed on that phone call (to the delight of my boss) for an hour and a half just to make sure that it was real-that someone, some-where wasn’t playing some cruel joke. When I was finally convinced, I hung up the phone, all numb and smiles, and went to my boss’s office.
“Sir, I’m sorry I was on a personal call, but here’s the thing…That was Heather, who’s dating my friend Chris, and she got it to Eduardo and Jack, who went to college with her, and they all created a grass roots campaign with Greer…and long story short…they’re going to publish my book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
After he smiled and said a genuine congratulations, I went outside to enjoy the last ten minutes of my lunch hour. I was flying on so much excitement that I don’t remember the walk, the elevator, who I saw, anything. All I remember is that it was cold as hell and windy, and I found myself a little corner next to the building near a courtyard where nobody would be inclined to look. There I let everything settle. I let all that adrenaline calm down. And I cried my eyes out.“
Stephen Chbosky (Pittsburgh, 25 januari 1970)
Uit: The Siege of Krishnapur
„The first sign of trouble at Krishnapur came with a mysterious distribution of chapatis, made of coarse flour and about the size and thickness of a biscuit; towards the end of February 1857, they swept the countryside like an epidemic.
When the bearer returned with a glass of champagne for Fleury, Rayne said loudly: ‘We call this lad “Ram”. That’s not his real name. His real name is Akbar or Mohammed or something like that. We call him Ram because he looks like one. And this is Monkey,’ he added as another bearer came in carrying a plate of biscuits. […]
Presently another servant came in bearing a box of cheroots; he was elderly and dignified, but exceedingly small, almost a midget.
‘What d’you call this blighter?’ asked Burlton.
‘Ant,’ said Rayne.
Burlton slapped his knee and abandoned himself to laughter.“
As the old pensioner listened to the song, which was now accompanied by the ringing of bells, Fleury saw an expression of tender devotion come over his lined face, and he, too, thought, as the Collector had thought some weeks earlier in the tiger house, what a lot of Indian life was unavailable to the Englishman who came equipped with his own religion and habits. But of course, this was no time to start worrying about that sort of thing.“
J. G. Farrell (25 januari 1935 – 11 augustus 1979)