Sunday, May 03, 2009

Inside-out in Split

By popular demand, a photo from Split, Croatia, showing some of the odd views that result when a city grows up inside the precincts of a palace, that of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The man did things in a big way.


The popular demander said he'd recommend Split highly. So would I. It's one of the two or three places I've visited where I was overcome with the spontaneous thought of how pleasant it would be to live there, even if I didn't live within the old palace walls.

The clear sea air and the blue Adriatic waters inspired in me an unprecedented desire to get up early in the morning and go for walks before breakfast.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

Labels: , ,

25 Comments:

Blogger Gary Corby said...

Thanks! That brings back memories.

Starts planning next holiday...

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Simona said...

I was there many years ago and have fond memories of my visit. Your post makes me want to go back.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

I've visited as well, and yes, it was a very pleasant city. Rebecca West had some interesting stuff to say about Split in her magnum opus Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. I think there's a way to find the relevant passages without having to wade through the whole thing.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Gary, I visited on an archaeological/historical tour with a group called Andante Travels in England. I've travelled with the company twice (fine Roman and other monuments on the other trip, too), and I recommend it highly.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, if you do go back, I'll look forward to a discussion of the food and perhaps of pleasant places to eat it. Croatia produces some good white wine, and lamb and fish are widely available.

We used to go for coffee at a coffee shop whose outdoor seating consisted of pillows on the low steps of the peristyle of Diocletian's palace. That was a fine place to relax.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I'm sure there's a way to find relevant passages quickly. I bought a copy of the book years ago to find out what West had to say about the Byzantine frescoes in Nerezi, Macedonia. I found the passages in question pretty quickly, so perhaps the copy had an index. Even if it doesn't, a section on Split would probably be large enough that I could find it it by flipping through the book, even so thick a book as that.

West puts some patently artificial words in the husband's mouth about the frescoes, but the words do express deep feeling for the pictures.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

Yes, looking back on the book, I am pretty sure that she uses her husband as a convenient narrative device in some ways.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

There's nothing wrong with using one's spouse as a convenient narrative device. Some people have used their spouses for worse.

It's been some time since I read the passage in question, but I recall that she quotes him as speaking in a style in which no human being has ever spoken, even a formal British one. But the passage is short and should elicit nothing but an amused smile from the reader -- along with appreciation for the frescoes. I think the comment concerns their lively quality, which is certainly plausible. (I haven't yet seen them except in reproduction, but I'd like to. The tour company that I mentioned a couple of comments above also runs a trip to Macedonia.)

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Just FYI, according to Amazon.US the 2007 Penguin edition of West's Black Lamb has an intro by Christopher Hitchens (hmmm) and an index.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. Hitchens sure is making lots of money off his status as a gadfly.

I should look for my copy to see if it has an index. I would love to see what West (or her husband) had to say about Split.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I got 600 pages into it last year and quit, which seems dumb in retrospect, but I started having the same trouble with West's writing that I do with 19th-century English novels: the language began to give me fits.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nah, you can pick it up again one of these years. I complained a few comments up about the blatant artificiality and exaggerated formality of some comments that West puts in her husband's mouth. Your complaint makes me wonder if such exaggerated formality is part of her style. But I will pick the book up again to see what she said about Split.

May 03, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

Rebecca West is a sort of idol of mine. Back in the time when I seemed to have a lot more time to read, I read Black Lamb twice. I love her language, though as a more shall we say seasoned person I do wonder if she quite as smart as she thought she was getting tangled up with H.G. Wells and having a child by him. The child, Anthony West, certainly didn't seem to think she had done the world any favors, but that seems a bit ungrateful of him from an outsider's perspective. I also think she got a bit more reactionary in her old age, but I won't be surprised if I do too. I do think Black Lamb and Grey Falcon represents her at the zenith of her accomplishments, and apparently Christopher Hitchens, another writer that I don't always agree with, does too. It isn't a slog by any means, but it is so dense with her observations and insights that it could hardly be called a fast read either.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

seanag, maybe it wasn't the language that put me off; it may have been the density, as you call it. I honestly don't remember.

I remember during the Balkan Wars of the 90s the book would occasionally be cited by some talking head on the tube, which caused me to borrow it in the first place.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I just did a quick search for my copy of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and I did not find it. But I did find the book of Rembrandt's paintings that I looked for a few weeks ago when I made a post about Rembrandt and Raymond Chandler. I am confident that I will find Black Lamb soon, as I see, to recall having seen it recent years.

I may ask you to keep this thread going, as I know next to nothing about Rebecca West other than that she lived a long time.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, I don't remember Rebecca West's being cited by talking heads during the Balkan Wars, but I have an idea in my head that she wrote Black Lamb ... around World War II. Maybe the book's association with the Balkans and war made her attractive during the 1990s.

I do think it's impressive that an author who had a whiff of the Victorian about her and who wrote with interest about art could be cited in the 1990s by readers seeking interest in a contemporary conflict.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

I don't think she had a whiff of the Victorians about her so much as a whiff of the Suffragettes. Fay Weldon did an excellent short interpretive bio of her, which I think was just called Rebecca West. Rebecca West wasn't her real name, by the way. She took it as a pen name. It's the name of a character in an Ibsen play. The name she was born with was Cicely Isabel Fairfield. Oh, there is a lot to say about this writer, but I am not an authorative source.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I guess for me, H.G. Wells plus dense language equal Victorian. But the Suffragettes were Victorians, too. My idea of the Victorians, as thoroughly uinformed as anyone's, takes in lots, not much of it complimentary and probably not much of it accurate, either.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

How are you going to get out of town?

cue punchline...

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Lauren said...

Interesting you were in Croatia on holiday - I was just there too, though further north in Istria. Also highly recommended (and fun for language buffs with Croatian, Slovene and Italian all popping up.) We had Roman ruins too, in Pula.

I'm definitely going back soon, and I'd like to make it at least as far as Split next time.
I'd forgotten how much I love being on the coast - fresh air and sun are great incentives for all sorts of things!

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I wish I could split for the Adriatic coast right now. Those pictures are two years old.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And if that city ever got a baseball team, it could be called the Infinitives, of course. Or maybe the Hairs.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Lauren, I had not heard of Pula before, but I just read an enticing description and saw some pictures of some attractive Roman and early Byzantine sites. It sounds like a fine destination.

I had returned from an early-morning walk one day and found the rest of the group already eating breakfast at the hotel. "My, you're looking cheerful" (or something along those lines), one of the group said. That's when I realized that a walk by the sea was a good thing.

Croatian was my first experience with a Slavic language. I did pick up certain similarities with the things I'd heard about Russian. I know a bit of Italian. so, yes, Istria could be linguistically interesting as well. And I read and liked The Confessions of Zeno in college, so I could make an Italo Sveno pilgrimage, if one is there to be made.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Peter, you write: "Maybe the book's association with the Balkans and war made her attractive during the 1990s."

That was it. Nobody I recall was citing her for solutions, but rather for her historical observations from 60 years earlier.

May 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

For understanding of a part of the world that probably had not received much attention in the West since 1914. Makes sense. She's probably a pretty good guide.

May 04, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home