Category Archive 'Obituaries'
13 Jun 2020

Jean Raspail, 5 July 1926 — 13 June 2020

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Jean Raspail is best known in the United States for The Camp of the Saints (1973), a dystopian novel predicting Europe being overwhelmed by massive Third World immigration.

He was philosophically a Catholic traditionalist, whose novels were written in explicit opposition to both Liberalism and Communism.

Despite his literary stature, he was denied membership in the French Academy in 2000.

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Louis de Bourbon, Duc d’Anjou, Legitimate heir to the throne of France, writes:

    C’est avec une grande émotion que j’apprends le rappel à Dieu de Jean Raspail. Fidèle jusqu’au bout à l’Eglise et à la France.

    Sa personnalité et son panache nous manqueront.

    Que le Père éternel le reçoive auprès de lui et qu’il rejoigne tous les preux qui ont contribué à la gloire et à l’honneur de notre chère Patrie.

translated:

    It is with deep emotion that I commend to God the soul of Jean Raspail. Faithful to the end to the Church and to France.

    We will miss his personality and panache.

    May the eternal Father receive him and unite him with all the brave who have contributed to the glory and honor of our dear fatherland.

27 Apr 2020

Remembering Peter Beard

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Everyone is doing Peter Beard obituaries. Here is a good one by Elsa Cau from Les Grandes Ducs. (translated from the French.)

Socialite and partygoer, artist, photographer, friend of all, lady’s man, Peter Beard was a passionate and brilliant personality with many parts. He died last Sunday at the age of 80 [JDZ: Actually, Peter Beard was found dead April 19th at the age of 82, having disappeared from his Montauk house on March 31st.] leaving behind a completed oeuvre, an ode to freedom in all its forms, the self-portrait – in selected pieces – of someone wild and real.

We all know the moments. Those perfect moments, the storied instant with a good alignment of the planets, of their ideal conjunction. Put the same people in the same place, at the same time, and hold your breath, and you will still never get the same moment again. In That Summer (2017), the voiceovers of Peter Beard and Lee Radziwill tell us about such an absolute moment.

It was the Summer of 1972. In the photographer’s house in Montauk, their feet in the water, they are all there, smiling, radiant: Andy Warhol, the friend with whom Beard had so much artistic interaction since the 1960s; Mick Jagger, whom he had just followed on tour for two months with the Rolling Stones for the eponymous magazine, and his wife Bianca; the tormented and flamboyant writer Truman Capote, whom he met at the same time; the sisters Lee Radziwill – an old love, a friend until the end – and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

The almost eighty-year-old photographer lovingly flipped through the pages of the album in his studio in Montauk where he was still working until the end. “Accidents are very important,” he whispered.

And accidents seems to have played a key role in the turbulent existence of Peter Beard. He was born in 1938 of blue American blood (the grandson of railroad tycoon James Jerome Hill) in New York. He was given as a child a camera which would never leave him, and which gave him his obsession with capturing those around him and his observations. A few private schools, a Yale art degree later [JDZ: actually, he was Yale Class of 1961, but never bothered to graduate.], and he’s was free as air.

While still a student, he started working for Vogue. At 17, he traveled for the first time to Africa: it was love at first sight – aren’t these things always an accident? He returned there regularly. It was just then, in the early 1960s, that Peter Beard became friends with Karen Blixen (authoress of Out of Africa, published under her pen name Isak Dinesen), so much so that he purchased land bordering her former farm in Kenya.

What does the youth do when he is beautiful, radiant, and rich? He lives, he loves. Peter Beard excelled at both and everyone who frequented his society has captivated memories of the man. From Studio 54 to the wilds of Kenya, Beard was one of those who feel at ease everywhere, bond with everyone with a smile, a joke, or a dance, and better, can draw you into sharing their own passions.

In the early 1960s, Beard met Dali. The two men laughed at the same pranks and quickly become friends. Around the same time, Francis Bacon became impressed by the photographs of Peter Beard published in The End of the Game, documenting the gradual disappearance of elephants, hippos and rhinos in Africa. The two men met, appreciate one another, and became close friends. These were only two examples among so many friends, there were so many.

Love, too. After his first marriage to Minnie Cushing, a pretty socialite friend and assistant to Oscar de La Renta, which lasted three years, the handsome photographer went on to so many conquests that they became clichés. Minnie still left her mark: six months without sleep, a short stay in a psychiatric hospital after an overdose of barbiturates, but then he was back on his feet. A minor incident! Candice Bergen, Barbara Allen the Warholian muse, Carole Bouquet in her James Bond period, the model Cheryl Tiegs to whom he was married for a few years, Nejma, his last wife, his unfailing support (who turned a blind eye to his other liaisons), the list goes on.

And they are also animals, essentially, Beard’s women (one recalls Iman, that he was the first to discover and use as a model), it is that which he loved, that he photographed, and which inspires him. Stretched, elongated, hanging from liana vines next to antelopes, cheetahs or giraffes, with intense gazes and the deportment of queens, they are just as fundamental to his photographic work as the animals themselves. Since the early 1970s, moreover, he had united his two passions with a mixture of modified photographs, writings and collages.

But ultimately, these two passions were one: that of life. Whether he was in some remote four corner of the world, charged by an elephant (he was almost killed in 1996), being a party animal in New York, or serene and rested in his house in Montauk, he immortalized the life he observes, excitement and wildness, happiness and injustice.

“Without memory, there is no life,” said Lee Radziwill in her aged, smoky voice. In 1972, the troop of friends had gone out to scout to film Big and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, respectively aunt and cousin of Lee and Jackie, American socialites, singer and dancer gently crossed out.

In their large, almost ruin of a house in the Hamptons, where they lived surrounded by cats, the gang of friends gathered for the summer running after lost time and listening to the eccentric stories of the amazing life of the two women. Stories from a bygone era, from the glorious Hamptons to the grand mansions where one was entertained and from a New York of glitter and madness, which foreshadowed the classic of the American documentary: Gray Gardens (1975).

A stroll through an era forgotten by a band of young and carefree troublemakers, in the same way that generations of lovers will stroll for a long time, together, in the pictures of Peter Beard in search of a bygone era.

Original in French here.

23 Apr 2020

The Legendary Peter Beard

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A particularly famous photograph by Peter Beard (characteristically individualized) shows Beard writing in his journal from inside the jaws (of a freshly deceased) crocodile. Apparently, there was a price for the photo. The croc went into rigor mortis, its jaws tightened and the camp servants had a lot of difficulty getting the suffering Beard out from between the now painfully clamped jaws.

From the lack of comments on the previous postings about Peter Beard, I take it that many readers are unacquainted with the works and colorful career of that illustrious writer, photographer, adventurer, and womanizer. I figured I ought to do something about that.

When I was an undergraduate at Yale, in my residential college (Berkeley), there was a strikingly handsome upperclassman who had a considerable physical resemblance to Peter Beard (Silliman ’61). This fellow had parked outside the college on Elm Street a new bright red Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider, which he had received as a gift from a female admirer. While most of us worked summers on Construction or other disagreeable jobs, this particular escapee from Valhalla raised his annual Yale tuition by working as a gigolo on the French Riviera. He was always happy to tell the rest of us all about it, and he always suggested firmly that we really ought to go and do likewise. Of course, just ask yourself: how many undergraduate males look like Peter Beard?

In Outside, Roger Pinckney XI, gave Peter Beard a proper send-off.

Peter Beard was a hard man to peg. A photographer of wildlife and beautiful women, a writer, an ethnologist, explorer, hunter, naturalist, conservationist, ladies man, married man, wise man. Good work if you can get it. But if you’ve ever seen the video of him being trampled by an elephant, you might want to add “fool” to that considerable list. But however you cut it, you’ll run dry of adjectives long before you ever had Peter Beard nailed down.

RTWT

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A 1996 article in Vanity Fair by Leslie Bennetts may be the fullest collection of “Half Tarzan, Half Byron” stories.

Last summer, he and his Danish girlfriend were out in Montauk, where Beard owns the last house on Montauk Point. “Peter’s girlfriend started ragging him about all his bad habits,” Tunney recalls. “She’s this strong Danish chick with a spandex suit on, and she said, ‘Peter, you smoke, you drink, you drug, you stay up all night—and you’re almost 60 years old! You need to start taking care of yourself. You should go running, like me—five miles a day!’ ”

So Beard, wearing his usual dusty African sandals, obligingly accompanied her on a run. Tunney expected him to last about five minutes. “An hour later, the girlfriend comes back, dripping,” Tunney reports. “I said, ‘Where’s Peter?’ ”

“He loved it,” she gasped. “He said he just wanted to keep going.”

RTWT

10 Mar 2020

Max von Sydow Finally Lost (aetatis 90)

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Ann Althouse did a nice tribute.

HT: Bird Dog.

13 Jan 2020

Sir Roger Scruton, born February 27 1944, died January 12 2020

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I thought the Telegraph did not really do him justice.

Sir Roger Scruton, who has died aged 75, was a philosopher and academic variously identified as “one of the nearest things Britain has to a public intellectual”, Britain’s favourite “token reactionary” (his own description), and even “the thinking man’s skinhead”.

As one of the most contentious figures in British public life, Scruton operated as an academic, journalist and prolific writer, and a lightning rod for abuse and criticism from the political Left. He was regularly shouted down in universities and prevented from speaking, yet he enjoyed a reputation as a first-class professional philosopher among academics of all political persuasions.

Scruton was a man of parts, some of which seemed irreconcilable: barrister, aesthetician, teacher at Birkbeck College (part of London University with a tradition of a working-class intake), editor of the ultra-Conservative Salisbury Review, and enthusiastic fox hunter. He used to ride to hounds wearing Enoch Powell’s old hunting clothes, although the jacket split the first time he used it.

RTWT

Roger Scruton was a nearly unique personality: academic philosopher, public intellectual, adversarial lightning-rod to establishment culture, aesthetician, and Sportsman!

He wrote gracefully and was horrifyingly prolific. His books discuss, among other subjects, Philosophy, Conservatism, Religion, Architecture, Art, Wine, the Decline of the West, and Fox Hunting. I like Scruton very well, and even I’m not sure how many books he wrote.

He stopped hunting last February at the age of 75. In July:

    Returning to London, I finally get to see the rheumatologist with whom I have booked an appointment. He talks of my lecture on Parsifal, at which he asked that forgotten question. And he delicately suggests, as a matter of some urgency, a CT scan. Alarmed by what he finds, he puts me in the hands of an oncologist who, concluding that otherwise I may be dead from cancer within a week, sets to work on me at once.

The current regime of chemo and so on obviously failed. Molliter ossa cubent! [“May the earth lay lightly on his bones.” — Ovid.]

28 Oct 2019

Nathaniel Holmes Morison III, Virginia Gentleman, d. October 10th, 2019

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Nat Morison, heir to Welbourne and uncrowned king of Northern Virginia Horse Country, passed away October 10th, aetatis 83.

He was a proud graduate of the University of Virginia who looked suspiciously at people tainted by association with such Yankee schools as Yale and Harvard.

His tastes were naturally antiquarian. After all, he ate his breakfast daily at the same table where George Washington (a regular guest at Welbourne) made notes for the Constitutional Convention of 1787. One window of his house’s second floor features a never-completed inscription by the “Gallant Pelham,” who was interrupted while writing with his diamond ring on the glass in 1862 with a call to arms.

Nat Morison commonly followed the practice notoriously associated with British peers of dressing with decided flair in century old suits and ties, and shirts, and even shoes, inherited from generations of gentleman ancestors.

His colorful eccentricity and his passionate aversion to change inspired the affectionate tribute of a 2004 film comedy, Crazy like a Fox, in which an impecunious 8th generation Virginia aristocrat loses his stately Virginia manse to a couple of crass Yankee speculators (named Sherman, no less) and then proceeds to wage a guerilla war of resistance.

Virginia and the world are duller places without Nat Morison.

Molliter ossa cubent!


Richard Roberts, Middleburg huntsman, formerly huntsman for the Piedmont Fox Hounds, blows “Gone Away” for Nat.

15 Oct 2019

Harold Bloom, 11 July 1930 — 14 October 2019

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Harold Bloom, Yale Sterling Professor of English, author of 40 books, and defender of the Western canon died yesterday at age 89.

Some Twitter comments on his death:

Michael Kimmerman:

Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.”

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Alexandra Brodsky:

Never speak ill of the dead, like Harold Bloom, who told my American lit seminar that we should feel free to report his sexism and homophobia to the university president who, Bloom explained, would rather hide under his desk than fire him.

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Anne Applebaum:

Harold Bloom was once asked why he was writing a multi-volume history of literary theory. “I can’t sleep anyway,” he said.

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In 1999, Emmy Chang of the Yale Free Press interviewed Professor Bloom, and got a good sample of Bloom talk.

YFP. In the Shakespeare book you mention that since Shakespeare, we’ve taken more after Iago than Othello’we’ve learned more from Iago. And I wanted to ask you if you thought that was Shakespeare’s fault or if it was our fault.

HB. That question’s unanswerable because we have been so formed by Shakespeare. That I think is the irony of [the Tenure Action Coalition]’the words they use are frequently words that he invented, that weren’t in the language until he coined them. I think that it was Owen Barfield who said that it can be positively humiliating for us to realize that what we want to call our emotions, turn out to be Shakespeare’s thoughts. Shakespeare is the Canon because Shakespeare is ourselves, and the answer therefore to the question of, Is the way in which we’ve imitated Iago our fault or Shakespeare’s fault, is both. I’m not sure that until you have the representation you call Hamlet, that you have anywhere, (in any language I’m able to read anyway), someone who changes every time he or she speaks, and who does it by this weird thing of overhearing oneself, which I can’t find before Shakespeare. But if you’re really going to talk about Shakespeare’s culpability’so far as I can tell, Shakespeare invented what Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky, and others afterwards started to call nihilism. It’s a pure Shakespearean invention.

YFP. [I wondered] whether you think the people who say that Shakespeare has nothing to say to them’whether it’s just a question of their being unwilling to listen, or if it’s actually possible that they can’t hear.

HB. Let me tell you an anecdote. As part of the early manifestation of [the Cornell Revolution of ‘68-‘69], the black students of the university were instructed by their leadership to go into the library stacks and bring out as many books as they could carry and just dump them on the front circulation desk with the dramatic statement, ‘These books are irrelevant to me as a black student.’ And it so happened [that] I was trying to check out a book at just that moment, when a young lady dumped a huge armful of books right next to me and shouted, ‘These books are irrelevant to me as a black student.’ And one slid over to me’it was the Oxford edition of the Collected Poems of John Keats. And I said to the young lady, who scowled at me, ‘Are you quite sure that the poetry of John Keats is irrelevant to you? Have you read any of the poems of Keats?’ And she looked at me angrily and repeated, ‘These books are irrelevant to me as a black student,’ and off she marched. So. But what can I possibly say to that? That’s ideological, isn’t it? To arrive here and say that it’s your function to obliterate the best that has been read, the best that has been thought and said, in thirty centuries. They should go somewhere else. If they really think Shakespeare is irrelevant to them, why do they want to go to a university anyway? To get a union card of some kind?

YFP. You said before that we read to learn to talk to ourselves.

HB. I am not, as you know, a Shakespeare scholar, just an enthusiast…I assume that reading Shakespeare with the whole intensity of your being and with your awakened mind, with all of you, it’s bound to be a kind of training in consciousness. I assume that that is as good a way of awakening that [inner] spark, of lighting it up, or of making that pneuma, that breath, come faster, and stronger, than any other. [It] doesn’t necessarily make you a better person, [but it] certainly [makes] you a more capacious soul than you were already. I really feel that I can teach a more or less receptive and sensitive Yale undergraduate how enormous a work Shakespeare’s Hamlet is… You can teach people’you can open them to wonder. To more wonder. Which is what Shakespeare is for. I talked [in Shakespeare] about awe as being the proper response. Maybe the really proper response is wonder.

HT: John Brewer.

09 Sep 2019

Remembering Françoise Sagan, 1935-2004, III

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Sagan received an appropriately admiring obituary in the Telegraph.

Françoise Sagan, who died yesterday aged 69, exploded on to the French literary scene in 1954 with her first novel, Bonjour Tristesse, written when she was just 18.

The novel tells the story of a rebellious 17-year-old whose manipulations destroy the relationships between her libertine father and his various women. Published just as teenagers were emerging as a distinct social group, it was an immediate succes de scandale, delighting and shocking with its worldly cynicism and suave amorality. It won the Prix de Critiques and earned Françoise Sagan £500,000 and a papal denunciation. François Mauriac, France’s most respected novelist, hailed the talent of “ce charmant petit monstre” on the front page of Le Figaro.

Yet though she continued to produce novels and plays at a rate of roughly one a year, Françoise Sagan’s writing lost its astringency and she began to be dismissed as a lightweight author of women’s romantic fiction – more Mills and Boon than enfant terrible.

Instead, propelled by her celebrity and wealth, she became better known for her rackety lifestyle – sports cars and crashes, serial lovers, addictions to gambling, whisky and drugs and run-ins with the tax authorities. An opinion survey conducted a few years after Bonjour Tristesse showed that most people in France thought her a film star, rather than a writer.

Fame – or rather, the Paris Match version of celebrity – clung tenaciously to Françoise Sagan. Moody, gamine and matchstick thin, elfin face peeping out from under a mop of cropped hair, in the 1950s and 1960s she seemed the epitome of Parisian radical chic. A frequenter of cafes, nightclubs and student barricades, she dined with Sartre, Hemingway, Henry Miller and the young François Mitterand. Vanessa Redgrave admitted that she began smoking after reading that Françoise Sagan always smoked Gauloises and had a cup of coffee for breakfast: “Immediately, I decided this was sophistication itself.”

Her literary oeuvre offered a version of France in which personal responsibility counts as nothing against stylish living – a principle she was determined to live by. One of her tricks was to arrive at a nightclub with one escort and leave with another; and she always parked her sports cars outside the door of her destination whatever the traffic regulations. As if to illustrate the point, a cover of one of her novels showed her aged 19 or 20, draped in a long leopardskin coat over the door of an open-topped Jaguar, dark circles under her eyes. Yet despite the hype that inevitably accompanied everything that she did, she managed to remain remarkably honest about her own limitations as a writer and as a person.

When offered membership of the Academie Franaise, she turned it down: she had read enough good books, she said, to recognise the difference between the literary merit of Bonjour Tristesse (which she claimed never to have re-read) and the fuss made about it. She never uttered a word of regret for her “unbridled life” but confessed that she had never really grown up: “as a result I don’t really understand adult values and I never will”. …

Françoise Sagan’s life was more colourful copy than her books. Flushed with the success of Bonjour Tristesse, she sped down in her new Ferrari to St Tropez where she turned her publishers’ cheque into gambling chips, whisky and lines of cocaine – and indulged a prodigious appetite for sex. “She tried every experience,” a former lover recalled, “with two persons, with a woman, with three, four. She was in the avant garde, La bande Sagan – a group, with Juliette Greco. They were drunk almost every night and they were a most crazy group. La bande Sagan was the top of sophistication.”

In 1957, she survived a serious accident when her Aston Martin overturned on a sharp bend and left her in a coma for three days. Soon afterwards she married Guy Schoeller, a publisher 20 years her senior. When that broke down, she married an American sculptor, Robert Westhoff. They had a son, but that relationship too ended after only a year. Marriage, she reflected, is “like the matter of asparagus eaten with vinaigrette or hollandaise – a matter of taste but of no importance”. …

Françoise Sagan maintained her reputation as the voice of hedonistim with a fund of bons mots: “You should celebrate the end of a love affair as they celebrate death in New Orleans, with songs, laughter, dancing and a lot of wine”; “a dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to want to take it off you”; “Every little girl knows about love. It is only her capacity to suffer because of it that increases.”

But by the 1970s, with her brown hair turned miraculously blonde, fast living was taking its toll. Her passion for gambling became so intense that she asked the Ministry of the Interior to ban her from casinos. She had several brushes with death and in 1978 gave up drinking after a misdiagnosis of cancer of the pancreas. Her drug abuse landed her in court on several occasions and led to a demand from the Right-wing politician Jean Marie Le Pen that she be guillotined.

In 1990 a satirical puppet show on French television presented her as a disshevelled old bat butting in on every conversation, wild-eyed and gesticulating. “I believe I have the right to destroy myself as long as it doesn’t harm anyone,” she said. …

[S[he never quite managed to exorcise her demons. In 2001 she was convicted of tax fraud and given a one-year suspended jail sentence for failing to declare $726,000. But she said: “I always believe things are going to work out. Every time I see a film about Joan of Arc I’m convinced she’ll get away with it. It’s the only way to get through life.”

26 Jun 2019

Norman Stone, 8 March 1941 –19 June 2019

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Richard J. Evans, in The Guardian, really unloaded on the conservative historian Norman Stone in an obituary.

was character assassination. As a judge of the Fraenkel prize in contemporary history some years ago, he told the astonished members of the jury that they should not award the prize to a historian of Germany whose politics he disliked because she was an East German agent – an allegation that was enough to rule her out of contention even though it was absolutely baseless and undoubtedly defamatory.

Shortly after the death in 1982 of his patron and mentor in Cambridge, EH Carr, the author of a multivolume History of Soviet Russia and influential works on historiography and international relations, Stone published a lengthy assault on his reputation, which included lurid details of his three marriages. When a colleague criticised this “outrageous” diatribe to his face, telling him that Carr “always said you were amoral”, Stone responded: “And he always said you were a bore” (probably an invention, though one cannot know for sure).

At a time when malice and rudeness were highly prized by some rightwing Cambridge dons, Stone outdid them all in the abuse he hurled at anyone he disapproved of, including feminists (“rancid”), Oxford dons (“a dreadful collection of deadbeats, dead wood and has-beens”), students (“smelly and inattentive”), David Cameron and John Major (“transitional nobodies”), Edward Heath (“a flabby-faced coward”) and many more.

Stone was undoubtedly clever. He could write entertainingly and could summarise complex historical circumstances in a few pregnant sentences, gifts which brought him a flourishing career as a journalist and commentator. He was a talented linguist who read and spoke more than half a dozen languages, including Hungarian. Yet his career was also dogged by character flaws that prevented him from fulfilling his early promise as a historian. …
Read the rest of this entry »

30 May 2019

Leon Redbone Passed Away

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Variety:

Singer-songwriter Leon Redbone, who specialized in old-school vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley-style music, died earlier today, his family confirmed. He was 69 — although, in characteristically whimsical fashion, the official statement announcing his death gave his age as 127.

RTWT

26 May 2019

Albert Ollie Poe (8 July 1931 — 18 May 2019)

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photo: Douglas Lees.

Albert was the younger brother of the great Melvin Poe and nearly as famous a huntsman.

He had a renowned career as Huntsman with the Piedmont Fox Hounds, the Fairfax Hunt, and the Middleburg Hunt, and was particularly noted as a Fox Hound Breeder.

He was honored in retirement as a Member of the Huntsmen’s Room, Museum of Hounds & Hunting NA, Inc.

Albert had a devilish sense of humor. Karen and I had fun with Albert in Virginia and will miss him very much. I’m told that Tommy Lee Jones, Casanova’s famous huntsman, blew “Going Home” at Albert’s Middleburg Funeral.

01 Mar 2019

Charles McCarry, 14 June 1930 — 26 February 2019

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WaPo obituary:

Charles McCarry spent almost 10 years in the CIA as an undercover officer, operating alone as he roamed throughout Africa, Europe and Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. He never carried a gun. He didn’t kill anyone.

He was in the agency when the Berlin Wall went up in 1961. He was in and out of Vietnam. He was at an airport in Congo in 1963, when a Belgian priest told him about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He always went by an assumed name and never lived in the same countries in which he worked.

After he resigned from the CIA to become a writer, Mr. McCarry used many of those elements in the novel that many consider his masterpiece, “The Tears of Autumn.” But when he turned in his manuscript, it was initially rejected by his publisher.

“Where’s the car chase? Where’s the torture scene? Where’s the sex? Where’s the good Russian?” the publisher demanded, as Mr. McCarry recalled in a 1988 essay for The Washington Post. “Do you call this a thriller?”

The publisher gave Mr. McCarry a best-selling novel to study. A month later, Mr. McCarry submitted his manuscript again — without so much as changing a comma. This time, it was accepted.

“I can only write what I know,” he noted.

Since it came out in 1974, “The Tears of Autumn” has sold millions of copies and has been hailed as a classic of espionage fiction. In his 13 novels, Mr. McCarry created dense, fast-moving plots of international intrigue populated by complex, troubled characters — male and female — seeking to find order and purpose in their lives.

“There is simply no other way to say it,” Otto Penzler, a leading expert on crime and espionage fiction, wrote in the New York Sun in 2004. “Just the straightforward, inarguable truth: Charles McCarry is the greatest espionage writer that America has ever produced.”

Mr. McCarry, whose novels about spycraft and politics were deeply admired if not always well known, died Feb. 26 at a hospital in Fairfax County, Va. He was 88.

He had complications from a cerebral hemorrhage sustained in a fall, said a son, Caleb McCarry.

No blockbuster movies have been based on Mr. McCarry’s books, his photograph seldom appeared on his dust jackets, and he didn’t go on book tours or appear on television. “They only want to ask me about my life in the CIA,” he told The Post in 1988, “and I can’t talk about that.”

Yet his novels were written with such a deft, knowing touch that he often invited favorable comparisons to another spy-turned-author. “Mr. McCarry is the American le Carré,” Penzler wrote, “equaling him stylistically but surpassing his English counterpart in terms of intellectual depth and moral clarity.”

RTWT

———————-

Some quotations:

“Papa likes to know what a man is going to say to him before he starts to talk,” Cathy told Christopher. “If there’s no horse in the first sentence, he knows he’s in the wrong company.”

–The Secret Lovers, 1977, p. 65.

——–

The male parent seldom spoke. On first meeting he had established that he and Christopher had been in the same regiment of Marines in different wars and in the same house at Harvard; he had never asked Christopher another question. “He knows everything about you, knowing those two things, that he needs to know,” Cathy said.

–The Secret Lovers, 1977, p. 103.

——–

“I come from the most anti-American country on earth.”

“Canada? Ah, no, America is the most anti-American country on earth. When you speak of public opinion, young man, you speak of the opinions of the intellectuals because they are the only ones who publish and broadcast. The masses are dumb. Intellectuals always hate their own country, but the United States has produced an intelligentsia which is positively bloodthirsty.”

–The Secret Lovers, 1977, p. 127.

——–

“In Spain the Germans tested aerial bombing tactics; the Soviets, propaganda. You see who won in the end. In 1945 there was no Luftwaffe. No one has yet found a way to shoot down the illusions of the Left.”

–The Secret Lovers, 1977, p. 139.

——–

“This woman had the greatest private collection in Spain, portraits of her ancestors,” Rodegas said. “She was asked by a journalist if she was not filled with awe, to possess the works of all those dead geniuses. ‘Awe?’ she replied, ‘Genius? Goya, Velázquez, Rembrandt, were simply the people my family hired before the invention of photography.’”

–The Secret Lovers, 1977, p. 250.

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