Paris in July 2020 - Hosted by Thyme for Tea
Harold - The First Short Story of Shirley Hazzard. - A Parisian Couple on Vacation in Seina - First Published in The New Yorker in 1962
Today’s post on one of Australia’s greatest writers is in honor of the host for Paris in July 2020 Thyme for Tea and The Australian Book Bloggers enriching the event by their participation.
“Harold” is included in Cliff of Falls and other stories and in The Collected Short Stories of Shirley Hazzard
Born January 30, 1930 Sidney, Australia
1963 to 1994 - Married to Francis Steegmuller - A highly regarded Flaubert scholar (They met at a party hosted by Muriel Spark in New York City.)
The Transit of Venus - 1980 - her most famous book
The Great Fire - 2003 - Natiinal Book Award - Best Novel
Dies - December 12, 2016 - New York City
From The Paris Review - “She has written five novels (The Great Fire, 2003; The Transit of Venus, 1980; The Bay of Noon, 1970; People in Glass Houses, 1967; and The Evening of the Holiday, 1966), a collection of stories (Cliffs of Fall, 1963), a memoir (Greene on Capri, 2000), and two books of nonfiction (Countenance of Truth, 1990 and Defeat of an Ideal, 1973), all of them ablaze with technical perfection and moral poise.”.
My Research indicates she and her husband spent considerable time in Paris but I did not find the exact dates. She was deeply read in French literature.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux in Publishing (September 2020) in Publishing The Collected Short Stories of Shirley Hazzard has done a great service to lovers of very high quality Short Stories.
“Collected Stories includes both volumes of the National Book Award–winning author Shirley Hazzard’s short-story collections—Cliffs of Fall and People in Glass Houses—alongside uncollected works and two previously unpublished stories
“Including twenty-eight works of short fiction in all, Shirley Hazzard’s Collected Stories is a work of staggering breadth and talent. Taken together, Hazzard’s short stories are masterworks in telescoping focus, “at once surgical and symphonic” (The New Yorker), ranging from quotidian struggles between beauty and pragmatism to satirical sendups of international bureaucracy, from the Italian countryside to suburban Connecticut. “. From The Publisher.
“Harold” was her first published Short Story. William Maxwell was so impressed in his acceptance letter asked her to send them all future stories.
This wonderful story centers on a French family on their annual Holiday at pensione in Siena, Italy.
“Bernard Tourner was as lean and astringent as his wife, Monique, was plump and soft—a dove in her gray dress. For many years they had come from Paris to spend their summers at this pensione, and each morning they would disappear in their little ancient car for an excursion to Arezzo or Volterra, or simply into the Chianti hills, returning as children return from a trip to the seaside, refreshed and exhausted and painfully sunburned.”
Readers of Katherine Mansfield will have fond memories brought to mind by this story of a life in a pensione, watching the interactions of the residents. Among the other guests are an English couple, there three sons, an Italian painter as well as guests of unknown background. The guests eat their meals in common. It seems most are repeat guests. This year they are joined by a woman and her son, maybe 16. The son will play an essential part in the close of the story.
Here is The French man contrasts his country versus Italy:
““You see how it is,” said Bernard, with a faint smile. “In this country everything has been done, as it were—even this landscape has been done to the point where one becomes a detail in a canvas. And they all know too much. In Italy one is almost too much at ease, too well understood ; all summer here I feel that nothing new can happen, nothing can surprise or call our capacities into question; that none of us can add anything.” “Does this mean we shan’t see you here next year?” asked Dora, laughing because Bernard had come there for so many years..... “I simply mean that in our countries one must still be prepared for a few surprises, but here all experience is repetition, and that gives one an outrageous sense of proportion. That’s why we feel so comfortable—why we find it so attractive to come here. After all, France is certainly as beautiful as this”—Bernard included the Italian peninsula in a brief gesture.”
Hazzard brings out national identies in a very subtle way. We see how Parisian couple view Italy and England.
This is is just a perfect story. I see why William Maxwell wanted more of her work.