Beautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel by Sally Rooney

Author:Sally Rooney [Rooney, Sally]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Tags: Fiction
ISBN: 9780374602604
Amazon: 0374602603
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published: 2021-09-06T23:00:00+00:00


Friend of my heart! Sorry for the delay – I write to you from Paris, having just arrived here from London, where I had to go and pick up an award. They never tire of giving me awards, do they? It’s a shame I’ve tired so quickly of receiving them, or my life would be endless fun. Anyway, I miss you. I was sitting in the Musée d’Orsay this morning looking at sweet little Marcel Proust’s portrait, and wishing John Singer Sargent had painted him instead. He’s quite ugly in the painting, but despite this unfortunate fact (and I do mean despite!) something in his eyes reminded me of you. Probably just the glow of brilliance. ‘Perhaps indeed there exists but a single intelligence, in which everyone in the world participates, towards which each of us from the position of his own separate body turns his eyes, as in a theatre where, if everyone has his own separate seat, there is on the other hand but a single stage.’ Reading those words I feel terribly happy – to think that I might share an intelligence with you.

On the top floor of the museum today, I noticed there were several portraits of Berthe Morisot, all painted by Edouard Manet. In every painting Morisot looks a little bit different, so it’s hard to imagine how she really looked – how she combined each different shade of her likeness into one full and recognisable human face. I searched for a photograph afterwards and was surprised by the solidity of her features, which in Manet’s work often look cloudy or delicate. In one of the paintings she’s handsome, dark, statuesque in a white dress; she sits on a balcony alongside two other figures, her forearm relaxed against the parapet, her hand holding a closed fan; she’s looking away, almost frowning, her face is complex and expressive, she’s deep in thought. In another painting she’s soft-featured, pretty, gazing out at the viewer in a tall black hat and black shawl, her gaze at once uncertain and revealing. She was the model Manet painted more often than any other, more often than his own wife. But when I look at the paintings I don’t always recognise her as beautiful right away. Her beauty is something I have to search for, requiring some interpretive work, some intellectual or abstract work, and maybe that’s what Manet found so fascinating about it – but then again maybe not. For six years Morisot came to his studio, chaperoned by her mother, and he painted her, always clothed. Several of her own paintings hang in the museum too. Two girls sharing a park bench in the Bois de Boulogne, one in a white dress, wearing a broad straw hat, bending her head forward over her lap, maybe she’s reading, the other girl in a dark dress, her long fair hair tied back with a black ribbon, showing to the viewer her white neck and ear. Behind them all the lush vague greenery of the public park.


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