Friday, October 24, 2008
All over the Place in Dreamland
Last night I dreamt that my novel (Absent a Miracle) had been adapted into a play, and I was in the audience watching it, and 2 seats over was John Updike. I watched and I watched and half the characters were missing and there were NO SAINTS. The saints had been completely expunged from the story.
Later John Updike told me he liked the play because it was essentially the story of Princess Anne and then he offered me his office to work in and he dropped tomatoes all over the floor.
When I told CSB about this dream (because he is the lucky audience to all my dreams), which an emphasis on the NO SAINTS part, he muttered something about an uphill battle.
(That would be Sisyphus who does not appear in the Oedipus plays were are now reading.)
And certainly it has nothing to do with the expunged feast of Saint Ursula, October 21, removed from the calendar in 1969 for the flimsy reason that she probably never existed. What can we say about someone whose apocryphal story has given such brilliant material to so many artists, from Caravaggio to Memling to Carpaccio to anonymous Puerto Rican woodcarvers? You have beautiful young women, gruesome deaths, any landscape you like, and the critical mass of 11,000 virgins. The fact that the cult of Saint Ursula was suppressed (along with another favorite, saint Christopher) in no way diminished her popularity.
Why John Updike you may well ask? Presumably because I’d just read a review of his Widows of Eastwick. And before that, in a review last week of a book about witchcraft, which I will probably never read, Germaine Greer referred to Saint Melangell and her hare. That perked me up for a whole morning of otherwise surreal conversations with my father as I narrated for him my personal (slanted) version of the last 100 years of Cuban History, because Saint Melangell of Pennant Melangell in Wales, who was introduced to me by Tristan Hulse, hagiographer par excellence, is a favorite of mine and just so happens to appear in Absent a Miracle. (Notice how I managed to refer not once but twice to the title of my new book.)