4. 关于永恒的爱

未能成功加载,请稍后再试
0/0

Swirls and secrets - Oxford Abridged Short Talks

When we declare our love in a Valentine's card, we keep the most important bit - our identity - hidden. For centuries, the expression of romantic adoration h...

I'm going to be talking today

um, as it says about some work that I've been doing

editing letters some letters by Jonathon Swift

some Love letters that he wrote to two women in Dublin

But I wanted to start off by locating those letters

within a literary tradition of romantic love

and particularly St Valentine's Day

And I was thinking about Valentine's day and what it means

and the conventions around it

and it seems to me that one of the funny things about Valentine's day

is we think it's a day on which we declare ourselves

in the most kind of straight-forward open and self-proclaiming way

to the object of our affection

But it's not all about self-declaration

because it's partly about hiding yourself

it's partly about keeping something back

which is obviously your identity

We sign these Valentine's cards with a question mark typically

So I wanted to talk a bit about that

about the idea of secrecy and anonymity

that's traditionally associated with declarations of romantic love

and I also want to talk about a feature of

Valentine's day, which is cliché

which is the problem of trying to say I love you

in a different way from all the others of millions of people

who have said it throughout the course of time

So my title with undying love, yours?

colludes to both of those characteristics to the idea of cliché

and the idea of anonymity or secrecy

So just to talk about where both of those ideas have come from

The whole notion of secrecy

and anonymity of not fully declaring yourself

We can trace that right back in literature

to the 11th and 12th century in the tradition

and then the idea of courtly love that comes from that

Because loads of ideas that we have about romantic love

and the ways in which we express it comes from there

so the idea that you um say that

your lover's mouth looks like a red rose

the idea of kind of golden hair of admiring women on a pedestal

and a kind of slightly um who seems slightly kind of unobtainable

those all kind of um a tradition of courtly love

So we have this built-in idea

that there is something secret and hidden right from back then

and then the other thing this idea of cliché

or the idea that it's difficult to get away from expressing yourself

through second-hand sentiments, through other peoples words

that also have a long literary history

and a really famous example

um of someone playing around with that

and articulating just that problem of how you say it again

and how you say it new is Shakespeare

who here we got sonnet number 130

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

and this is a poem which is all about how you do it differently

how you make your words different from everybody else's words

so he saying my mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

coral is far more red than her lips red

if snow be white why then her breasts are dun

if hairs be wires black wires grow on her head

and he runs through all these comparisons

and says you know all this stuff they don't really apply to you

you're not quite like that

and then at the end he says and yet by heaven I think my love

as rare as any she belied with false compare

so he's talking about the idea of false comparison

he's talking about the idea that the fact that

all these other people have said these things

but actually it doesn't matter that

they use those hack phrases

but he really loves this women

she is absolutely fantastic

and the fact that she doesn't measure up to those kinds of clichés

doesn't matter

So this establishes I think

it gives us a really good example of of a kind of interest

in the problems of how to say in a different way

how not to use other men's words

So we can see we got these two ideas about cliché

and about anonymity

and at the moment I'm working on some letters by Jonathan Swift

I'm editing them for a new edition by Cambridge University Press

and these letters just to set the scene

these letters are a series of 65 letters

that Swift writes to two women

who are living in Dublin at the beginning of the 18th century

and their called oh I've got some pictures, hang on

I mustn't forget that

Picture of Jonathan Swift there

and this is a picture of the two women that he's writing to

so Esther Johnson we can see

and then poor Rebecca Dingley hasn't got her picture surviving

but I think she'll be right pleased with this

with a silhouette I've given her

so there's swift

and he's writing to Esther Johnson and to Rebecca Dingley

um and the letters are really interesting

they're a mix of things

They're combination of high politics, of what he's had for lunch

who he's seen, who he's played cards with

but they also contain at the end of every day

he signs of with a passage of affectionate endearment

endearments towards these two women

And the distinctive thing

well, there are two distinctive things about these passages

one of them is that they are written in this kind of baby language

which is going to be called the little language

And the other thing is that all those passages of endearment

are then crossed out by him before he sends the letters

Um and there was quite a couple of weeks

where there was quite a lot of press coverage of

kind of the work that I've been doing on the letters

and you can see there some of the brilliant headlines

Swift, well, toddler

My son was involved spuriously in this exercise

because heI said that his lisp helps me to understand

the ways that which the letters were written in baby talk

So this one headline from the guardian about the role of the toddler

there's another one playing with the idea of the immodest proposal

and the most brilliant one was the independent one

which was Dirty dean

What Andy Gray could have learnt from swift

and that was playing on the idea

that both Andy Gray and Swift say inappropriate things around women

So we can think about them together

So I've talked a little bit about this elsewhere

Just to have a quick look at the letters and how they work then

You've got you can see here this is an image of one of the letters

and all those little squiggly squirly blacked out bits

are the crossings out over the passages of intimacy frequently

where he's using the little language

or his special pet terms for the women

So he squirls them out before he does each letter

And if you want a couple of examples of the baby language

and the way it works, we've got here

do seep and rove pdfr. So Nite deelest logues

which clearly means go to sleep and love pdfr

pdfr is his little name for himself

so night dearest rogues

And then another one is

oo must not know zees sings, zey are secrets

we must keep them flom nauty dallars

you mustn't know these things they are secret

and we must keep them from naughty girls

So you can see the way in which he's using this as a kind of

it becomes an affectionate way of talking to these two women

and thinking going back to

this whole idea of conventions around expression of romantic love

and the idea of trying to express yourself in a new

and novel and personal way

I think that, that may help start to explain

why he chose to use this baby language to talk to these women

Because in a way it becomes

a special language that they've got between the two of them

It enables himhowever weird we think

it enables him to get beyond those stereotypical

and kind of hackneyed phrases for the expression of love

So I think we can relate that back to

the idea of kind of making it new

And then thinking about the crossing out business

If I give you here this is an example of some of the crossings out

so the top bit you can see some lines of text

and in that squiggly kind of barbed wire looking thing is

the crossing out that he did over the top of the writing

It used to be assumed that that crossing out was done

by a later editor who was trying to censor the letters

but for a variety of reasons due to the consistency of the ink

and internal references

I think that Swift did it himself before he sent the letters

which is kind of doubly weird

First of all he writes in baby language

and then he's just crossing out of the top in order to disguise it

But I think one way in which we can think about

the crossing out business is as part of this tradition

as self-hiding of kind of revealing yourself

and not revealing yourself at the same time

that I talked about earlier

So in this example you can see that he writes this

Go play cards and be melly deel Logues

rove pdfr who roves Md bettle zan his Rife

Which means go play cards and be merry dear rogues

and love pdfr who loves mder

Mder is his little name for them

better than his life

farewell deelest

And all those abbreviations are

just we don't really know what they mean

They're a little kind of code about intimacy that he has between them

that they have between the three of them

And then we've got another example here

where you can see again that he's crossed out

over the tops of the ending of the letter

and he writes there

o poo ppt, lay down ee heads aden; fais I flodive ee:

I always reckon, if y are ill I shall hear it

and he's saying there

oh poor puppet lay down your head again

faith I forgive you

so you can see here that this is a way of

you know he says these affectionate things

then he kinds of unsays them at the same time

and I guess what

what the kinds of things that I've been talking about

about traditions of expressing yourself for romantic love

can help us to understand

why one historical person might use these material things

pen and ink and the words on it

particular individual historical letters that he sent to two people

how we might put that back into a longer history

of how people have struggled to express themselves

or struggled to express concepts of romantic love

or express their feelings for someone else and to make sense of it

and I guess to put it in a nutshell we could say that

what all this is showing us is that in literature sometimes

saying I love you can be the hardest thing to say

Thank you