Thursday, 17 December 2009

Article Thirty Five: Strange Creatures

Literature │Strange Creatures

Artists & Writers under the Microscope

(published in Avrupa newspaper)

Fellow reader, do you ever wonder what a writer or artist is doing whilst producing his latest masterpiece? Do you truly imagine them sitting at a desk in front of a window, gazing longingly with pondering expressions across their faces? What if you were to find out otherwise? This week we delve straight into the wonderful and truthful, albeit strange lives of some of our greatest writers & artists, here are just a few.


Alexander Dumas the great writer of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers always ate an apple at 7am under the Arc de Triomphe. One could read this as a grand opening to the day.

Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 coffees a day, usually Turkish coffee, and if he couldn’t find the energy to make the coffee, he would chew on the beans alone; he died at the age of 51.

Charles Dickens would have his bed set in the north/south direction and would make sure that everything was in the exact place, not to mention touching certain objects about three times a day, we have to wonder if this was all before or after walking the 20-30 miles a day which he managed to fit in with all the writing.

I was not too surprised when I found out that Hans Christian Anderson placed a sign near his bed reading, “I am not really dead.”

Now imagine the great Gustave Flaubert writing Madame Bovary with his lover’s mittens and slippers sitting comfortably in his desk draw; but there’s probably good explanation for this, well one can only hope.

Vladimir Nabokov the writer of Lolita wrote standing up whilst Truman Capote, the writer of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s insisted on writing whilst lying down with a cigarette and coffee.

James Joyce spent hours working and perfecting all that he wrote, on a good day, he may have written at most three sentences. It’s a wonder that he had anything published.

We mustn’t forget the infamous Salvador Dali “So one Christmas he took a walk in the streets of New York carrying a bell. He would ring it whenever he felt people were not paying enough attention to him.” (Dali by Robert Descharnes)

Whilst Poe always wore black, Emily Dickinson always wore white and Mark Twain designed his own shirts which had to button down the back.

©Zehra Mustafa

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