[Nigel Nicolson] ↠´ Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson [hydrogeology PDF] Read Online ✓ treatmentinlithuania.co.uk

[Nigel Nicolson] ↠´ Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson [hydrogeology PDF] Read Online ✓ So I have this friend yes, really a friend, not me in disguise, promise She lives like a character in a novel I don t mean to say that she s acting in some sort of pantomime I mean that things happen to her, she thoroughly absorbs them and contemplates them, and then acts as if she s had herself a two chapter period of long walks in the park and insightful inner monologues before each choice is made All of her choices seem to make sense, as if chosen by an author skilled in characterization, with enough experience that she isn t likely to make inconsistent character choices in her world, thank you very much She s got the trick of coherence in her life, whether good or bad I don t mean to say she is predictable she is not , but all of her stories have a wonderful clarity to them Now, this may sound like just the normal process of being human to many people reading this I hope it does I wish it did for me.
In both my own life and in the lives of those around me, I see a ridiculous amount of randomness I ve known my closest friends a very long time now, and even if I can sometimes predict the words about to come out of their mouths with perfect accuracy, I m not satisfied I know why I don t have a sense of a whole character We re all very young, a lot of us are still choosing who it is that we want to be thus, many choices appear inconsistent, silly, incomprehensible, off the wall I know at least one friend who has been trying to become a character for over six years and his choices are the craziest of all of them I ve decided it is because he s trying to live in a novel that no longer corresponds to real life Save her, no one I know, least of all myself, has that sense of being fully fledged to themselves I do spend a decent amount of time weighing my options whenever I m faced with a choice, agonizing that if I were, really a insert perceived good quality here type of person, I really would do this, wouldn t I or that really does make me insert lame quality here , can I live with that I have tried to make my own decisions make sense in some kind of overarching narrative, but all I see is quixotic choices, based on, I don t know, taking a random dislike to someone s shoes So yeah, I do wish that I had of that coherence thing going on in my life Portrait of a Marriage shows me that I m not the only person who has really wanted that Nigel Nicolson is the son of Vita Sackville West, the endlessly fascinating sorry, mind the brain gap while I fangirl woman who was so many things to so many people that not even Virginia Woolf could pin down her essence inside one sex, location, or even century for that matter And yet, despite this elusiveness being one of her most attractive qualities, nearly every person she knew throughout her life tried to make her into some image or other that suited the particular fantasy they wanted to her to be a part of Having now read three different portraits of Vita right in a row, I can tell you that this battle over who she was, and especially what she represents, is still going strong I could not have felt strongly these last few weeks that all history is indeed narrative In this case than most, since everyone involved was literary, wrapped up in their own individual stories often several at once the invented ones, the temporary ones, the permanent real ones , and everyone attempted to control the script from the very beginning It almost seems natural that Nigel Nicolson should do the same.
On the surface, Portrait of a Marriage is actually rather an odd title for this work The central piece of the work is a manuscript that Nigel Nicolson discovered in his mother s writing room after her death It was locked away in a leather bag, hidden from view he had to cut away the lock in order to get to it Inside was a confession, written in 1920 In it, his mother Vita recounts her version of her affair with Violet Trefusis, the daughter of King Edward VII s mistress Alice Keppel The affair was both unmentionable and scandalous at the time, and the two women came inches from running off together permanently, abandoning their husbands and families to live together openly as lovers No one seemed to know of this manuscript s existance other than Vita herself and perhaps Virginia Woolf though no one can prove that.
However, this confession is broken up into two parts, contained before, between, and after by Nigel Nicolson s own perspective on the situations she is describing, further detail on surrounding issues Vita only glancingly mentions, and finally the last chapter gives us a sort of extended epilogue on the rest of Vita and Harold s marriage Vita s story is powerful She provides us with her background the isolated childhood at Knole, her difficult, alluring mother, her wandering gentleman father, her constant writing, her lack of friends, and her growth into full maturity, showing us how she became the person who made the choices she did in her affair with Violet It is in some senses a justification, but the second half of the story, which describes the actual affair itself, offers no justifications, tells the reader awful things that show Vita to no advantage, things that would have utterly disgraced her both in her time and now She does cast herself as Violet s admittedly willing seduction victim, an unknowing innocent in the ways of love following her heart, her mother as the source of much of her unhappiness and fucked up view of life, and Harold as a fairly perfect angel She thus claims this story to be a painful plea for understanding of her divided nature, lesbian love, and why she could not deny herself it she seems to both be addressing her own inner guilt and also Harold, who she expects may read this one day.
Nigel Nicolson has a different agenda He claims Violet and Vita s passionate story as part of Vita and Harold s overarching narrative In his eyes, the Violet Vita incident was the ultimate testing ground for the very modern, liberal idea of marriage that his parents had agreed to live by lovers if they chose, but they would always come back to each other and speak honestly about what was going on at all times , and since in the end Vita did return to England with Harold, he sees it ultimately as a triumph of their solid, loving relationship over the temporary passions of her wild relationship with the evil Violet It is all very coherent indeed.
Now, some people find this a sad denial of same sex relationships and passion, but surely we can all understand why a son would want to show his parents love as paramount, and the lengths he might be willing to go to to paper over as many faults as possible He spends a whole lot of time talking up his father s virtues and his mother s distortions of the truth, but then, what did you think this was going to be In fairness to him, though he seems unable to forgive Violet, he does understand her appeal He quotes from some of her most alluring letters, which paint her in a very sympathetic light, and he even he can t deny his mother s love for VioletNow that I know everything, I love her , as my father did, because she was tempted, because she was weak She was a rebel, she was Julian, and though she did not know it, she fought for than Violet She fought for the right to love, men and women, rejecting the convention that marriage demands exclusive love, and that women should love only men and men only women Yes, she may have been mad, as she later said, but it was a magnificent folly She may have been cruel, but it was cruelty on a heroic scale How can I despise the violence of such passion It was interesting to hear his thoughts on why their compact worked Sort of ironic to me that had they lived in the 21st century, there would have been no possibility of these two people marrying, given their completely different sexual tastes and lifestyles, and yet, according to him, it worked because of these thingsit was fortunate that they were both made that way If only one of them had been, their marriage would probably have collapsed Violet did not destroy their physical union she simply provided the alternative for which Vita was unconsciously seeking at the moment when her physical passion for Harold, and his for her, had begun to cool Vita once put her little creed for Harold in these words To love me whatever I do To believe my motives are not mean Not to credit tales without hearing my own version To give up everything and everybody for me in the last resort The basis of their marriage was mutual respect, enduring love, and a common sense of valuesIt is also worthwhile noting that Vita and Harold conducted most of their relationship on paper not even discussing the most important issues unless one of them was forced to force the issue One of the times Vita and Violet were to run off together, Harold begged Vita to stay with him for two weeks while he recovered from a severe sickness She consented and went home with him They said nothing about the fact that she was leaving until the very last day Harold did not like conflict As Nigel Nicolson noted when discussing his mother s complete refusal to fulfill any sort of official wifely role political wife at rallies, diplomatic hostess , his mother s behavior mightsound selfish, but neither of them thought it so She cared so deeply for her independence that for both of them it outweighed everything else, even their agony at being parted for months on end There is no suggestion in their hundreds of letters that their misery could be ended at any moment by her joining him permanently at one of his postings Instead they exchanged commiserations on his bloody professionand chose to deal with their pain of separation rather than give up their chosen paths The one time Harold did give in to what Vita wanted for him rather than what he wanted turned out to be a bad choice one he made the best of, but nonetheless he always regretted it I wonder if a relationship like theirs might work in the 21st century after all, in a world where contact is ever virtual, and a need for contact can be solved in 140 character bursts before we go back to work.
Vita and Harold s relationship was not sexual after Violet Nigel Nicolson calls that the inevitable cooling of passion, Victoria Glenndinning blames it on Harold s revelation to Vita that he had a venereal disease from one of his gay lovers after five years of total fidelity on her part, Diana Souhami on Harold s infidelity giving Vita implicit permission to let her own lesbian tendencies and Wanderlust out into the opening Whatever the reason, though, and whatever their passions were I guess what I m saying here is that though Vita and Harold themselves lived many stories, and told even , theirs was the story they kept coming back to, again and again As Vita herself said my infinitely dear Hadji, you ought never to have married me I feel my inadequacy most bitterly What good am I to you and he replied, What good was he to her She should have married Lord Lascelles The man who could have given her a castle and a traditional aristocratic life If Nigel Nicolson s interpretation of the situation is a bit on the fairy tale side, that doesn t devalue the deep bond these two people had, and the amazingly high value they placed on their life together Vita stated many times she would no longer want to live if Harold died, Harold refused to acknowledge the possibility until she actually did die Then faced with life without her, withdrew into silence and decline until he died six years later It did seem to be their home base, their safe haven, the place they needed to know existed in order to venture out into the world Does anyone watch Mad Men There s a scene in the first season where Don Draper is talking to a Jewish lover of his about Israel, asking her what it means to her, why she isn t there She responds with something like It s of an idea than a place to me My life is here in New York I ll never go there knowing it exists is all I need Yeah in the end, what I see of this extremely complicated mess is kind of like that Whatever story we might want out of whatever narrative we re reading, sooner or later we re going to run up against a core of what matters that isn t going to alter for any theoretical ism you ve got out there People are what they are, and you can t force them to be anything else, however hard you try That was the real triumph of this book Nigel Nicolson tried, Harold tried, Violet tried, Vita s mother tried, even Vita herself tried all of them failed Whatever else drowned in the mess of these people s lives, that gloriously survived Or that s my narrative, anyway.
I read this book in parallel with Diana Souhami s Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter and the below review combines my thoughts on both books Review first published on BookLikes Let the cat fight begin In the red corner, Diana Souhami, defender of Violet Trefusis In the blue corner, Nigel Nicolson, son of Vita Sackville West and representing her point of view No, I m not going to try and write this as a ring report, but for the most part of reading both in parallel it has been as if I was watching a boxing match with few punches held Both books focus on the lives of the two women at the time of their relationship Although both books are good general biographies, it is really the relationship between Vita and Violet that gets all the attention Of course, it is Vita s own manuscript her detailed confession of the relationship with Violet locked in a drawer which Nicolson discovered after his mother s death that caused Nicolson to write his book and so the focus on this part of Vita s life is entirely justified And it is a fascinating story one which would even find its way into Orlando, Woolf s adoring mock biography of Vita full of jealousy, confusion, passion, and struggle for controlBehind Violet s love for Vita was contempt for the hypocrisy of marriage as she had seen it practised by her mother and the King For herself she knew marriage would be a meretricious show She wanted proof that Vita was dissembling tooDiana Souhami Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter So, on one hand we have a book trying to vindicate Violet and attributing the misery of her emotional upheaval to Vita, on the other we have Vita crediting Violet s manipulation as the cause of of her emotional dependence on VioletThen, when I had finished, when I had told her how all the gentleness and all the femininity of me was called out by Harold alone, but how towards everyone else my attitude was completely otherwise then, still with her infinite skill, she brought me round to my attitude towards herself, as it had always been ever since we were children, and then she told me how she had loved me always, and reminded me of incidents running through years, which I couldn t pretend to have forgotten She was far skilful than I I might have been a boy of eighteen, and she a woman of thirty five She was infinitely clever she didn t scare me, she didn t rush me, she didn t allow me to see where I was going it was all conscious on her part, but on mine it was simply the drunkenness of liberation the liberation of half my personality She opened up to me a new sphere And for her, of course, it meant the supreme effort to conquer the love of the person she had always wanted, who had always repulsed her when things seemed to be going too far , out of a sort of fear, and of whom she was madly jealous a fact I had not realized, so adept was she at concealment, and so obtuse was I at her psychologyNigel Nicolson Portrait Of A Marriage As a result, neither comes across as particularly likeable and I found myself feel rather sorry for their husbands, Denys Trefusis and Harold Nicolson, who went to great lengths to both enable Violet and Vita to conduct their relationship and at the same time protect them from the destructive nature of their passions.
Like many people I first heard of Vita Sackville West when reading about Virginia Woolf and their relationship Sackville West was a poet, author, gardener, and someone who, quietly, lived outside the norms of society Her marriage to Sir Harold Nicolson remained open, but only to women Portrait of a Marriage is part autobiography and part biography It was inspired by a journal, Vita s son, Nigel Nicolson, found among her possessions after her death Nicolson presents Portrait of a Marriage in five sections Sections one and three are the complete journal left by Vita Sections two and four are written by Nigel and support Vit s writing with other first and second hand accounts They include letters from Vita s lovers as well as letters and note from family and her husband Vita s teenage to adult relationship with Rosamund Grosvenor which ended when Grosvenor married and centers mostly on her relationship with Violet Trefusis The last section is again written by Nigel and includes the Virginia Woolf affair and on family matters Portrait of a Marriage provides a unique look at relationships and marriages in a time that we think as conservative than today Same sex relationships and even the questioning of gender roles are examined in their time period Vita does say that she thought of herself as a boy growing up In Passenger to Teheran, a memoir of her travel to Iran to reunite with her husband, she does not reveal her sex until the very end of the book It has the sense of reading a male account of travel Aside from its importance as a biography, it is also important as part of the LGTBQ history Vita Sackville West is an interesting read even when writes a journal It is difficult to rate a book that is a journal It is the writer s actual thoughts at the time and not meant to be a published work Without a doubt, Sackville West excels even in this format Nigel Nicolson compiles supporting evidence Credit must be giving to Nigel Nicolson on several accounts First, it is his mother he is writing about and at the time, his mother s and even his published in 1973 her orientation was not accepted Secondly, Nicolson waited to publish this book until all members who are in it were dead He did not try to sensationalize his mother or her lovers or embarrass family members It is very tastefully done I have read a few of Vita Sackville West s books in the past mostly as a spinoff on reading Virginia Woolf However, Vita Sackville West is worthy of reading and study in her own right A remarkable woman who is underrated in our time personal book that I own and read not for review Vita Sakvil Vest danas je poznata kao istorijski bitna ali drugorazredna spisateljica manje i inspiracija za Orlanda Vird inije Vulf mnogo vi e Ova knjiga se ne koncentri e ni na jedno ni na drugo, ve , kao to i naslov ka e, na pri u o njenom neuobi ajenom ali po internim jedino va nim parametrima krajnje uspe nom i sre nom braku Knjiga je sklopljena tako da se smenjuju delovi njenog autobiografskog zapisa i poglavlja koja je pisao njihov sin pa na kraju dobijemo umereno celovitu sliku Vitinog bra nog ivota Sin je razumljivo pristrasan, tako da imamo i negativca u liku Vajolet Trefusis koja je poku ala da razdvoji supru nike.
E sad, treba odati priznanje u esnicima na tome to su uspeli da odr e jednu tako neortodoksnu vezu uz uzajamnu ljubav i po tovanje u vreme kad je to bilo jo te e nego danas Ali ako se ne to nau i iz ove knjige onda je to da se sve mo e pod uslovom da se ima dovoljno novca i socijalnog statusa Ne, zaista.
Pojedini momenti zbog toga mogu delovati ili nenamerno urnebesno ili ostavljati gorak ukus za sobom ili oboje istovremeno Mislim na delove pri e tipa a kad su zajedno pobegle u Monte Karlo, ivele su silno siroma no, morale su ak i da zalo e svoje dragulje dok im porodice nisu poslale novac nikad ne u zaboraviti na raskid, ona je bila u salonu ispred koga je neka bedna slu avka u originalu dreary slut ribala pod, morala sam da prekora im kofu s prljavom vodom da bih u la mama ka e sin o Viti nam se uvek nesebi no posve ivala, dadilje su nas vodile kod nje svakog dana u est iako je zbog toga morala da prekida pisanje i nije ba znala o emu s nama da razgovara na i roditelji su super organizovali na porodi ni ivot tako da je svako imao zasebno krilo ku e a mi deca smo bili u ku ici malo podalje itd itd Ne znam, ba mi je te ko ponekad da se u ivim u ne iju patnju, zla sam i bezose ajna Ali znate ko je impresivan Vird inija Vulf je impresivna Ona je najbolji tre i koga bi iko mogao po eleti Vird inija koja za vreme ku ne posete bude u fazonu skloni se, Vita, sad pri am s tvojom decom i zbog koje se Harold Vitin mu brine jedino da je Vita ne povredi jer je Vird inija tako krhkog zdravlja i koja kao poklon za voljenu enu uzme i napi e Orlanda Mislim ok, to o njenoj fabuloznosti smo ve znali, ali uvek vredi ponoviti.
So I have this friend yes, really a friend, not me in disguise, promise She lives like a character in a novel I don t mean to say that she s acting in some sort of pantomime I mean that things happen to her, she thoroughly absorbs them and contemplates them, and then acts as if she s had herself a two chapter period of long walks in the park and insightful inner monologues before each choice is made All of her choices seem to make sense, as if chosen by an author skilled in characterization, with enough experience that she isn t likely to make inconsistent character choices in her world, thank you very much She s got the trick of coherence in her life, whether good or bad I don t mean to say she is predictable she is not , but all of her stories have a wonderful clarity to them Now, this may sound like just the normal process of being human to many people reading this I hope it does I wish it did for me.
In both my own life and in the lives of those around me, I see a ridiculous amount of randomness I ve known my closest friends a very long time now, and even if I can sometimes predict the words about to come out of their mouths with perfect accuracy, I m not satisfied I know why I don t have a sense of a whole character We re all very young, a lot of us are still choosing who it is that we want to be thus, many choices appear inconsistent, silly, incomprehensible, off the wall I know at least one friend who has been trying to become a character for over six years and his choices are the craziest of all of them I ve decided it is because he s trying to live in a novel that no longer corresponds to real life Save her, no one I know, least of all myself, has that sense of being fully fledged to themselves I do spend a decent amount of time weighing my options whenever I m faced with a choice, agonizing that if I were, really a insert perceived good quality here type of person, I really would do this, wouldn t I or that really does make me insert lame quality here , can I live with that I have tried to make my own decisions make sense in some kind of overarching narrative, but all I see is quixotic choices, based on, I don t know, taking a random dislike to someone s shoes So yeah, I do wish that I had of that coherence thing going on in my life Portrait of a Marriage shows me that I m not the only person who has really wanted that Nigel Nicolson is the son of Vita Sackville West, the endlessly fascinating sorry, mind the brain gap while I fangirl woman who was so many things to so many people that not even Virginia Woolf could pin down her essence inside one sex, location, or even century for that matter And yet, despite this elusiveness being one of her most attractive qualities, nearly every person she knew throughout her life tried to make her into some image or other that suited the particular fantasy they wanted to her to be a part of Having now read three different portraits of Vita right in a row, I can tell you that this battle over who she was, and especially what she represents, is still going strong I could not have felt strongly these last few weeks that all history is indeed narrative In this case than most, since everyone involved was literary, wrapped up in their own individual stories often several at once the invented ones, the temporary ones, the permanent real ones , and everyone attempted to control the script from the very beginning It almost seems natural that Nigel Nicolson should do the same.
On the surface, Portrait of a Marriage is actually rather an odd title for this work The central piece of the work is a manuscript that Nigel Nicolson discovered in his mother s writing room after her death It was locked away in a leather bag, hidden from view he had to cut away the lock in order to get to it Inside was a confession, written in 1920 In it, his mother Vita recounts her version of her affair with Violet Trefusis, the daughter of King Edward VII s mistress Alice Keppel The affair was both unmentionable and scandalous at the time, and the two women came inches from running off together permanently, abandoning their husbands and families to live together openly as lovers No one seemed to know of this manuscript s existance other than Vita herself and perhaps Virginia Woolf though no one can prove that.
However, this confession is broken up into two parts, contained before, between, and after by Nigel Nicolson s own perspective on the situations she is describing, further detail on surrounding issues Vita only glancingly mentions, and finally the last chapter gives us a sort of extended epilogue on the rest of Vita and Harold s marriage Vita s story is powerful She provides us with her background the isolated childhood at Knole, her difficult, alluring mother, her wandering gentleman father, her constant writing, her lack of friends, and her growth into full maturity, showing us how she became the person who made the choices she did in her affair with Violet It is in some senses a justification, but the second half of the story, which describes the actual affair itself, offers no justifications, tells the reader awful things that show Vita to no advantage, things that would have utterly disgraced her both in her time and now She does cast herself as Violet s admittedly willing seduction victim, an unknowing innocent in the ways of love following her heart, her mother as the source of much of her unhappiness and fucked up view of life, and Harold as a fairly perfect angel She thus claims this story to be a painful plea for understanding of her divided nature, lesbian love, and why she could not deny herself it she seems to both be addressing her own inner guilt and also Harold, who she expects may read this one day.
Nigel Nicolson has a different agenda He claims Violet and Vita s passionate story as part of Vita and Harold s overarching narrative In his eyes, the Violet Vita incident was the ultimate testing ground for the very modern, liberal idea of marriage that his parents had agreed to live by lovers if they chose, but they would always come back to each other and speak honestly about what was going on at all times , and since in the end Vita did return to England with Harold, he sees it ultimately as a triumph of their solid, loving relationship over the temporary passions of her wild relationship with the evil Violet It is all very coherent indeed.
Now, some people find this a sad denial of same sex relationships and passion, but surely we can all understand why a son would want to show his parents love as paramount, and the lengths he might be willing to go to to paper over as many faults as possible He spends a whole lot of time talking up his father s virtues and his mother s distortions of the truth, but then, what did you think this was going to be In fairness to him, though he seems unable to forgive Violet, he does understand her appeal He quotes from some of her most alluring letters, which paint her in a very sympathetic light, and he even he can t deny his mother s love for VioletNow that I know everything, I love her , as my father did, because she was tempted, because she was weak She was a rebel, she was Julian, and though she did not know it, she fought for than Violet She fought for the right to love, men and women, rejecting the convention that marriage demands exclusive love, and that women should love only men and men only women Yes, she may have been mad, as she later said, but it was a magnificent folly She may have been cruel, but it was cruelty on a heroic scale How can I despise the violence of such passion It was interesting to hear his thoughts on why their compact worked Sort of ironic to me that had they lived in the 21st century, there would have been no possibility of these two people marrying, given their completely different sexual tastes and lifestyles, and yet, according to him, it worked because of these thingsit was fortunate that they were both made that way If only one of them had been, their marriage would probably have collapsed Violet did not destroy their physical union she simply provided the alternative for which Vita was unconsciously seeking at the moment when her physical passion for Harold, and his for her, had begun to cool Vita once put her little creed for Harold in these words To love me whatever I do To believe my motives are not mean Not to credit tales without hearing my own version To give up everything and everybody for me in the last resort The basis of their marriage was mutual respect, enduring love, and a common sense of valuesIt is also worthwhile noting that Vita and Harold conducted most of their relationship on paper not even discussing the most important issues unless one of them was forced to force the issue One of the times Vita and Violet were to run off together, Harold begged Vita to stay with him for two weeks while he recovered from a severe sickness She consented and went home with him They said nothing about the fact that she was leaving until the very last day Harold did not like conflict As Nigel Nicolson noted when discussing his mother s complete refusal to fulfill any sort of official wifely role political wife at rallies, diplomatic hostess , his mother s behavior mightsound selfish, but neither of them thought it so She cared so deeply for her independence that for both of them it outweighed everything else, even their agony at being parted for months on end There is no suggestion in their hundreds of letters that their misery could be ended at any moment by her joining him permanently at one of his postings Instead they exchanged commiserations on his bloody professionand chose to deal with their pain of separation rather than give up their chosen paths The one time Harold did give in to what Vita wanted for him rather than what he wanted turned out to be a bad choice one he made the best of, but nonetheless he always regretted it I wonder if a relationship like theirs might work in the 21st century after all, in a world where contact is ever virtual, and a need for contact can be solved in 140 character bursts before we go back to work.
Vita and Harold s relationship was not sexual after Violet Nigel Nicolson calls that the inevitable cooling of passion, Victoria Glenndinning blames it on Harold s revelation to Vita that he had a venereal disease from one of his gay lovers after five years of total fidelity on her part, Diana Souhami on Harold s infidelity giving Vita implicit permission to let her own lesbian tendencies and Wanderlust out into the opening Whatever the reason, though, and whatever their passions were I guess what I m saying here is that though Vita and Harold themselves lived many stories, and told even , theirs was the story they kept coming back to, again and again As Vita herself said my infinitely dear Hadji, you ought never to have married me I feel my inadequacy most bitterly What good am I to you and he replied, What good was he to her She should have married Lord Lascelles The man who could have given her a castle and a traditional aristocratic life If Nigel Nicolson s interpretation of the situation is a bit on the fairy tale side, that doesn t devalue the deep bond these two people had, and the amazingly high value they placed on their life together Vita stated many times she would no longer want to live if Harold died, Harold refused to acknowledge the possibility until she actually did die Then faced with life without her, withdrew into silence and decline until he died six years later It did seem to be their home base, their safe haven, the place they needed to know existed in order to venture out into the world Does anyone watch Mad Men There s a scene in the first season where Don Draper is talking to a Jewish lover of his about Israel, asking her what it means to her, why she isn t there She responds with something like It s of an idea than a place to me My life is here in New York I ll never go there knowing it exists is all I need Yeah in the end, what I see of this extremely complicated mess is kind of like that Whatever story we might want out of whatever narrative we re reading, sooner or later we re going to run up against a core of what matters that isn t going to alter for any theoretical ism you ve got out there People are what they are, and you can t force them to be anything else, however hard you try That was the real triumph of this book Nigel Nicolson tried, Harold tried, Violet tried, Vita s mother tried, even Vita herself tried all of them failed Whatever else drowned in the mess of these people s lives, that gloriously survived Or that s my narrative, anyway.
I read this book in parallel with Diana Souhami s Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter and the below review combines my thoughts on both books Review first published on BookLikes Let the cat fight begin In the red corner, Diana Souhami, defender of Violet Trefusis In the blue corner, Nigel Nicolson, son of Vita Sackville West and representing her point of view No, I m not going to try and write this as a ring report, but for the most part of reading both in parallel it has been as if I was watching a boxing match with few punches held Both books focus on the lives of the two women at the time of their relationship Although both books are good general biographies, it is really the relationship between Vita and Violet that gets all the attention Of course, it is Vita s own manuscript her detailed confession of the relationship with Violet locked in a drawer which Nicolson discovered after his mother s death that caused Nicolson to write his book and so the focus on this part of Vita s life is entirely justified And it is a fascinating story one which would even find its way into Orlando, Woolf s adoring mock biography of Vita full of jealousy, confusion, passion, and struggle for controlBehind Violet s love for Vita was contempt for the hypocrisy of marriage as she had seen it practised by her mother and the King For herself she knew marriage would be a meretricious show She wanted proof that Vita was dissembling tooDiana Souhami Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter So, on one hand we have a book trying to vindicate Violet and attributing the misery of her emotional upheaval to Vita, on the other we have Vita crediting Violet s manipulation as the cause of of her emotional dependence on VioletThen, when I had finished, when I had told her how all the gentleness and all the femininity of me was called out by Harold alone, but how towards everyone else my attitude was completely otherwise then, still with her infinite skill, she brought me round to my attitude towards herself, as it had always been ever since we were children, and then she told me how she had loved me always, and reminded me of incidents running through years, which I couldn t pretend to have forgotten She was far skilful than I I might have been a boy of eighteen, and she a woman of thirty five She was infinitely clever she didn t scare me, she didn t rush me, she didn t allow me to see where I was going it was all conscious on her part, but on mine it was simply the drunkenness of liberation the liberation of half my personality She opened up to me a new sphere And for her, of course, it meant the supreme effort to conquer the love of the person she had always wanted, who had always repulsed her when things seemed to be going too far , out of a sort of fear, and of whom she was madly jealous a fact I had not realized, so adept was she at concealment, and so obtuse was I at her psychologyNigel Nicolson Portrait Of A Marriage As a result, neither comes across as particularly likeable and I found myself feel rather sorry for their husbands, Denys Trefusis and Harold Nicolson, who went to great lengths to both enable Violet and Vita to conduct their relationship and at the same time protect them from the destructive nature of their passions.
Like many people I first heard of Vita Sackville West when reading about Virginia Woolf and their relationship Sackville West was a poet, author, gardener, and someone who, quietly, lived outside the norms of society Her marriage to Sir Harold Nicolson remained open, but only to women Portrait of a Marriage is part autobiography and part biography It was inspired by a journal, Vita s son, Nigel Nicolson, found among her possessions after her death Nicolson presents Portrait of a Marriage in five sections Sections one and three are the complete journal left by Vita Sections two and four are written by Nigel and support Vit s writing with other first and second hand accounts They include letters from Vita s lovers as well as letters and note from family and her husband Vita s teenage to adult relationship with Rosamund Grosvenor which ended when Grosvenor married and centers mostly on her relationship with Violet Trefusis The last section is again written by Nigel and includes the Virginia Woolf affair and on family matters Portrait of a Marriage provides a unique look at relationships and marriages in a time that we think as conservative than today Same sex relationships and even the questioning of gender roles are examined in their time period Vita does say that she thought of herself as a boy growing up In Passenger to Teheran, a memoir of her travel to Iran to reunite with her husband, she does not reveal her sex until the very end of the book It has the sense of reading a male account of travel Aside from its importance as a biography, it is also important as part of the LGTBQ history Vita Sackville West is an interesting read even when writes a journal It is difficult to rate a book that is a journal It is the writer s actual thoughts at the time and not meant to be a published work Without a doubt, Sackville West excels even in this format Nigel Nicolson compiles supporting evidence Credit must be giving to Nigel Nicolson on several accounts First, it is his mother he is writing about and at the time, his mother s and even his published in 1973 her orientation was not accepted Secondly, Nicolson waited to publish this book until all members who are in it were dead He did not try to sensationalize his mother or her lovers or embarrass family members It is very tastefully done I have read a few of Vita Sackville West s books in the past mostly as a spinoff on reading Virginia Woolf However, Vita Sackville West is worthy of reading and study in her own right A remarkable woman who is underrated in our time personal book that I own and read not for review Vita Sakvil Vest danas je poznata kao istorijski bitna ali drugorazredna spisateljica manje i inspiracija za Orlanda Vird inije Vulf mnogo vi e Ova knjiga se ne koncentri e ni na jedno ni na drugo, ve , kao to i naslov ka e, na pri u o njenom neuobi ajenom ali po internim jedino va nim parametrima krajnje uspe nom i sre nom braku Knjiga je sklopljena tako da se smenjuju delovi njenog autobiografskog zapisa i poglavlja koja je pisao njihov sin pa na kraju dobijemo umereno celovitu sliku Vitinog bra nog ivota Sin je razumljivo pristrasan, tako da imamo i negativca u liku Vajolet Trefusis koja je poku ala da razdvoji supru nike.
E sad, treba odati priznanje u esnicima na tome to su uspeli da odr e jednu tako neortodoksnu vezu uz uzajamnu ljubav i po tovanje u vreme kad je to bilo jo te e nego danas Ali ako se ne to nau i iz ove knjige onda je to da se sve mo e pod uslovom da se ima dovoljno novca i socijalnog statusa Ne, zaista.
Pojedini momenti zbog toga mogu delovati ili nenamerno urnebesno ili ostavljati gorak ukus za sobom ili oboje istovremeno Mislim na delove pri e tipa a kad su zajedno pobegle u Monte Karlo, ivele su silno siroma no, morale su ak i da zalo e svoje dragulje dok im porodice nisu poslale novac nikad ne u zaboraviti na raskid, ona je bila u salonu ispred koga je neka bedna slu avka u originalu dreary slut ribala pod, morala sam da prekora im kofu s prljavom vodom da bih u la mama ka e sin o Viti nam se uvek nesebi no posve ivala, dadilje su nas vodile kod nje svakog dana u est iako je zbog toga morala da prekida pisanje i nije ba znala o emu s nama da razgovara na i roditelji su super organizovali na porodi ni ivot tako da je svako imao zasebno krilo ku e a mi deca smo bili u ku ici malo podalje itd itd Ne znam, ba mi je te ko ponekad da se u ivim u ne iju patnju, zla sam i bezose ajna Ali znate ko je impresivan Vird inija Vulf je impresivna Ona je najbolji tre i koga bi iko mogao po eleti Vird inija koja za vreme ku ne posete bude u fazonu skloni se, Vita, sad pri am s tvojom decom i zbog koje se Harold Vitin mu brine jedino da je Vita ne povredi jer je Vird inija tako krhkog zdravlja i koja kao poklon za voljenu enu uzme i napi e Orlanda Mislim ok, to o njenoj fabuloznosti smo ve znali, ali uvek vredi ponoviti.
Sometimes I can t get enough of Virginia Woolf I often luxuriate in rereading one of her novels or even one of the biographies I have occasion to peek into the diaries or letters again Reading about those important to her gives satisfaction, too, so that I ve read biographies of Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and Vita Sackville West to learn how they influenced Virginia Sometimes I think I might resemble a sad teabag saturated with Woolf and Bloomsbury and unceremoniously plomped into a delicate Victorian saucer So I m not sure how Portrait of a Marriage, Nigel Nicholson s loving memoir of his parents, Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville West, went unread by me for so long One forms impressions of books as well known as this before they re read I must ve thought Nicholson s book attempted to explain and make excuses for Harold s and Vita s unconventional behavior and marriage But now I know it s a loving portrait and homage to a union of substance and to parents totally devoted to each other and their children Rather than explanation, it s a song of acceptance and love Because his parents commitment to each other and their lives together was complete, Nicholson doesn t feel he has to justify their bisexuality and their loves outside the long marriage After Vita s affair with Violet Trefusis, none of their many affairs threatened to break the family What Nicholson explains is how deeply Harold and Vita respected and cared for each other and the shared life they created at Long Barn and Sissinghurst, their country homes The most serious threat, of course, was Violet Sharing Nicholson s memoir of the marriage is Vita s account of her love affair with Trefusis recorded in her diary Confession, maybe Exorcism might be accurate, too I was much less engaged with Vita s diary entries, written when she was 28, following the break up with Trefusis, than I was with Nicholson s tender and understanding remembrance of her Vita regrets She and Violet had intended leaving their marriages for each other, and they would have if it hadn t been for the dogged determination of the 2 husbands refusing to allow such a mistake Vita wrote in her diary, One should not to allow oneself the luxury of losing one s head Nicholson keeps his balance He has the faith and grace to not judge, unless it s the seemingly catty remark about Trefusis, I met her only twice, and by then she had become a galleon, no longer the pinnace of her youth, and I did not recognize in her sails the high wind which had swept my mother away, because I did not know that she had been swept away I think that one of the strengths of the portrait he writes is his refusal to bow to the judgemental and his steadfast belief that his parents love for each other wasn t only good enough but was extraordinary That s his story Virginia Woolf fits into the book only briefly Her affair with Vita was several years after Violet Virginia s inability to successfully respond to sex contributed to the brevity of the physical expression of it, but her love for Vita was intense for the rest of her life In fact, the years they were closest were the years Woolf produced her 3 most magnificent novels Vita was muse, too Woolf s Orlando, a 4th novel from the Vita years, was another by product of their affair Inspired by Vita and a direct portrait of her, it s called by Nicholson the longest and most charming love letter in literature This book is included in the 501 Must read books under the category of Memoirs I would not have bought this if I were not in this quest of reading all those 501 books In my last tally, I ve read almost half of them.
Some of those books got 1 or 2 stars from me that proves once again that our taste in literature is really a matter of personal preference That we bring our own experiences, bias, prejudices when we devour a book Still, I rely on my friends and all these book lists rather than just randomly picking books straight from bookshelves To date, I have 2,700 to be read physical books that, if I would be lucky to reach the age of 80 I will be 50 this year , I need to read at least 90 books per year But can I live up to 80 when my dad died at the age of 60 and my mom is now 78 and has lost her interest on reading due to poor eyesight Speaking of mom and dad, this book Portrait of Marriage tells the story of a couple Virginia Woolf s mistress, poet, author and gardener Vita Sackville West 1892 1962 and her husband Harold Nicolson 1886 1968 who was a diplomat, author, diarist and politician Both of them were English and they spent most of their lives in London.
Their marriage is so strange that at first it seemed to me unbelievable It lasted for 17 years not because they parted their ways but because, Vita the woman died Vita was gay and during their marriage had at least 3 female lovers and one of them, the last one mentioned in the book, was Virginia Woolf who by that time was very much married to Leonard So, both Vita and Virginia were married women but they had an affair and their husband knew about them Harold, Vita s husband had his share of infidelities also both women and men he was a latent homosexual This is basically what the gist of the book is the three same sex relationships that Vita had one prior to marrying Harold and two during their marriage You can say that infidelities happen all around us but the thing is that Vita and Harold loved each other dearly that when Vita died in 1962, Harold lost his passion to live, i.
e.
, abandoned everything, and died one night when he was about to go to bed.
And the telling was done by their second son, Nigel Nicolson who witnessed how devastated his father was Nigel saw how his parents dutifully did their respective shares in making sure that their marriage worked, raised him and his older brother Ben as normal human beings and loved each other until their deaths Can a gay person still passionately love somebody belonging to opposite sex and that love is enough for marriage to work How can the spouse tolerate infidelities of his her gay partner And still not dread sleeping beside him her at night How do their children view and endure those infidelities and not affect their view of marriage How can the people involve in this marriage come out of it not scarred These are the questions that this book tried to answer and those answers are enough for you to consider reading this book, 501 or not Just pick this up if you want to read a beautifully written book about unusual but successful marriage.
Vita Sackville West, Novelist, Poet, And Biographer, Is Best Known As The Friend Of Virginia Woolf, Who Transformed Her Into An Androgynous Time Traveler In Orlando The Story Of Sackville West S Marriage To Harold Nicolson Is One Of Intrigue And Bewilderment In Portrait Of A Marriage, Their Son Nigel Combines His Mother S Memoir With His Own Explanations And What He Learned From Their Many Letters Even During Her Various Love Affairs With Women, Vita Maintained A Loving Marriage With Harold Portrait Of A Marriage Presents An Often Misunderstood But Always Fascinating Couple Continuing my reading about Vita and Violet, I felt it important to read Portrait of a Marriage.
To use the official lingo, is both a primary and a secondary source of sorts The book is split into roughly for chapters, plus an introduction Two of the chapters are by Vita, and each is followed by a chapter by Nigel Nicolson, her son and literary executor After his mothers death n 1962, Nigel found a locked bag among her things Inside the bag was a notebook of her writing After a few pages of abortive poems, he found pages and pages of writing The first page, dated 1920 began Of course I have no right whatsoever to write down the truth about my lifebut I do so urged by a necessity of truth telling, because there is no living so who knows the complete truth The 80 pages that followed were her attempt to write down her love affair with Violet Trefusis, and, in working her way through everything she d been through and felt, to come to terms with the fact that it was ending The rest of the book then, is Nigel s attempt to place that affair in the context of his parent s marriage, to show how they weathered it, to add his own insights and explain Vita and Harold s unconventional and amazing marriage, supplimented with letters and diary entries from Harold, Vita and Violet.
The result is so dense that it s almost hard to think of it all at once, except to say that the combined effect of is it all is extraordinary It s such a feeling book Everyone feels so much Violet and Vita s love, Harold and Vita s love, even Nigel s love for his parents not just as parents, but as people That s really what came through it for me All the different kinds of love people have for each other, the ways they can make each other miserable and the ways they can comfort each other, the ways they can set each other aflame, and the ways they can be a safe harbor, just how strong, how destructive and how healing love can be How it can destroy lives or enrich them.
Vita knew that one day a love like what she had with Violet, and her own nature which was drawn to love Harold, and be in love with women, would be accepted and seen as normal, and I m glad she was for the most part right I was also so struck by Vita and Harold s marriage, how they remained each other s anchor, each other s true north , as Harold said, regardless of any love affairs Vita had with women or Harold had with men They loved each other and accepted who each other was, and it s really incredible to me.
In his Foreword to the original edition of this book first published in 1973 , Nigel Nicolson writes this about the strange, compelling and enduring union between his famous parents Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West It is the story of two people who married for love and whose love deepened with every passing year, although each was constantly and by mutual consent unfaithful to the other Both loved people of their own sex, but not exclusively Their marriage not only survived infidelity, sexual incompatibility and long absences, but became stronger and finer as result Each came to give the other full liberty without enquiry or reproach Honour was rooted in dishonour Their marriage succeeded because each found permanent and undiluted happiness only in the company of the other If their marriage is seen as a harbour, their love affairs were mere ports of call It was to the harbour that each returned it was there that both were based.
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i After his mother Vita s death, her younger son Nigel discovered an unpublished manuscript in a locked Gladstone bag in her famous sitting room in the tower at Sissinghurst The manuscript was an emotional and confessional account of Vita s three year affair with Violet Keppel nee Trefusis an affair which threatened to wreck her hitherto happy marriage with Harold Nicolson There were many aspects of the affair which were transgressive not least of all, Vita s tendency to present herself as man called Julian during it After much deliberation, Nigel decided to publish this most private episode from Vita s life His reasons for doing so were based primarily on his belief that his mother would have wanted it She states explicitly that she wants to tell the entire truth of her life most importantly, because she feels it might be of some benefit to people like herself and by that she means not just people who feel sexual desire for their own sex, but people who feel that their deepest psychological make up is gendered not as female, but male, or a mix of both sexes One of the most interesting aspects of this book, for me, is in the way that Nicolson alternates excerpts of his mother s writing with explanations corrections from his perspective or in some cases the larger perspective As I have been reading other biographical and autobiographical accounts of Vita s life, alongside this book, it is fascinating to see how the shaping of selective memories can alter slightly or drastically the story Nicolson points out that the Nicolson Sackville West marriage was exceptionally well documented both from diary entries and letters between the couple They tended to spend the weekends together and the weekdays apart, and when they were not together they wrote each other daily They were fascinated by their own marriage, and took great pleasure in dissecting it and their feelings for each other And, truly, they did have an inarguably fascinating marriage Nicolson makes a good case for the deep and enduring love they had for each other, despite the incongruous nature of their marriage as a whole This is definitely an indispensable biography if you are interested in its subject marriage or main characters Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West 4.
5 stars A me piace molto leggere o ascoltare storie di famiglia, forse perch nella mia famiglia se ne sono sempre raccontate molte non capita sovente, per , di leggere storie come quelle radunate in questo memoriale da Nigel Nicolson 1917 2004 , anche perch non tutti hanno la fortuna di avere genitori eccezionali sotto var punti di vista come Sir Harold Nicolson 1886 1968 e Vita Sackville West 1892 1962 Nigel intreccia qui pagine sue ad altre scritte dalla madre, concentrandosi soprattutto sul periodo iniziale del matrimonio, quando la relazione col marito fu scompigliata da una turbinosa storia d a fra Vita e Violet Trefusis Ambo le giovani dame inglesi erano passionali e pazze d a, ma la Trefusis che in realt si chiamava Keppel nonostante le inclinazioni saffiche per us il cognome del marito anche in seguito, per tutta la sua non corta vedovanza doveva possedere un carattere tremendo Alvar Gonz lez Palacios, il quale la conobbe da vecchia, la descrive come una specie d imperioso carro armato in veli di chiffon che, partita dalla sua villa dell Ombrellino a Bellosguardo, faceva irruzione a villa La Pietra provocando ogni volta lo sconcerto della madre di Sir Harold Acton, vecchina fragile bench amatrice dei Martini cocktail secchissimi e, se invitava a pranzo, mesceva champagne per s , dato che, sosteneva, gliel aveva ordinato il medico, e Chianti agli ospiti La pagine di mano di Nigel Nicolson, ancor pi dei diar materni, sono felicissime nel descrivere le scene d inseguimento fra queste due giovani donne che si prendevano e si lasciavano, litigavano, si riconciliavano, s inseguivano per mezza Europa su traghetti e trains de luxe come personaggi di Maurice Dekobra par di vederle fra drappi vaporosi, parasoli, ventagli nacr s, pamele di paglia fiorentina, scialletti di cashmere e sciarpe di organzino e intanto i mariti dietro, affannati a cercar di salvare il salvabile oltre che le apparenze, con pazienza e civile contegno il signor Nicolson, che non per niente lavorava al Foreign Office o con ulteriore fioritura di m lo e scene madri il povero Denys Trefusis, che decedette pi tardi, come annota con delizioso tocco d umorismo macabro Sir Nigel, di consunzione , e le madri, vicine o distanti, a dire la loro, o meglio a strillarla, in maniera tutt altro che sommessamente britannica Questa parte del libro la pi intensa e godibile per la sua mercuriale agilit ed tanto pi ragguardevole se si pensa che a scriverla era un figlio che parlava della madre ormai scomparsa nel rievocare questa vecchia storia d a proibito non manca di rievocare, d altronde, le scappatelle simmetriche ma plurime che si concedeva Sir Harold con uomini, per mi viene in mente quello scambio di battute tra Francesca D Aloia e Alessandro Gassman nel Bagno turco di Ozpetek Ma io ti ho tradito con un uomo Anch io, se per questo , e ovviamente non riferite con dettagli del resto ignoti allo scrittore Difficile per immaginare un grado maggiore di civilt e finezza l autore sa essere al contempo affettuoso, divertito e lievissimo ch dalle sue pagine ad emergere anzitutto proprio l intenso affetto per questi genitori tutt altro che grigi, normali e prevedibili, e per le vicende ingarbugliate di nonni e bisnonni a loro volta tutt altro che prevedibili, normali e grigi Ammirevole nondimeno anche la delicatezza nell accennare alla relazione di Vita con Virginia Woolf delicatezza che corrisponde a quella della stessa Vita, che temeva di far male a una donna molto amata da lei, ma sensibilissima e fragile, e amata con un affetto quieto e maturo ben diverso dalle raffiche tempestose della passione per Violet Poi venne pian piano l et pi tarda, con le abitudini placide di scrittura e coltivazione di piante nel fastoso giardino di Sissinghurst, mutato dalla Sackville West da sterpaglia squallida in quel capolavoro che ancor oggi arrivano ad ammirare i turisti di tutto il mondo Sir Harold sopravvisse di sei anni alla moglie, taciturno e ormai malato di cuore, der Welt abhanden gekommen, tra i suoi libri e le bellezze sovrabbondanti della sua casa e dei suoi ricordi.


This book is included in the 501 Must read books under the category of Memoirs I would not have bought this if I were not in this quest of reading all those 501 books In my last tally, I ve read almost half of them.
Some of those books got 1 or 2 stars from me that proves once again that our taste in literature is really a matter of personal preference That we bring our own experiences, bias, prejudices when we devour a book Still, I rely on my friends and all these book lists rather than just randomly picking books straight from bookshelves To date, I have 2,700 to be read physical books that, if I would be lucky to reach the age of 80 I will be 50 this year , I need to read at least 90 books per year But can I live up to 80 when my dad died at the age of 60 and my mom is now 78 and has lost her interest on reading due to poor eyesight Speaking of mom and dad, this book Portrait of Marriage tells the story of a couple Virginia Woolf s mistress, poet, author and gardener Vita Sackville West 1892 1962 and her husband Harold Nicolson 1886 1968 who was a diplomat, author, diarist and politician Both of them were English and they spent most of their lives in London.
Their marriage is so strange that at first it seemed to me unbelievable It lasted for 17 years not because they parted their ways but because, Vita the woman died Vita was gay and during their marriage had at least 3 female lovers and one of them, the last one mentioned in the book, was Virginia Woolf who by that time was very much married to Leonard So, both Vita and Virginia were married women but they had an affair and their husband knew about them Harold, Vita s husband had his share of infidelities also both women and men he was a latent homosexual This is basically what the gist of the book is the three same sex relationships that Vita had one prior to marrying Harold and two during their marriage You can say that infidelities happen all around us but the thing is that Vita and Harold loved each other dearly that when Vita died in 1962, Harold lost his passion to live, i.
e.
, abandoned everything, and died one night when he was about to go to bed.
And the telling was done by their second son, Nigel Nicolson who witnessed how devastated his father was Nigel saw how his parents dutifully did their respective shares in making sure that their marriage worked, raised him and his older brother Ben as normal human beings and loved each other until their deaths Can a gay person still passionately love somebody belonging to opposite sex and that love is enough for marriage to work How can the spouse tolerate infidelities of his her gay partner And still not dread sleeping beside him her at night How do their children view and endure those infidelities and not affect their view of marriage How can the people involve in this marriage come out of it not scarred These are the questions that this book tried to answer and those answers are enough for you to consider reading this book, 501 or not Just pick this up if you want to read a beautifully written book about unusual but successful marriage.
Sometimes I can t get enough of Virginia Woolf I often luxuriate in rereading one of her novels or even one of the biographies I have occasion to peek into the diaries or letters again Reading about those important to her gives satisfaction, too, so that I ve read biographies of Leonard Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and Vita Sackville West to learn how they influenced Virginia Sometimes I think I might resemble a sad teabag saturated with Woolf and Bloomsbury and unceremoniously plomped into a delicate Victorian saucer So I m not sure how Portrait of a Marriage, Nigel Nicholson s loving memoir of his parents, Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville West, went unread by me for so long One forms impressions of books as well known as this before they re read I must ve thought Nicholson s book attempted to explain and make excuses for Harold s and Vita s unconventional behavior and marriage But now I know it s a loving portrait and homage to a union of substance and to parents totally devoted to each other and their children Rather than explanation, it s a song of acceptance and love Because his parents commitment to each other and their lives together was complete, Nicholson doesn t feel he has to justify their bisexuality and their loves outside the long marriage After Vita s affair with Violet Trefusis, none of their many affairs threatened to break the family What Nicholson explains is how deeply Harold and Vita respected and cared for each other and the shared life they created at Long Barn and Sissinghurst, their country homes The most serious threat, of course, was Violet Sharing Nicholson s memoir of the marriage is Vita s account of her love affair with Trefusis recorded in her diary Confession, maybe Exorcism might be accurate, too I was much less engaged with Vita s diary entries, written when she was 28, following the break up with Trefusis, than I was with Nicholson s tender and understanding remembrance of her Vita regrets She and Violet had intended leaving their marriages for each other, and they would have if it hadn t been for the dogged determination of the 2 husbands refusing to allow such a mistake Vita wrote in her diary, One should not to allow oneself the luxury of losing one s head Nicholson keeps his balance He has the faith and grace to not judge, unless it s the seemingly catty remark about Trefusis, I met her only twice, and by then she had become a galleon, no longer the pinnace of her youth, and I did not recognize in her sails the high wind which had swept my mother away, because I did not know that she had been swept away I think that one of the strengths of the portrait he writes is his refusal to bow to the judgemental and his steadfast belief that his parents love for each other wasn t only good enough but was extraordinary That s his story Virginia Woolf fits into the book only briefly Her affair with Vita was several years after Violet Virginia s inability to successfully respond to sex contributed to the brevity of the physical expression of it, but her love for Vita was intense for the rest of her life In fact, the years they were closest were the years Woolf produced her 3 most magnificent novels Vita was muse, too Woolf s Orlando, a 4th novel from the Vita years, was another by product of their affair Inspired by Vita and a direct portrait of her, it s called by Nicholson the longest and most charming love letter in literature Continuing my reading about Vita and Violet, I felt it important to read Portrait of a Marriage.
To use the official lingo, is both a primary and a secondary source of sorts The book is split into roughly for chapters, plus an introduction Two of the chapters are by Vita, and each is followed by a chapter by Nigel Nicolson, her son and literary executor After his mothers death n 1962, Nigel found a locked bag among her things Inside the bag was a notebook of her writing After a few pages of abortive poems, he found pages and pages of writing The first page, dated 1920 began Of course I have no right whatsoever to write down the truth about my lifebut I do so urged by a necessity of truth telling, because there is no living so who knows the complete truth The 80 pages that followed were her attempt to write down her love affair with Violet Trefusis, and, in working her way through everything she d been through and felt, to come to terms with the fact that it was ending The rest of the book then, is Nigel s attempt to place that affair in the context of his parent s marriage, to show how they weathered it, to add his own insights and explain Vita and Harold s unconventional and amazing marriage, supplimented with letters and diary entries from Harold, Vita and Violet.
The result is so dense that it s almost hard to think of it all at once, except to say that the combined effect of is it all is extraordinary It s such a feeling book Everyone feels so much Violet and Vita s love, Harold and Vita s love, even Nigel s love for his parents not just as parents, but as people That s really what came through it for me All the different kinds of love people have for each other, the ways they can make each other miserable and the ways they can comfort each other, the ways they can set each other aflame, and the ways they can be a safe harbor, just how strong, how destructive and how healing love can be How it can destroy lives or enrich them.
Vita knew that one day a love like what she had with Violet, and her own nature which was drawn to love Harold, and be in love with women, would be accepted and seen as normal, and I m glad she was for the most part right I was also so struck by Vita and Harold s marriage, how they remained each other s anchor, each other s true north , as Harold said, regardless of any love affairs Vita had with women or Harold had with men They loved each other and accepted who each other was, and it s really incredible to me.
In his Foreword to the original edition of this book first published in 1973 , Nigel Nicolson writes this about the strange, compelling and enduring union between his famous parents Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West It is the story of two people who married for love and whose love deepened with every passing year, although each was constantly and by mutual consent unfaithful to the other Both loved people of their own sex, but not exclusively Their marriage not only survived infidelity, sexual incompatibility and long absences, but became stronger and finer as result Each came to give the other full liberty without enquiry or reproach Honour was rooted in dishonour Their marriage succeeded because each found permanent and undiluted happiness only in the company of the other If their marriage is seen as a harbour, their love affairs were mere ports of call It was to the harbour that each returned it was there that both were based.
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i After his mother Vita s death, her younger son Nigel discovered an unpublished manuscript in a locked Gladstone bag in her famous sitting room in the tower at Sissinghurst The manuscript was an emotional and confessional account of Vita s three year affair with Violet Keppel nee Trefusis an affair which threatened to wreck her hitherto happy marriage with Harold Nicolson There were many aspects of the affair which were transgressive not least of all, Vita s tendency to present herself as man called Julian during it After much deliberation, Nigel decided to publish this most private episode from Vita s life His reasons for doing so were based primarily on his belief that his mother would have wanted it She states explicitly that she wants to tell the entire truth of her life most importantly, because she feels it might be of some benefit to people like herself and by that she means not just people who feel sexual desire for their own sex, but people who feel that their deepest psychological make up is gendered not as female, but male, or a mix of both sexes One of the most interesting aspects of this book, for me, is in the way that Nicolson alternates excerpts of his mother s writing with explanations corrections from his perspective or in some cases the larger perspective As I have been reading other biographical and autobiographical accounts of Vita s life, alongside this book, it is fascinating to see how the shaping of selective memories can alter slightly or drastically the story Nicolson points out that the Nicolson Sackville West marriage was exceptionally well documented both from diary entries and letters between the couple They tended to spend the weekends together and the weekdays apart, and when they were not together they wrote each other daily They were fascinated by their own marriage, and took great pleasure in dissecting it and their feelings for each other And, truly, they did have an inarguably fascinating marriage Nicolson makes a good case for the deep and enduring love they had for each other, despite the incongruous nature of their marriage as a whole This is definitely an indispensable biography if you are interested in its subject marriage or main characters Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville West 4.
5 stars A me piace molto leggere o ascoltare storie di famiglia, forse perch nella mia famiglia se ne sono sempre raccontate molte non capita sovente, per , di leggere storie come quelle radunate in questo memoriale da Nigel Nicolson 1917 2004 , anche perch non tutti hanno la fortuna di avere genitori eccezionali sotto var punti di vista come Sir Harold Nicolson 1886 1968 e Vita Sackville West 1892 1962 Nigel intreccia qui pagine sue ad altre scritte dalla madre, concentrandosi soprattutto sul periodo iniziale del matrimonio, quando la relazione col marito fu scompigliata da una turbinosa storia d a fra Vita e Violet Trefusis Ambo le giovani dame inglesi erano passionali e pazze d a, ma la Trefusis che in realt si chiamava Keppel nonostante le inclinazioni saffiche per us il cognome del marito anche in seguito, per tutta la sua non corta vedovanza doveva possedere un carattere tremendo Alvar Gonz lez Palacios, il quale la conobbe da vecchia, la descrive come una specie d imperioso carro armato in veli di chiffon che, partita dalla sua villa dell Ombrellino a Bellosguardo, faceva irruzione a villa La Pietra provocando ogni volta lo sconcerto della madre di Sir Harold Acton, vecchina fragile bench amatrice dei Martini cocktail secchissimi e, se invitava a pranzo, mesceva champagne per s , dato che, sosteneva, gliel aveva ordinato il medico, e Chianti agli ospiti La pagine di mano di Nigel Nicolson, ancor pi dei diar materni, sono felicissime nel descrivere le scene d inseguimento fra queste due giovani donne che si prendevano e si lasciavano, litigavano, si riconciliavano, s inseguivano per mezza Europa su traghetti e trains de luxe come personaggi di Maurice Dekobra par di vederle fra drappi vaporosi, parasoli, ventagli nacr s, pamele di paglia fiorentina, scialletti di cashmere e sciarpe di organzino e intanto i mariti dietro, affannati a cercar di salvare il salvabile oltre che le apparenze, con pazienza e civile contegno il signor Nicolson, che non per niente lavorava al Foreign Office o con ulteriore fioritura di m lo e scene madri il povero Denys Trefusis, che decedette pi tardi, come annota con delizioso tocco d umorismo macabro Sir Nigel, di consunzione , e le madri, vicine o distanti, a dire la loro, o meglio a strillarla, in maniera tutt altro che sommessamente britannica Questa parte del libro la pi intensa e godibile per la sua mercuriale agilit ed tanto pi ragguardevole se si pensa che a scriverla era un figlio che parlava della madre ormai scomparsa nel rievocare questa vecchia storia d a proibito non manca di rievocare, d altronde, le scappatelle simmetriche ma plurime che si concedeva Sir Harold con uomini, per mi viene in mente quello scambio di battute tra Francesca D Aloia e Alessandro Gassman nel Bagno turco di Ozpetek Ma io ti ho tradito con un uomo Anch io, se per questo , e ovviamente non riferite con dettagli del resto ignoti allo scrittore Difficile per immaginare un grado maggiore di civilt e finezza l autore sa essere al contempo affettuoso, divertito e lievissimo ch dalle sue pagine ad emergere anzitutto proprio l intenso affetto per questi genitori tutt altro che grigi, normali e prevedibili, e per le vicende ingarbugliate di nonni e bisnonni a loro volta tutt altro che prevedibili, normali e grigi Ammirevole nondimeno anche la delicatezza nell accennare alla relazione di Vita con Virginia Woolf delicatezza che corrisponde a quella della stessa Vita, che temeva di far male a una donna molto amata da lei, ma sensibilissima e fragile, e amata con un affetto quieto e maturo ben diverso dalle raffiche tempestose della passione per Violet Poi venne pian piano l et pi tarda, con le abitudini placide di scrittura e coltivazione di piante nel fastoso giardino di Sissinghurst, mutato dalla Sackville West da sterpaglia squallida in quel capolavoro che ancor oggi arrivano ad ammirare i turisti di tutto il mondo Sir Harold sopravvisse di sei anni alla moglie, taciturno e ormai malato di cuore, der Welt abhanden gekommen, tra i suoi libri e le bellezze sovrabbondanti della sua casa e dei suoi ricordi.