Monday, October 21, 2013

A Very Cool Guy You Really Should Know

"In my religion all believers would stop work at sundown and have a drink together." ~ Cyril Connolly 

(Cyril Connolly by Richard Avedon.)

Cyril Connolly was an English writer and critic (1903-1974) -- but before you dismiss him as being a fuddy-duddy, let me tell you: He was one of us. 

Ernest Hemingway said about The Unquiet Grave, Connolly's book of personal reflections, "No matter how many readers it will ever have, it will never have enough." Writer William Boyd described it as being a lesson in the art of living.

Cyril is our kind of guy. I speak of him in the literary present because as long as we think about him, he still lives. His one-liners kill me. It's hard to read more than a page or two of The Unquiet Grave without shouting to yourself, "OMG yes."

He's romantic.

“Tea, coffee, alcohol stimulate. So do heights, wet days, south-west gales, hotel bedrooms in Paris and windows overlooking harbors.” 

He's prone to excess.

"Both my happiness and my unhappiness I owe to the love of pleasure."

He likes October as much we do.

"I live more in the present in the autumn than in any other season."

He's trying to figure out how to live meaningfully.

“The lives of most human beings are worthless except in so far as they contribute to the enrichment and emancipation of the human spirit.”

He appreciates style.

“For an angora pullover, for a red scarf, for a beret and some brown shoes, I am bleeding to death."

When he gets depressed, he comes up with lists of things that make him feel better.

"Enemies of angst: the morning awakening of a house, dogs being let out, the smell of breakfast, Sunday papers, taps running."

He loves food. Maybe too much.

"Imprisoned in every fat man a thin one is wildly struggling to be let out."(Yep, he's the one who wrote that.)

He's flawed. 
He's funny. 
He's sensitive.
He's self-deprecating. 
And he lives with a passion and fervor for life that will inspire you to do the same. As William Boyd put it, "No matter what he writes about, you respond, instinctively: "How true, that's exactly where I want to live and how I want to live as well."

Start with "The Unquiet Grave."
If you like it (and I think you will), it could be the start of a beautiful new relationship. 

It has been for me.


P.S. All quotes from The Unquiet Grave.


donna baker said...

What a wonderful time it must have been - when people could find time to sit and ruminate about life and the world around them. Wonder what they'd think of the net, the tube, etc. Would Voltaire have had a library of over 20,000 books?

Kelly said...

Thank you, what a lovely recommendation. Sounds like a perfect autumn read.

maria s. said...

Always love your book recommendations. Was this inspired by the Donna Tartt interview in the NY Times book review or a case of great minds thinking alike? Either way, I've added CC to my list.

Much appreciated!

Maria S.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Unknown: No, had no idea Donna Tartt liked him too. Will look for that article online, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I already know this divine man! He co-wrote the masterpiece(in my opinion: "Les Pavillons"!! wiwt Cyril Connolly!

My mother's bible....and then my own! Brilliant book...

and the best houses one could possibly see.....EVER!

Brilliant post! thank you so much!

Emily said...

I'm intrigued to say the least! Excited to read his works.

Jessica Thor-Miller said...

Lisa!!!!!!!!!!!! I have stacks of books I need to work through and now I must, must, MUST read these too!

Eternally grateful,


WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

Thanks for the heads up Lisa - I discovered Beverley Nichols because of you and realized he was one of the tribe. Off to introduce myself to Cyril! And some Donna Tartt! Someone mentioned her on my blog this am and I am woefully ignorant and have to fix that, too!

CarolynRenee said...

Oh, such a great suggestion. "The Unquiet Grave" is on my book list now.

Thank you!

ElaineD said...

'The opposite of fearing death is to love life and the painful consideration of non-existence will be found to disappear when life is lived fully. Lovers (of life) hardly fear death at all, which is why they can afford so closely to contemplate it. If you cannot cultivate love, then cultivate courage as the Romans did.....
Personally, while my reason inclines me to believe in extinction, and a few childish fears to hell remorse and judgement, my temperament has constructed it's own version that when we die we become what we have loved. Cyril Connolly
in a letter, quoted by his daughter Cressida

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Elaine D:

"When we die we become what we have loved."
That is beyond EXQUISITE. Thank you so much for posting that quote of Connolly's!


24 Corners said...

I hadn't ever had the pleasure of meeting Cyril, now I have and I'm sure we will become fast friends!
Thanks so much for the introduction...
xo J~

Slim Paley said...

thanks lisa- i will add it to my bedside tower!


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