Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to open an envelope by Marcel Proust

It is summer time in Auckland, hot and humid and the only thing to do is to spend the afternoon in bed with Marcel Proust. The long summer days are perfect for enjoying 'In Search  of  Lost Time' or what ever Proust's novel is known as these days. My husband Miles was right! Proust can change your life and ever since my introduction to 'The Cities of the Plain' and the 'Baron de Charlus' I have never been the same.

Proust and I have a lot in common both of us spend prodigious hours in bed because of our respective illnesses. We have to fill in time, Proust with his novel which he never finished completely, the last third Proust never got around to editing and it shows and I,  with my computer on which I can spend hours learning how to get a button to turn the sound  on and off. I am very proud of my personal on/off switch for which I wrote the code. Took a week!

Both of us have had to self publish as in both our cases nobody else is going to. Proust eventually decided to publish his novel himself and sent 'Swans Way' the first part to all his friends by post. Sadly most of them found great difficulty in actually opening the envelope. Proust rang one of them and asked if the receiver had enjoyed his book. The friend couldn't even recall getting it let alone reading it but said 'Well if you sent it I must have read it'.  I know how Proust feels.

I too have a limited audience. If one cannot bore one's friends what are they for? This year I have sent a few of them a 'Potpourri' of the songs and poems on which I have amused myself. From Wordsworth to 'Winnie the Pooh' and Carpenters to Wagner. There is something for everyone.

It was costly too as the NZ Post Office now charges a music CD as a parcel! In fact to send a CD to USA first class post airmail with no tracking to ensure it arrives for Christmas costs, wait for it $58!!!! Yes I could hardly believe that myself. This must be the biggest 'rip off' known to man.

I wonder how many of my friends will  open the envelope and find the time to place it in their computer or CD player? So far only one has to my knowledge listened to it. I suppose one out of 25 is not a bad hit rate. If only they realized the hours it takes to produce even a minor work of art and the pleasure it would give their friend to know that they had listened to it.

It is not even worth sending to one's immediate family who should be the most supportive but who usually fail in that department. My own family is my worst critic. My mother never ever once said she enjoyed anything I did or produced, my daughter just hates my  UK accent  and suggested I find another narrator for my DVD series even though  I get praised for my voice by commentators on YouTube, one even saying I had the best voice on the whole channel.

So perhaps in the future there is hope for me yet. Maybe when I am dead my performance  of Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' will be appreciated and my updating of Wagner bring this colossal composer back to mainstream along with the lost musical 'The House of Cards'.

In the meantime I live in the forlorn hope that perhaps my friends will open the jewel case as a CD case is called and put it in the CD player. To ring and tell me they enjoyed it might be just too much to expect.

Sadly because anything after 1920 is in copyright the world will have to wait at least 50 years before hearing most of the contents on this so I am unable to give you a taste. It will be worth waiting for, I tell myself.

Janette Miller's Christmas CD first edition 2010.

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