45. 8 March 1993 [ES] (Querelle with Nye; contacts with Yale)
Thanks for yours of 21 February. I was glad to hear you're an anti-Nye ally; very heartening. I enclose my latest attempt [see L.50, ED] at anNyehilation, as in ex nihilo nihil fit for publication. But he'll bounce back again, no doubt, so I'm looking for some powerful and quelling thrust. Perhaps I can explain that Hamnet is an alternative spelling (? corruption) of Hamlet, just as Nye is of Lie. In fact I find the confrontation rather interesting, though tiresome; the idea that Shakespeare's son was called Hamlet seems to me to have interesting consequences, which perhaps I could try to write up as a short essay.
But I'm far from in form at the moment; indeed, slumped on my bed like a poleaxed ox, the victim of a foul flu, in the grip of a grippe, and a very bad and peevish patient. One-tour-round-me, and Enid can take a diploma in constructive nursing. I have some hopes of being restored to
life, the community, etc, in due course; but for the moment it's groaning time, which just has to be served out. The side-effects and complications are exacerbated by bad news about dear friends, who are all just toppling over like ninepines in a cosmos modelled on a bowling-alley. Some rise again, but most just stay prone. I dread the funerals too, often with unacceptable rituals and the kind of soprano hired very expensively (and all too effectively) to augment grief. But these are no topics with which to burden others, least of all you. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, and it shall not come nigh thee. Neither shall Nye (where, by the way, did he perpetrate his anti-Bacon bits?). And of course I'd love to see the short (really? there's a lot to say) book. So long as I can open one red-rimmed eye it will look to be soothed by the sight of your text; so necessary, so salutary. Yes, here's to us amateurs.
What I've been proof-reading, and that hasn't improved my prospects or my temper either, is a third edition of my book on Schumann songs, about which Faber are being incredibly exasperating and inept. Never be published by Faber. Yale sounds a much better bet. Young Robert Baldock has been figuratively wounded by some of his reviews (of his book on Casals) but is making a good recovery from his recent actual literal appendectomy; I hope the same can be said of my own text following his predictable operations on it in due course - it seems to have several appendixes too many. I'm also beginning to think that 100,000 words
represents an impossibly exiguous ration. Robert, by the way, says he'll soon be able to send me a copy of the Brian Vickers tome I read for Yale (and didn't notably enthuse over), so that worthy jolly well ought to be free to turn to your work now.
Yes to everything you say about Christopher. I think his rediscovery in private hands of the pencil ms. of Schubert's prose poem Mein Traum, long thought lost, is a sensational triumph.
I have to go now and act as a solo instrument on which a sneeze and a cough will perform a long cadenza, as in a double concerto. But I plan to recover and become more productively active again before too long.
Meanwhile all best wishes for you own good work and good health,
Yours, as ever, Eric