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Sep. 24th, 2012

Нашла иллюстрации к "Монаху и дочери палача" Амброза Бирса.

Santiago Caruso - Illustrations for Ambrose Bierce’s “The Monk and The Hangman’s Daughter”

несколько цитат из рассказа вместе с остальными иллюстрациями
On the opposite bank of the stream was a meadow, covered with beautiful flowers, and in the centre a gallows upon which hung the body of a man! The face was turned toward us, and I could plainly distinguish the features, which, though black and distorted, showed unmistakable signs that death had come that very day.

I was upon the point of directing my companions' attention to the dreadful spectacle, when a strange incident occurred: in the meadow appeared a young girl, with long golden hair, upon which rested a wreath of blossoms. She wore a bright red dress, which seemed to me to light up the whole scene like a flame of fire. Nothing in her actions indicated fear of the corpse upon the gallows; on the contrary, she glided toward it barefooted through the grass, singing in a loud but sweet voice, and waving her arms to scare away the birds of prey that had gathered about it, uttering harsh cries and with a great buffeting of wings and snapping of beaks. At the girl's approach they all took flight, except one great vulture, which retained its perch upon the gallows and appeared to defy and threaten her. She ran close up to the obscene creature, jumping, dancing, screaming, until it, too, put out its wide wings and flapped heavily away. Then she ceased her dancing, and, taking a position at the gibbet's foot, calmly and thoughtfully looked up at the swinging body of the unfortunate man.

The maiden's singing had attracted the attention of my companions, and we all stood watching the lovely child and her strange surroundings with too much amazement to speak.

While gazing on the surprising scene, I felt a cold shiver run through my body. This is said to be a sure sign that someone has stepped upon the spot which is to be your grave. Strange to say, I felt this chill at the moment the maiden stepped under the gallows. But this only shows how the true beliefs of men are mixed up with foolish superstitions; for how could a sincere follower of Saint Franciscus possibly come to be buried beneath a gallows?

But do thou, O holy Franciscus, pardon the sin that I committed during that high sacrament! For while Father Andreas was reciting the solemn words of the mass my eyes constantly wandered to the spot where the poor child knelt in a dark corner set apart for her and her father, forsaken and alone. She seemed to pray with holy zeal, and surely thou didst grace her with a ray of thy favour, for it was through thy love of mankind that thou didst become a great saint, and didst bring before the Throne of Grace thy large heart, bleeding for the sins of all the world. Then shall not I, the humblest of thy followers, have enough of thy spirit to pity this poor outcast who suffers for no sin of her own? Nay, I feel for her a peculiar tenderness, which I cannot help accepting as a sign from Heaven that I am charged with a special mandate to watch over her, to protect her, and finally to save her soul.

The howling mob passed farther into the square, so that I had a full view. In the front were boys, leaping, gesticulating and singing vile songs. They seemed mad with joy and made savage by the shame and pain of their fellow-creature. Nor did the maids behave much better. 'Fie upon the outcast!' they cried. 'See what it is to be a sinner! Thank heaven, we are virtuous.'

In the rear of these yelling boys, surrounded by this mob of screaming women and girls—O God! how can I write it? How can I express the horror of it? In the midst of it all—she, the lovely, the sweet, the immaculate Benedicta!

O my Saviour! how did I see all this, yet am still living to relate it? I must have come near to death. The gallery, the square, the people seemed whirling round and round; the earth sank beneath my feet, and, although I strained my eyes open to see, yet all was dark. But it must have been for but a short time; I recovered, and, on looking down into the square, saw her again.

They had clothed her in a long gray cloak, fastened at the waist with a rope. Her head bore a wreath of straw, and on her breast, suspended by a string about the neck, was a black tablet bearing in chalk the word 'Buhle'—harlot.

By the end of the rope about her waist a man led her. I looked at him closely, and—O most holy Son of God, what brutes and beasts Thou didst come to save!—it was Benedicta's father! They had compelled the poor old man to perform one of the duties of his office by leading his own child to the pillory! I learned later that he had implored the Superior on his knees not to lay this dreadful command upon him, but all in vain.

The memory of this scene can never leave me. The hangman did not remove his eyes from his daughter's face, and she frequently nodded at him and smiled. By the grace of God, the maiden smiled!

The mob insulted her, called her vile names and spat upon the ground in front of her feet. Nor was this all. Observing that she took no notice of them, they pelted her with dust and grass. This was more than the poor father could endure, and, with a faint, inarticulate moan, he fell to the ground in a swoon.

Oh, the pitiless wretches!—they wanted to lift him up and make him finish his task, but Benedicta stretched out her arm in supplication, and with an expression of so ineffable tenderness upon her beautiful face that even the brutal mob felt her gentle power and recoiled before her, leaving the unconscious man upon the ground. She knelt and took her father's head in her lap. She whispered in his ear words of love and comfort. She stroked his gray hair and kissed his pale lips until she had coaxed him into consciousness and he had opened his eyes. Benedicta, thrice blessed Benedicta, thou surely art born to be a saint, for thou didst show a divine patience like that with which our Saviour bore His cross and with it all the sins of the world!

She helped her father to rise, and smiled brightly in his face when he made out to stand. She shook the dust from his clothing, and then, still smiling and murmuring words of encouragement, handed him the rope. The boys yelled and sang, the women screamed, and the wretched old man led his innocent child to the place of shame.

At last we arrived at the shore of a lake, but a dense fog prevented a clear view of it. A clumsy little boat was found moored to the bank; my guide bade me enter it, and presently it seemed as if we were gliding through the sky in the midst of the clouds. I had never before been on the water, and felt a terrible misgiving lest we should capsize and drown. We heard nothing but the sound of the ripples against the sides of the boat. Here and there, as we advanced, some dark object became dimly visible for a moment, then vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, and we seemed gliding again through empty space. As the mist at times lifted a little, I observed great black rocks protruding from the water, and not far from shore were lying giant trees half submerged, with huge limbs that looked like the bones of some monstrous skeleton. The scene was so full of horrors that even the joyous youth was silent now, his watchful eye ever seeking to penetrate the fog in search of new dangers.

By all these signs I knew that we were crossing that fearful lake which is haunted by ghosts and demons, and I therefore commended my soul to God. The power of the Lord overcomes all evil. Scarcely had I said my prayer against the spirits of darkness, when suddenly the veil of fog was rent asunder, and like a great rose of fire the sun shone out, clothing the world in garments of colour and gold!

At this point there was a break in the wall of the cliff, the path crossing a great crevice that clove the mountain as by a sword-stroke from the arm of a Titan. The bottom was strewn with loose boulders and overgrown with brambles and shrubs, through which trickled a slender stream of water fed by the melting snows above. Here I remained for three days and two nights. I heard the boy from the monastery calling my name as he traversed the path searching for me, but I made no answer. Not once did I quench my burning thirst at the brook nor appease my hunger with blackberries that grew abundantly on every side. Thus I mortified the sinful flesh, killed rebellious nature and subdued my spirit to the Lord until at last I felt myself delivered from all evil, freed from the bondage of an earthly love and prepared to devote my heart and soul and life to no woman but thee, O Blessed Virgin!

The Lord having wrought this miracle, my soul felt as light and free as if wings were lifting me to the skies. I praised the Lord in a loud voice, shouting and rejoicing till the rocks rang with the sound. I cried: 'Hosanna! Hosanna! I was now prepared to go before the altar and receive the holy oil upon my head. I was no longer myself. Ambrosius, the poor erring monk, was dead; I was an instrument in the right hand of God to execute His holy will. I prayed for the delivery of the soul of the beautiful maiden, and as I prayed, behold! there appeared to me in the splendour and glory of Heaven the Lord Himself, attended by innumerable angels, filling half the sky! A great rapture enthralled my senses; I was dumb with happiness. With a smile of ineffable benignity God spake to me:

'Because that thou hast been faithful to thy trust, and through all the trials that I have sent upon thee hast not faltered, the salvation of the sinless maiden's soul is now indeed given into thy hand.'

'Thou, Lord, knowest,' I replied, 'that I am without the means to do this work, nor know I how it is to be done.'

The Lord commanded me to rise and walk on, and, turning my face away from the glorious Presence, which filled the heart of the cloven mountain with light, I obeyed, leaving the scene of my purgation and regaining the path that led up the face of the cliff. I began the ascent, walking on and on in the splendour of the sunset, reflected from crimson clouds.

Suddenly I felt impelled to stop and look down, and there at my feet, shining red in the cloudlight, as if stained with blood, lay the sharp knife of Rochus. Now I understood why the Lord had permitted that wicked youth to conquer me, yet had moved him to spare my life. I had been reserved for a more glorious purpose. And so was placed in my hands the means to that sacred end. My God, my God, how mysterious are Thy ways!

К вопросу об уместности "хэппи-эндов".
Сейчас, когда искала в сети текст "Монаха и дочери палача" для цитат, наткнулась на следующее вступление, написанное Адольфом Данцигером де Кастро (соавтором Бирса).
Оказалось, что де Кастро намеревался завершить рассказ счастливой развязкой и именно с таким финалом он послал рукопись Бирсу. В ответ он получил следующую отповедь:
'I have read twice and carefully, your proposed addition to The Monk, and you must permit me to speak plainly, if not altogether agreeably, of it. It will not do for these reasons and others:

'The book is almost perfect as you wrote it; the part of the work that pleases me least is my part (underscores Bierce's). I am surprised that you should yield to the schoolgirl desire for that shallowest of all literary devices, a "happy ending," by which all the pathos of the book is effaced to "make a woman holiday." It is unworthy of you. So much vii did I feel this unworthiness that I hesitated a long time before even deciding to have so much of "odious ingenuity" and "mystery" as your making Benedicta the daughter of the Saltmaster and inventing her secret love for Ambrosius instead of Rochus.

'"Dramatic action," which is no less necessary in a story than in a play, requires that so far as is possible what takes place shall be seen to take place, not related as having previously taken place.... Compare Shakespeare's Cymbeline with his better plays. See how he spoiled it the same way. You need not feel ashamed to err as Shakespeare erred. Indeed, you did better than he, for his explanations were of things already known to the reader, or spectator, of the play. Your explanations are needful to an understanding of the things explained; it is they that are needless. All "explanation" is unspeakably tedious, and is to be cut as short as possible. Far better to have nothing to explain—to show everything that occurs, in the very act of occurring. We cannot always do that, but we should come as near to doing it as we can. Anyhow, the "harking back" should not be done at the end of the book, when the dénouement is already known and the reader's interest in the action exhausted....

'Ambrosius and Benedicta are unique in letters. Their nobility, their simplicity, their sufferings—everything that is theirs stamps them as "beings apart." They live in the memory sanctified and glorified by these qualities and sorrows. They are, in the last and most gracious sense, children of nature. Leave them lying there in the lovely valley of the gallows, where Ambrosius shuddered as his foot fell on the spot where he was destined to sleep....

'Let The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter alone. It is great work and you should live to see the world confess it. Let me know if my faith in your faith in me is an error. You once believed in my judgment; I think it is not yet impaired by age.

'Sincerely yours,

'(Signed) Ambrose Bierce.'


( 2 sententiae — sententiam dic! )
Sep. 25th, 2012 10:52 am (UTC)
душевно так.
Sep. 26th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
( 2 sententiae — sententiam dic! )

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