The Quest for Corvo: An Experiment in Biography (New York Review Books Classics)

By A.J.A. Symons

Someday in 1925 a chum requested A. J. A. Symons if he had learn Fr. Rolfe's Hadrian the Seventh. He hadn't, yet quickly did, and located himself entranced by means of the unconventional -- "a masterpiece"-- and no much less enthusiastic about the mysterious individual of its all-but-forgotten writer. The Quest for Corvo is a hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of the unusual Frederick Rolfe, self-appointed Baron Corvo, an artist, author, and annoyed aspirant to the priesthood with a bottomless expertise for self-destruction. yet this singular paintings, subtitled "an scan in biography," is usually a extraordinary self-portrait, a examine of the obsession and sympathy that evokes the biographer's artwork.

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In later letters Canon Carmont amplified one or issues for my gain: there has been a common prejudice opposed to Rolfe within the collage. His eccentricities of behavior made the establishment an issue of negative remark in different schools . . . i could point out one merchandise. Rolfe ordered �20 of garments from a tailor known as Giomini – I appearing as interpreter. whilst Giomini learned that he wasn’t going to be paid, he got here and annexed �20 worthy of Rolfe’s results. the scholars bitterly resented this transaction as an embarrassment of the varsity. . . . As to extra recollections, the single person who happens to me is [that] Rolfe had in his room a wide sheet of cardboard, marked with ink into abnormal booths every one of which contained a motto, epigram or atrocity culled from Catholic or Anglican hymnology. . . . sooner or later Cary-Elwes (deceased Bishop of Northampton) and that i paid a surreptitious stopover at to Rolfe’s room whereas he used to be out for the aim of learning those curiosities. I learn them out whereas Cary-Elwes scribbled them down. a while later Cary-Elwes gave me his reproduction, which I most likely nonetheless have, notwithstanding I tremble on the job of unearthing it. . . . In individual Rolfe was once approximately five toes 7 in. in top – probably a little bit much less. He used to be faded, relatively demure and ascetic in expression, wore eye-glasses, smoked particularly seriously. From Dr Clapperton on the Scots collage I got a listing of Rolfe’s surviving contemporaries (to all of whom I wrote) and likewise a word of 2 of these mottoes pointed out by means of Canon Carmont; the 1st a connection with the school fare, ‘And he ate not anything in these days’, the second one a connection with his partners, ‘And he lived with beasts’. it's also remembered that he used to be pronounced for asserting that he was once like Newman in that he had not anything to profit while he entered the Catholic Church. From Fr Stuart, of Fauldhouse, I bought an attractive be aware: St John’s, Fauldhouse, West Lothian pricey Mr Symons, i don't imagine that i will be able to upload something to what Canon Carmont has advised you approximately Mr Rolfe. He has without doubt informed you of lots of his eccentricities – his musical skill and his reward of tune, his bizarre sermons within the refectory, with their stinging hits at our a little bit uncultivated Scottish manners, and his personal fairly scant therapy of appreciate; his announcing his place of work in his bathtub; etc. i actually imagine it was once genius at the very border. I’m sorry i will not provide extra info, as it’s this sort of very long time because we have been jointly in Rome. With top needs for achievement on your project Yours very truly John L. Stuart maybe the truest summing up of all was once despatched me by way of the Rev Provost Rooney, of Peebles, who used to be Vice-Rector of the Scots university while Rolfe was once expelled: He used to be such a lot amiable regardless of all his little eccentricities – with ever and continuously a component of puzzle in and round his elusive personality. * sooner than his rejection from the Scots university, Rolfe followed, via anticipation, the titular dignity of orders, and joined the Royal historic Society, and the Royal Society of Literature, as ‘The Rev F.

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