Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Solitude by Frederic Leighton
From Wikipedia

I once read that Victorians could be far more isolated and consequently much more eccentric than we are today. I suppose it isn't a surprising observation, simply because of huge relative differences in ease of communication and travel. No doubt these modern developments have in some respects, a social smoothing effect.

So Dickens’ characters may not be quite so overdrawn and improbable as we suppose. Take this quote from Wilkie Collin's Armadale.

Of the few resident gentlemen in the neighbourhood, none were ever admitted by Mrs Armadale to more than the merest acquaintance with her. Contentedly self-buried in her country retreat, she was proof against every social attraction that would have tempted other women in her position and at her age. Mr. Brock and his newspaper, appearing with monotonous regularity at her tea-table three times a week, told her all she knew or cared to know of the great outer world which circled round the narrow and changeless limits of her daily life.
Wilkie Collins – Armadale.

An obvious question is – are you attracted or repelled by such a degree of solitude? For my part, I don’t know. It isn’t such an easy option today though, is it?


Sam Vega said...

If you haven't read it, this

is a marvellous book on solitude and creativity.

Anonymous said...

I have tried solitude and it didn't really work for me - not for too long anyway. I suppose you would have to work at it, or be forced by circumstance.

Thanks Sam for the pointer to A Storr, I will look out for his work.

A K Haart said...

Sam - thanks, I'll take a look.

Roger - I find solitude is more available now I'm retired. Only the odd hour or so, but I think we can all benefit from small doses at least.

James Higham said...

I have that solitude and it's about 90% solitude, 10% company, which seems about right but maybe a little more company required, of the female variety and the male intellectual variety.

I wouldn't want you getting the idea though that it's just a question of the percentages.

A K Haart said...

James - I find blogging is a strangely in between state - not solitude but not company either.