jump to navigation

Jonathan Harker’s secret diary notes mayo 14, 2009

Posted by Closto in Artes, Fabulae, Libri, Littera, Themae personales, Universitas.
26 comments

He aquí una historia corta que voy a entregar mañana para mi clase de “Inglés  para fines específicos”. A ver qué os parece. Se agradecerán los comentarios y opiniones.

Bueno, aquí os va:

3 May. It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier -for the Borgo Pass leads from it to Bukovina- it has had a very stormy existance, and it certainly shows marks of it […]. Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress1.

I felt strange since the very moment I stepped in. It was the kind of feeling I would have the rest of my journey to Count Dracula’s place. Even when I was shown my room, I felt as though someone was spying me.

I left my package beside the bed and looked at the window. The night had already come and it seemed it was going to be very thick. I sat on the bed and explored the room with my sight. There was a big wardrobe made of dark, ebony wood, perhaps thought for customers spending many days in the Carpathians to leave their clothes. There were also a couple of bedside tables with one drawer each. I tried to open them but one of them was stuck or locked, and I could not but giving up trying.

After drinking some water I brought with me, I slowly prepared to sleep. I took off my clothes and lay down into the bed. Although the window was closed, I felt extremly cold. An ignorant person would have probably said it was due to ghosts hovering about the place. What a silly assumption! It must be becasue of the Carpathians and the rough forests all around that land.

I speant quite a long time trying to get to sleep, but all effort was useless. I got up and looked out of the window again hopelessly trying to find some trace of life or human activity, but there was no evidence of it. I turned back and sighted. I started to feel overweighted by my situation and so suffocated. I thought of me as being a rat trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to go, completly unaware of what is going on outside that cage. I think I ran about for a little while before falling over to the ground. I am not sure of how much time it took me to recover and stand up. I was utterly confused. I tried to remember what had happened so far and I decided that I was at some point in the dead of the night.

I don’t know why, but when I stood up and calmed down, I slowly took my clothes and dressed up. Then I left the room and headed towards the hotel entrance. I was convinced that I desperately needed to walk for a while, regardless of the cold and the snow outside. If Mina had been there, I’m sure she would have known what to do to comfort and relieve me.

The night was colder than I expected so I was forced to go for another robe to cover and protect myself. As I was fighting my way up to the room agains the extreme cold, I heard a strnage noise coming from a big room beyond the reception hall. A fleeting wish to take a look crossed my mind, but it was immediately rejected due to my sudden impossibility to move stealthily nor to behave in a natural and proper way.

No sooner had I entered my room, I fetched a robe and a large hat to protect against the freezing cold. Had I thought carefully about it, I would have felt shocked at my own insane decisions and behaviour. Still, I kept on with my plan of going out to the weather’s freezing rage. I only hoped that stupid walk would tire me enough to be able to get to sleep as soon as possible.

I could still hear some strenge noieses as I went back to the entrance hall, but I paid them no heed, for I imagined there were some people prepairing everything for the next day. I crossed the hall and opened the door. The night seemed calmer than before: the wind didn’t blow violently, no more snow fell from the skies above and the trees no longer whispered their fatal tune. “The sooner I start, the sooner I’ll finish”, I said to myself and started moving.

I was walking very slowly due to the snow on the ground and the cold within my body, though I knew I ought to go faster. Ten minutes after my paarting from the hotel, I realized that idea was the stupidest thing I had ever carried out. I blamed myself and decided to go back, but my footprints disappeared as I walked on as though a hellish and dark power was cast to curse me. I couldn’t even remember the way back for I had all my sensed and inner strengh working to hold up to the cold. Besides, I was just looking to the ground instead of trying to enjoy the limited sight of the city at night. I silently cursed Romania, Bistritz, Transilvania and the very Count.

After some hasty musing over what I ought to do next, I decided to try to go back and see where I got to end up. I turned back and started walking, willing to reach the hotel again. The streets seemed all the same to me, and the forest beside the town seemed to be always very cose to where I was standing. I have been surprised at it since I came to the town, for that feeling of closeness was present within me even before reaching that place.

I walked for a while without seeing any clues as for where the hotel was. To make things worse, the town seemed to be totally abandoned, for no man was outside carrying out so fool a plan as mine and no light could be seen coming from any kitchen nor bedroom. I thought it too bold to shout for help or knock at a door to ask for some directions, so I just sticked to my obstinate stupidity of making the back to the hotel on my own.

I began hearing strange sounds soon after thinking of knocking at some doors. By that time, I was already crawling on the ground’s face, like an inscet -me, part of the decent human race-, lost in time and lost in space -and in meaning. I thought I heard dogs barking, but I soon realized it was the wolves who were howling. The chill had penetrated on me so badly that I was not able to hold any feeling of fear nor any desire for running away. I thought all was lost, and I gave up. I sensed the wolves stepping close to me and I silently allowed them to drag me. “Here I come, Hector”, I said to myself.

Soon, they dropped my clothes from their sharp teeth and left me alone on the snow. I dared not move nor open my eyes in order not to see their devilish faces as they chopped my poor, sinner body into a million pieces. I sang a couple of prayers before I was devoured and when I finised I came to terms with the fact I was destined to perish among hundreds of bites of wild dogs. “What a pitiful death you’re going to die, Mr. Wisdom!”, I scolded myself. But as no tooth cleaved into my body and no bite broke apart any piece of me, I eventually decided to open my eyes slowly, still fearful of a sudden attack. Nothing surrounded me. No wolves, no teeth, no dogs, no anything. Darkness there, and nothing more. To my own surprise, I was disappointed. Was it all something I had imagined? Were the howls real? Was I cursed or had it been real? I was confused and angry, and all I wanted to do was to cry. There was no sleep for me, and apparently no relieve or hope for sanity for me. “Mina!”, I cried out, hoping the night would herald my desperate shout to her. But there was no answer.

I stood up and realized I was in front of the hotel’s entrance. The wind had already started to blow with great strengh and I went in quickly. I sat on the nearest chair and put my hands upon my face as though I was a despicable, poor devil crying in the street. I pitied myself. It was so very embarrasing I really wanted to die.

Soon, another strange noise like those I had heard before leaving the hotel aroused me from my sorry thoughts. As I was not sleepy yet and I didn’t care about anything that could happen, I moved towards the source. I knew I was being too bold, but somehow I didn’t feel remorse. What could be going on? I opened a door that lead to a corridor. A red light came out through the frame of the door on the other side of the corridor. No sooner had I touched the handlebars, the door opened and I was pulled inside the red room.

I found myself kneeled for third time that night. What I saw there shocked me more than anything I had ever seen before (Mem., hide these diary pages from Mina). The room was flooded with lust. There were some people touching and undressing each other in couples or trioes. I crawled back in amazement trying to find the passage back to the place I was before, but it was too late. I saw the woman that received me completly dressed in black locking the door and hiding the key between her breasts. It was such a disgusting scene that I covered my face again with my hands. I crawled to a corner like a child and tried to escape the horrible vision, but it was useless; the old woman came to me and ordered two young and strong men to lift me up. I wouldn’t make it an easy task, but I was not too much of a problem for the youths. The audience laughed for a moment and immediatetly went back to their sinful actions.

I was brought to another corner in which I was asked to sit. The two men would assure I obeyed, so I had no other option. I was offered a cup of slivovitz as one of my guardians help me clean my face of sweat. I was so nervous I drank the brandy right away. Then I was offered another glass and a third one after the latter. I was drunk soon after I entered that hellish room. At some point between my second arrival to the hotel and the morrow, I became part of the orgy. I did not mind at all those heretic lesbians kissing each other, nor the despisable sons of Sade, nor the condemned sodomites doing unnamble things to each other.

Had I perchance touched or kissed another boy, I don’t know. What I am sure of is the old lady introducing me to a young girl with red cheeks decently dressed. I was convinced to pay for her company while she kept me offering spirits. I feel extremly embarrased to admit I rejected none. The old woman marvelled at my enthusiasm in touching the maiden. I started groping one of her breasts from behind her. I kissed her neck and drank almost at the same time. I handled her easily. I didn’t mind the woman in black looking at us and cheering the girl to take an active part. I had fallen into complete perdition. I would have no chance for redemption, but I did not care at all.

I ignore the amount of time I spent in that whirl of lust and sex, but it seemed to me as though it was eternal. My mind was out of control and I felt completly dizzy. I was drunk and I was excited.

4 May. Suddenly, I straightened up on the bed. I was sweating and I could barely breathe. It was all dark in my room. Eagerly I wished the morrow. I stood up and drew the curtains. I could see the sun starting to rise from behind the Carpathians. “Horray! Hallelujah!”, I said to myself. I rushed back to the bed and curled up. I was afraid everything I had seen was true. It was all so real.

When the sunlight came into the room I stood up again and dressed up. I dared not go out and meet the old woman, the young men nor anybody in the room. I sweared not to look behind the door that lead to the corridor just in case I found out everything was true. Once I was prepaired, I went out of the room.

The day was bright and sunny, and everything looked normal. I talked to the old woman and inspected the hall looking for traces I might had left the day before but found none. When I asked whether anybody heard strange noises the previous night, everyone looked surprised and asked why would I ask so. It seemed my mind had made it all up. But I remembered I had sworn and cursed, sinned and fornicated. And there was also that mysterious picture I had not seen the previous day in the hall. There were two men and two women depicted there. The man was paying a procuress for a beauty maiden as he was touching one of her breasts. The other man seemed to look at me directly, as though he could move his eyes in order to look at me wherever I moved to. He had a hair-raising smile upon his face. The old woman said the picture had been there ever since she could recall.

I decided to forget it all. My coming to Romania had not been very cheering but I had some business there. I planned to get in touch with Count Dracula and leave as soon as possible. Remaining there was the last thing I would desire. Thus, I have also decided to burn these pages so no one will ever read them. Instead, I shall repent and confess in the very frist shrine I see and write a natural version of what has occurred to me these days.

Oh, Mina, forgive me.

I found that my landlord had got a letter from the Count, directing him to secure the best place on the coach for me; but on marking inquiries as to details he seemed somewhat reticent, and pretended that he could not understand my German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly; at least, he answered as if he did. He and his wife, the old lady who had received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way2.

I knew something fishy was going on in that place and decided not to delay my departure any further.

1Stoker, Bram: Dracula, page 3, Courier Dover Publications, 2000.

2Stoker, Bram: Dracula, page 3, Courier Dover Publications, 2000.

“The Procuress” in Vermeer’s career and in its time abril 6, 2009

Posted by Closto in Artes, Littera, Universitas.
1 comment so far

The Procuress is one of the three pictures that have a concrete date in Vermeer’s career as a painter. This information is given by the very painter on the low bottom of the picture: “i v Meer 1656” -“ivM” in ligature. This makes the picture not only one of the most popular pictures by Vermeer which usually leads and represents his early stage, but also one of the pictures that can be taken to draw the line of evolution of Vermeer’s painting skills.

Another important aspect Vermeer took into account when painting is the topic and the implications of painting a “brothel”. Brothel painters usually included a self-portrait in the pictures and Vermeer, as critics say nowadays, is no exception. He is supposed to have painted himself in the skin of the jester, the man in black in the left side of the picture. Nevertheless, he has also included original elements in his picture. First of all, the very procuress is very different from the usual style of depicting them. They tend to be very old and decrepit, full of wrinkles and they are often much worried of the economic transaction. They also tend to show very rude manners and strict behaviour. On the other hand, Vermeer’s procuress is much calmer and seems relatively kind. Besides, she looks quite pretty. It is widely known that procuresses were very aware of the power of money and sex, and they were very sly. This is somehting that Vermeer has depicted fairly well, for the procuress in his paiting seems to be a sly, cunning woman.

Moreover, the very whore too seems to have something different and original in herself. Whores used to be very sensual, with exotic and erotic elements that dressed them superb, like that of Gerrit van Honthorst, though the one in Vermeer’s work is not so much of an exotic woman with big breasts. She wears a yellow dress with no neckline. She also has this white cap with delicate details. She is no common whore for a brothel picture.

On the other hand, The Procuress is a painting that marks the beginning of Vermeer’s true and best carrer. Later works are examples of his mastery over light and shadow. In The Procuress, Vermeer experiments with the chiaroscuro effect, as can be seen in below in the very picture. Also, although the warm colors used, which remind the viewer of Rembrandt and his followers -1650s-, and even maybe Maes, the picture, due to its topic and structure, is considered as a piece of the Utrecht Caravaggists. The resemblance between those -frequent in the 1620s- and The Procuress is clear, though the influence of Rembrendt is also clear.

Vermeers The Procuress.

Vermeer's "The Procuress".

Bibliography

· http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/v/vermeer/01-early/04procu.html.

· http://www.metmuseum.org/special/Vermeer_Delft/8.R.htm.

· http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/procuress.html.

· http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404706599.html.

Objects in Vermeer’s “The Procuress” abril 6, 2009

Posted by Closto in Artes, Littera, Universitas.
add a comment

Out of the matter of characters, the objects displayed throughout the place in the picture are also painted with mastery. The sublime and most minute details have been painted with tender and care. Thus, the effect the viewer has at first sight is that of a wonderful piece.

To begin with, the very glass the whore holds betwen her fingers is a finest representation on a “römer” glass, meant for iddle hands, this is, it is wider than normal glasses so that the cup does not slip out of the fingers. Secondly, the glass the man in black holds is very typical in 17th century paintings, and its details have been kept with tender mastery. Even the spirits within the glasses seem to have a social meaning. Usually, brothel wine was corrupted or adulterated candy syrup. On the other hand, beer was also a popular drink. The jester -the man in black- is probably drinking beer, as it is no clear what the young whore is having -or offering to her suitor.

Thirdly, the viewer is given a sight of a cittern, which the jester is holding in his arms. The cittern is not an alien instrument to Vermeer’s time’s pictures, in fact, it is a very common musical instrument which even Vermeer used quite a few times. The cittern represents sexual desire, and so it has been depicted so many times in order to give more strengh to that idea of sex in many similar pictures.

Moreover, the viewer can find a big carpet that covers almost half the picture. This carpet represent a growing fashion in the 16th and 17th centuries of having those objects from Oriental lands that people used as ornamental tools. The carpet in the picture is drawn and painted with much care and has a magnificent look. The black coat from the jester covers part of the carpet to contrast its effect, for the carpet is very large and draws too much attention. The dark coat’s aim is to oppose the aesthetic and attractive strengh of the carpet and make the main attraction focus on the young couple. This coat has been added in a later stage of the painting.

Last but not least, the jug is presented also with a superb look. It is a fine piece of art in a lrger piece of art. The precision of the painting is astonishing and in no other Vermeer paiting could any find another object or piece of decoration as fine and detailed as the one presented in The Procuress.

Bibliography:

· http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/procuress.html.

· http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404706599.html.

Characters in “The Procuress” abril 6, 2009

Posted by Closto in Artes, Littera, Universitas.
add a comment

In this famour picture by Vermeer we can clearly distinguish four different characters. A whore, a procuress, a young man and anotherman drinking some spirits are the protagonists of the picture.

The whore is a young girl with fair features and clean clothes. She is ready to do her job with the young man in red who is touching her. She holds a glass of some spirits with which she intends to make her suitor go drunk. Whores were supposed to make their lovers go as drunk as possible at that time, and providing they got very drunk, sex was no longer an option for them. She seems to be posing very tranquil and she offers both the viewer and the young man a fair smile. She is presented as a sensitive young girl who is ready to make her job.

The young man in red is the suitor to the young whore in yellow. He is a young man -probably he is a soldier- that wants to have some sexual relationships with that girl. He is waring a red coat -maybe symbol of passion and sexual desire- and a large, black hat with which he is trying to cover the girl, as if he was willing to shelter her -probably meaning he wants to take on her in the bed. He also has his hand on her left breast, as though he was embracing her, and sexually possessing her -showing his clear intentions- at the same time.

The procuress is the woman in black. She is not easily recognised because she is not like most procuresses in other pictures. Her features are fair and she even looks like a man. She is paying heed to the economical transaction that is taking place in the picture. What is more, in early stages of the picture, she was receiving some money -this means she was more active- from the young suitor. Eventually, she is just lookign at him and making sure everything goes perfectly. However, the viewer should notice the malice in ehr eyes, meaning she is no fool and she knows how to deal with economical and sexual issues. In fact, the procuresses were frequently retired whores that had enoght money to lead their own business.

The man in black is much of a jester. He is a comical character that functions rather as the narrator of the story. As a matter of fact, he is looking at the viewer, as if he wanted to tell the story to whoever is examining it. He is aside the action and he wears black clothes so that he does not attract too much attention to himself. Many critics agree nowadays that he is a self-portrait of the very Vermeer. Actually, it was very common to find the painters of those “brothels” in their own pictures. Thus, Vermeer could be but following the current fashion.

Bibliography:

· http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/procuress.html.

· http://www.bergerfoundation.ch/Vermeer/english/entremetteuse.html.