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Story 5: THE ARTIST AT WORK 
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Post Story 5: THE ARTIST AT WORK
Story 5: THE ARTIST AT WORK

Please use this thread for discussing the short story "The Artist at Work." :smile:



Sun May 18, 2008 6:22 pm
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I'm reading from the English translation by Justin O'Brien ... the final word left on the artist's canvas as mentioned in this book is solitary or solidary. I had some difficulty finding the meaning of solidary. Finally, I found it in the Oxford English Dictionary which describes it as "Characterized by or having solidarity or community of interests."

The usage of this word made more sense after reading the Wikipedia article of this story. The actual French words from the story are solitaire ou solidaire? and the respective meanings secluded or interdependent? made more sense to me. I can understand that Justin chose the English words to keep the voice as close as possible to that in French.



Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:14 am
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That's interesting to know, Yodha



Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:23 pm
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GILBERT JONAS, the painter, believed in his star. Indeed, he believed solely in it, although he felt respect, and even a sort of admiration, for other people's religion. His own faith, however, was not lacking in virtues since it consisted in acknowledging obscurely that he would be granted much without ever deserving anything. Consequently when, around his thirty-fifth year, a dozen critics suddenly disputed as to which had discovered his talent, he showed no surprise. But his serenity, attributed by some to smugness, resulted, on the contrary, from a trusting modesty. Jonas credited everything to his star rather than to his own merits.

[i]So in what way was this 'religion'? And what was his 'own faith'?

It consisted in acknowledging obscurely that he would be granted much without ever deserving anything? That's a 'faith'?

Heh! Heh!

Serenity



Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:29 pm
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He was somewhat more astonished when a picture dealer offered him a monthly remittance that freed him from all care. The architect Rateau, who had loved Jonas and his star since their school days, vainly pointed out to him that the remittance would provide only a bare living and that the dealer was taking no risk. "All the same..." Jonas said. Rateau



Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:36 pm
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In reality he thought: "It's the same old luck." As far back as he could remember, he found the same luck at work. He felt, for instance, an affectionate gratitude toward his parents, first because they had brought him up carelessly and this had given free rein to his daydreaming, secondly because they had separated, on grounds of adultery. At least that was the pretext given by his father, who forgot to specify that it was a rather peculiar adultery: he could not endure the good works indulged in by his wife, who, a veritable lay saint, had, without seeing any wrong in it, given herself body and soul to suffering humanity. But the husband intended to be the master of his wife's virtues. "I'm sick and tired," that Othello used to say, "of sharing her with the poor."

[i]Know anybody like that? Jealous of the spouse's 'work'; wants to be 'master' of his wife's virtues . . . doesn't really have anything against what she does, but he wants to be the one behind it.

I'm pleased to see he appreciates his parents for allowing him to pursue 'dreams', his art.

And here's 'adultery' again . . . Camus must have thought about this a lot



Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:45 pm
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This misunderstanding was profitable to Jonas. His parents, having read or heard about the many cases of sadistic murderers who were children of divorced parents, vied with each other in pampering him with a view to stamping out the spark of such an unfortunate evolution. The less obvious were the effects of the trauma experienced, according to them, by the child's psyche, the more worried they were, for invisible havoc must be deepest. Jonas had merely to announce that he was pleased with himself or his day for his parents' ordinary anxiety to become panic. Their attentions multiplied and the child wanted for nothing.

So the parents, in fear of the child being affected in a negative way over their separation, do everything they can to make him feel good about himself. As often happens, the child got everything he wanted.

But why would they panic over the child announcing that he was 'pleased with himself or his day'?



Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:49 pm
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His alleged misfortune finally won Jonas a devoted brother in the person of his friend Rateau. Rateau's parents often entertained his little schoolmate because they pitied his hapless state. Their commiserating remarks inspired their strong and athletic son with the desire to take under his protection the child whose nonchalant successes he already admired. Admiration and condescension mixed well to form a friendship that Jonas received, like everything else, with encouraging simplicity.

[i]Some kids are better off when their parents separate



Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:55 pm
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When without any special effort Jonas had finished his formal studies, he again had the luck to get into his father's publishing-house, to find a job there and, indirectly, his vocation as a painter. As the leading publisher in France, Jonas's father was of the opinion that books, because of the very slump in culture, represented the future. "History shows," he would say, "that the less people read, the more books they buy." Consequently, he but rarely read the manuscripts submitted to him and decided to publish them solely on the basis of the author's personality or the subject's topical interest (from this point of view, sex being the only subject always topical, the publisher had eventually gone in for specialization) and spent his time looking for novel formats and free publicity. Hence at the same time he took over the manuscript-reading department, Jonas also took over considerable leisure time that had to be filled up. Thus it was that he made the acquaintance of painting.

[i]Isn't that odd? 'History shows that the less people read, the more books they buy.' Ha ha! Methinks he was wrong about that.

Could you imagine if some of the drivel that's written these days, by people who don't even read, got published in books? Would they sell? If given enough promotion they would



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:37 pm
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For the first time he discovered in himself an unsuspected and tireless enthusiasm, soon devoted his days to painting, and, still without effort, excelled in that exercise. Nothing else seemed to interest him, and he was barely able to get married at the suitable age, since painting consumed him wholly. For human beings and the ordinary circumstances of life he merely reserved a kindly smile, which dispensed him from paying attention to them. It took a motorcycle accident when Rateau was riding too exuberantly with his friend on the rear seat to interest Jonas



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:39 pm
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According to Rateau, it must be added, Louise did not deserve to be looked at. Short and strapping himself, he liked nothing but tall women. "I don't know what you find in that insect," he would say. Louise was in fact small and dark in skin, hair, and eye, but well built and pretty in the face. Jonas, tall and rugged, was touched at the sight of the insect, especially as she was industrious. Louise's vocation was activity. Such a vocation fitted well with Jonas's preference for inertia and its advantages. Louise dedicated herself first to literature, so long at least as she thought that publishing interested Jonas. She read everything, without order, and in a few weeks became capable of talking about everything. Jonas admired her and considered himself definitely dispensed from reading, since Louise informed him sufficiently and made it possible for him to know the essence of contemporary discoveries. "You mustn't say," Louise asserted, "that so-and-so is wicked or ugly, but that he poses as wicked or ugly." The distinction was important and might even lead, as Rateau pointed out, to the condemnation of the human race. But Louise settled the question once and for all by showing that since this truth was supported simultaneously by the sentimental press and the philosophical reviews, it was universal and not open to discussion. "Just as you say," said Jonas, who immediately forgot that cruel discovery to dream of his star.

[i]Well, that was a good combination



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:40 pm
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Louise deserted literature as soon as she realized that Jonas was interested only in painting. She dedicated herself at once to the visual arts, visited museums and exhibitions, dragged Jonas to them though he didn't quite understand what his contemporaries were painting and felt bothered in his artistic simplicity. Yet he rejoiced to be so well informed about everything that concerned his art. To be sure, the next day he forgot even the name of the painter whose works he had just seen. But Louise was right when she peremptorily reminded him of one of the certainties she had kept from her literary period, namely that in reality one never forgets anything. His star decidedly protected Jonas, who could thus, without suffering in his conscience, combine the certainties of remembering and the comforts of forgetting.

[i]Nobody can say she didn't take an interest in his work, I guess.

(This story doesn't have the intense flavour The Adulterous Wife had . . . it's a bit 'lighter' somehow.)

I understand how he feels about this



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:41 pm
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But the treasures of self-sacrifice that Louise showered upon him shone most brilliantly in Jonas's daily life. That angel spared him the purchases of shoes, suits, and shirts that, for the normal man, shorten the days of an already too short life. She resolutely took upon herself the thousand inventions of the machine for killing time, from the hermetic brochures of social security to the constantly changing moods of the internal-revenue office. "O.K.," said Rateau, "but she can't go to the dentist in your place." She may not have gone, but she telephoned and made the appointments, at the most convenient hours; she took care of changing the oil in the tiny car, of booking rooms in vacation hotels, of the coal for his stove; she herself bought the gifts Jonas wanted to give, chose and sent his flowers, and even found time, certain evenings, to go by his house in his absence and open his bed to spare him the trouble when he came home.

She was desperate, eh?

Doing everything for him, so he'd think he 'needed' her. I wonder if she planned to do any living for herself?



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:42 pm
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With the same enthusiasm, of course, she entered that bed, then took care of the appointment with the mayor, led Jonas to the town hall two years before his talent was at last recognized, and arranged the wedding trip so that they didn't miss a museum. Not without having first found, in the midst of the housing shortage, a three-room apartment into which they settled on their return. Then she produced, in rapid succession, two children, a boy and a girl. Her intention of going up to three was realized soon after Jonas had left the publishing-house to devote himself to painting.

[i]And she got him . . . and we know who's gonna' be wearing the pants in that family



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:43 pm
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As soon as she had become a mother, it must be added, Louise devoted herself solely to her child, and later to her children. She still tried to help her husband, but didn't have the time. To be sure, she regretted her neglect of Jonas, but her resolute character kept her from wasting time in such regrets. "It can't be helped," she would say, "each of us has his workbench." Jonas was, in any case, delighted with this expression, for, like all the artists of his epoch, he wanted to be looked upon as an artisan. Hence the artisan was somewhat neglected and had to buy his shoes himself. However, besides the fact that this was in the nature of things, Jonas was again tempted to rejoice. Of course, he had to make an effort to visit the shops, but that effort was rewarded by one of those hours of solitude that give such value to marital bliss.

[i]Of course



Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:43 pm
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