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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

An impressive personality

Saturday, February 6th., Rome.

I did a little bit of reflection on my new novel in the church of S. Maria del Popolo.
Then at 11.40 we drove to the Lateran Museum, and saw the sculpture.

The Lateran Museum (Museo Lateranense) was a museum founded by the Popes and housed in the Lateran Palace, adjacent to the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy. It ceased to exist in 1970. Pope Gregory XVI (1831–1846) established the Museo Profano Lateranense (or Museo Gregoriano Profano) in 1844 which was made up of statues, bas-relief sculptures and mosaics of the Roman era. It was expanded in 1854 under Pius IX (1846–1878) with the addition of the Museo Pio Cristiano. The three collections were transferred, under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII (1958–1963), from the Lateran Palace to the Vatican. They were reopened to the public in 1970. Their collections are still called "ex Lateranense" to indicate their former place of display.

The mosaic 'unswept floor of a dining room' is very amusing, and throws a light on Roman table manners etc. "Sophocles" equal to its reputation. Nothing else that really remained in the memory, though there are lots of very fine things. We found no pictures at all. Some damaged frescoes. 

The Christian Museum we wouldn't look at. Somehow Rome makes one notably anti-Christian. What chiefly struck me was the desire of the custodiani for human society. Of course one may say that all they are after is a tip. But long after he perceived clearly that I had no tip for him, one of them followed me about. I have noticed the same thing at Naples museums.
I finished Mrs. Millin's "God's Step-children". It is a decidedly good book.

SARAH GERTRUDE MILLIN 1889 – 1968. For more than thirty years Sarah Gertrude Millin was South Africa’s leading literary figure. In a prolific writing career that began in 1919 with the publication of her first novel, The Dark River, she produced sixteen more novels, two major biographies, two autobiographies, six war diaries, a volume of short stories, a collection of essays and a sociological account of South Africa. Her reading public spanned continents. In particular, her 1924 novel, God’s Step-children, with its central theme of the “sin” of miscegenation, brought her to the attention of the reading public in the United States. However, the racism of that view and her conservative political attitudes in general have detrimentally affected her status in South African literary history and present a challenge to a genuine critical assessment of her work.

Grand Hotel Plaza, Rome
We dined with the Sullivan's at the Grand Hotel. The atmosphere of the Grand Hotel is as if it is always Sunday there. At another table there was a solitary old woman, fat and ugly and distinguished. I cried aloud at the sight of her entrance - she was so queer and so impressive. Afterwards in the lounge she had five men, not all old, in tow. She dominated them, talked like a man and laughed loudly, also like a man. We learned she was from Naples, and an author. I didn't catch the name clearly. Anyhow I had never heard it before. Not often      do you see such an impressive personality.

I returned to reading Tchekoff's letters to his wife Olga. They are good, if monotonous. Olga is always setting herself right in footnotes against his false accusations  against her of negligence in the matter of writing to him. She is right to do so, but it is funny.

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