I can Dream, can’t I?

December 26, 2010 at 11:14 am (books) (, , , , )


The last couple days I have been enjoying a bit of a departure — a diary, but much later (1870s) and written by a young Russian girl currently living in Nice.

The book is volume 1 (I don’t believe volume 2 was ever published as a book, though the author, Katherine Kernberger, has used a CD-rom version in her classes), of the diaries of Marie Bashkirtseff, entitled I am the Most Interesting Book of All.

Marie is fourteen when the first diary entries were written, and has all the exuberance of such a young girl. It is in that manner that she differs so widely from Emma Smith! Emma’s entries are short, to-the-point and about what she does, rather than what she thinks. Marie’s often focus on her thoughts about her looks, her hopes and dreams, her romantic attachments. Her very preoccupations give me such food for thought about my two girls!

I am the Most Interesting Book of All, was published in 1997. I found it, as a used book, in a Burlington shop not long after (I presume!) and found at least one wonderful website on Marie, whose diaries are held at the Bibliotheque Nationale. I will have to see if I can find out more information on the ultimate ‘fate’ of volume 2. But I see used copies of this first volume on sale at Amazon for less than $2! A steal!! Snap it up!

To give a small taste of one wonderful passage read just this morning: The mother of a family friend has died, and Marie and family visit the house. “There was a crush of people. There was sorrow on the right, sorrow on the left, sorrow on the ceiling, sorrow on the floor, pain expressed on each chair, in the light of the candles, even in the air.” There is just something so expressive about this observation that touched me. Partly, tied in with what Marie wrote just a few days before, when the woman still lived: “I believe the most awful thing about it was for the old woman’s daughter, because you can have many brothers and sisters; you can even have another husband. But a mother is unique, and no other love in the world can be compared to hers.”

On this, my own mother’s birthday, I find that sentiment just exceptionally moving.

Marie, though interesting in music, established herself as an artist. Here is one site with biographical information, as well as some visuals of her work.

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