Friday, May 27, 2011

“The Garden’s Edge”

Mallarme had been one of Edouard Manet’s closest friends, and after the painter’s death in 1883, he became an intimate friend both of Morisot and of Eugene Manet, visiting them regularly at their home on the Rue de Villejust. He admired Morisot’s work, and was instrumental in persuading the state to purchase Young Woman Dressed for the Ball at the sale of part of Theodore Duret’s collection in 1894. This was the first of Morisot’s paintings to enter a French national collection. Morisot discussed the possibility of illustrating one of Mallarme’s prose poems, Le Nenuphar blanc, for an edition involving the collaboration of several painters, including Renoir. She found his writing difficult to understand and wrote: “It would be kind of you to come to dinner on Thursday. Renoir and I are quite bewildered; we need explanations for the illustrations.” Mallarme replied: “I am disturbed by your bewilderment; fortunately, your smile appears in the background...” The project did not materialize.

from “Berthe Morisot”
by Kathleen Adler

Berthe Morisot, a painter, sometimes ventured
into the graphic arts with beautiful etchings.
She considered illustrating a poet’s work
with other painters but the book wasn’t published.

What if Berthe Morisot were alive today?

Graphic novels today mostly are about crime
or monsters or superheroes battling villains.

“The Garden’s Edge” (an excerpt)
  A Graphic Novel by Berthe Morisot

The young woman dressed for the ball
looked across the garden and saw
the tall man in a long black coat.
He stared back. His gaze frightened her.

Looking at each other they both
failed to hear the slithering sound
in the bush at the garden’s edge.

Something cast a curving shadow
on the cobblestone path. The shape
of a snake. But a giant snake.

I guess it’s for the best that Berthe Morisot
was a nineteenth century woman, a painter
in France. That century in the United States
we were inventing blue jeans. I’m wearing them now.

I guess it’s for the best that Berthe Morisot
was a nineteenth century woman, a painter
in France. But if Berthe Morisot were alive
in today’s world illustrating graphic novels
I’d being standing in line wearing my best blue jeans
to get an autographed, leather-bound edition
of her book, “The Garden’s Edge.” And I’d bet money
Hollywood would ruin the book as a movie.

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