Friday, April 01, 2011

Ring Lardner Tonight: Part 3 of "The Young Immigrunts" -- FINALLY, "Shut up he explained"


"Father and sons, before there was a David," says Bill in
The Lardners -- that's Bill (Ring Jr.), John, and James.

"The lease said about my and my fathers trip from the Bureau of Manhattan to our new home the soonest mended. In some way ether I or he got balled up on the grand concorpse and next thing you know we was thretning to swoop down on Pittsfield.

"Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly.

"Shut up he explained."

-- from Chapter 10 of "The Young Immigrunts"

by Ken

Yes, believe it or not, tonight we finally reach our destination, just like the wanderers of "The New Immigrunts" -- the Father, the Mother, and the supposed four-year-old author, Ring Lardner Jr. Wednesday night in Part 1 we got them as far as Syracuse, and last night in Part 2 as far as Hudson (across the river from Albany

Of course, as Ring Lardner Jr. (the third of Ring and Ellis Lardner's three sons) explained for us last night in the excerpt from his book The Lardners, while he was indeed four at the time the family pulled up stakes in the Midwest and moved east, he wasn't the one who traveled by car with his parents while the other boys made the trip by train with their nurse, the formidable Miss Feldman. (Ring Jr., known in the family as Bill, actually has a fair amount to say about Miss Feldman, which he says is the only way she was ever addressed.) No, it was the oldest brother, John, who had that honor, while Bill and his next-older brother Jimmy and baby David formed the train party.
Ring, wanting to tell the story from a child's standpoint and still have the sales value of his own name on the book, transferred me to the car and John to the train so the work could be credited to "Ring W. Lardner, Jr. -- With a Preface by the Father." The fact that I was only four also served to broaden his parody of a current book, The Young Visiters, that was attributed to a nine-year-old English girl, Daisy Ashford, with an introduction by J. M. Barrie. Ring obviously felt that Barrie or some other adult writer had contributed more than editorial supervision.

From Bill Lardner we also learned just how skillful and how thorough his father's parody of The Young Visiters was. ("Ring adopted Miss Ashford's style in considerable detail with mild exaggerations") As I mentioned, in the book he quotes significant chunks of both literary efforts, and while I don't think we're in need of any more excerpts from the Lardner text, I thought you might enjoy sampling a bit of Daisy Ashford's.
They went upstairs and entered number 9 a very fine compartment with a large douny bed and white doors with glass handles leading into number 10 and equally dainty room but a trifle smaller.

Which will you have Ethel asked Bernard.

Oh well I would rather you settled it said Ethel. I am willing to abide by your choice.

The best shall be yours then said Bernard bowing gallantly and pointing to the biggest room.

Ethel blushed at his speaking look. I shall be quite lost in that huge bed she added to hide her embarrassment.

Yes I expect you will said Bernard and now what about a little table d'ote followed by a theater.

Daisy's sentences are a little less run-on and wrong-word-prone, but then she was nine whereas "Ring Jr." was only four.



Of course it's not written in stone anywhere that we absolutely have to have a Friday night preview. It's just been a hea; of Fridays since we haven't. But as I've explained, our "Lardner Tonight" presentation of "The Young Immigrunts" sort of, er, "ran over."

So here's the plan: Instead of a preview tomorrow night, we're going to have a full post, resuming our remembrance of soprano Margaret Price, and this week knocking off Verdi: A Masked Ball (plus video of Don Carlos) tomorrow night, and then a big Otello installment on Sunday. And since my concern here isn't worshipping star performers but hearing how talented performers bring music to life and even (we hope) illuminate it, along with our Price performances -- especially since this is repertory that she sang with some public success but that wasn't really "native" to her voice or temperament (or maybe she wasn't fortunate enough to work with colleagues who might have gotten her closer to it -- we're going to side-by-side some other performers. (Did you know that "side-by-side" could be a verb? Now you've seen it.)

For Ballo, I'm thinking Callas-di Stefano-Gobbi. This trio made a bunch of studio recordings together for EMI, many of them as an "ensemble," but the truth is that most of them are disappointing in various ways. I've never heard anyone else say, it but there's no question in my mind that the best of their collaborations, and for all three of these artists one of their best recordings, is the 1956 A Masked Ball conducted by Antonino Votto.

And then for Otello, among other goodies, it occurs to me that since I can make my own digital files now, I can offer a recording that hardly anyone seems to have heard, even though it was a regular commercial issue and was around for a fair amount of time -- especially in the remainder bins. Franco Corelli never did sing the title role of Otello, but his April 1972 performance of the Act I love duet with Teresa Zylis-Gara was included in "Vol. 1" of DG's Highlights from the Metropolitan Opera Gala Honoring Sir Rudolf Bing (I put "Vol. 1" in quotes because there never was a Vol. 2), and maybe we'll give that a listen. It's also of some interest because the conductor was Karl Böhm, who the month before had conducted the premiere of the brand-new Franco Zeffirelli production of Otello, which got a lot of use -- it wasn't replaced until 1995.

or THURBER TONIGHT, or . . .

Well, I don't rightly know. We could do more Lardner, or we could go back to one of our other authors -- and we still have a bunch of "new" people to work into the rotation. Any thoughts? Should we just forget the whole thing?

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