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March 8, 2009

'Shaw didn't want to meet her in person for fear of breaking the spell'


Above, Moira Hodgson on George Bernard Shaw's love affair with Ellen Terry (above, photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron in 1863 at the age of 16).

It's from Hodgson's March 5, 2009 Wall Street Journal review of Michael Holroyd's new book, "A Strange Eventful History," about Terry and Henry Irving, along with the other major figures of Victorian English theater whose lives intersected with those of the two world-famous actors.

More: "'Ellen Terry is the most beautiful name in the world. It rings like a chime through the last quarter of the 19th century,' he [Shaw] wrote to her. They corresponded for more than a decade, but Shaw didn't want to meet her for fear of breaking the spell."

I have precisely the same sense about the many people around the world I've come to know through bookofjoe.

The great majority of my favorites I've never met nor spoken to nor do I have any interest at all in doing so.

The terms of the relationships which make them so appealing online cannot survive an in the flesh encounter, methinks.

So if you're passing through my Podunk town and want to get together, don't be too angry or put out when I make some mealy-mouthed excuse why I can't meet up with you.

In the end, it's because it's very, very hard for me to imagine anything better than my default setting, how I spend most of my waking life: walking on the treadmill, watching TV MOS (mit out sound), listening to Jimi Hendrix at ear-splitting volume, creating bookofjoe, petting Gray Cat and from time to time looking out the window at the birds and the squirrels.

If this makes me a loser, hey, I can live with that.

March 8, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Back in the days of the BBS, the get togethers were of utmost importance... it was a great chance to see if the one girl on the BBS was really flirt-worthy. Chances are, she wasn't, but she was still the only girl who would talk to you.

Now a days, the thing that's missing from most internet 'groups' is the lack of a shared locality. So the meet and greets, at least to me, are rather mute.

Either way, don't worry Joe, I wouldn't want to bore you by trying to force you to share a cuppa coffee, but I would be more than happy to point out some local resturants where you could enjoy one yourself.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Mar 9, 2009 7:17:24 AM

What if we just want to meet Humphrey?

Posted by: Randee | Mar 8, 2009 11:07:39 PM

I could go either way. Sometimes, the risk has unimagined rewards - good & bad. Mostly, I try to be happy with me. I'm already 30 years into trying at the same time to be happy with my Karen Sue.

Looking at the photograph of Ellen Terry, I could see how GBS would spin a web of wonder about her, and not want to break that with reality.

I very grateful that you keep up the daily dosage for my joe addiction.

Posted by: Matt Penning | Mar 8, 2009 10:38:14 PM

Joe, I have recently come to the same conclusion. I am delighted to be content with the life I have crafted for myself. No longer apologetic, I get to have all the time in the world to myself, a kitten on my lap, with work I love to do, music as loud as I want. Every day. I feel like I am getting away with something, and I hope never to be caught!

Posted by: melinds | Mar 8, 2009 10:35:20 PM

I've always thought of heaven as a community. This is the first time I am forced to consider it as a hermit's cave. No losers here, just everyone knowing what makes them happy and acting accordingly. And for the record, I think that Shaw should have taken the risk.

Posted by: Milena | Mar 8, 2009 6:54:39 PM

I couldn't agree more completely with George Bernard Shaw on that. Some things are just too good to mess up with heavy burdens of actuality -- it might unravel the brilliant tapestry. MUCH too precious.

Loser?? How could that make anyone a loser? It sounds like my idea of heaven.
Which, I suspect, you've worked enormously hard for.

Posted by: Flautist | Mar 8, 2009 5:22:59 PM

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