03 June, 2009

fauteuil de nuages

It is a little disconcerting, although perhaps appropriate, gruesomely, to our atomised age, to learn of a friend's death via Wikipedia. I had not seen Stanley around the Library recently, and a month ago he was doing very poorly; he had been in hospital, and was sluggish of moment, suddenly his age—eighty-three—after years, presumably decades, of sprightliness. He said that he felt it was the end, but I thought this simply a figure of speech. He said he would come to dinner, sample my wife's cooking; but now that will have to wait. Neither the Times nor any of its competitors seem to have run an obituary, which saddens me. It is not mine to write here. But I will remember fondly his widescreen disdain for almost everything: for A. S. Byatt, 'the big armchair', for Iain Sinclair, who 'insists on starting all his sentences with 'And'', for a play, for a poem, for all the poseurs of today's avant-garde. I was touched that he always expressed a warmth for me, taking me by the arm when we parted. For the last two years, when I knew him, he spent his days doing not much of anything at the Library, just reading, whatever came to hand, under his enormous beard, free.

4 comments:

Language said...

My condolences; you're fortunate to have known that remarkable man. And I'm pleased to discover he had a remarkable beard.

arnold said...

Very sorry to hear this. It seems only a week or two since I last saw him in the Library. He was such a fixture of the place it's hard to believe he won't be around any more. (By the way, I assume Wikipedia is correct in killing him off, but perhaps that's a dangerous assumption. The note of his death appears to have been added on the very day of his death by someone in Australia, which seems a little bit odd.)

Language said...

I have never gone to Wikipedia after hearing of someone's death, even very shortly after it happened, and not found the death already noted. Wikipedians are an obsessive lot.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Arnold: the OuTraPo homepage records it too: 'Exit. Applaudissements... Rideau.'