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A blog respondent recently asked which I thought the better writer, V.S.Pritchett, or Graham Greene.
My first inclination was to choose, but on reflection I realised that what I ought to be doing was understanding why I couldn’t. Or perhaps shouldn’t! In fact, I’ve not read that many GG stories, though I do have the 1990 collection The Last Word & other stories. It was one of those ‘other stories’ I was interested in: The Lieutenant Died Last was the basis of the wartime propaganda film by Calvalcanti, Went the Day Well, one of the adaptations I’ve written about in the series ‘Changing Your Story’. I had read the other 11 stories in the collection too, but the question prompted me to read them again.
I still can’t give a straightforward choice answer, but I do now have a clearer idea of how I perceive the two writers in relation to one another. From what I have read, there is a difference, but what is striking about it is not so much the style of the stories, as their content. VSP and GG write from a different perspective, and tell a different type of story.
The stories in The Last Word are mainly about individuals in conflict with a state, or its representatives. In The Lottery Ticket, for example, a tourist wins the lottery in a third world country, and donates the prize money to the government, precipitating a series of unintended, and negative, consequences. In The Last Word itself, and in An Appointment With The General, the protagonists confront the individuals embodying the tyranny under which they live. Even in the stories The Lieutenant Died Last and A Branch of the Service the protagonists are serving the interests of the group, rather than following their purely personal agendas.
If stories like this dominate the GG collection, VSP’s Complete Short Stories, of which I have read about two thirds as I write, is of a quite different stamp. Here it is personal demons that are confronted, and private wars that are waged. Stories like The Fall ,The Camberwell Beauty, Blind Love and The Saint examine individuals in conflict with their emotions and their beliefs, characters struggling to form and maintain their relationships. As yet I have found no story with the David & Goliath asymmetry of the GG ones.
The nearest GG comes to VSP, in the collection I have read, is with The Moment of Truth, in which, under ordinary rather than extra-ordinary circumstances, a waiter misinterprets his relationship with a couple of regular customers. In VSP’s wartime set, The Voice, where one might expect a story of the nation at war, we find instead two individuals playing out their private issues in the devastation of the London Blitz. The story is not even based upon their relative statuses within the church in which they are both priests, though that element is included.
But back to the question, and my answer to it…For me V.S.Pritchett has the edge, because his stories are about the private rather than the public, about the emotional rather than than the institutional. That is not to say that Graham Greene is unaware of the emotional, any more than Pritchett is unaware of the institutional, but the focus of the two is decidedly different. The fact that I feel this way, of course, might be telling you more about me than it is about them.
I recently read The Fall by V.S.Pritchett. This is a story with a plotline to keep the general reader amused, and a developing perspective that will keep the writing reader intrigued.
Told in the third person, but centred on the protagonist, Charles Peacock, we are either looking at him, or seeing the world through his eyes.
The story opens with him getting ready for a formal dinner. He sees himself, almost, as others will see him, in a series of mirrors in which he watches himself dress, and admires himself dressed. He hears himself speak, and hears what others say within his hearing, and we hear it too. He speaks in a series of false voices which he has concocted to protect himself, and which he wears like a ragged suit of armour. By the time we get to the most desperate of these, the ‘music hall Negro’ we are beginning to see him as others are doing, and to notice the disparity between that view, and the one that Charles has of himself
As the evening progresses, that disparity grows steadily deeper. Progressively our understanding of what is going on is filled in. Our view becomes clearer, as his blurs and loses focus.
He has a brother, a minor celebrity, a film actor, and as the evening draws to its finale, Charles begins to demonstrate some of the brother’s acting skills. He draws, holds, and eventually loses his audience, save for one very special, final audience, for whom he takes a final bow.
The story is tragic or comic, depending on the reader’s perspective, I think, and perhaps deciding which, if either, side you would come down on, is one of those self-realisations that makes some stories particularly well worth reading. You’ll find The Fall in The Complete Stories of V.S.Pritchett, published in 1990 by Chatto & Windus.
One of the mechanisms of story is the link between location – the when and where in which it takes place – situation – locations create situations – and character. The characters have to deal with the situations they find there and then…. These locations are usually given, hinted at or implied, very early in a short story. They are the context in which the events play out. Here, the story begins ‘It was the evening of the Annual Dinner’. This is filled out later with ‘a large, wet Midland City’, and our hero finds his way to ‘the Assembly Rooms.’ The situation is a formal dinner, and we are told that ‘Crowds or occasions frightened Peacock’. If we had only this sentence and that first one we would know enough to understand what was going on.
We are given more though, not about the location, or situation, but about how Peacock may be handling it. All that play with the mirrors while Peacock dresses, and as he travels to the dinner. More, there is something odd about the way he puts his trousers on…’balancing on one leg and gazing with frowns of affection’. Is there something wrong with him? Could it be, perhaps, with reader’s hindsight I’m inventing for myself, but could it be that he has taken a drop to steady his nerves already? (C.S.Lewis, I recall, castigates the non-literary reader for adding his own imagination to what the words have given him).
Certainly, when Peacock gets to the dinner he grabs a drink, the first of nine specific references to him taking one; and when the President calls over to him ‘Peacock’s drink jumped and splashed his hand’. Signs of one too many already? It is Peacock’s reaction to the event, and to other events in his past, that is the meat of this story, leading to its abrupt, and tragi-comic climax.
This story gives a powerful sense of how drunkenness creeps on, as experienced by the drinker. Peacock drifts in and out of conversations, is distracted and loses concentration. His mind wanders to the past, and to his brother in particular. The answer to a question he has posed eludes him. The President, making a speech, appears to have two beards. Time becomes elastic. Finally he enters that phase of seeming clarity, in which he undertakes to demonstrate his brother’s technique of ‘the actor’s fall’. And from here we listen more carefully to what is being said within his earshot…
‘What’s happened to Peacock?’, ‘Good God, has Peacock passed out?’,'He’s done it again’,'It’s Peacock – still at it.’ And all these little snippets, though ostensibly about his pratfalling, have the suggestion that it is his inebriation that is being commented upon.
Eventually Peacock is left alone, the last man standing. So he performs his pratfall for Queen Victoria, whose portrait hangs in the ante-room.
‘And delightfully he crumpled, the perfect backwards spin. Leaning
up on his elbow from where he was lying he waited for her to speak.
I watched Director Joseph Strick’s 1980s adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses a little while ago. It has been shown on TV a couple of times, and I saw it a couple of decades back, recording it to watch again later.
It says something about how underwhelmed I was at that first watching that I never got around to viewing the video-ed version, and so it was dvd that I ended up with. The second viewing though turned out to be rather a surprise. Though few images from the film had imprinted themselves on my mind, almost the whole of it seemed familiar when I watched again. I’ve read the book several times, which might have helped. On the dvd cover the blurb boasts – I think that’s the appropriate word – that every word is taken from the book and in one of those light-bulb moments, almost everything that I liked and disliked about the adaptation was illuminated.
Strick has been faithful to the book, valiantly so, though he has transposed the Dublin of Joyce’s 1904 to a nineteen-postwar sort of Dublin. I wasn’t sure if it was sixties, seventies, or eighties in intent. Perhaps scrutiny of the road vehicles, if you are into that sort of thing, would clarify. It was a present that he must have tried to strip of all its contemporary resonances.
The attempt leads to some curious losses in relation to Joyce’s story. Gerty MacDowell’s underwear, for example – not a bad place to begin – is less spectacular under its short shift dress than the Edwardian glories that Joyce no doubt had in mind! And when Bloom, later, stops to get an eyeful in that shop window there’s not much to mutely crave to adore on display.
The politics of the time are changed too. The soldiers that knock Stephen to the ground on the way home from the brothel are no longer the soldiers of the British Empire. Stephen, in the book, is beaten for insulting ‘my fucking king’, which neither we nor the Irish still had, not for insulting his girl – though that lady still gets excited that they are fighting for her! Earlier in the story, Mr Daisy’s significance too has been altered by the decades of history unraveled between novel and film.
The citizen is still the citizen, but the owld dog has become a German Shepherd, which is not at all the same as the Sykesian bruiser in the novel. And Bloom carried off in the back seat of a sports car, though still comic, is not the same as being carried off by horse carriage. Poor Paddy Dignam’s funeral is still horse-drawn though, which adds a curiously nostalgic touch to it, though I can remember, I think, post-war horse drawn hearses in my English hometown.
Even the Martello Tower, imagined, and shown, a piece of actual architecture that pre-dates the novel by a century, seems out of place when inhabited by mid twentieth century characters, and Haines is more of an upper-class twit than a ponderous Anglo-Saxon in a liberated Ireland.
In fact, the modernisation of the novel works directly against the spirit of Joyce’s attempt to re-create in words a Dublin of 1904 that could be re-imagined, re-constructed even, if the original were to vanish… which of course it has. There are still Edwardian pubs around of course, with their dark wood panelling and engraved glass, but now, and when the film was made, we cannot help perceive them as anything but ‘heritage’. For Joyce they were contemporary. When he looks into Davy Byrne’s, Leopold Bloom does not go into an old fashioned pub in the novel, but he does in the film.
Back I go again to my old hobby horse of showing and telling: Joyce has told us about his Dublin, and we can picture it…. Strick has shown us a later one, which, because he has done so, we do not need to.
And on I come to my main point: The faithful adaptation – and it is faithful, for all its transposing the time of the place – shows us one version of what the original telling might have led us to imagine. That’s what adaptations do. They save us the trouble, and the challenge, and ultimately the joy, and the discovery (the self-discovery), that the telling demands of us.
There is an interesting change at the end too, where, as in the John Huston adaptation of The Dead, there can be no better way of finishing the story than by using the words in which Joyce finished it. On Howth Head, among the Rhododendrons, with the warm mush of the seed-cake in his mouth, Bloom is asked to ask, once again…..and Molly answers ‘yes’. The scene is word perfect, and well imagined – though my Molly Bloom was always more Rubenesque – but in fact it doesn’t end as the book does.
It’s well attested that Molly Bloom’s monologue was a late addition to the novel, and in purely dramatic terms the story finds a definite closure when Bloom sees Stephen safely off into the night, and re-enters his Abode of Bliss, Plumtree’s Potted Meat notwithstanding (why is it one can never write about Ulysses without pumping it up with quotes, puns and literary how-d’yee dos!), and this is true to some extent in both the novel and the film. But, whereas the novel ends entirely at Molly’s final yes, the film does not. There is a moment of reflection, during which the camera runs on, and we see her face: what is she contemplating, reflecting upon, as we watch? In the book there is no such moment. It is we who must contemplate and reflect, upon what we have been told. In the film we cannot help but watch what we are shown, and it is upon that that we must reflect. Strick, almost certainly without meaning to, has moved the ending of the book on into an untold future, albeit a momentary one; and in doing so he has moved us on, taking our focus away from Joyce’s told ‘yes’, and placing it on his shown moment.
Those of you who have read a lot of my work – is there anybody there? – may have noticed several stories based on the idea of model railways. I like toy trains, and a good friend has for years been taking me to model railway shows. I have written here before about my theory that the model railway is another form of narrative, and indeed this has been the metaphor standing behind those stories.
Recently, he took me to the Maryport exhibition of more general models, among which there were two or three excellent model railways, busily telling their stories. I took a few photographs, small snippets of the lives that were implied in various vignettes I found. The background to the layouts in which they were placed, these little incidents, caught like snapshots, are the stuff of narrative.
In the pictures I have chosen to include here, two are war stories, and two from everyday life. The scenes raise all sorts of questions, and offer all sorts of possibilities.
What are the guys talking about? What have they just done? What are they about to do? What’s on their minds? The guy with his hat pushed back for instance. Has he had a liquid lunch, and is he giving the man in the uniform a hard time?And who are those two guys on the bench in the background?
I’ve written about a half a dozen stories based on model railways, seen and imagined. The Cold Blue Morning of Gidley Jones is one such. It was taken – and this surprised me – for a reading by Liars League in London, and you can access that online. Also, it forms part of the collection Talking To Owls. A much shorter flash fiction, The Scale of the Disaster, appeared in an Earlyworks Press anthology. Train (Coming Round The Bend) – the title taken from a chorus line in a song on The Band’s Last Waltz – appeared in the self-published collection Second Time Around, which I did back in 2006. There were a few stories in that collection that I was particularly pleased about – over half of them had appeared somewhere or other previously. Train, had not, but my writing buddy, Kurt Tidmore tells me it is one of the two best stories he’s read of mine, which tempts me to put up a reading of it on Vimeo. I’ll give you a nudge when I do!
A reviewer of TTO was enthusiastic about Gidley Jones. I’ve been surprised by these responses, coming as they do, from people who don’t overtly share my interest in the source of the metaphors! But maybe that validates the idea in itself, that these intricate models are a form of narrative, and a source of inspiration for narrative.
Perhaps even, like the more traditional photographs of landscapes, and townscapes, and portraits that are so often used in writing workshops, these little pictures in three dimensions can be used as ‘kickers,’ or at least ‘nudgers’, for original short stories of their own. Have a go, if they take you that way!
While researching in some old magazines recently I discovered an article called ‘Love Affairs’ which was published in the Goldsmiths Review of 1989, a magazine produced by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and distributed to members.
The writer, Geoffrey Wilson OBE, was then chief inspector of schools for Kirklees LEA. He wrote the article because ‘the educational prescriptions of the National Curriculum into which the child now has to fit leaves little room to have those deep love affairs which were of significance to all of us in the past.’ His prime concern being, ‘it does not even pay lip service to those deeper and more profound values associated with the spiritual and emotional growth of children which were of paramount importance to those……concerned with the teaching of craft and design in the sixties and seventies.’
He was telling me how he ‘finds’ his characters by their back-stories. I, he told me, find them by their voices. His perceptions are sound, I think, but it made me question what those two different routes to character bring with them.
Back-story, it seems to me, would bring momentum and direction, would create characters who have come from somewhere and who have, implicitly, somewhere to go. Voices give personality, identity, but imply little about back-story, or future direction.
Might there be other qualities of character that we could use to create them? I remember hearing actors say that they ‘find’ the characters they are set to play by a variety of techniques. Some say the walk, for example, one said ‘the shoes’, echoing that old saw about walking a mile in someone else’s. I can remember, when working in the criminal justice system, trying to get an insight into the motives and feelings of clients – we’re talking convicted criminals here – by trying to hold myself, physically, as they did, by trying to walk as they did. There’s a phrase in Tom Wolfe – he used it in Bonfire of the Vanities – ‘the pimp roll’. Walk the pimp roll, my theory goes, and you’ll get an idea of how the guy feels about himself.
Trying to visualise the characters we are going to create as fiction writers, we might choose their actions, or their appearance, their interests, or that classic creator of identity, their occupations. Each starting point will set us off on a different type of journey though. Perhaps what we need to do is to have a blend of such points of origin. On the other hand, we are creating fictional characters, not real people.
A story, particularly a short story, needs a focus, and that is likely to be on a character in interaction with a situation, a situation created by a location (in time and space). That character may strive to bring about change, or to resist it; it may be driven by hopes or fears, but the likelihood is that our interest, as writers and readers, will be focussed on on or two elements of the character, of the situation, and the location, and our route to having, as writers, imagined the character in the first place, will throw certain elements into sharper focus.
Like arriving at a place, we arrive at a character, from a particular direction, and in this analogy, that means arriving via the character’s back-story, or voice, or appearance, or whatever we have taken as our own particular route.
I have a recording of Kurt reading this, embellished – if that is the correct word – with sound effects, and a soundtrack song from a yodelling cowboy with a painfully high voice. The sounds, and the song, fit the story, no doubt, but last night we heard, and saw, the story being read aloud in what you might call the ‘naked’ voice.
It was a gripping reading. It is a gripping story, of a homesteader and his wife who try, but fail, to establish a dirt farm across the Brazos River, in Texas. The story has the grit of the desert in its teeth, and the dust of hot, dry plains in its throat. The story is as uncompromising as the landscape in which it is set. Most amazing, in the recording, and in the stripped down au naturel version, is the calling of the Mocking Birds. These critturs don’t feature over here, but they are some species of crow or similar, with the propensity for mimicry. Whatever sounds, from hammer, or saw, or rifle, or human voice, these bird hear, they are likely to reproduce with uncanny accuracy, and this echo resonates through this story, to reach an unbearable climax.
What struck me most, and not for the first time, about Kurt’s writing, and perhaps about the American style of writing more generally, was the purity – I can find no better word for it – of the narrative thread. Complex trains of events are rendered simple, and comprehensible. We can imagine them with potency and clarity. Writing in this style has great immediacy, producing a string of crystal clear images. The story moves forward, not folding back on itself or foundering in indecision, not blurring or losing its way.
What drives this sort of text? It is, I am sure, to do with the structure of the individual sentences, and I suspect, is mainly built upon the positioning of the main verb. I have no written text here to consult, in the case of Prairie Song, but I suspect I would find that the main verbs come early in their sentences, and are followed by an open string of clauses and phrases that add clear pictures to pictures that we can already see clearly. I suspect that I would find few examples of pictures that are built up in incomplete fragments which we cannot picture to ourselves fully until some final jigsaw piece is settled into place.
Talking writing later in the evening over a glass or several of red wine, Kurt spoke about the importance of verbs, and the dangers of adjectives. Language, and narrative in particular, he told me, is based upon verbs, not upon adjectives, which is as good a nugget of writing lore as you will get from me today!
In The Modern Short Story from1809-1953, in his chapter on A.E.Coppard, H.E.Bates complains at Coppard’s use of snippets gathered into notebooks, from observations in the field – literally and metaphorically – and pressed into service as parts of his shorts stories later.
It seems a strange thing to make a point of denigrating. Why shouldn’t a writer record what he has observed and find a use for it later? Part of the answer may lie in Bates’ attitude to his own writing. I recently got hold of a 1938 collection of Bates’ short stories: Country Tales, ironic in its name considering Bates’ comments about Coppard’s use of the term, published by the Readers Union. An unexpected bonus was that in addition to the thirty stories, was an essay by Bates himself, on his own writing processes. Dismissing a description of himself as ‘a writer with a carefully polished style’, Bates insists that he wrote ‘easily. Quickly and light heartedly, often between breakfast and lunch’, and, quoting Edward Garnett, with ‘a facile devil inside’.
But that devil, allowing Bates to write ‘quickly and happily’, might be much nearer to those notebooks than is immediately apparent. Isn’t it the case that Garnett’s devil is really a metaphor for the unconscious memory – the mind’s storehouse notebook, accessed automatically in the moments of creativity? We may not know specifically where our phrases, images and metaphors have come from, but surely, they come from our recollections and interpretations of what we have seen and heard, and read, over the years of our lives? The way we access those memories may be more mysterious than the way we might consult a notebook, but is it essentially different?
I am a notebook user myself – which perhaps explains to some extent my instinct to defend Coppard’s practice – and I know from experience that the mere act of writing down a phrase or a scene may be enough to lodge it in what we might call a ‘ready access’ memory from which it will be retrieved without the need to actually re-read it!
This is more than just a weighing up of two means of producing a story. It has implications for the reader too. For the words evoked by my memories will not necessarily evoke similar memories in those who read them. Indeed it may be that they necessarily will not. Groping to re-live our experiences we write down words that will evoke in the reader memories of theirs.
Striving for precision in our use of language, as writers and readers, we ought not forget that the meanings of words are not as fixed nor as narrow as our dictionaries might suggest. Even where we can pin down to a single moment in time, and place, the origin of a word, we cannot pin down its meaning to the next person who uses it, and look at convolutions lawyers have to go through, to frame laws and documents that are intended to achieve such pinnings.
Meanings and words are quite different things, and we try to couple them as securely as we can, but its worth remembering that the story – or tale – that a reader, or listener is experiencing is never likely to bear more than a passing resemblance to the one that the writer intended to create. This is what gives the telling and receiving of tales its symbiotic quality, linking both writer and reader in a joint act. Neither does it require a death of the author to bring it about. The process of interpreting the words, both in their writing, and in their reading, or hearing, does that.
Watching a film, by comparison, is an act of mere observation and analysis. What you get is what you see. There is little to interpret, and no call upon memory to supply the images that words demand. By comparison, live theatre is something of a halfway house, with its ‘willing suspension of disbelief’.
Here we are, back again, at ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ – and the difference between how we process what we are shown, and what we are told. Language, by its very nature, is an interpretive process.
Coming back to Bates, he goes on to say, in his introduction to Country Tales, that he needed to move on from being a writer who sucked ‘the significance out of trivialities’, to one who wrote stories ‘drawn directly from life and not from imagination’. That would be, I suspect, life as remembered, or jotted down in notebooks.
Ever since I heard of this adaptation I had wondered how it would deal with the ending. Short stories, as someone said, ‘are all about their endings,’ and this ending in particular includes what is probably my favourite paragraph of fiction.
We’ll leave that thought hanging, like a cliff-edge storyline and turn to other issues. I had previously watched the adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, not the recent one, but the dreamy 1981 version. There’s an episode in this story where Charles Ryder and Julia cross the Atlantic in a storm. While Ryder’s wife is confined to her cabin with sea-sickness, Charles and Julia roam the decks, re-building their friendship, and recalling the past. What is interesting about this episode is the way it is presented: we are not shown only what they are doing in present time, but are told, with voice-over narration. For film-makers this sort of voice-over montage is seen as a negation of the cinematic art. For writers it might rather be interpreted as the point at which the words cannot be reduced to visuals: the point at which the story has to be told, rather than be shown. If story is a triangle of action, character, and thought, then this is the case where ‘thought’ is dominant.
I’m no film-maker, but I couldn’t imagine how John Huston would present those final lines of James Joyce’s story. How else, I wondered, could you do it, but by some sort of montage, of the images the words evoked, with the voice-over narration of the words themselves?
So, when I finally got to watch the film, you’ll not be surprised to read that I was pleasantly disappointed to find that Huston had done just that with the ending! Smug, as I’m sure you know, is just Smaug without the treasure!
I could leave it there, but that movie ending raised another question: the question of what adaptations are for. John Huston’s ‘The Dead’ is what I would think of as a ‘faithful’ one. Huston was was said to be contemplating his own death during the making of the film, a perhaps not inappropriate state of mind for such a task, and I found no detectable change of agenda, such as I have looked for, and found, in other adaptations. There were no great changes made for reasons of technical difficulties or economic limitations. That montage/voice-over technique is used elsewhere in the piece, notably during a song, where instead of lingering on the singer Huston lets his camera wander over the period details of the rooms, and thus of the lives, of his characters: an efficient translation of the snippets of detail Joyce has given us in words.
So what then has the adaptation done? What has it achieved? Sympathetic, evocative of the lives of its characters and of the story that Joyce told, sharing an ambience with that story perhaps, one might say it has paralleled the text. It has successfully translated the story from one medium into another. I enjoyed watching it, as I enjoyed reading the story. Huston has cleverly visualised what Joyce has written.
And here’s the key to understanding the nature of adaptation itself. Huston has visualised the story, and has brought that visualisation to life: he has brought his response to the language of Joyce into existence. I have not made a film of The Dead, but I have imagined it. His characters have different faces to mine. His rooms are not so darkly shadowed as mine. His characters are a little less shabby than mine too. His images were drawn from his imagination, and found in real life – as actors, props and sets, as camera angles and lighting, as sounds. Mine too were drawn from life: we can imagine nothing that we have not seen already. The words we read draw from us the memories that we have forgotten in our conscious everyday lives.
What the faithful adaptation does is share a single visualisation of a story. What a reading of the original text does is create within our minds such a visualisation. If we want to share that, we must either talk about it, or make our own adaptations.
The Invisible Present
One of my English lecturers back in the nineteen seventies pointed out that what is always missing from literature is that which the writer thought so ordinary that it needed no mention.
Items, ideas, clothes, furniture, landscapes even, that were so ubiquitous, so normal, that they could be taken for granted – that they were taken for granted – and it could be safely assumed that the reader would take their presence for granted too.
I came across an example of this quite recently while reading an A.E.Coppard story. Written, and set, in the nineteen thirties, the story included a scene in which the protagonist and his sidekick are visiting a nightclub. There they meet a young woman, and as she approaches their table the protagonist raises his hat to her. There has been no previous mention whatever of a hat. My assumption, to that point, had been that they were bareheaded. Coppard’s was that, obviously they would not be. I was reminded of a book I read during the writing of A Penny Spitfire. It was about the immediately post-war world (and I’m assuming here you’ll assume I mean World War Two!), in which, the author wrote that, in 1947, a man walking down The Strand bare-headed would turn heads! Our assumption, I assume, is that bare-headedness is the norm, though they tell me that hats are gaining in popularity again. Back then, however, they were not merely popular, but de-rigueur.
How fascinating it might be to compare the actual that authors from the past were describing, with the imagined that their writings evoked. We can do this, of course, to a certain extent, by comparing those evocations with photographs of the time; but how much more fascinating to consider the differences between our present day actualities and the future imaginings that our writings about them will evoke.