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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Thursday, October 25, 2007

literary cat admirer

From Carl Van Vechten's The Tiger in the House of 1922:

Chateaubriand, on the other hand, was a discerning admirer of cats. Under
all circumstances, he occupied himself with cats, as an ambassador, as an exile,
and at the close of his life when he ruled over the literary world from the
retirement of Abbaye-aux-Bois. Champfleury finds him “of all writers on this
theme, the best, the most enthusiastic.”
“Do you not know some one, near here,” he asked his friend, Comte de
Marcellus, “who is like a cat? I think myself, that our long familiarity has
given me some of his ways.” Space and Time did not permit his friend to send him
Huysmans, who is described by Arthur Symons as looking like a cat, or Walt Whitman, of whom Edmund Gosse has said, “If it be true that all remarkable human beings resemble animals, then Walt Whitman was like a cat—a great old grey
Angora Tom, alert in response, serenely blinking under his combed waves of hair,
with eyes inscrutably dreaming,” or La Fontaine or Baudelaire.
When he went on an embassy to Rome Chateaubriand received a cat as a gift
from the Pope. “He was called Micetto,” writes M. de Marcellus. “Pope Leo the
Twelfth’s cat, which came into the possession of Chateaubriand, could not fail
to reappear in the description of that domestic hearth where I have so often
seen him basking.”
Chateaubriand has immortalized his favourite: “My companion is a large grey
and red cat, banded with black. He was born in the Vatican, in the loggia of
Raphael. Leo the Twelfth reared him on a fold of his white robe, where I used to
look at him with envy when, as ambassador, I received my audiences. The
successor of Saint Peter being dead, I inherited the bereaved animal. He is
called Micetto, and surnamed ‘the Pope’s cat,’ enjoying in that regard much
consideration from pious souls. I endeavour to soften his exile, and help him to
forget the Sistine Chapel, and the vast dome of Saint Angelo, where far from
earth, he was wont to take his daily promenade.”

Chateaubriand was a French writer and politician, considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature. More on him in Wikipedia.


Antipants said...

Hey you- Sorry to keep leaving off-topic comments. I just wanted to make sure you were receiving emails. I replied to yours this weekend and haven't heard back from you, and just wanted to make sure it was because you were just busy, not because you didn't get it.


curator said...

Hey Becca,

It's good to hear from you - check your email, I replied just now : )