Monday, 19 November 2012

Alexander Herzen in Ventnor

I apologise for this being a thoroughly second-hand post, but following blog references led in a pleasant direction.

Sydney Padua's always excellent 2D Googles just cited an 1840 letter by Thomas Carlyle to his younger brother John Aitken Carlyle, containing a complimentary description of the Isle of Wight as place to spend the winter months.
Your Weymouth Letter reached me yesterday. If you accomplished your purpose for Sunday, getting to Lymington as you proposed, you must have ample means to be in Ryde at your journey's end before this reach you. I fancy you to be there perhaps even now. It gives me no little satisfaction to consider that your wandering is now over, and has settled you for a space of rest in a corner so near me. I imagine Wight to be the elegiblest of all places for passing these dim months;—not enveloped in fog, drizzle, and glar [mud], as we here; but with a fresh sea round you, with glimpses of blue sky, and some constant evidence that this Earth and her Seasons still exist.
- TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE, Chelsea, Tuesday, 24 Novr / 1840— The Carlyle Letters Online
Googling around this took me serendipitously to a blog post In Herzen’s footsteps: a visit to Ventnor by Sarah J Young, a lecturer in Russian at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. It concerns the author's visit to Ventnor in the process of researching the mid-1850s stay in Ventnor of Alexander Ivanovich Herzen ("a Russian pro-Western writer and thinker known as the father of Russian socialism and one of the main fathers of agrarian populism" - Wikipedia). The whole account is rather cool, not least for the inclusion of sketches of Ventnor by one of the Herzen entourage, Malwida von Meysenbug.

One shows St Augustine Villa, where Herzen stayed (my photo for comparison) ...

St Augustine Villa, Ventnor, 1855, Malwida von Meysenbug
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative works 2.0
England and Wales License
Ventnor, October 2010, Ray Girvan, public domain image

Ventnor, Chalet Hotel, 1954 - scan of postcard: click to enlarge

... and the other shows the coastline looking eastward toward Ventnor (again, I found a photo of my own, this one from May 2012):

Coast near Ventnor, by Malwida von Meysenbug, 1855
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative works 2.0
England and Wales License

Coast near Ventnor, Ray Girvan, May 2012, public domain image
- Ray

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