Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Connections ...

About a year ago, I discovered that our local fine arts museum had acquired one of the sculptures upon which Nathaniel Hawthorne based his novel, "The Marble Faun."

So I went to the museum and then read the book. Visiting the museum was the easy part. Finding the book wasn't. As usual, the local bookstore had never heard of it and my county library --- pfft, I've seen auto repair shops with more books in stock than that place.

There appears to be some idea that Nathaniel Hawthorne only wrote one book, "The Scarlet Letter," then was whisked off into outer space by Martians, never to write again.

But eventually, I found it. And read it. And liked it. And I recommend it. It beautifully breathes the spirit of 19th century Rome.

Fast forward to this evening, when I took my Sweetie to get Her hair done.

I picked up an odd magazine in the lobby, "Garden and Gun." I kid you not. Only in the South would one find such a combo. I'm not much into periodicals about shooting things, so I don't know why I bothered even to crack it open, especially since I had Plutarch with me, on my designated reading list.

I am so glad that I did.

Buried amongst tales of bullet-riddled waterfowl was a gem of an article about the Elizabethan Gardens of North Carolina, USA. They have been planted on the very spot where the so-called Lost Colony was founded more than 400 years ago -- the first serious attempt of the English to settle North America.

In these gardens stands a statue. If I get permission, I will post a photo of it.

From www.elizabethgardens.org:

"This graceful statue is the artist’s version of an adult Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World. Sculpted of Carrara marble in Italy by American sculptor, Maria Louisa Lander in 1859, the statue spent two years at the bottom of the sea following a shipwreck off the coast of Spain. The statue was salvaged and shipped to Boston, where it survived a fire. In 1923, Miss Lander willed the statue to the State of North Carolina, where it was displayed in several buildings but was eventually sent to the basement of the old Supreme Court Building as some found her lack of clothing objectionable."

But from tonight's magazine reading, I have learned that Ms. Lander was a Salem native, who, like Her fellow Salem-ite, the aforementioned Hawthorne, left that city for the Eternal City, Rome, about the same time that he did. She stopped in London along the way and saw drawings by John White, Virginia Dare's grandfather. The story of that vanished child fascinated Her, and when She got to Rome, She created in clay Her vision of what the Girl would have looked like as an adult, then had an Italian carve it in marble. It is speculated that the statue's beautiful figure is based on Her own, of which She was justifiably proud.

Meanwhile, Lander had befriended Hawthorne and he based a character in "The Marble Faun" on Her.

What a fascinating web of connections. And to think that, for me, they came together in "Garden and Gun Magazine."


leslie said...

Garden and Gun?! Yowza.

Rebecca said...

Wow, some really interesting tales often take a very circuitous route. But THIS brings it to a much higher level!

This goes to prove that one can never judge a book by its cover (or magazine by its title). I am very glad you were open to taking a glimpse at Garden and Gun. I think curiosity would have gotten the better of me as well. Other than the aesthetic beauty of an antique firearm, I don't care for them at all, but formal gardens are very interesting to me.

Braveheart ( Ela) said...

Can you imagine being amongst the first settlers in a new world?

...Kat said...

serendipity of course