Аналитическое чтение учебно-методическое пособие для студентов отделения заочного обучения




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Irwin Shaw “Evening in Byzantium” (1973)



Irwin Shaw is an outstanding American writer born in 1913 in New York. He got his education in Brooklyn College, changed several professions. For several years he worked in Hollywood. His major works are Bury the Dead (1936), The Gentle People, A Brooklyn Fable, The Young Lions, The Rich Man, the Poor Man.

Evening in Byzantium” is a tense racy tale of an ageing film tycoon facing up to the facts of life at a film festival in Cannes. The hero is Jess Craig, forty-eight years old. He comes to Cannes to look his creative urge that had been gone for some time. His survival is at stake in the midst of this gaudy carnival.

Shaw’s manner of writing makes his hero utterly attractive. The basic technique is Craig’s inner speech, smart and exquisite, full of nostalgia and deep sententions. It is rather like an “in depth” scenario, enriched by Shaw’s imagination and lush swift style.

In the first selection given below Craig is having lunch with his agent Murphy and a young girl who writes about Craig for an American radio station. In the second passage he meets his daughter Anne and drives her to Cannes.


____________________


They had lunch at the cabana. The cold langouste was very good and Murphy ordered two bottles of Blanc-de-Blanc. He drank most of the wine and did most of the talking. He quizzed Gail McKinnon roughly but good-naturedly, at least at first. “I want to find out what the goddamn younger generation is about,” he said, “before they come and slit my throat.”

Gail McKinnon answered his questions forthrightly. What ever she was, she was not shy. She had grown up in Philadelphia. Her father still lived there. She was an only child. Her parents were divorced. Her father had remarried. Her father was a lawyer. She had gone to Bryn Mawr, but had quit in her sophomore year. She had gotten a job with a Philadelphia radio station and had been in Europe for a year and a half. Her base was London, but her job allowed her to travel a good deal. She enjoyed Europe but she intended to go back and live in the United States. Preferably in New York.

She sounded like a thousand other American girls Craig had met in Europe, hopeful, enthusiastic, and obscurely doomed.

“You got a boyfriend?” Murphy asked.

“Not really,” she said.

“Lovers?”

The girl laughed.

“Murph,” Sonia Murphy said reproachfully.

“I’m not the one who invented the permissive society,” Murphy said. “They did. The goddamn young.” He turned again to the girl. “Do all the guys you interview make a pass at you?”

“Not all,” she said, smiling. “The most interesting one was an old rabbi from Cleveland who was passing through London on his way to Jerusalem. I had to fight for my life in the Hotel Berkeley. Luckily, his plane left in an hour. He had a silky beard.”

The conversation made Craig uncomfortable. The girl reminded him too much of his daughter, Anne. He did not want to think of how his daughter talked to older men when he wasn’t there.

Murphy rambled on about the decline of the movie industry.

“Take Warners, for example,” he said. “You know who bought Warners? A cemetery business. How do you like that for crappy symbolism? And the age thing. They talk about revolutions devouring their young. We’ve had a revolution out there, only it’s devouring its old. I suppose you approve, Miss Smart-Face.” He was becoming belligerent with the wine.

“Partially,” Gail McKinnon said calmly.

“You’re eating my lobster,” Murphy said, “and you say partially.”

“Look where the old have got us,” Gail McKinnon said. “The young can’t do any worse.”

“I know that song and dance,” Murphy said. “I don’t have any children, thank God, but I listen to my friends’ kids. The young can’t do any worse. Let me tell you something, Gail Smart-Face, they can. They can do a lot worse. Put your tape recorder on again. I’ll put that in the interview.”

“Finish your lunch, Murph,” Sonia said. “The poor girl’s taken enough guff from you already.”

“Seen and not heard,” Murphy grumbled. “That’s my motto. And now they’re giving them the vote. The foundations are tottering.”


  


They started back toward Cannes, driving slowly in the heavy traffic. Occasionally, Anne leaned over and patted his cheek as he drove, as if to assure herself by the fleeting touch of fingers that she was really there, side by side with her father.

“The blue Mediterranean,” she said, looking across at the sea. “I tell you, it’s the wildest invitation I ever got in my whole life.” She chuckled at some private thought. “Your wife says you are buying my affection,” she said.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“If that’s what you’re doing,” she said, “keep buying.”

“How was your visit?” he asked carefully.

“Average gruesome,” Anne said.

“What’s she doing in Geneva?”

“Consulting private bankers. Her friend is with her, helping her to consult.” A sudden hardness came into Anne’s voice. “She’s become a demon investor now that you’re giving her all that money. The American economy doesn’t look strong enough for her, she says, she intends to go into German and Japanese companies. She told me to tell you you ought to do the same. It’s ridiculous, she says, for you to get only five per cent on your money. You never had a head for business, she says, and she’s thinking of your best interests.” She made a little grimace. “In your best interests, she says, you also ought to give up your lady friend in Paris.”

“She told you about that?” He tried to keep the anger out of his voice.

“She told me about a lot of things,” Anne said.

“What does she know about the lady in Paris anyway?”

“I don’t know what she knows,” Anne said. “I only know what she told me. She says that the lady is ridiculously young for you and looks like a manicurist and is out for your money.”

Craig laughed. “Manicurist. Obviously, she’s never seen the lady.”

“Oh, yes she has. She’s even had a scene with her.”

“Where?”

“Paris.”

“She was in Paris?” he asked incredulously.

“You bet she was. In your best interests. She told the lady what she thought of adventuring ladies who took advantage of foolish old men and broke up happy homes.”

Craig shook his head wonderingly. “Constance never said a word about it.”

“I guess it’s not the sort of thing a lady likes to talk about,” Anne said. “Am I going to meet Constance?”

“Of course,” Craig said uncomfortably. This was not the conversation he had imagined he was going to have with his daughter when he took her in his arms at the airport.

“I tell you,” Anne said, “Geneva was just pure fun all the way. I got to have dinner at the Richemonde with Mummy and her friend, along with all the other goodies.”

Craig drove silently. He didn’t want to discuss his wife’s lover with his daughter.

“Little pompous show-off,” Anne said. “Ugh. Sitting there, ordering caviar and yelling at the waiter about the wine and being gallant for five minutes with Mummy and five minutes with me. I suddenly knew why I’ve hated Mummy ever since I was twelve.”

“You don’t hate her,” Craig said gently. Whatever he was responsible for, he didn’t want to be responsible for alienating his daughters from their mother.

“Oh, yes I do,” Anne said. “I do, I do. Why did you tolerate that miserable, boring man around the house, pretending to be your friend all those years, why did you let them get away with it for so long?”

“Betrayal begins at home,” Craig said. “I was no angel either. You’re a big girl now, Anne, and I imagine you’ve realized quite a while ago that your mother and I have been going our separate ways for years – ”

“Separate ways!” Anne said impatiently. “Okay, separate ways. I can understand that. But I can’t understand how you ever married that bitch – ”

“Anne!” he said sharply. “You can’t talk like that – ”

“And what I can’t understand most of all is how you can let her threaten to sue you for adultery and take all your money like that. And the house! Why don’t you put a detective on her for two days and then see how she behaves?”

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not? She put a detective on you.”

Craig shrugged. “Don’t argue like a lawyer,” he said. “I just can’t.”

“You’re too old-fashioned,” Anne said, “that’s your trouble.”

“Let’s not talk about it, please,” he said. “Just remember that if I hadn’t married your mother I wouldn’t have you and your sister and maybe I think because I do have you two everything else is worth it and no matter what your mother does or says I am still grateful to her for that. Will you remember?”

“I’ll try.” Anne’s voice was trembling and he was afraid she was going to cry. She had never been an easy crier, even as a child. “One thing, though,” she said bitterly, “I don’t want to see that woman again. Not in Switzerland, not in New York, not in California. No place. Never.”

“You’ll change your mind,” he said gently.

“Wanna bet?”

Oh, Christ, he thought. Families. “There’s one fact I have to make absolutely clear to you and Marcia,” he said. “Constance had nothing to do with my leaving your mother. I left because I was bored to the point of suicide. Because the marriage was meaningless and I didn’t want to lead a meaningless life any more. I’m not blaming your mother any more than I’m blaming myself. But whosever fault it was, there was no point in trying to continue. Constance was just a coincidence.”

“Okay,” Anne said. “I’ll buy that.”

Anne didn’t speak for several moments, and he drove past the Cannes race course, grateful for the silence.
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