Here are more than 200 posts on Jan and Cora Gordon; famous travellers, writers, artists and musicians in the first half of the 20th century. They were articulate witnesses to the cultures and events of Europe and the USA from before WW1 to just after WW2. The abundance of primary materials presented here should make this a valuable resource for researchers. For a structured overview of the lives and works of the Gordons, please visit: http://www.pbase.com/hajar/art_of_jan_and_cora_gordon
"Phrynette's Letters to Lonely Soldiers" 1916 recommends "The Luck of Thirteen"
A chatty review of "The Luck of Thirteen" by Marthe Troly-Curtin, appears in her "Phrynette's letters to lonely soldiers" segment in "The Sketch" of April 19th 1916.
She enjoyed "the funny little thumbnail sketches (minute masterpieces by Jo)." and the "rich mine of humour" that they worked with "pen and ink and paint-brush."
She quotes the observation in the book on the handsome Montenegrin peasanty: "We passed many peasants and had evidently enetered the land of Venus, for each one was more beautiful than the neighbour. Since Jabliak we had not seen an ugly man or woman, and the dignity of their carriage was exceeded only by the nobleness of their features. Ugly women must be valuable in those parts, and probably marry early - humans ever prize the rare above the beautiful."
Troly-Curtin also quoted the descriptions of Jan's elaborate protection against the rain and Jo's knitted concertina stockings as well as the scene of dancing on a feast day. She concludes with, "But, there, I cannot quote the whole book : read it for yourself."
For more on books by the Gordons set during WW1, see here.
For more on "Father Berry" in WW1 Serbia, see here.
For more on the "living snake" of the Serbian retreat, see here.
The story of how the book came to be published is told here.
The Liverpool Daily Post of Thursday 06 March 1941 carried a commentary by Jan Gordon on a London exhibition of works by the Swiss-born Paul Klee (18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940).
SURREALISM AGAIN: Paul Klee’s Art By Jan Gordon
"An exhibition of works by the German-Swiss artist, Paul Klee, whose death in Switzerland last year passed almost unnoticed, has just been opened at the Leicester Galleries. It is not an exhibition which the normal spectator will easily understand. In fact, one might say that passing round the walls hung with Klee’s small, strange works, he will come at last —if he lasts so long—to a drawing. No. 49. It represents roughly a head. There is a vague, twisted, bothered face, but the brain-pan has been ploughed up into blocks. If the spectator will give this little longer consideration, he may come to feel that it just about represents his own state of mind after having gone round some forty of Klee’s paintings. For Klee is, no doubt, the most apparently chil…
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, rereading Jan Gordon's "GRADUS AD ... MONTPARNASSUM" (Blackwood's, March 1929, under his "Salis" pseudonym) I wondered who the character known only as "K" might be.
The text states that, "K --- has since climbed to eminence, the button of the legion of honour, the front page of a great daily, poems in profusion, and a number of plays; but in those days he clung to a paper which hung on the edge of bankruptcy, and was the author of one slim book of verse in praise of opium dreams, a long way after Baudelaire."
"K" chose Jan and Cora Gordon to exhibit their work at the art gallery of a fashionable photographer he "had been of service to", referred to in the text as "M". The show "was noticed favourably" and Cora sold (to a diplomat, perhaps Paul Morand) "a big exuberant drawing in colour of the Cleopatra-cum-anachronism period."
Two phrases from this book resonated when I first read it:
"Now and again a wolf howled from far away, and somewhere a kid, lost or smelling some wolf-taint in the air, bleated with persistent terror" pg. 138.
"As we came down into the cultivated fields of the valley we found ourselves walking through clouds of red-winged grasshoppers, which sprang up on all sides with a clattering flight." pg. 139
The book begins with "Don't stay in Durazzo." From Durazzo they made a clockwise loop to the south, passing through Tirana, Elbasan, Berat, Kelcyre, Permeti and Gjinokastro before returning north to Tirana. The second leg of the journey was an excursion to the north, from Scutari up into the mountains.
Map of prominent places visited on the southern loop described in "Two Vagabonds in Albania"