Showing posts from 2023

Mr. Brown's Brigand by Jan Gordon 1923

Blackwoods Magazine for March 1923 (pages 60-82) has a story by Jan Gordon called "Mr. Brown's Brigand." Gordon makes abundant use of his experiences in Paris and Serbia and alludes to common themes of his - personal freedom and the trials and tribulations of artists. It's a long and laboured tale. It begins with John Brown the painter entering the café Rotonde, famous and popular haunt of artists of the time. Brown's extravagant persona is described as a new phenomenon, "Le Roi Charles." He had a high-pitched drawling super-Oxford accent, in general appearance "a sort of fair-haired, anaemic, modern translation of one of Vandyke's posed portraits." Brown was followed by a "huge companion" met in Serbia and staying with him in Paris. He was dressed in a coarse overcoat and a pointed sheepskin cap. He had a dark face "carved out into muscular shapes, deep-set morose eyes, and a long black moustache." Jan Gordon had first

The Serving Maid's Thumb, a 1923 story by Jan Gordon

A century ago, Jan Gordon published an entertaining short story set in a Parisian cafe. It's in Blackwoods, volume 213, pg. 362-387. The story is about a serving maid who had cut her thumb, roughly bandaged it and cheerfully continued with her duties. Gordon paints a vivid word picture of the cafe, its patron and his Madame, the characters of the various customers and contrasts the experience of dining in London and Paris. He also weaves in elements of his experience in Serbia during the First World War. It begins with, “ The girl had hurt her thumb and had it tied up in a piece of rag which had already become soiled and grimy from contact with the dishes. " She carried the plates coiled in her left arm and handed them out with her uninjured left hand. " She ran happily to and fro, now slicing a piece of bread from the metre-long French roll, which stood in its tall basket ; now seizing a chopine of red or white wine from the “zinc” ; now crying an order to the kitchen at

A 1920 Short Story by Jan Gordon in The Strand: Haunted Houses

In the July 1920 volume of "The Strand," Jan Gordon published a short story called "Haunted Houses," illustrated by Chas. Crombie.  The story describes an encounter between a musical country vagabond and a hungry London orphan girl in an abandoned house and muses on the meaning of freedom. The tramp concludes that "if you live in brick boxes, you pay for it, that's all. Haunted - all houses are haunted, haunted by what man could a been and wasn't, by dreams left to rot - we're all haunted - every bloomin' one." The vagabond asks the girl about her home ("Brixton") and parents (no father and mother dead, looked after by her aunt when not drunk). He offers to teach her the flute and when she doesn't respond he sets off alone, playing a tune. She makes her decision and runs after him. Jan Gordon later developed this story into a novel, "Piping George," published in 1930. The book starts with the motto " Alterius no