Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Still wet pen


...a lightless and gutted and empty land where women crouched with the huddled children behind locked doors and men armed in sheets and masks rode the silent roads and the bodies of white and black both, victims not so much of hate as of desperation and despair, swung from lonely limbs: and men shot dead in polling-booths with the still wet pen in one hand and the unblotted ballot in the other

William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses, 1942

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Pen and ink in Country Girl



Irish history was the subject she most liked to teach. She strode through the classroom, in and out between the desks, where we sat in pairs, the small white pots of watered ink in an enamel inkwell, and a dent in the wooden slope to hold pen and pencil.


Edna O'Brien, Country Girl A Memoir, 2012

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Fountain pen like an arrow



"I'll pay the expenses then. Name your expenses at anything within reason and let's get this thing settled.""Expenses?" his uncle said. "Yes, I had an expense sitting here last Tuesday trying to write down all the different things you finally told me in such a way that Mr Hampton could get enough sense out of it to discharge you from the jail and so the more I tried it the worse it got and the worse it got the worse I got until when I came to again my fountain pen was sticking up on its point in the floor down here like an arrow. Of course the paper belongs to the county but the fountain pen was mine and it cost me two dollars to have a new point put in it. You owe me two dollars."



William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust, 1948

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Pencil stub at Slaughterhouse 5



And the others came forward to dust the snow off Billy, and then they searched him for weapons. He didn't have any. The most dangerous thing they found on his person was a two-inch pencil stub.


Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5, 1969.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Pen in Nausea


I picked up my pen and tried to get back to work; I was sick to death of these reflections on the past, the present, the world. I asked for only one thing: to be allowed to finish my book in peace.
But as my eyes fell on the pad of white sheets, I was struck by its appearance, and I stayed there, my pen raised, gazing at that dazzling paper: how hard and brilliant it was, how present it was. There was nothing in it that wasn't present. The letters which I had just written on it were not dry yet and already they no longer belonged to me.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, 1938


See also: Quill Dreams

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Steel pen in the Time of Cholera

Years later, a typed personal letter would be considered almost an insult, but at that time the typewriter was still an office animal without its own code of ethics, and its domestication for personal use was not foreseen in the books on etiquette. It seemed more like bold modernity, which was how Fermina Daza must have understood it, for in her second letter to Florentino Ariza, she began by begging his pardon for any difficulties in reading her handwriting, since she did not have at her disposal any means more advanced than her steel pen.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, 1985.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Quill dreams


His face was long and symmetrical with an interminable chin, punctuated, just below the lip, by a tuft of hair: he thrust his jaw out slightly, with an amused expression as if he were putting on airs, pondering an objection on principle like a gentle belch. He was dreaming, holding a quill pen: he too was relaxing, dammit, this time by writing poetry.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, 1938.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Victor Hugo's Montblanc Meisterstuck

 There was a time, in my childhood, when, perhaps I had been raised among books and booksellers, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. The root of my literary ambitions ... lay in a prodigious piece of craftsmanship and precision that was exhibited in a fountain pen shop on Calle Anselmo Clave, just behind the Military Government building. The object of my devotion, a plush black pen, adorned with heaven knows how many refinements and flourishes, presided over the shop window as if it were the crown jewels. A baroque fantasy magnificently wrought in silver and gold that shone like the lighthouse at Alexandria, the nib was a wonder in its own right. When my father and I went out for a walk, I wouldn't stop pestering him until he took me to see the pen. My father declared that it must be, at the very least, the pen of an emperor. I was secretly convinced that wish such a marvel one would be able to write anything, from novels to encyclopaedias, and letters whose supernatural power would surpass any postal limitations. Written with that pen, they would surely reach the most remote corners of the world, even that unknowable place to which my father said my mother had gone and from where she would never return.
One day we decided to go into the shop and inquire about the blessed artefact. It turned out to be the queen of all fountain pens, a Montblanc Meisterstuck in a numbered series, that had once belonged, or so the shop attendant assured us, to Victor Hugo himself. From that gold nib, we were informed, had sprung the manuscript of Les Miserables.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind, 2001

*
Victor Hugo was against steel pens and allegedly swore never to use "these needles." However, he did use lead pencils.


Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Pen in Bonfire of the Vanities



So he scanned the top of the desk. There was a large handsome leather-bound desk blotter, a gold Dunhill pen-and-pencil set mounted on an onyx pedestal, a collection of paperweights and medals imbedded in Lucite, ... a stack of papers held down by a paperweight consisting mainly of the letters WNBC-TV in thick brass, an intercom with a row of buttons, and a large box-shaped astray with leather sides framed in brass and a brass grillwork on the top ...

Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1987.



Sunday, 3 March 2019

Pens in Anna Karenina



The famous Petersburg lawyer's waiting-room was full when Karenin entered it. ... Two clerks sat at their tables writing, and the sound of their pens was audible. The writing-table accessories (of which Karenin was a connoisseur) were unusually good, as he could not help noticing. One of the clerks, without rising from his chair, screwed up his eyes and addressed Karenin ill-humouredly.
"What do you want?"
"I want to see the lawyer on business."
"The lawyer is engaged," replied the assistant sternly, and indicated with his pen the persons who were waiting.



Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Ink in War of the Worlds

Directly below him the balloonist would have seen the network of streets far and wide, houses, churches, squares, crescents, gardens - already derelict - spread out like a huge map, and in the southward blotted. Over Ealing, Richmond, Wimbledon, it would have seemed as if some monstrous pen had flung ink upon the chart. Steadily, incessantly, each black splash grew and spread, shooting out ramifications this way and that, now banking itself against rising ground, now pouring swiftly over a crest into a new-found valley, exactly as a gout of ink would spread itself upon blotting paper.



HG Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Ink in Joyce's Ulysses


His tangled hair and scraggy neck gave witness of unreadiness and through his misty glasses weak eyes looked up pleading. On his cheek, dull and bloodless, a soft stain of ink lay, dateshaped, recent and damp as a snail's bed....
he wont let you enjoy anything naturally then might he as a great favour the very 1st opportunity he got a chance in Brighton square running into my bedroom pretending the ink got on his hands to wash it off with the Albion milk and sulphur soap I used to use and the gelatine still round it.

James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922