The Young George Du Maurier: A Selection of His Letters, 1860-67

The Young George Du Maurier: A Selection of His Letters, 1860-67

The Young George Du Maurier: A Selection of His Letters, 1860-67

The Young George Du Maurier: A Selection of His Letters, 1860-67

Excerpt

When George du Maurier died in October, 1896, at the age of sixty-two, he was mourned not only by his family and his friends, but by a wide circle of people who had come to know him through his drawings and his novels, and who felt, although they had never met him, that here was an artist and a writer who had expressed for many years all of the graces of the world they knew.

If the characters that he drew, and wrote about, were a little larger than life, the men almost too tall, the women more than beautiful, this was seen not as a fault but as a virtue; for du Maurier was a man who worshipped beauty and was not ashamed to put his ideals upon paper, which was something that his generation understood.

To him, as to his contemporaries, beauty was an end in itself. Whether it was the turn of a woman's head, her smooth dark hair parted in the centre with the low knot behind, and the curve of her shoulder; or the way a man stood, the way his shoulders were set; the sudden smile of a child, and the quiet grave patience of old people--these were things to be revered and loved, and later reproduced with tenderness. Even when pulling jokes and poking fun, and as a humorous draughtsman for nearly thirty years he had full measure of this, du Maurier was never malicious or unkind. He mocked at many, but with a twinkle in the eye. Never from him the sneer, the acid half-truth behind an innuendo, the damning Judas-thrust that passes for wit.

He laughed at people because he loved them, because he understood and shared their little weaknessess, their foibles; their snobbery was his snobbery, their sudden social gaffes and faux pas were misfortunes committed all too often by himself, a bohemian at heart on the fringe of High Society.

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