Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sinclair and the Great Dane

I am searching for André Gide and have been told he is staying with Sinclair Beiles, so I go to Sinclair’s house in Raleigh Street, Yeoville. It’s been years since I have been out this way, but even so, after I knock on the door, Sinclair answers quite friendly and says, “Gide doesn’t live here anymore. I think he’s staying at a flophouse – he went loony, you know.”

Then we talk about TS Eliot. Sinclair says: “Bob Kaufman was the only beat poet to really admire the work of Eliot. He was particularly enthusiastic about Murder in the Cathedral. The others hated Eliot because of his conservatism. It was a terrible, misguided narrow-mindedness.”

Sinclair is giving a series of presentations about the Beat Hotel in large lecture hall next to a synagogue, so I agree to meet him there later.

On the way to the hall, a neighbour stops me to complain that Sinclair’s dog has damaged his garden and demands that we drag the dog into the lecture hall, present it to Sinclair, and get the dog to confess its wrongdoing. The dog is a huge, intimidating Great Dane but is nevertheless nervous ands trembling, knowing it is in trouble.

So we drag the terrified, whimpering dog through the hall up to the lecture stand, where it knocks a glass of water all over Sinclair’s papers.

Published in New Coin, Volume 43, No 1 – June 2007. The issue also contains an interview with Beiles that I conducted in 1994.
To order copies of New Coin or to subscribe, Please write to Carol Leff (C.Leff@ru.ac.za) at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa for details.

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