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An excerpt from Capriccio

Shura (Alexandra Tatiana Elise) Hughes Wevill was the daughter of Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill Excerpt from ‘Pit and Stones’ a chapter in the novel in which Ted, Assia and the children are returning from a house-hunting trip in Manchester. They would never see each other again. Just then the train gave a great jolt. Frieda, who’d been leaning forward, was catapulted into Assia’s lap. Ted braced himself and held on to Nick’s shirt tail. A squeal of brakes followed, and the train groaned to a shuddering stop. From somewhere in another compartment they heard a woman’s scream. Shura began to cry, still clutching the half-eaten cake. Assia held her close with one arm while protecting Frieda with her other. ‘What’s happening?’ she asked the world in general, and Ted in particular. ‘You stay here with the children. I’ll try to find out. And for God’s sake, can’t you stop your daughter snivelling?’ Assia turned her face away, smoothing Shura’s hair tenderly. ‘It’s all right, liebchen. Soon we’ll all be home.’ To Ted she said coldly, ‘You seem to forget that our daughter has just turned four. Just like you ‘forgot’ to come to her birthday party. This trip’s a great deal harder for her than it is for Frieda and Nick.’ © Dina Davis

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Thoughts on Capriccio

EXCERPT from my Article: ‘On Ted Hughes’ Capriccio’ Hughes’ collection of twenty poems, Capriccio, was produced in 1990 as a beautiful boxed volume with leather covers. Printed on hand-made paper, and at $4000 a copy, the book was designed to be rare.[1] Each of the fifty volumes was signed by the author, and also by the illustrator, Leonard Baskin, whose company […]

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Au Revoir Darwin

Au Revoir Darwin 2013 Three more days. I want to embrace this place, to squeeze the last moments of joy from this my second home. Today we’ll visit the markets, for the jostle of colours, the smells of sizzling spicy food and the taste of my favourite mango lime juice, its stringent iciness going straight to my brain. Then to […]

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Who was Assia Gutmann Wevill?

    Lucas Myers, a lifelong friend of Ted Hughes, writes: ‘Sylvia’s rival had been misrepresented. She was a touch too elegant for her own well-being, fundamentally very vulnerable, needed a lot of affection, and could remembe SS boots outside the railway carriage compartment as her family, half Jewish, approached the Swiss border.’ – Lucas Myers, ‘Ah, Youth … Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath at Cambridge and After’ (from ‘Bitter Fame’ by Anne Stevens, Appendix 1). Peter Porter writes  of “the cruelty of excising Assia’s true part in the Hughes/Plath heritage, assigning her only the role of marginal temptress, whom we all seem to have allowed to be airbrushed out of literary history.” Porter, an eminent Australian poet,  knew Assia well. He writes of her: “She had wit, charm and generosity, and while she could be wilful and self-dramatising, she was also natural and straightforward. [Assia] grew up speaking German, Hebrew and English. She attended an academy for well-off Arab children who identified with the Mandated British. Somehow she acquired a beautifully modulated English voice long before she set foot in Britain.” While answering an advertisement for a London flat placed by Hughes and Plath in a newspaper, the fourth and fatal attraction of her life began. My novel ‘Capriccio’ traces the vicissitudes, joys, and agonies of the love affair between Assia and Ted Hughes. Excerpts from Peter Porter’s Review of ‘Lover of Unreason’ in The Guardian, Saturday,  28 October 2006

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Navigating this Blog

WELCOME TO MY BLOG, A FORUM FOR READERS AND WRITERS Please feel free to navigate at your leisure, and I hope pleasure, throughout this Blog. This is how: If you want to know more about me, click on ‘ABOUT ME’ on the horizontal Menu Bar. To see my latest posts, click on POSTS on the menu bar, and scroll down, ad infinitum (there are older blogs there if you keep scrolling). To read bits of my my upcoming  novel ‘Capriccio‘, click on EXCERPTS on the menu bar. ‘ Capriccio’ can mean ‘whimsical’ (at the whim of fate) and ‘horror’ ( literally ‘hair standing on end’ in ‘Old Italian.) Both Fate and Horror are major themes in my novel, which is a work of fiction based closely on fact.  My title comes from a series of 20 poems by Ted Hughes, published in 1990 in a limited print run. They deal with his relationship with Assia Wevill, the woman for whom he left Sylvia Plath.  Watch this space for excerpts!  I am also convenor of the Randwick Writers’ Group, a locally based forum, limited to five members, who meet fortnightly in each others’ homes. The feedback we give each other is meticulous and constructive, and has been invaluable to me in completing my manuscript.   DISCLAIMER:  All posts, including photographs, artwork, and writings, on this site, are protected by copyright.© DIna Davis 2015

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Darwin in the Wet

DARWIN, NT, FEBRUARY 2014 Here in February the air is heavy with moisture, sweat, and an all-encompassing blanket of sticky heat. There’s that special Darwin smell, a mixture of wet earth, tropical air, and the ubiquitous spices of lemongrass, curry leaves, cumin and chile. We could be somewhere in south-east Asia. “Fecund” is the word to describe Darwin in the Wet. […]

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Darwin in the Dry

DARWIN, JULY, 2013. Clear blue skies, balmy days, cool nights. Temperature in Darwin today 29deg top, 16 low. Cool for Darwin. Locals are shivering. Out come the doonas,  bed socks,flannelette sheets. It’s not  uncommon to see hoodies and fleecies being worn, when the temperature is in the low thirties. In the dry, the breeze off the Arafura Sea is cool and refreshing. Gone is the stillness, stickiness, and heaviness of the humid build-up. The rains of the Wet have dried up, leaving almost empty water-holes and a sky so blue and clear it’s like a child’s painting.   Another name for the Dry is the ironically named Mother-In-Law Season. Granny flats are suddenly occupied by families who’ve driven or flown the 4000 kms to be with their loved ones. Grey nomads in their vans and motorhomes invade the caravan parks, and NSW, Victoria, and Queensland number plates fill the streets. The letters page of the NT News abounds with snide suggestions such as ‘Southerners Go Home’ while the front page inevitably bears an image of the latest crocodile scare. We from Down South are greeted in a friendly fashion with ‘Must be the Dry; you’re here again.’ I hasten to defend myself, assuring Darwinites that I’ve been here in  the Wet, the Build-up, and the Knock-Em Down seasons, as well as the Dry. Admittedly it’s supremely satisfying to be revelling in warm sunny days while those at home are freezing. […]

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Assia, Strauss, and World War II

At the end of World War II, the composer Richard Strauss, whose final work was an opera titled ‘Capriccio’, wrote:  ‘The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany’s 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom.’Strauss described the government sanctioned anti-semitism as ‘the basest weapon of untalented, lazy mediocrity against a higher intelligence and greater talent.’ Assia Gutmann, whose father was Jewish,  was one of the many victims of this period in history. At age six, she and her family were driven out of Berlin  by the anti-semitic policies of the Third Reich. Mercifully, their exile saved their lives, but Dr Gutmann’s family perished.

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Ted Hughes’ ‘Capriccio’

  The Meaning of ‘Capriccio’ In 1990, Ted Hughes, England’s Poet Laureate, published a collection of twenty poems, entitled Capriccio. The volume was illustrated by artist Leonard Baskin, and published by his Gehenna Press in a limited edition of only fifty copies. At $4000 each, and filled with richly coloured engravings by Baskin, the beautifully boxed leather volume was a […]

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