UnBooks:My Summer with Martin
Purchased for Library:
7 July 2006
'My Summer with Martin'
by Jane Austen
Assembled herein are personal recollections of my July 3 - August 8, 1936 cruise on the SS Normandie with Martin Luther through the Mediterranean. Where my own diary notes were found insufficient, I have expanded thereon.
An extra-marital affair is, our society well understands, impropriety at its most satisfactory apex. Not a subject for discussion in open public, we find its best celebration in intimate discourse, preferably across a beverage perfected by the French. I do not absolve myself: I do not seek confession, as I am not a Catholic; indeed, your pity or understanding or revulsion is neither necessary nor excusable. In doing and writing, I acted as my desire prudently guided, and no woman may be so faulted.
Some weeks before summer began to bloom in 1936, I was taking the waters at the spa near Wittenburg. I shall not mention its name to save its reputation; indeed, doubtless the entire continental population is, according to today's fashion, "in the know." Let me be brief: I met there a man of unique willpower and philosophical frame; he keenly noted I was on a solitary holiday, and devised a scheme to rapidly earn my attentions. Never before had I observed a man engage himself so wisely.
He rapidly admitted his wife, Katharina, was not so adequate at returning his affections as in years past. However, lest I find myself feeling a mere substitute, Martin suggested that we soon take together an excursion through the Mediterranean. Joyfully I agreed at once.
July 3, 1936
SS Normandie is huge. Touted as the largest, quickest, even grandest ship ever, she appears to take up half the harbour. Almost two thousand guests. Over one crewmember to every pair of guests: the kind of ratio that would make a slaveowner jealous.
- Boarding takes three and one-half hours.
- Accidentally walked into Children's Dining Room and was surprised by Barbar the elephant and his entourage. They were not smiling.
- Exhilarated by 700-seat, pillar-lit Adults Dining Room.
July 8, 1936
Off ship, bussed in to Granada. Meeting-up with Martin delayed due to some rumours of an impending conservative rebellion. Much papers-checking. Everybody excited about the upcoming return of a poet/playwright, keep talking about "five in the afternoon!" Not quite able to understand it, myself.
Details of the collision of Martin's and mine own affections I shall keep from prying eyes. Conclude that we rose late and almost missed departure.
July 17, 1936
Must say glad we bypassed France. We stay at a little pension in a suburb of Rome. No response when we call Room Service. Luther, enraged, removed himself to tack a list of needed items onto the office door. Out promenading later, and an open automobile breaks down in the bustle. A man with a Charlie Chaplin moustache pops out with his henchmen, screeching horribly in German. Plenty of hand-raising and dark uniforms. One runs off presumably to get help. Luther speaks to the angry man. Later he informs me the name is Herr Hitler, says he is just visiting, and in the meantime we are apparently invited into a beerhall for a distraction. Luther says it is the best place for him to stay out of sight of the Pope.
Both can really put the Moretti away. Martin tells me he and the moustacioed man have much to agree upon: turning the Jews out of their homes, seizing their businesses, etc., but as their homme-parle goes on late into the evening I must turn in. One must have sense and sensiblity, after all.
July 22, 1936
The Normandie has taken us into a war zone! In spite of the travel brochure, I am quite certain I saw Italian soldiers invading and occupying. What a sight!
- Martin gloomy, in search of beer.
- Did not know he was such an alcoholic.
The female mind is quite acquainted with jealousy, and I admit my own has turned often to the joys Luther seems to derive from his drink, rather than myself, with marked disapproval.
July 30, 1936
Rather fatigued of Martin's constant hymn singing. Have heard A Mighty Fortress is our God forty-seven times. Also, flagellation is beginning to interfere with our intimacy. Asked him to stop, but was told "I submit to no laws of interpreting the word of God" while he was shaving.
Parthenon looking run-down. Truthfully, all of Greece looking run-down.
Final argument with Martin: said I could not spell 'freind' correctly. Told him he was ESL and should keep like opinions to himself.
August 8, 1936
Disengaged from Martin Luther in Austria. Returned to London. Relieved. Some persons may have their pride, but I am satisfied to keep my prejudices.