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Ti1 flC 11J 'as pas dit Que les puitares de l'cxil Sonnaient patfois con1111e 11n rlairon . 5 You never told nle That the guitars of the exile Could at ti1nes sound like a clarion .. -JACQUES PREVERT, "Les guitares de l'exil" ,-HE EARLY 1950s WERE A GLORIOUS TIME for me in England. f The theatre was home and family, the music at all times a source of incredible pleasure, and I began to be paid an actual living wage for what I enjoyed doing most! Beyond that, I went to parties practically every night, made friends, and made carefree love (one could make carefree love in those days-even careless love, for that matter), and I thought there was little that could mar our joy. Except that some of my visitors who became very close friends had a problem: They were fugitives. Not necessarily fugitives in the movie plot sense, with a posse at their heels, but transplanted souls nonetheless-robbed of home and culture. No matter how successful they might have become in the place of their refuge-and some of them became very successful indeedthere was about them a perpetual aura of displacement, of exile. 7+·THEO My apartment in London was a safe haven for many expatriates: refugees and survivors of displaced-person camps; Israelis who were studying or working after graduation; South African blacks who managed to escape the brutal regin1e and n1ake their ho1ne in Britain; White Russian noblemen who had long since given up any hope of ever returning to their hon1eland; and any An1erican artists, singers, n1usicians, or actors who had arrived in England either through choice or by necessity. It was certainly curious that at the very san1e tin1e I welcon1ed under n1y roof victin1s of anti-Con1n1unist witch-hunts in the West, I also forged close friendships with White Russians, fugitives from a Communist regime in Eastern Europe. The irony was not lost on n1e. My White Russian friends were nobility. They were accepted as such by the British aristocracy, were addressed by their titles of "prince" or "count," 111entioned in the society pages, and considered quite suitable as dinner, dance, or marriage partners by the British upper class. Indeed, my closest Russian friends, George and Emmanuel Galitzine, sounded, looked, and behaved as British as could be. They had served as officers in the British armed forces, their older brother, Nicholas, in the Royal Navy, George in the Welsh Guards, and Emmanuel, the youngest, in the youngest of the services, the Royal Air Force. At any given party they behaved like quintessential Brits-that is. until tlie third vodka and the fourth song. Then all that British veneer vanished and they became Russian through and through. "Goddammit to hell," they would shout (the "hell" aspirated to sound like "khell"), "goddammit to hell, that's beautiful'" Then they would settle down for a long session of Russian music. Both George and Emmanuel played the guitar reasonably well, and each had a preference for a different type of Russian n1usic. George liked the senti1nental songs-"romances," as they were called-and Emmanuel the rousing Gypsy tunes that he played and sang with wild abandon. The Galitzines had left when Russia was in the throes of revolution . That they managed to escape at all was amazing enough; that they salvaged part of their fortune was a feat of ingenuity. Taking anything of great value was all but impossible when you had to leave with but a few suitcases of personal effects, and you were subject to searches and scrutiny by unfriendly guards. They did, however, come away with a good portion of the family jewels. Nick, a little boy then, was clutching a large teddy bear, and sewn into the bear's belly was a cache of brooches and necklaces-a fortune in gems. One thing they managed to take out openly and unchallenged was a small gold vodka cup. Tiu,;uitar-seftiuExilc · 75 It was in the shape of an upside-down helmet of the Chevalier Guards, a crack household regiment of the czar, of which old Prince Galitzine had been commander in chief. Years later, shortly after the old gentleman died, George Galitzine and I took a trip to Spain by car. In the will, the cup had been left to an old Russian colonel, now living in France, who had been the regiment's second in comn1and. George decided that we would deliver the cup in person. The problem was...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299300531
Related ISBN
9780299300548
MARC Record
OCLC
1017608170
Pages
484
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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