Apart from going back to work, playing Scrabulous, and forking out vast wads of cash to have the car repaired in a dodgy garage in a back street of one of Bordeaux's less desirable suburbs, I've been catching up with blogs mostly. I can't remember which tortuous path took me there, but I found myself of Jeannette Winterson's blog and was seized? shaken? gripped? by a tiny image of Courbet's L'Origine du Monde. It is one of those paintings that I thought I knew but had never actually set eyes on. I was a complete Origine-du-Monde virgin, and seeing it for the first time unexpectedly and with no preparation was really quite unsettling. By strange coincidence (for they are always strange, never banal n'est-ce-pas?) that very evening I was reading Julian Barnes' Something to Declare and happened upon a whole section on Courbet. I can only echo his appreciation of lush delicacy of the painting and the intimidating nature of the result, as well as its potency even after years of twentieth-century porn and erotica.
The Barnes book is also good, at least the first third is. The rest of the book turned out to be about the author of Madame Bovary and by the time I got to the end I found myself agreeing with the dyspeptic Kingsley Amis and his anti-endorsement reproduced on the back cover:
"I wish he'd shut up about Flaubert".