Seven Elephants (footnote to Twelve Caesars)


That’s what my grandmother had on her bookshelf, seven marble elephants. They were arranged in a file, from the biggest, about 3 cm tall, to the smallest, about 2.5 cm. The white marble elephants with an occasional gray vein running across them, these were the only toys I had at my grandmother’s apartment. Why are we on this subject? It is not that my grandmother’s marble elephants were unique, but they were in a very good shape and they were almost mine: other families also had their elephants on bookshelves, and sometimes the elephant ears were chipped, a leg or a trunk broken; and sometimes I would see blue or rose veins running through them, and sometimes they were five or eight or nine elephants; and I don’t know where they all came from, probably China, in the numbers great enough to decorate thousands of bookshelves across the former  Soviet Union. But this elephant invasion of my vast country must have been stopped in the late fifties: the Sino-Soviet  relationship soured and there were no more marble elephants crossing the border. And so, little by little their population has declined. You may wonder why I am telling you this silly story, but I think it explains the interest I took in the Twelve Caesars Louis XIV had inherited from Cardinal Mazarin.

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About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
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