"Waiting for the Weekend"
by Wytold Rybcznski
Hidden Things in Georges Seuratsí
Sunday Afternoon on the island of LaGrande Jatte.
Chapter 4, Sunday in the Park, Pg 106-107
The mixture of social classes demonstrated the extent to which the middle-class ideals of the rational recreation movement had come to dominate French Sunday leisure. This domination was not total, however, for Grande Jatte was not only a place for boaters and picnickers, it also offered commercial entertainments. The island was the site of several cafes and skittle alleys, and of a dance hall that had a slightly risque reputation. These entertainments are not visible in the picture, but Seurat has alluded to them, in typical circumspect fashion. * The busty woman in the foreground, accompanying the elegant boulevardier, has a monkey on a leash. Art historian Richard Thomson has suggested that Seurat was making a cunning visual pun, for in contemporary Parisian slang singesse, or female monkey, meant a prostitute. He also points out that the well-dressed female figure at the waterís edge, anomalously holding a fishing pole, may be an allusion to a common French metaphor that referred to prostitutes as "fishing" for clients (The French words for "fishing" and for "sin" sound the same).* Seruratís origins were bourgeois, and he exhibited many of that classí characteristics: perseverance, sobriety, and reserve. Degas nickname for him was "the notary."
Travel in Jane Austinís Emma
Chapter 5, Keeping Saint Monday
Until the coming of the railway in the 1830s, modes of travel had been basically unchanged since ancient times. Short distances were covered on foot; longer trips were undertaken on horseback (although only by young and fit males) or in a horse-drawn carriage. Both involved bad roads, mishaps, and, for a long time, the perils of highwaymen. By the early 1800s, the last was no longer a problem, but travel continued to be something of undertaken out of necessity rate for amusement. In Jane Austinís Emma, Mr. Knightley frets about the "evils of the journey" that he and his family are about to undertake from London to Highbury, and about the "fatigues of his own horses and coachmen." The modern reader is surprised to discover that the journey is a distance of only sixteen miles. But sixteen miles, by coach, took almost four hours, and it would have been an exceedingly unpleasant and uncomfortable four hours, swaying and bumping over rutted, muddy country roads. * In the same novel, Emmaís father, Mr. Woodhouse, has a horror of carriages and hardly ever travels except on foot; Emmaís sister visits Highbury from London, but she does so infrequently. Most houseguests in Emma stay at Highbury for at least a week or two, since the slowness and discomfort of coach travel makes shorter visits impractical.* Emma was written in 1816. It wasnít until the 1830s that metaled roads became common, at least between major cities, and coach travel, in turn, became somewhat more comfortable and more rapid. On a good road, with frequent change of horses, a coach could attain the unprecedented speed of ten miles per the hour.