A 19th-Century Friend

(A Narrative in Verse)

"A 19th-Century Friend" is a book written by Bruce Craig in the form of a narrative, using a classical sonnet form. Reviews are available at Reviews. Below is given a Table of Contents with links to selections from each of the first three chapters, followed by a brief synopsis of the plot:

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Chapter 1 Meeting (entire chapter)
Chapter 2 Lev (entire chapter)
Chapter 3 My Spirit (excerpt)
Chapter 4 Recompense
Chapter 5 Return
Chapter 6 In Defense


The narrator, who is in the habit of combating insomnia by mentally reciting verses to lull himself to sleep, begins to find the line and meter of the verses distorted by an intruding presence. This presence, in the form of an uninvited Spirit, claims to have a vague link with the narrator's past family, specifically with his grandfather on his mother's side, who had emigrated from Russia to America in the last century. With some prodding from the Spirit's side, they agree to exchange family histories, in order to explore details of this link.

The narrator tells the story of his grandfather's rise from peasant origins in pre-Revolutionary Russia to a position of stature as a solo violinist in the house of the baronial estate where he was born. When his patroness, the Baron's wife, falls suddenly ill and dies, he loses his favored position and, following the advice of his mentor, makes his way to Saint Petersburg to study under Leopold Auer, a well-known performer and teacher of the day.

The Spirit, in turn, tells of how he was raised as a nobleman on an estate in the Russian steppes, establishing, in the process, a contact with the young wife of an aging, retired cavalry major. The major's death brings about changes in both of their lives which cause them to become separated for many years.

The development of the plot concerns the coming together of these two disparate family branches and leads, in turn, to a resolution of the odd relationship between the narrator and the Spirit.

Principal characters are: the narrator; the boy, Lev; the Baron and his wife; Leopold Auer, with whom Lev studies in Saint Petersburg; Feldtman, a violinist who befriends the young Lev; and the Spirit through whom the narrator learns details of the events which occurred. The style uses strict meter and rhyme to impart a flavor of the time about which it is being written.

Copies of this book may obtained for $10. each (including postage and handling) by using the Order Form. A billing invoice will be sent along with the book. ISBN is 0-966-56140-6. LCCN is 98-090570.

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