19 February 2009

Rom Rye


The Romany Rye , by George Borrow, 1857.
 A kind of 'embellished' autobiography, we could say- which apparently confused readers of the day as to the verity of the content... but never mind that. 
 Partly a road-story, George wanders the highways and back roads of England meeting with high adventure. He befriends various Gypsies, associating with them and learning their ways. They dub him the 'Romany Rye', which means 'the gypsy gentleman'. They found him to be a curious character, being more accustomed to presecution and ostracism from the more 'civilised' elements of society, than to this well-educated and gentlemanly gorgio, who actually enjoyed their company and mucked in with them. George was particularly engrossed in learning their singular language.
Here is the 'Idea'; there are contrasts or dualisms in this story that I admire, that are summed up in the shortened title :
"Rom Rye"
Its a good way for a person (or an object...) to be; Borrow could speak many languages, translated classic literature, and worked for a law firm, but could also make a horse shoe from scratch and enjoyed roving about in the country. (see pic: "I am a person of primitive habits")
Something or someone could be called 'Rom Rye', if has a good balance of duality; the rustic and the refined. 'Two kinds of happiness', as DeBotton would put it.

Still it must be said that Borrow was somewhat of a misfit- he didnt really fit in to society, nor was he truly a Gypsy- although by his account they would have accepted him.
Therein lies the problem of being neither one thing nor the other. 

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