The year: 2007. The setting: an introductory French class at a private high school in Honolulu. My teacher was showing us a Powerpoint of significant cultural sites to assess how much a group of teenagers from Hawai’i knew about Parisian life. As soon as the Palais Garnier appeared on the screen, the room went completely silent–so I raised my hand and before my teacher could be impressed by my apparent level of high taste, I whispered in reverent, broken French “est-ce que le fantôme de l’Opéra habite là?”
Which is all to say that I have loved both the Gaston Leroux novel and the ridiculous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical since I was twelve years old, and I was completely delighted to see some Phantom-esque souvenirs in my most recent letter from France. Opera ghosts may not be spooky to some, but I think this letter fits quite well with the rest of the Halloween/autumnal mail I received this week from domestic pen pals in Nevada and my home Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Phantoms aside, this letter from my French pen pal also contained lots of art historical beauty. I don’t exactly focus my scholarly attention on European painting (far from it!), but I have always adored the Impressionists–plus, the letter arrived on a day when I had a lot of Monet-related tours to lead!
The envelope features a painting from Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series, a perennial favorite. I saw one of these (Rouen Cathedral, The Facade in Sunlight) at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown just two months ago!
The fact that it’s November 2 won’t stop me from sharing the rest of my Halloween mail! My pen pal from Nevada commented that the little devil-girl sticker rather looks like me, and I can’t deny it. All you need to do is put orange hair with bangs on a green-eyed girl and you’ve got yourself a pretty fair likeness.
(I love the bat, too, which I plan on putting on display even though October’s done: cute flying mammals are appropriate any time of year, in my opinion!)
I’ll add this pretty assortment from around Boston to my collection of teal-mail! You know I’m always up for a typographically minimalist Tolkien quote.
I also have to take a minute to comment on these stickers, as they are truly the most delightful things I’ve ever seen. Purrrfect I can understand, but why would a whale be so sweet? (I assume that’s some kind of baleen whale, as no self-respecting odontocete could abide that cutesy pink heart.)
It makes no sense, and I absolutely love it. Send me all your adorable non-sequitur stickers, please!