The Mission of "Stalking the Belle Époque"


No doubt, I’m parroting a centuries-old sentiment, but, I’m disgusted with the world. To me, the world has gotten too self-absorbed, too detached, too fast, too sloppy. At first glance, a person is hard pressed to find anything gracious, beautiful, or gentle. Where’s the civility in civilization?

So many factors have contributed to this change. And, to be sure, this is not an instant phenomenon, but rather, something that’s been hundreds of years in the making. I’m not here to analyze the reasons that men don’t wear neckties to the store anymore or women don’t wear hose. I’m not here to blame any one thing for the reason that people would rather pick a fight than extend a hand. I can’t explain why we are encouraged to insult the people around us. Nor do I have any interest in figuring out why we put more stock in the intangible than we do the permanent. I denounce nothing and I judge nothing.

My goal is simply to find pieces of beauty, quiet, elegance and grace amidst all the noise and chaos. Why? Because we need it. I think our souls and our minds are aching for something soothing, something pleasing. We are a people in a constant search for stimulation. Yet, I don’t think we’re searching for something new. I think we’re missing something. Our cells seem to know that we lack an essential element; an element that the people that have walked this earth before us already knew about.

Do I worship the past? No. I do, however, appreciate the past. As useful as my laptop is, a Victorian papier Mache writing slope with Mother of Pearl inlay has a lot more style. As much as I enjoy having Central Air, wasn’t a painted hand fan a lot more beautiful?

I’ve always loved the English (and American) Victorian and Edwardian eras. In Europe, overall, this period corresponds with what (after-the-fact) was called, “The Belle Époque.” This “Beautiful Era” was a time of general peace from the end of the Nineteenth Century to the First World War. During this time, the arts flourished; social graces were respected; time was taken to appreciate life, nature and humanity.

Yes, of course, I’m romanticizing it. No period of time was without its conflict. However, the fact that we have much to learn from those efforts is irrefutable. And, so, I have created a project for myself. I will be stalking The Belle Époque.

Each day, I will share something beautiful with you. And, I hope you will share with me. The rules are rather loose. We’re not confined to any one time period. We’re not confined to any genre or subject. We must however not lose sight of our goal—that is: to slow down and appreciate the world around us, the joy of being human and the pride we can feel in being kind and gracious. We must revel in the permanent and the lasting and let go of the quick and ugly.

Let’s remember that if we find one marvelous thing every day and if we take the time to treat ourselves and our creations with respect, we could give birth to our own “Beautiful Era.” And, not just one that will be realized decades later, but one that we can all enjoy and benefit from now.

And, also, while you're here, take a minute to read, Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square--an online novel set in London in 1853 which follows the life of a reclusive young Duke with Dissociative Identity Disorder (his alter is the famed puppet, Mr. Punch) and his partner, Dr. Robert Halifax, as they create an elegant home together, working for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  You can also read all five hundred chapters of Punch's Cousin, my previous online novel.  A new chapter of Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square is posted each Monday through Saturday. 

To find out more about Joseph Crisalli, Bertie Wooster and Mr. Punch--our web site team, visit our "About Us" page.