The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

by Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed May 12, 2010 1:14 pm

Hunter opens The Rum Diary with the following epigraph by a woman known as Dark Eileen O'Connell:

My rider of the bright eyes,
What happened you yesterday?
I thought you in my heart,
When I bought you your fine clothes,
A man the world could not slay.
--Dark Eileen O'Connell, 1773


Why do you think he chose this passage? How do you interpret it as it relates to book?

To read my tidbit on O'Connell and the epigraph, click below.


Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby deppaura » Wed May 12, 2010 4:10 pm

I tried to research Calle O'Leary. How long it has existed. Not too lucky. But, I think maybe it was there when Hunter lived in Puerto Rico. Not sure about Al's however. Whether that was a fabrication for the story or not. Art O'Leary was killed at the early age of 26. Still full of life and possibilities. Also an oppressed Catholic. Taken out by the other "kind". Sacrificed. So, the epigraph addresses once again, the loss of youth. As well as the oppressive conditions developing in Puerto Rico. The "big" boys running everything. The "other" kind. O.K., I jumped in!! I am not fully confident in my analysis. I am amazed at the breadth of Hunter's mind. Did the name of the street trigger his memory of this famous love poem? A love poem which also addresses conditions based on religious disharmony.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed May 12, 2010 5:31 pm

deppaura, I know Liz did some research on Calle O'Leary when she did her tour. We tried to find the real life Al's but no luck. Given the prodigous amount of rum consumed in the story I have no doubt some local watering hole existed that attracted the local reporters and served as the inspiration for Al's! :lol:

I interpreted the epigraph not only as the loss of youth but also as the loss of the idealism and the dragon slaying of youth. There is certainly the theme of the big guy vs. the common man in the original poem and I think that was a passion of Hunter's. I too am constantly amazed by Hunter!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby Liz » Wed May 12, 2010 10:02 pm

There is actually a street that has a name that is close—Calle McLeary. Avenue Ashford (where Kemp lived) actually turns into it. See upper 2/3 of map.



Could be, as deppaura suggested, that it reminded him of Arthur O’Leary and then he changed the name of the street for the book to connect to the epigraph.

I personally feel like it should be something about more than loss of youth. So I like deppaura’s suggestion that it’s about the “big boys” against the “other kind”. But it could be a combo. Kemp was obviously a little obsessed with age given that he was concerned about his old age of 32.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby gemini » Thu May 13, 2010 6:18 pm

Like you ladies, my thoughts all go to dying young. Eileen's first husband died 6 months after her marriage and although she had 3 children by Art Oleary she describes his death as " Slain in his bloom". That is what I get from the poem, she thought of him as "A man the world could not slay" but what happened?
This to me is Hunters thought of life over at 32. Just the way he describes the other characters in TRD, he considers them over the hill as well as himself. The only one he considers young is Yeamon. All men in their prime or midlife and Hunter feels youth is required to conquer the world and they have all missed the boat.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu May 13, 2010 11:27 pm

I suppose many of us felt that way when we were younger? Never trust anyone over 30? :lol:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby deppaura » Sat May 15, 2010 9:52 pm

I found something else in reference to Calle O'Leary. There is a book The Proud Highway Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman written by David Brinkley. It contains correspondence of Hunter's. Found it on Amazon. When I referenced Calle O'Leary it brought me to a page 278 which contains a letter written by Hunter to William Kennedy, in which he thanks Kennedy for the map of San Juan. in part it says, "my bourgeois imagination could never produce anything like Calle O'Leary, Avenida Eduardo Conde or Calle Dr. Stahl, nor could my memory hold everything that a map brings back to me..If my memory were as good as I'd claim it was if anyone asked me, I wouldn't need a map, but..." That was written in 1961, so, I think Calle O'Leary definitely existed. Possibly the name was changed in the ensuing years. I'm going to see if I can find anything else.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby Liz » Sat May 15, 2010 11:29 pm

That book has provided us with many a tidbit over the years here at ONBC. But I missed that particular one. Thanks for finding it, deppaura.

I read that as there being a Calle O’Leary in 1961.

So just a coincidence about Arthur O’Leary? ????? Maybe the street name made him think of Arthur.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #24 ~ The Epigraph

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun May 16, 2010 1:26 pm

One of those mysteries we will never have an aswer to although I think it fitting for the book.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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