Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Delicious Pregnancy Quotation Undelivered

If you google "proust duel”, the top hit is Wikipedia’s List of Duels including the 25-y.o. Marcel's with Jean Lorrain on Feb. 5, 1897. "Proust and Lorrain exchanged shots at 25 paces. Proust fired first, his bullet hitting the ground by Lorrain's foot. Lorrain's shot missed, and the seconds agreed that honor had been satisfied." The footnoted authority is Douglas W. Alden's article in Modern Language Notes  February, 1938. Alden claims "Such impetuosity is not surprising in a ‘nerveux,’ nor is this dramatic gesture astonishing in a young man, who, at this time, took feudal society seriously." The occasion for the duel was Lorrain’s scathingly criticle review of Proust’s Les plaisirs et les jours, which appeared in Le Journal, Feb. 3, 1897 — unfortunately, not the source of the “delicious” pregnancy quotation in Steve's post nine days ago (v.i.).

5/2/15 update: Gottschall's book references Barbara Holland's Gentlemen's Blood  for the delicious quotation. She, however, references nothing! Under those circumstances one has to wonder what sort of scholarly pretension Gottschall was striving to maintain. (As in, "yeah, I heard some guy in a bar once say that.")

Monday, April 27, 2015

Off the Good Ship Lollipop

The perfect travel poster for Dennis Cooper's Closer, which we discuss next Wednesday! It's a short book (130 pages) and reads fast. You could wait till the night before (or the day of, depending on your work schedule). But I've found a rereading extraordinarily useful. There are seven points-of-view and and least three different narrative voices. Putting them all together can be a challenge. So I recommend cracking the book open and reading the first chapter "John: The Beginner" (16 pages) so that if you do think you might want a reread, you'll have a chance. Of course, again depending on your work schedule, if you read and like it the night before, you could reread it the day following. WARNING: some people will not want or be able to finish the book. You'll find out who you are soon enough.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quote of the Day, Literary Smackdown Division

In his review of Jonathan Gottschall's The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch, in the April 19 Outlook section of the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada shares a delicious quote:

Gottschall recounts how Marcel Proust traded pistol shots with a book critic who had called him "a pretty little society boy who has managed to get himself pregnant with literature."

To me, the only thing more astonishing than that quote is the idea that Proust fought a duel with actual weapons! Sadly, however, Lozada doesn't give us any particulars; anyone out there happen to know?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

V is for Victory!

Just in case I was not the only reader puzzled by the frequent references to "V-mail" throughout John Horne Burns' The Gallery, here is a link to a Wikipedia article that explains how the system works. (Really pretty ingenious!)

My Google search also turned up a sample V-mail created as (presumably) a teacher resource for a class studying the novel.