Mario Soldati - A sleek and quite fascinating optical view of the devil in the flesh which is never more than sex in the head

Slikovni rezultat za Mario Soldati, The Orange Envelope

Mario Soldati, The Orange Envelope, Trans. by Bernard Wall, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969. 

With much in common with Soldati's earlier novel The Confession (1954), as well as Moravia and more recently Dino Buzzati, this is a scrupulous if self-indulgent first person account of the examined but unlived life of one Carlo. This is attributable to his mother who, passionately possessive after the abandonment of her husband, alternately cossets and castigates him. She also uses orange envelopes for her official messages at her death one to him, one to the only woman, Meris, with whom he has fallen in love, effectively ending the relationship. His mother, equating sexuality with sin, has scarred him only too well: until Meris, every carnal transaction ends in future disinclination, Meris succeeds in holding him by putting a literal lock and chain around his waist. Fifteen years after her disappearance, he again attempts to love, substituting a marriage certificate for the chain but then abandoning her even if he has been cunningly conned out of all he possesses. . . . A sleek and quite fascinating optical view of the devil in the flesh which is never more than sex in the head.- Kirkus Reviews

Slikovni rezultat za Mario Soldati, The Confession

Mario Soldati, The Confession, Trans. by Raymond Rosenthal, Alfred A. Knopf, 1958.

The Italian writer and film director Mario Soldati, who has died aged 92, was best known for films adapted from literary works, especially his 1940 version of Antonio Fogazzaro's novel Piccolo Mondo Antico. He later won popularity with TV viewers for witty, intelligent series on food and books. Born in Turin, he was educated by the Jesuits; after university, he took a doctorate in art history from Rome in 1927. Two years later, he published a well-received volume of stories, Salmace. His art history teacher, Lionello Venturi, got him a fellowship at New York's Columbia University and he sailed for the new world with the determination of an emigrant. As he crossed the Atlantic in November, 1929, the news came of Wall Street's Black Friday, the great financial crash.
He had left Italy because he hated the new fascist state, and now he was plunged into the American Depression. Soldati was fascinated as well as dismayed by the American way of life and later published his impressions in one of his best books, America Primo Amore, which a friend suggested he might call "When hope was named America".
He returned to Italy in search of a job. Emilio Cecchi, who had been made head of Cines Films in Rome contracted him to write Acciaio (Steel, 1933) based on a Pirandello novella. The film, directed by the German Walter Ruttmann, was not liked. Soldati was scapegoated and went home to the north. He began his book on America, and a novel, La Confessione (The Confession). Without a fascist party card he couldn't work as a journalist or teacher, so he went back to cinema and in Rome he was hired by one of the top directors, Mario Camerini, as clapper boy and then assistant.
America Primo Amore was published in 1935 and, though it was appreciated in literary circles, only one review appeared. The book was considered to smell of anti-Fascism. Soldati worked on scripts and let his name be used on credits as director for co-production purposes. The first film he directed was a sophisticated comedy, Dora Nelson (1939).
As war broke out in Europe, Soldati was working with those who later became Italy's top film-makers. One of his producers was Carlo Ponti, who in partnership with other Milanesi had done a deal with a Roman company to film Fogazzaro's novel Piccolo Mondo Antico ("little ancient world"). In spring 1940, Soldati, his friend Mario Bonfantini (who had helped him to publish his first books) and Alberto Lattuada worked on the script in a villa near Lake Como. Soldati and friends explored the subtleties of Fogazzaro's gothic love story (set in Austrian- occupied Lombardy of 1859) in their Arcadian retreat as they listened to the BBC, anxiously following the fate of Britain's lone struggle against the Nazis. "We knew that our own future depended on England's survival," Soldati later wrote.
The film was a success; to Soldati's amazement and relief, nobody seemed to identify its Austrian villain with the Nazis, Italy's allies. During the war, Soldati directed two other films, one from another Fogazzaro novel (Malombra, 1942). After the war he directed many films, mostly commercial chores. He stepped in at the last minute to help Ponti, by directing La donna del fiume (1954), giving Pier-Paolo Pasolini his first cinema job as a scriptwriter.
In these years his literary career finally won him recognition. His Lettere da Capri (1954) was a bestseller and won him the Strega award. A year later, he finally finished La Confessione, which many critics consider his masterpiece. Among his other most appreciated novels was the long, autobiographical Le due citte (1964), inspired by Turin and Rome, where he spent most of his life. In the 70s, he returned to America after 40 years, this time to teach at Berkeley in California, and the trip inspired the novel Addio diletta Amelia (1979).
He worked in Italian television from its inception in the early 50s, and was considered the father of Italian TV criticism. In 1956, he conducted a TV tour on good eating in the Po and in 1960 investigated Italian reading.
There was a vulgar film adaptation of his Lettere da Capri (Capriccio, 1986) and his son, Giovanni, directed a pedestrian version of La Sposa Americana in 1986.
Soldati settled eventually on the Ligurian coast. Searching for a "lost" DH Lawrence manuscript, he ended up in the village of Tellaro, where Lawrence spent some years - and stayed there. He never found the manuscript.  - John Francis Lane https://www.theguardian.com/news/1999/jun/22/guardianobituaries1


René Crevel - Imagine, if you can, Freud and Proust sitting down for a chat with Zippy the Pinhead and the marquis de Sade. Then, just when things are starting to get a bit silly, in walks Karl Marx with a dead serious face to deliver a vitriolic diatribe

René Crevel, Putting My Foot in it, Trans. by

Thomas Buckley, Dalkey Archive Press, 1992.


Imagine, if you can, Freud and Proust sitting down for a chat with Zippy the Pinhead and the marquis de Sade. Then, just when things are starting to get a bit silly, in walks Karl Marx with a dead serious face to deliver a vitriolic diatribe. After he has finished his speech, Jacques Lacan enters and slips a couch under the narrator, who begins psychoanalyzing himself and his text. Zippy soon prevails, however, and the narrative has turned into a political allegory with characters out of Felix the Cat: a surrealist, graphic (historiographic, geographic, pornographic) version of The Romance of the Rose. Rene Crevel's 1933 novel Putting My Foot in It (Les Pieds dans le plat) has long been considered a classic of the surrealist period, but has never been translated into English until now. Loosely structured around a luncheon attended by thirteen guests, the novel is a surrealistic critique of the intellectual corruption of post-World War I France, especially the capitalist bourgeoisie and its supporter, the Catholic Church. The novel begins with an account of the family of the major character, known as the "Prince of Journalists." This bizarre family - the grandparents a soldier and a sodomized woman, the parents an orphaned epileptic and a hunchback - is matched by Crevel's bizarre syntax and vocabulary: nouns that initially appear legitimate, intact, and respectable, soon decompose into obscene epithets, making other nouns, both common and proper, suspect. The story continues in this way to deconstruct itself on many levels - literary, semantic, psychological, ideological - until the final chapter, when the luncheon degenerates in a way reminiscent of a Bunuel film and all of the novel'scharacters appear in a dirty movie entitled The Geography Lesson, a final metaphor for the corruption of European society between the world wars. This edition also reprints Ezra Pound's well-known essay on Crevel as a foreword, and includes an introduction by Edouard Roditi, who

‘Rene Crevel’s 1933 novel Putting My Foot in It (Les Pieds dans le plat) has long been considered a classic of the surrealist period. Loosely structured around a luncheon attended by thirteen guests, the novel is a surrealistic critique of the intellectual corruption of post-World War I France, especially the capitalist bourgeoisie and its supporter, the Catholic Church. The novel begins with an account of the family of the major character, known as the “Prince of Journalists.” This bizarre family—the grandparents a soldier and a sodomized woman, the parents an orphaned epileptic and a hunchback—is matched by Crevel’s bizarre syntax and vocabulary: nouns that initially appear legitimate, intact, and respectable, soon decompose into obscene epithets, making other nouns, both common and proper, suspect.’ — DA

“Crevel was born rebellious the way others are born with blue eyes.”—Philippe Soupault

“Crevel actually wrote only a single sentence: the long sentence of a feverish monologue from the pen of a Proust who dipped his biscuit laced with LSD into his tea, instead of the unctuous madeleine.”—Angelo Rinaldi, L’Express

“He will be read more and more as the wind carries away the ashes of the ‘great names’ that preceded him. “—Ezra Pound

Felix the Cat: a surrealist, graphic (historiographic, geographic, pornographic) version of The Romance of the Rose.
This is, wonderfully, an apt description of the work as a whole. As noted above, and to tie in the publisher quote, Crevel spends much of the middle portion of the novel channeling entirely too much Proust and Freud – and it’s here that the novel labors – and foregoes Zippy alomost entirely. However, it’s in the opening sections – where Zippy is prominent – that Crevel shines as a novelist.
All that said, the really crowning achievement of the work – and it’s high level five star stuff – is in the final two chapters (“[…]in walks Karl Marx with a dead serious face to deliver a vitriolic diatribe. After he has finished his speech, Jacques Lacan enters and slips a couch under the narrator, who begins psychoanalyzing himself and his text.”).
let hatred, for its part, take over and not give an inch of ground
The second to last chapter (The Fourteenth Guest) is one long bitter, angry (man, I love bitter and angry writing) rant against hypocrisy in it’s many forms, and fascism in general. And that might sound like a drag, but it is enlightening, intelligent, enjoyable, and overall darkly funny (mostly all at the same time) that it is a true joy to read. The final (Lacan-esque) chapter is mostly more of the same with more explicit ties to what (in 1933, when this was published) would have been very, very current events: the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, and a continued condemnation of fascism. Crevel was a bit ahead of his time in loudly ringing the alarm bells over Hitler’s rise to power – but, seeing as his best friend at the time was Klaus Mann (the Mann’s, of course, being early and outspoken critics of the rising Nazi tide) it does make sense.
One can laugh.
Laughter has never erased, has never corrected anything.
This book does plod a bit it in the middle – and, were I less stubborn reader I might have given it up at its lowest point – but it’s final chapters are truly excellent, and make this well worth picking up; all the more so as it is both in print (and cheap) and available used (even more cheap). - Ronald Morton at goodreads

René Crevel, Babylon, Illustr. by Max Ernst. 

Trans. by Kay Boyle, Sun and Moon Press, 

1996. [1927.] 

Babylon is a landmark of Surrealist literature, an enduring achievement of one of its leading figures, Rene Crevel. Crevel explores the private worlds of children and their sexual imaginations in this important novel, now republished in the prestigious Sun & Moon Classics. A free-spirited young girl witnesses her father elope with a beautiful English cousin, the chambermaid run off with and then kill the gardener, her grandmother seduce her mother's new fiance, and her mother finally accept an arranged marriage with the bizarre Mac-Louf, darling of the Society for Protection by Rational Experience.

Crevel, who might be termed an auxiliary Surrealist and who committed suicide at age 35 in 1935, is lushly translated here by Kay Boyle (below), buttressed by Max Ernst ""photogram"" illustrations, and compared in the Afterword to Rimbaud and Lautremont. The very slender frame of the ""novel,"" written in 1927, concerns the family of a young girl whose father has run off with a female cousin (the girl forever after will think of her father and cousin as ""Mr. Knife, Miss Fork""), whose abandoned mother then is all set to marry a dashing magistrate, only to have her mother (the girl's 60-ish grandmother, married to an eminent psychiatrist) steal him right out from underneath her. Fugitive and spirit-loosening alliances of the senses is the book's theme--and while certainly there is an unbuttonedness of language, of imagery cascade, here, comparing Crevel on the basis of this book to Rimbaud and Lautremont seems ludicrous, If Crevel's French is well-served by Boyle's translation, his prose runs from the laughably bad (""In the cement pools, goldfish revolved in such formation that one no longer recalled that others, humbly gray, live in waters unimprisoned by pain-daubed grottoes, waters that flow care-free through meadows where peaceful oxen graze"") to the quite lovely (""An auto turning redder and redder is a dizzy stain of madness on the ribbons and nets of tar that keep the countryside from flying away""). On the whole: of historical interest--but awfully hyperventilated stuff. - Kirkus Reviews

René Crevel, My Body and I, Trans. by Robert

Bononno, Archipelago Books, 2005.

In My Body and I (Mon Corps et Moi, 1925), René Crevel attempts to trace with words the geography of a being. Exploring the tension between body and spirit, Crevel’s meditation is a vivid personal journey through illusion and disillusion, secret desire, memory, the possibility and impossibility of life, sensuality and sexuality, poetry, truth, and the wilderness of the imagination. The narrator’s Romantic mind moves from evocative tales to frank confessions, making the reader a confidant to this great soul trapped in an awkward-fitting body. A Surrealist Proust.

“Without René Crevel we would have lost one of the most beautiful pillars of surrealism.”—André Breton

“The works that Crevel left us indicate that he was one of the most original, gifted French novelists of the century.”—San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Crevel remains one of the most readable Surrealists…His liquid language tumbles along, powered by his strong descriptions, by his love of Freudian wordplay—rarely is a cigar just a cigar.”
Publishers Weekly

For many of us, that is those of us who seriously think on things, the greatest problem to overcome in life is the activity of our own brains; not political corruption or poorly paid jobs or gas pains or the daily bastards we encounter, but the sparkings of our own grey matter. Our brains dictate the tenor of our lives. They can create prisons and paradises and everything in between. They are the worlds we each live in and are in continuous flux, but within this flux are inherent tools to alter its course and solve problems encountered and shape the very world we live within, though the flux remains and there is no final solution. This life within this world created by our brains is an unending ride in a vehicle with a variable accelerator but no brake pedal, though there is an emergency brake located somewhere deep in the debris between the seats - beneath the condoms and coffee cups, the maps and unpaid tickets, bagel crumbs and baby vomit, there is suicide. Rene Crevel ultimately yanked up this emergency brake by cranking up the gas in his stove, but before he did this he created a highly articulate road map toward his destination. My Body and I was one of the first installments of this map, and what made it so haunting and moving for me was that suicide had not yet been decided upon as an option to overcome the problem of his brain, considered, sure, but not intentionally and consciously predestined. This book is an honest and detailed account of Monsieur Crevel attempting to solve the problem of his own brain, and to read it is to take a convoluted interior journey through his life thus far; a swarm of memories drawing everything in its wake from his father’s suicide to his love affairs with fat singers to his self-prostitution to his tormenting dreams. He tries to solve his problem by achieving total aloneness, but everywhere he turns he encounters memories and dreams and objects that make this perfect aloneness impossible. In the end he is alone, but it’s not a perfect aloneness, not a transcendent aloneness, but rather an aloneness still besieged by the problem of his own brain, and it would be ten years before he pulled the brake; ten years of Surrealism, black humor, politics, sexual torment, high society cocktails, and ceaseless thinking and dreaming. - Eddie Watkins at goodreads

Without René Crevel we would have lost one of the most beautiful pillars of surrealism. — André Breton
Crevel actually wrote only a single sentence: the long sentence of a feverish monologue from the pen of a Proust who dipped his biscuit laced with LSD into his tea, instead of the unctuous madeleine. — Angelo Rinaldi, L’Express
He will be read more and more as the wind carries away the ashes of the ‘great names’ that preceded him. — Ezra Pound
‘If you look at the photograph of leading Surrealist artists and writers, taken in 1932 at Tristan Tzara’s, you will find René Crevel in the back row, and that is where he long remained. The others, including Andre Breton, Salvador Dali, and Paul Eluard, all seem to know what to do with their hands, whereas René Crevel is leaning forward, one hand placed for support on the shoulder of Max Ernst, the other on that of Man Ray. Born in 1900, the golden boy of the Surrealist movement, Crevel is perhaps remembered more for having killed himself than for his writings, though even in death he is surpassed by other suicides, by the revolver-brandishing Jacques Vaché, for instance, whose myth was sedulously fostered by Andre Breton. Why, then, has David Rattray chosen to publish now a translation of Crevel’s autobiographical novel, La Mort difficile, sixty years after its first appearance in 1926? The answer to that question may well have as much to do with a certain climate of opinion that has flourished since the Sixties as with Crevel’s undoubted talent as a writer.
‘It was in 1947 that Jean-Paul Sartre accused the Surrealists, who deeply influenced him, of being young men of good social position who were hostile to daddy. Crevel senior, however, hanged himself in 1914, and his young son was left under the domination of a mother he loathed and who is caricatured as the odious and pretentious Mme. Dumont-Dufour in La Mort difficile. Still, unlike many of the budding Surrealists in the Twenties, Crevel was indeed well-to-do and well connected. He was a great friend of the Vicomte Charles de Noailles and his wife Marie-Laure, who financed the notorious film, L’Âge d’or, by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali; and it was he who introduced the inventor of limp watches to one of the earliest of that artist’s princely patrons.
‘Crevel appears indubitably handsome in the portrait photograph by Man Ray, and in fine line drawings of the period. His looks were of a type that should have given him a role in one of Cocteau’s later films, had he survived and if Breton and Cocteau had not been at daggers drawn. One of Crevel’s friends, the Surrealists’ ally, André Thirion, remarked in his memoirs on the engaging personality and polished charm of the author of La Mort difficile. André Breton’s portrait of his associate is more somber: it stresses the disquiet and the complexity of the young man’s character.
‘In his books Crevel made no secret of his homosexuality or bisexuality. As for Breton, he wrote paeans to heterosexual love, and like most of the Surrealists he viewed homosexuality with disfavor, although the colleagues tolerated what they regarded as an aberration in their friend. It is plain from Crevel’s highly personal narrative, Mon Corps et moi (“My Body and Me”), that the young author felt deeply divided about his sexual proclivities. Moreover, he had long suffered from ill health: tuberculosis took him at frequent intervals to boredom in Swiss sanatoria, and his sickness was complicated by alcohol and drugs (opium, cocaine). The theme of suicide haunted him. In his very first book, Détours (1924), he imagined the scenario of death by gas that he was to follow eleven years later in 1935. With Man Corps et moi, he betrays his doubts about the reality of his own existence.
‘The great event of Crevel’s life was his meeting with André Breton in 1921: a strong, aggressive character under whose aegis the Surrealist enterprise often appears as a succession of insults, cuffs to celebrated heads, and expulsions. Crevel made an important contribution to the movement and yet he also figures as its victim. Having been initiated into spiritualism by an aristocratic English lady, he introduced Breton to “hypnotic sleep,” which played so large a role in the development of Surrealism and its use of automatic writing or image-making. In a deep sleep, Crevel declaimed, sang, yet apparently he had no memory of what had passed. These experiments led the young writer to try to hang himself, and Breton put an end to them. In the famous “Inquiry into Suicide,” conducted by La Révolution surréaliste, Crevel eloquently justified suicide as a solution to his dissatisfaction with his life.
‘The risks involved in Surrealist practices, such as the debate on suicide and the rehabilitation and simulation of madness, are obvious. The extravagant declarations of Breton—that “living and not-living are imaginary solutions,” or that the distinction between true and false, good and evil, is “absurd”—must have had a harmful effect on one like Crevel, whose hold on life was so precarious. The whole objective of Surrealism was to undermine reason and logic. Crevel could write a book paradoxically entitled L’Esprit contre la raison (“Mind against Reason”), but he valued highly his own critical intelligence and, having worked on a thesis on Diderot while at the Sorbonne, he never lost interest in the eighteenth century as the age of enlightenment.
‘Meanwhile, profoundly loyal to André Breton, he was among those who “gave proof of ABSOLUTE SURREALISM,” as Breton’s first Manifesto has it. Only too well known is Breton’s concept of absolute Surrealist revolt: to go down into the street with a revolver and to fire haphazardly into the crowd. Time and experience have not been kind to such irresponsible language, and too much real blood has been shed in the streets for Breton’s words to be regarded as mere ink. One difference between words and paint is that words have meaning and, however “poetic,” cannot be totally divorced from reason and logic. Perhaps that is why some Surrealist art tends to make a greater impact than a good deal of strictly Surrealist literature. Certainly, the confusion in Crevel’s mind between unreason and reason must have been acute.
‘A way out of the impasse appeared to be at hand for intellectuals in revolt: adherence to the Revolution and membership in the Communist Party. Crevel discovered Marx and dialectical materialism, and he began to quote chunks from Engels and Lenin in his writings. He was among those who wrote for the periodical Le Surréalisme au service de la Révolution, doubtless believing with Breton that to propagate the idea of revolution would hasten the advent of the great cataclysm. In 1927 the author of La Mort difficile joined the French Communist Party; he was expelled in 1933 and readmitted in 1934. None worked harder than he did to try to reconcile the mistrustful party hacks and the would-be revolutionary Surrealists or, as it was then put more grandly, “Communism and Culture.” His efforts to establish harmony during the preparations for the Communist-inspired First International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture in 1935 were thwarted by the exchange of insults and slaps between Ilya Ehrenburg and André Breton, which led to the author of the Surrealist Manifestos being denied permission to speak. This Congress proved to be one of the early successes of Stalinism in the international cultural sphere. There was in fact no way of reconciling such fundamentally opposing attitudes to free thought and free expression.
‘Crevel’s failure to secure agreement between Surrealists and Communists is thought to be one contributing cause of his suicide. Shortly before his death, the former Communist André Thirion had expounded privately—much to Crevel’s surprise—his own conviction that Stalin represented as much of a threat to culture as Hitler. When Crevel stayed with Dali at his home at Port-Lligat, the painter could not have been very helpful when employing his “paranoia-criticism” to provoke “the maximum number of hopeless antagonisms in every situation.” Meanwhile, Crevel was becoming more critical of Andre Breton, and was losing faith in Surrealism, as his letters to Tristan Tzara of 1934-35 reveal. An adverse medical report prompted the young novelist to write: “Please have my body cremated. Disgust,” and to take his own life.
‘There is a certain irony in prefacing Difficult Death with Dali’s memoir of 1954, as David Rattray has done. Crevel would have hated Dali’s support for General Franco: he himself was keenly opposed to fascism, having helped to create a committee of anti-fascist writers at the time when the French fascists almost overthrew the government in February 1934. It is equally ironic to find Ezra Pound’s essay on Crevel, with its laudatory reference to Mussolini and its refrain on usury, being used to preface a reprint of Crevel’s satirical novel, Les Pieds dans le plat (“Putting One’s Foot In It”). Crevel forcefully expressed his hatred of anti-Semitism and Hitler in that novel, and his detestation of Mussolini elsewhere.
‘With La Mort difficile, written in the year of his mother’s demise, Crevel probes the conflict within the mother-fixated Pierre. The protagonist is torn between his ambivalent regard for the self-sacrificing Diane and his passion for Arthur Bruggle, an equivocal American modeled on the painter Eugene MacCown, to whom the author was devoted. Dreamlike elements and a rather mannered insistence on repetition betray the work’s Surrealist connection. Black humor merges with self-pity. David Rattray’s translation is at times ingenious. However, Pierre’s mother admires slim legs as a token of breeding (signe de race), not of “race.” In her prejudiced vocabulary, “foreigner” is too anodyne a word for the pejorative métèque. A reference to the poet Lamartine, hero of the Second Republic, is eluded: Crevel liked to satirize the liberal “Lamartinian current,” otherwise graciously qualified as “the dustbins of liberalism.” To find an equivalent for the American’s amusingly painful misuse of French genders looks impossible. One realizes how skillful, witty, and idiosyncratic Crevel’s use of language can be. He had no small talent as a punster, satirist, and polemicist.
‘After the événements of May 1968 there was a revival of Crevel’s work in France in the Seventies, when several of his books were reprinted. One admirer went so far as to declare: “The explosion of May [1968] places the figure of Crevel, that dark archangel, in the forefront of those who refuse to live divided against themselves.” A curious observation, surely, since in Crevel’s case that refusal meant self-immolation. The rebellious author of Babylone could serve as model for a new generation of rebels. He, too, was opposed to religion, family, country (in whose name so many had perished in the 1914-18 War), and all existing institutions.
‘High among his pet hates were liberal parliamentary democracy, capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism. His terminology sometimes recalls that of fashionable theorists of the Sixties and after. When he excoriates the privileged swine (salauds) or invokes “oceans of wrath” to drown the bourgeoisie and all its works, he sounds like a precursor of Sartre and his heirs. Crevel’s heady combination of revolt, homosexuality, and drug-taking doubtless remains in vogue in certain circles even today.’ — Renee Winegarten


René Crevel, Difficult Death, Trans. by David 

Rattray, North Point Press, 1986.

His own thoughts, his own nerve-ends, were they the brightest corals of the spirit and flesh, amounted to so little in relation to the whole. No more than a peninsula, not even that, a mere antenna rates the name Pierre Dumont and experiences the surprises of this singular ocean. But out of the sea of adventures has come a fleet of guilty boats which even now his blood is sweeping along in quest of he knows not what harbor. Mangled thoughts, shapeless desires, garbled secrets- are all these heading for some less-than-final shipwreck?

"All aboard Ratapoilopolis!" Pierre's mother holds her unforgiving nature on nurture over her young Pierre's head. Eighteen years in the womb is enough for any animal. It's the same old fight in casa Dumont-Dufour. You look like your father so you are his packed bags. What is left upstairs of that man, anyway? Amputated appendages with a memory like it was today, perhaps a sex sweaty mustache. It's never ever today or tomorrow, only ever yesterday today. The parents share that, at least. I can't get rid of an idea of a slaughter-house for the mad. The Ratapoilopolis (he may be crazy but that's no doubt true enough of those places) he writes from keeps the flailing heads to dangle for cheese. There's a spot for you with him in Ratapoilopolis, Pierre, room for good for nothings. Papa's body will eventually catch up to his mind in pieces, but for now he's writing the same haunting. Leave her in ashes fires, forget her revenge. Does insanity choose some people like in one of those haunted house movies? Open the pandora's box and it's too late. You were seen.
Is suicide contagious? Crevel and his father died by their own hands. (I don't want to make that connection. There's another unspooling here, exercising or exorcising I'm not sure which.) The seven suicides in the Hemingway family. Maybe the idea became a carnivorous plant in the mind, eating all of the light the other idea plants needed to survive. Pierre's cool hand on his forehead is the daughter of a suicide. Everyday when her daughter leaves for the world outside their apartment Diane's mother memorizes the signs. Suicides appear in families like blue eyes or red hair. The father's death-wish shadow over her head, though not Diane's levitations. It made me sad as the mother longs to sit a little closer to the young life, the busy bustle she never had. I knew that Diane's heart is only in Pierre. Art classes Pierre takes, his streets, his rotational pull. Call it maternal love, a blanket to bundle in. Prayers of nothing else can touch me. Their mummified love, layers of gauzy connections from the hand he reaches for, slaps away. It makes me suspicious and sick as much as Pierre is afraid of inheriting insanity. To be a human and this is what you get. What if all any of this was is just how someone feels about themselves when they are with you? What a bunch of nothing that would be if it were true.... Pierre hates Diane, despises her more for hating himself. I wonder if his buttons push themselves as much as his mama ripped his organs that do stuff and shoved them in his face. The wounded puppy and kittens whenever he pulls away because he no longer wants to need her. Sure, blame it all on Diane. I think it's all crap that it's between the thuggy American Arthur Bruggle. He wants to fuck Arthur, because he's sex to him, and why not, go somewhere, that limitless place where "I will always love you" lives before it's born and where it goes when it dies. And Diane is the old story of anyone who has ever been settled for. I don't care if it is someone who can't fool themselves they aren't homosexual. Any "just right now" placeholder, backburner passion for the (oh I hate this so much) the dream lover who makes the world worth living again. As if this is all there is. You're doing it wrong if one person is responsible for everything. Did you really wake up every day and go through the way days blur and what you can't forget, won't forget and STILL choose to make it all hang on one romantic partner? I call bullshit on this like any easy answer on nature and nurture as a hurricane. If you didn't want to get out of its way that's the story (I hope). Pierre had prowled the streets, heart in lighted windows and a free soaring shadow. The battle drums, homes that could go anywhere. Of course they don't. The faces of strangers are the hunted and the prey. Oh Pierre, you had had it. He knows what Arthur smells like when he has sex. The shivering timbers of Diane's hand, the almosts. It's all fucked up when you have to say it means everything. I say he knew what he looked like when he sold himself too. Not just Arthur of the next-next-next big thing, theatre world scenesters, rolling around in patronage and give me smiles. Arthur wasn't too good for it for me but he was for Pierre and that hurts me. Don't leave me just yet, ever, don't look good on the arm of those whores. I don't care if it's fair, nor the outcome, I'm looking for the relief. It gives me this falling no escape (I can't resist seeing it again) when he gives and takes away the halos. Why does anyone do this? The pieces look so damned good to me. The veiny bloody bony part within what you call it. No one is above it and why does it happen that some parts of people's today dies and others cling on for dear life.
This is what got to me. Diane's father. There's no use lamenting that some have fathers who love them and others don't (it's the wish for things to be fair just this once. Supposed-to-bes don't get up every day, they only lie their head down at night). What digs in more than that, for me, is the Russian man's only desire to go home. His wife and child he won't taste. To the Volga boatman, bleeding hands and faces carved from starved stone. To breathe their air he would be home. Did he truly stop living in exile, unreached by their brothers where that still happens? You could always go home to other people this way. Didn't he see that?! It IS contagious, in all you could touch. I know what Pierre thought, in how it all went down (dammit why?!). It's all in the sun named in vain. What will outlive. Crevel said that "poetry is the high road of freedom". I have mourned clarity, feared the precipice of insanity and the death option. I could be night crawling the streets in search of Pierre (not just him. Diane's mother got to me in her it's not fair and the wish is more alive than oughtabe), attempting the outrun of.... Yeah, when the desire is more alive than oughtabes. I don't care about fair, I WISH that it wasn't Diane eye and Arthur eye and nothing else, or else. Crevel's freedom is a relief I need way too much. I don't know how to get at anything any other way than just feeling it out. This feels.
He was alone. He was empty. The adventure had begun when those ruby-and-felt birds, his lungs, had flown out of his petrified throat and soared up in the middle of the sky, sweeter than angels, which however as everyone knows are boneless creatures, and his chest, prouder than the hull of a brand-new ship, had rejoiced as if at last rid of a rather stupid virginity - Mariel at goodreads

Difficult death, difficult book. Written after the death of author Rene Crevel's mother, he endlessly pounds into protagonist Pierre’s mother all through the book. There are also numerous mentions about suicide, which Crevel eventually committed at the age of thirty-five. In other words, there's a black cloud that hangs over this novel. 
Difficult Death, written in 1934, takes place during the Twenties about a young Parisian artist's love for both a female art student and an American hustler. The American hustler isn’t really made flesh until the last twenty pages, making him a sort of human climax. It’s too bad he doesn’t turn up until the end because that’s when Difficult Death really comes alive, and I think the novel would have benefited if he had more presence through the rest of the book. 
Difficult Death is audacious for tackling issues like bisexuality during the Thirties but unfortunately rumbles at a laggard pace, weighing every emotion and sentiment with four pages of endless ruminations. I wouldn't mind reading something else by Crevel as long as it was pitched a little higher. - Andy at goodreads

‘René Crevel (1900-35) was French Surrealist who initiated experiments with hypnotic sleep. His greatest contribution to the movement, however, was to demonstrate that Surrealism and the novel could be reconciled. Whether texts such as Détours (1924), La Mort difficile (1926), Babylone (1927), Êtes-vous fous? (1929), and Les Pieds dans le plat (1933) are called ‘romans’ or ‘fictions’, the role of language itself in their elaboration is arguably the key element. Mon corps et moi (1925) is a confessional monologue and L’Esprit contre la raison (1927) is his Surrealist manifesto.

‘Crevel was born in Paris to a family of Parisian bourgeoisie. He had a traumatic religious upbringing. At the age of fourteen, during a difficult stage of his life, his father committed suicide by hanging himself. Crevel studied English at the University of Paris. He met André Breton and joined the surrealist movement in 1921, from which he would be excluded in October 1923 due to Crevel’s homosexuality and Breton’s belief that the movement had been corrupted. During this period, Crevel wrote novels such as Mon corps et moi (“My Body and Me”). In 1926, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis which made him start using morphine. The 1929 exile of Léon Trotsky persuaded him to rejoin the surrealists. Remaining faithful to André Breton, he struggled to bring communists and surrealists closer together. Much of Crevel’s work deals with his inner turmoil at being bisexual.

‘Crevel killed himself by turning on the gas on his kitchen stove the night of June 18, 1935, several weeks before his 35th birthday. There were at least two direct reasons: (1) There was a conflict between Breton and Ilya Ehrenburg during the first “International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture” which opened in Paris in June 1935. Breton, who like all fellow surrealists, had been insulted by Ehrenburg in a pamphlet which said – among other things – that surrealists were pederasts, slapped Ehrenburg several times on the street, which led to surrealists being expelled from the Congress. Crevel, who according to Salvador Dalí, was “the only serious communist among surrealists” (and was facing more and more solitude as the real face of Soviet socialism started to occur), spent a whole day trying to persuade the other delegates to allow surrealists back, but he was not successful and left the Congress at 11pm, totally exhausted. (2) Crevel reportedly had learned that he suffered from renal tuberculosis right upon leaving the Congress. He left a note which read “Please cremate my body. Loathing.”‘ — Wikipedia

Andrea Giovene - The era of the great aristocratic families has passed and the Sansevero family, besides having lost its role in society, has lost its fortune: Giuliano is destined to revive the family finances. He is unable to shore up the ruins of his dynasty

Andrea Giovene, Sansevero, Quartet Books; Reprint ed., 1987.

Sansevero is a monumental novel in five parts, published here in two volumes. The first comprises the first three parts, the second the remaining two. In this edition the final part appears in English for the first time.

The novel is narrated by Giuliano Sansevero himself, the younger son of a Neapolitan ducal family. The era of the great aristocratic families has passed and the Sansevero family, besides having lost its role in society, has lost its fortune: Giuliano is destined to revive the family finances. He is unable to shore up the ruins of his dynasty and leaves in order to discover more of the world.


Tristan Corbière - a "poet maudit". Marked by his use of irony and a distinctive local idiom, Corbiere's work is a cornerstone of modern French poetry, and has been influential to English and American modernists such as Pound and Eliot

Selections From Les Amours Jaunes by Tristan Corbière
Tristan Corbière, Selections From Les Amours Jaunes, Trans. by C. F. MacIntyre, University of California Press, 1954. [1873.]           

Les Amours Jaunes is the only book of poetry of "poet maudit" Tristan Corbiere, first published in 1873 in Glady brothers publishers in Paris, including almost all of his poetry. Of 101 poems of sizes and very diverse forms, it is published at the author two years before the death of the poet at the age of 29, and goes completely unnoticed at the time. 

Tristan Corbiere (1845-1875), was born in Coat-Congar, Ploujean, in northwest France. The young poet's only book, Les Amours jaunes, was largely ignored until the Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine wrote about him a decade after his untimely death. Marked by his use of irony and a distinctive local idiom, Corbiere's work is a cornerstone of modern French poetry, and has been influential to English and American modernists such as Pound and Eliot.

Corbière's only published verse in his lifetime appeared in Les amours jaunes, 1873, a volume that went almost unnoticed until Paul Verlaine included him in his gallery of poètes maudits (accursed poets). Thereafter Verlaine's recommendation was enough to establish him as one of the masters acknowledged by the Symbolists, and he was subsequently rediscovered and treated as a predecessor by the surrealists.
Close-packed, linked to the ocean and his Breton roots, and tinged with disdain for Romantic sentimentalism, his work is also characterised by its idiomatic play and exceptional modernity. He was praised by both Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot (whose work he had a great influence on).[4]
Eliot used his self-description as "Melange adultère de tout" as the title for one of his own (French) poems.[5] Many subsequent modernist poets have also studied him,[6] and he has often been translated into English. - wikipedia

Slikovni rezultat za Tristan Corbiere
Tristan Corbière, Oysters, Nightingales, and Cooking Pots: Selected poetry and prose in translation, Trans. by Christopher Pilling, White Rose UP, 2018.
Slikovni rezultat za Tristan Corbiere
Slikovni rezultat za Tristan Corbiere


Richard Huelsenbeck - his memoirs bring to life the concerns—intellectual, artistic, and political—of the individuals involved in the Dada movement and document the controversies within the movement and in response to it.

Slikovni rezultat za Richard Huelsenbeck, Memoirs of a Dada Drummer
Richard Huelsenbeck, Memoirs of a Dada Drummer, Viking Adult, 1974

Huelsenbeck’s memoirs bring to life the concerns—intellectual, artistic, and political—of the individuals involved in the Dada movement and document the controversies within the movement and in response to it.

"Have we ever had more reasons for blowing red-hot smoke out of our noses or being prouder? We killed a quarter of a century, we killed several centuries for the sake of what is to come. You can call it what you like: surgery, kleptomania, calligraphy; for all we can say is: We are, we have worked some—revolution, reaction, extra! extra! we are—we are— Dada first and foremost—first and foremost a word, whose fantasticness is incomprehensible." —HUELSENBECK

Huelsenbeck's chosen role for the literary-revolutionary Dada evenings at Cabaret Voltaire (see also Ball, above) was the reading of ""sound-poems"" with the inevitable refrain umba, umba and the beating of a drum (like Oskar from the Grass novel?). His absurdist collection of poetry Phantastische Gebete brought great distress to his mother, who no doubt could not understand what had come over her son the doctor. He liked to think of himself as ""the first existentialist"" and of Sartre, who has proclaimed ""Moi, je suis le nouveau dada,"" as an accredited follower. What distinguishes this ""moralist-cum-mischief-maker"" from the deeply philosophical Hugo Ball is the very evident pagan pleasure he takes in having ""annoyed the world,"" his enthusiasm for deeming and re-defining the spirit of Dada, and for promoting its values (epater le bourgeois) on both sides of the Atlantic. Huelsenbeck, who fled Germany after Hitler, obtained an American medical license thanks to the intervention of Albert Einstein and practiced psychoanalysis with Karen Horney. Many of the short essays here -- including homage to Arp, Duchamp, Tinguely, Grosz and disrespect for co-founder Tzara -- date from the '50's and '60's. ""Psychoanalytical Notes on Modern Art"" and ""Modern Art and Totalitarian Regimes"" are noteworthy pieces on the origins of aesthetic subjectivity and abstractionism. Insofar as it can be explained in the conventions of language (""You cannot and probably should not understand Dada. It will always remain a living part of the essentially inexplicable""), Huelsenbeck is the movement's foremost interpreter. - Kirkus Reviews

Richard Huelsenbeck grew up in Dortmund, Westphalia, where his father was a chemist. He aspired to become a writer and was greatly influenced by the poetry and prose of the German romantic poet Heinrich Heine, whose irony and mocking satire of society he wanted to emulate. At the age of nineteen, he went to Munich, where he pursued medicine for a year before beginning his study of German literature and art history. In Munich Huelsenbeck met Hugo Ball, who would become a decisive influence on his intellectual development. He began to frequent the cafés in the bohemian district of Munich where artists and writers associated with expressionism gathered, and through Ball began to publish some of his writings. When Huelsenbeck went to study philosophy at the Sorbonne for the winter semester of 1912-1913, he contributed as a "Paris correspondent" to Revolution, an "excessively modern and polemical" periodical begun by Ball and his friend Hans Leybold. Ball's critique of Germany and its bourgeois social system reinforced Huelsenbeck's own beliefs and inspired him toward more radical means of expression.
Huelsenbeck followed Ball to Berlin in 1914, where he continued to study German literature and began to publish poems, essays, and book reviews in Die Aktion, an art and literature journal associated with radical politics, published by Franz Pfemfert. Huelsenbeck volunteered for military service in August 1914, just after the war began. He served several months in a field artillery unit but did not see the front and was released from service because of neuralgia, a condition characterized by intense nerve pain. Huelsenbeck and Ball became increasingly opposed to the war and to the intensity of German nationalist sentiment. In the spring of 1915, they organized several gatherings to protest the war effort and to commemorate fallen poets. However, the audience who arrived expecting a solemn memorial was shocked when Huelsenbeck began reciting "Negro" poems. Huelsenbeck's aggressive literature recitals at these "expressionist evenings" were deliberately intended to provoke his listeners, and it was this insolent attitude that most characterized his contribution to Zurich Dada's Cabaret Voltaire events.
Huelsenbeck went to Zurich at Ball's request, arriving at the Cabaret Voltaire in mid-to-late February of 1916. Ball recorded his arrival in his diary and wrote: "He pleads for stronger rhythm (Negro rhythm). He would prefer to drum literature into the ground." When Huelsenbeck performed, he adopted an arrogant and offensive posture, brandishing his cane at the audience and reciting his poems, according to Marcel Janco, "as if they were insults." His poetry attacked the church, the fatherland, and the canon of German literature (Friedrich von Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), and was accompanied by big drums, roars, whistles, and laughter. Huelsenbeck's use of a military drum alluded to the proximity of the war, demanding an immediate and uninhibited bodily response from the audience.
After Ball left Zurich in July 1916, Huelsenbeck developed stomach complaints and constantly talked about returning to Germany. His father's ill health precipitated his return in December 1916; by early 1917 he was in Berlin, where he introduced Dada ideas from Zurich and subsequently became the organizer, promoter, and historian of Dada. In January 1918 he delivered the "Dada-Rede in Deutschland" [First Dada Speech in Germany], and in April read a Dada manifesto. By the end of 1920, Huelsenbeck had already begun to chronicle the history of Dada. After the First International Dada Fair closed, he edited and published Dada Almanach, the first Dada anthology. En avant Dada, also published in 1920 and subtitled "The History of Dadaism," indicates the extent to which Huelsenbeck considered the movement to be at an end.
Throughout his Dada years, Huelsenbeck had been continually advancing his study of medicine and began to practice in 1920. He also enthusiastically pursued a career in journalism, becoming a permanent correspondent for several Berlin newspapers and a popular author of travel diaries compiled during his stints around the world as a ship's surgeon. Beginning in 1933, Huelsenbeck was repeatedly investigated by the Nazi authorities. Forbidden to write and in constant fear of imminent arrest, he finally obtained passage for himself to the United States in 1936. By 1939 he was practicing medicine and psychiatry in Long Island, New York, under the name Charles R. Hulbeck. His Memoirs of a Dada Drummer, written in 1969, offers lively reminiscences of his Dada experiences.