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Friday, 18 December 2009
A Literary Interlude: My Last Duchess (Robert Browning)
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Posted on 12/18/2009 10:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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20 Dec 2009
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Et tu, To?*
 
oopsies - In the sentence containing links (wish I could take a Mulligan here) there are two too many "to"s
 
*  Here deferring to Desmond, who was told by the Nobel Peace Prize committee, "Nobody does that voodoo like you do, Bishop Tutu."


20 Dec 2009
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Last Luciani La Veneziana?
Or: Look At The Harlequin Romance!
Or: A Rude Interlude
Or: Gordon Bennett, Brown & Browning! He's All Over The Map!
Or: Christian Scientists!  They're Everywhere!
Or: Not "Better Than Ezra"
Or: Pound, Off On The Tube
Or: Sloppy Housman
 
While I suspect that the mere mention of VN is enough to make some of NER staff reach for the safety catches of their Brownings, I'll nonetheless register my disappointment that Professor Goggle links My Last Duchess to, not to La Veneziana (which I read a coupla' weeks ago), but, rather, to Look At The Harlequins! (which, natch, I haven't ever looked at).  I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't read La Veneziana except to note that it's less bleak than most of the handful of Nabokov's short stories that I've read and that it's not quite a case of Desire Under The Elms or Oedipus, schmedipus, so long as he loves his step-mother. 
 
Nabokov avoids writing "A thing of beauty is a joy forever" or "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," and instead gives the reader vintage Vladimir in the tale above via "...mad eyes that fluttered and glinted behind his pince nez like limp light-blue butterflies..."  Which is a prettier picture than painted in An Affair of Honor (orig. pub.as Sloppy Seconds* ), a commentary on man's (ahem) duel nature:  A boil excised two years before had left a scar on his left cheek.  This scar, as well as his coarse, cropped mustache and fat Russian nose, would twitch tensely when Anton Petrovich screwed the monocle home.  Perhaps too much is given away by noting that Anton discovers that his wife had screwed his best friend in his (Anton's) home.
 
Upon reading Paul Blaskowicz's  Sorry - but I just have to laugh when I hear the name Oral Roberts.  That, and  a Christian Science practitioner called Jewel Spangler Smaus, some lines from VN's Gods came sprinklingly to mind: Spring air. A little downy. See those lindens lining the street? Black boughs covered with wet green spangles. -Which had themselves earlier summoned up the following famous Haiku by an anti-semitic Ezra not to be confused with the Rabbi tagged above by Hugh: 
 
IN A STATION OF THE METRO
 
          The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
          Petals on a wet, black bough.
 
Which provides a poor excuse for a segue in this more-self-indulgent-than-usual post for once again regurgitating:
 
I think that I shall never see a tree as low as a Burma Shave....

Loveliest of ads the billboard now,
Is hid by leaf and wretched bough-
No longer brightens my commute-
The trees and seas and King Canute.
 
 
 * Sloppy Seconds    See the reply to Petrovich's challenge, "....Your seconds are pretty awful. Berg." and the "reconciliation" with his wife described on the last page.

   



18 Dec 2009
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Last Words
Or: Out Of The Mouths Of Psychoanalysts With Oral Cancer:
      Sieg Heil, Sieg Mund
 
 
Sometimes a cigar is (cough -choke - gasp  - wheeze - rattle) just my last dutchess.
- S. Schlomo Freud