Carl Van Vechten
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I have just read Carl Van Vechten's 'The Blind Bow Boy' and if this isn't a minor decadent classic I dont know what is: Huysmans references (tick), drug references (tick), nudity (tick), opulent clothes/perfumes/room descriptions (tick), campness (tick), quotes in French (tick), far eastern houseboys (tick).
Its great fun and a good read. I review it (as I am reviewing all the books I read nowadays) on Goodreads. here is the Van Vechten one:
I gave it four stars.
Do we have a Van Vechten expert in our midst?
Has anybody read any of his other novels? Recommendations?
Vechten references a number of other books and authors in the text, obvious ones like Huysmans and Firbank but also more obscure ones (to me at least!) such as "plays by Luigi Pirandello, tales by Dopo Kunikida, poems by the Welsh poet, Ab Gwilym, 'Jesus-la-Caille' by Francis Carco, Las Sonatas by Del Valle Inclan...Andre Salmon’s 'La Negresse du Sacre Coeur'
Has anyone read any of these? Opinions?
Questions questions, and a new topic to ruminate over- if we can bestir ourselves from our heads to our keyboards.
REGARDS to you all in these strange times!
Carco's 'Jesus-la-Caille' was translated as Frenzy. It's an early example of pulp noir crime fiction. Most of Carco's works fall in the same category. Lots of drug dealers and prostitutes, but of actual drugs and sex, very little. No masterpieces, but somewhat entertaining and very "bohemian".
The Valle Inclan works are available as Spring and Summer Sonatas and Autumn and Winter Sonatas. They didn't move me so much, but they're considered prime examples of Spanish Symbolism.
Pirandello was an early existentialist and exponent of metafictional narratives. Reminiscent of Samuel Beckett's work. His dramas are fairly well known and widely available.
'La Negresse du Sacre Coeur' is a paean to black women. A subject Van Vechten was familiar with.
I'll have to become much more wealthy to get my hands on a copy of the only englished version of Doppo Kunikida's stories River Mist and Other Stories, but they sound fascinating.
Hope all are well... was thinking, lazily, of beginning a topic on plague themed art and literature.
thanks for your full reply.
'The Tattooed Countess' is now firmly on my radar and River mist is available on free here
Doppo is here for free...
The Age of Flowers is new to me as well. Luckily these strange days give me plenty of reading time!
Should you begin a plague thread I recommend Stefan Eggelers portfolio titled 'Die Seuche der Pestilenz' (1919) but then I recommend Eggeler to everyone...
>5 Siderealpress: I'm no fan of ebooks, but looks like no choice with Doppo. Thanks for the link. Is there a widespread plague literature/art movement I'm unfamiliar with? If not, I suppose one will be starting in the coming months....
A good question. I'm not aware of a 'movement' as such, though I guess there is plenty of dystopian literature (Ballard springs to mind) and we have the racist 'yellow peril' (didn't Fu Manchu have a diabolical germ thing in a book?), lots of memento-mori/apocalyptic material in terms of images some of which must portray death as a plague carrier. I did very recently see Viennas monument to the plague (at the same time I saw the Eggeler). I can imagine there is a deep p'it to dig into. I'm not on facebook or such things but surely someone is compiling a collection as I type this.
If you compile even a short list you could start a new thread- that'll be two new ones in a week. Whoo-hoo!
I have just posted my review of Van Vechtens 'The Tattooed Countess' here:
Its not really 'our' territory but a light piece of amusement none the less.
Peter Whiffle is next on my list. Gawd bless the net...
its better than 'The Tattooed Countess' probably (just about) 3 stars and yes there is a long section on Machen.
Oddly I was reading it at the same time as Ray Russell was posting his Youtube series on collecting Arthur Machen. Check em out here (they are great- amazing copies):
and he showed the book (I think its part 5) I'm read mine on-line and it seems it is the second edition that had the photos.
I'll be starting 'Parties' next...
I have just posted my review of 'Peter Whiffle' here:
I gave it two stars. Its interesting as a debut, I think Van Vechten is staking his territory out a bit, as it is different to the others of his I have read which are more observational.
I have also now read 'Parties' which I thought quite bleak, but a fuller review will be forthcoming over the weekend.
late (again) to the parti(es) but I have just posted my review of it here:
the bottom line being that flawed but overall ok.
Now; a question!
What does anybody know of Vechtens relationship with Alastair (Henning Voigt) the decadent illustrator? I do know that he wrote an intro for a book of his work but how extensive was their relationship? Any info gratefully received. Thanks!
A copy of 50 drawings is hopefully en route to me.
I might peer at the letters, it seems as if Van V could have met Alistair via people like the Crosbys but you would think that once met you'ld remember (and say so) I'm always intrigued by these odd possible links.
Afterthought: The letters of Hart Crane or Archibald MacLeish may be promising, as well.
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