Sunday, May 24, 2015

Self-Published Greatest Masterpieces of the 20th Century

In a 1966 National Educational Television network interview, Nabokov opined that the "greatest masterpieces of twentieth-century prose are, in this order: Joyce's Ulysses; Kafka's Transformation; Bely's St. Petersburg; and the first half of Proust's fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time." 

Coincidentally, Ulysses and In Search of Lost Time were self-published. Joyce and Proust weren't the only famous novelists to self-publish. For example, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound and Mark Twain, to name a very few, were self-published as well. 

In some cases you could have a publisher/distributor but no money for printing like in the case of Henry Miller who needed Ana├»s Nin to finance the printing of Tropic of Cancer.

Therefore, if you're having a hard time finding an agent and/or publisher you may consider joining the ranks of some very well-known self-published novelists and poets

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Proust Recommends The Charming Bounce Back Technique

To be a charismatic conversationalist Cabane recommends in The Charisma Myth that one use the Bounce Back Technique. The idea of the technique is to keep the conversation on the other person because people will find you charismatic if you allow them to talk about themselves. Many people make the mistake of hijacking conversations. 

For example, if someone volunteers, "I went to L.A. for the weekend." 

Don't respond, "I went to L.A. about two weeks ago too. I went to visit my sister. There was so much smog there. And so much traffic. But we went to a really nice..."

It's better to respond with questions like, "Oh, how was it?" "Why did you go there?" "How 
long were you there?"

Here's The Bounce Back Technique:

  1. Answer a query with a fact
  2. Add a personal note
  3. Redirect the query back to the questioner

Question: "So, where are you moving to?"
Response: "To the East Village.[Fact] I need a lot of noise outside of my window to concentrate. [Personal note] Do you need silence to write? [Redirect]

And Botton relates in How Proust Can Change Your Life that Proust suggests that to be a good friend, one must keep the conversation on the other person.

Proust was of the understanding that one shouldn't assume that others are interested in his interests but that one should ask questions to avoid boring the listener. 

To be tactful, Proust recommends that one look to please others in his conversations by having them elaborate on their interests. And that one should abdicate his interests. 

Proust even opined that, ironically, the best friends are those that scorn friendships. Botton interprets Proust's position by writing that people who scorn friendships:

  • have more realistic expectations of "friendships"
  • avoid talking at length about themselves because they would rather avoid placing their life's in the fleeting and superficial medium of conversations
  • feel that "friendships" are a means to learn about others - not lecture
  • appreciate other's susceptibilities; thus, they feel that there is a need to show false amiability

Therefore, to be charming, tactful and a good "friend", one should use the Bound Back Technique in conversations. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Write for Pleasure, Publish for Money

Lolita and Mr. Girodias
by Vladimir Nabokov

According to Nabokov, Mr. Girodias of Olympia Press agreed to pay him "an advance of 400,000 "anciens" francs (about a thousand dollars)" for Lolita. The first half of the advance was one month late, but after Nabokov grew impatient waiting for the second half, he wrote to Mr. Girodias, "I write for my pleasure, but publish for money." (Evergreen Review)

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Use of Double Entendre in LOLITA and Shakespeare

I was reading the journal article A Filthy Look at Shakespeare's "Lolita" by Eric Naiman in an effort to study Nabokov's use of hidden meanings within Lolita. For example, upon the first reading one may miss the double-entendre in the following line from Lolita .

"My life was handled by little Lo in an energetic, matter-of-fact manner as if it were an insensate gadget unconnected with me."

It turns out that the French word for the sex organ (vit) is a homonym of the word for life. And if you consider that Lolita was twelve when she handled Humbert's life, the word life could be considered a double double-entendre. 

Rowe's Nabokov's Deceptive World has an entire chapter and an appendix devoted to Nabokov's use of sexual deception (i.e., sexual double entente). For example, Lolita wrote the following in a letter to her mother and Humbert from camp:

I [crossed out and re-written again] I lost my new sweater in the woods.(p. 76) [Nabokov's brackets.]

The reader gains the knowledge on page 98 that "sweater" is a reference to 12-year-old Lolita's virginity. The initial reference is to Lolita's "virgin wool sweater" and the subsequent reference is to Lo's virginity which she lost to Charlie in the woods at camp. 

But that's not all! Nabokov draws the reader's attention to the letter "I" by writing it once, crossing it out and writing it again. It turns out that "I" and "eye" are references to the "female sexual symbol".

Gently I pressed my quivering sting along her rolling salty eyeball. "Good-goody," she said nictating

Nabokov used the same literary technique that was used by Shakespeare which is spelled out in Eric Partridge's book Shakespeare's Bawdy. Here's an example of Shakespeare's use of double-entendre in the poem "Venus and Adonis":

‘Fondling,’ she saith, ‘since I have hemm’d thee here  
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I’ll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer;  
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale:  
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,  
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.  
‘Within this limit is relief enough,  
Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain,  
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough,  
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain:  
Then be my deer, since I am such a park;  
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.’  

The bold (pun intended) words are defined below:

park - the female body regarded as a domain where a lover may freely roam
deer - figuratively used of man and woman in reference to sexual activities. Possibly influenced by the homophone, (one's) dear or darling. 
mountain - pleasant eminences: breasts, buttocks, and thighs
dale - valley between breasts
fountain - breasts
bottom-grass - the hair growing in and about the crutch [i.e., pubic hair]
plain - belly 
hillock - buttocks
brakes - pubic hair

Why didn't we learn about Shakespeare's bawdy in high school? According to Partridge, Shakespeare's works were bowdlerized prior to the 1960s. 

And if that isn't interesting enough, what about the fact that Adonis was born of an incestuous relationship between Myrrha, a young nubile girl (i.e, nymphet), and Cinyras, her father. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Was Michael Jordan Like d'Annunzio, Beethoven and Mozart?

Recently, I was in a hotel on Michael Jordan's birthday and ESPN was running a tribute to the great basketball player. In one of the segments Matt Doherty, Jordan's former teammate at the University of North Carolina, implied that Jordan's greatness was inherited from birth and that no matter how hard another basketball player worked, he couldn't achieve Jordan's stature. Needless to say, I was infuriated by Doherty's comments, because Jordan became a great basketball player through hard work. 

But Doherty is no anomaly in this instance. It is common for commoners to believe that great people were born great. For example, Shenk relates in The Genius in All of Us that people believed that Beethoven and Mozart could see music when they were born. But "[i]n truth, their ability to "see" music came only after years of intensive work-and in Beethoven's case, after horrific abuse. 

Even in fiction great people have to work hard to do well. A protagonist in Nabokov's The Gift was a very hard worker and a focused writer who avoided wasting time:

He worked so feverishly, smoked so much and slept so little that the impression he produced was almost frightening: skinny, nervy, his gaze at once blear and piercing, his hands shaky, his speech jerky and distracted (on the other hand he never suffered from headache and naively boasted of this as a mark of a healthy mind). His capacity for work was monstrous, as was, for that matter, that of most Russian critics of the last century. To his secretary Studentski, a former seminarist from Saratov, he dictated a translation of Schlosser's history and in between, while the latter was taking it down, he himself would go on writing an article for The Contemporary or would read something, making notes in the margins.

And how about Gabriele d'Annunzio who was arguably the greatest Italian poet of all time? Here's an excerpt from Hughes-Hallet biography. It exemplifies how d'Annunzio was a hard worker even as an adolescent:

I was infuriated by Doherty's comments, because it gives the impression that greatness comes from birth and cannot be achieved through hard work, self-confidence, and self-efficacy or through charisma as Cabane summed up in The Charisma Myth.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Much of social media can be a waste of time for a writer; however, if one is careful and very picky some jewels can be discovered. I would recommend that a writer follow Jon Winokur's Twitter @AdvicetoWriters . The tweets are advice from established writers and can be very inspiring and beneficial. Some example tweets are below:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Allure of Nymphets 2nd Edition Books

These are (most of) the books that will be included in the 2nd edition of The Allure of Nymphets. The book will have at least 100 additional pages and it's projected to be released during the early part of the first quarter of 2015. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Librettist Da Ponte's 16-Year-Old Mistress and Muse for DON GIOVANNI

I wrote about Don Giovanni (1787) on The Allure of Nymphets blog because, Giovanni is an ephebophile. A lot is known about Mozart, the opera's composer, but outside of opera snobs, Lorenzo Da Ponte, the opera's librettist, may not be as well known . 

Writers may benefit from what was culled from Memoirs Lorenzo Da Ponte concerning Da Ponte's writing process:

  • Like Nabokov, who worked on Eugene Onegin for over 12 hours per day, Da Ponte wrote "for over twelve hours continuous".
  • Balzac often wrote for over 12 hours per day as well, while drinking fifty cups of Turkish coffee; however, Da Ponte preferred "a bottle of Tokay to my right," but he drank coffee as well. 
  • According to Currey's Daily Rituals How Artists Work, Thomas Mann "smoked while writing, but limited himself to twelve cigarettes and two cigars daily"; however, Da Ponte preferred Seville snuff. 
  • And like the writers I referred to in The Allure of Nymphets, 38-year-old Da Ponte was an ephebophile and used his 16-year-old mistress as a source of inspiration while writing Don Giovanni, which shouldn't be surprising when one considers that Giovanni had an "... outstanding passion is the youthful beginner....provided she wears a skirt." 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

An Artist is Above Social Classes

The protagonist in Edmund Wilson's "The Princess with the Golden Hair" which can be found in Memoirs of Hecate County said, "[Artists] didn't worry about their social position because the life that an artist leads is outside all the social positions. The artist makes his own position, which is about the nearest thing you can get to being above the classes."

And when an artist 
like the poet, Lucien Chardon, in Balzac's Lost Illusions doesn't realize this point, he may end up in unfortunate circumstances. 

(The readers of The Allure of Nymphets blog may find it interesting to know that Wilson and Nabokov were friends until they got into a fray over Nabokov's translation of Eugene Onegin.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Nocturnal" an Overachievers Battle with Slumber

I quoted former prestigious Stuyvesant high school principal Teitel who used to tell his incoming freshmen, "Grades [i.e. any creative project.], friends, and sleep—choose two."

After reading Gardner's Creating Minds and Mason Currey's Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, I learned that a number of overachievers like Picasso sleep very little compared to the average person. 

Not only did the Paris Review reveal that Nabokov worked on the translation and commentary of Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse for over 17 hours per day, I recently read in Boyd's Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years that Nabokov slept approximately four hours per day. 

Lastly, according to a New York magazine profile, James Franco gets very little sleep and Franco fittingly wrote the poem "Nocturnal" in his poetry book Directing Herbert White about his battle with slumber, which I'm confident that a lot of other overachievers could relate to.