In it, Ray writes that he's presenting the details of a memoir entitled The Confession of a White Widowed Male written by a literary scholar of mixed European ethnicity who died recently in an American jail of heart disease while awaiting his murder trial. The memoir's author uses the pseudonym Humbert Humbert to refer to himself in the manuscript.
A writer finds on some dusty shelf on the third-and-a-half floor of the Strand the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, a volume of playful limericks by Simone Weil, or a collection of macabre fairy tales by Fran Lebowitz.
The synopsis on the back of this edition, which looked like it was laminated and bound at a Staples, read: I was beside myself at what I only assumed was my great fortune.
Before I dove into the book, however, I looked a bit into the history of Josefine, as it is often called. As it turns out, Josefine has a storied provenance.
It was published anonymously—Salten never officially claimed authorship—inand caused an immediate stir amongst the rarefied circles of Vienna. Over the course of its lifetime, it has sold more than 3 million copies and been translated into at least ten languages, though little by way of critical writing about it can be found.
The book has spawned parodies, pornos, plays, and even a few university courses. Another edition, released inwas again added to the Index due to its lighthearted treatment of rape, incest, and prostitution. Because the book is in the public domain, searching for it on Amazon will result in a number of editions from unheard-of publishing houses—the edition that I happened upon, which is riddled with typos and contains three pages of a completely unrelated text, was published by the Olympia Press, which also makes available such monuments to erotica as Adam and Two Eves, Carnal Prayer Mat, and The Temple of Pederasty, all available to download from their website.
Like a nymphomaniac version of St. Therese of Lisieux, Pepi feels upon her first consensual sexual encounter—an orgy with her older brother and two neighbor children—the stirrings of a higher calling. What follows is a detached narrative of a years-long sexual escapade that very rarely I cannot stress this enough breaks for descriptive prose or an emotional pronouncement.
When she goes to confession after a brief period of introspection, the priest tells her that simulating a carnal act with a man of God will ensure her salvation.
The experience of reading it reminded me of a recent night out at a large, chichi nightclub in New York City. The DJ was quite possibly epileptic, as he would play a song for twenty seconds, scratch the record, and then move on to the next song.
Was he actually ignorant of feminine pleasure and the art of subtlety? And how could that be, given that he was the talented and versatile author of a beloved classic that, in Disney-form at the very least, has been a formative piece of art for children for generations?
Salten was born Siegmund Salzmann in and grew up, like Pepi, in a Viennese slum. He was one of six children born to Jewish parents in a Vienna that was both a center of culture and a hotbed of anti-Semitic sentiment.
Though Salten is not a household name——at least, on this side of the Atlantic——his literary canon is impressive. He wrote novellas, opera librettos, plays, art and theater criticism, Zionist speeches and pamphlets, and what can only be called the Victorian era equivalent of celebrity gossip.
He was best known in the Viennese literary world as a feuilletonist, or a writer of blithe, superficial criticism, but, as the success, commercial and critical, of Bambi—the book is complex, frightening, and tender in a way that makes the Disney version look like Kundera-defined kitsch—and a few other works prove, he was also entirely capable of producing meaty, fervent writing when sufficiently compelled.
So why would a man who possessed such gifts stoop to such a torrid level? InDavid Rakoff published an essay in Tablet Magazine in which he theorized that Salten saw himself as a creature akin to Pepi: Man of Many Faces, one will find a lot of evidence that backs up and expands upon this theory.
Eddy describes Salten as cagey, socially and professionally ambitious and quick to compartmentalize, a writer who was both dismissive of his opponents and yet professionally savvy enough to use a pseudonym when he suspected certain works would not be critically embraced. All his acquaintances, including his good friend Arthur Schnitzler, the other candidate suspected of penning Josefine, regularly decried him as two-faced and devoid of substance.
In Josefine, this exit from Eden comes when she begins to prostitute herself. The Memoirs of Josefine Mutzenbacher closes with her apathetic summation of love: They do the pushing, and we are being pushed—that is the only difference. But life still goes on. Hitler banned all of his books in and, while Salten was luckier than many of his fellow Jews, he was finally forced out of Vienna—and the society he had strived so hard to join—innever to return to the pastoral Austrian countryside he so loved.INT.
WELTON ACADEMY HALLWAY - DAY A young boy, dressed in a school uniform and cap, fidgets as his mother adjusts his tie. MOTHER Now remember, keep your shoulders back.
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Just banged a girl with horses for the first time last week. Is in her last year of vet school is going to come out $k in debt. Still get rent checks from mommy and daddy at CYNTHIA BOND is a New York Times Best-Selling Author. Her novel RUBY was chosen to be an Oprah Book Club selection.
RUBY was also a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and an Indie Next Pick. Blac Chyna is getting a whole lot of criticism on social media for promoting and selling a whitening cream that is meant to bleach skin in Nigeria. After the first To All The Boys I've Loved Before teaser trailer was released, I don't even think I got through the entire clip before I downloaded the book.I then proceeded to read the trilogy twice in one weekend.
Some of you are probably yelling at me that you BEEN knew about Jenny Han.