A READING DIARY
I've been trying to get through the works of Gustav Meyrink in the new Dedalus editions, mostly translated by the apparently super-qualified Mike Mitchell.
"The Green Face," written concurrently with "The Golem," seems much more interesting than my first, "The White Dominican" (too much occultiphizing, too little matter), but I've given up because I just can't stand any more of Mitchell's jumblediness and lousy punctuation.
Describing a stuffed sloth in a museum (This is on page 2 of the Dedalus Meyrink Reader; we've barely started.):
"Its tail disappearing in the distant shadows of the corridor and its vital parts, following a request from the minister of education, in the course of being varnished, the pride of the institute, a forty-foot-long crocodile, staring in through the connecting door with its perfidious feline gaze."
I read this sentence ten times and still couldn't make any sense of it. It sounds a bit like Keeler's reverse grammar in "The Monocled Monster," but I understand that.
The one time I get away from Mitchell, in John Clute's introduction to "The White Dominican," it goes right into this wildly pretentious sentence:
"Each stage of [Meyrink's] life had the saturated gluey intensity of dream; and the life as a whole seemed spatchcocked out of legend and sleep, a congeries of psychopomp blurbs."
Well, that contributes to my understanding of Meyrink! He's one of those guys who led a life spatchcocked out of congeries of psychopomp blurbs. I feel that way myself, these days.
If you wish to read Meyrink in English, you simply have to stick with the original translation of "The Golem" by Madge Pemberton, easily found in a Dover edition edited by the late, great E. F. Bleiler.
Let's move on to a good bad writer: Amanda McKittrick Ros. It's even OK to make fun of her, because she was not only an absurd author but a hateful person who devoted her life largely to vituperation. I like her.
"Visiting Westminster Abbey"
Holy Moses! Have a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook!
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer,
Some of whom are turned to dust,
Every one bids lost to lust;
Royal flesh so tinged with 'blue'
Undergoes the same as you.
Famous some were--yet they died;
Kings--Queens, all of them do rot,
What about them? Now--they're not!
Sir John suspects Irene Iddesleigh:
“I was led to believe that your unbounded joy and happiness were never at such a par as when sharing them with me. Was I falsely informed of your ways and worth? Was I duped to ascend the ladder of liberty, the hill of harmony, the tree of triumph, and the rock of regard, and when wildly manifesting my act of ascension, was I to be informed of treading still in the valley of defeat?
“Am I, who for nearly forty years was idolised by a mother of untainted and great Christian bearing, to be treated now like a slave? Why and for what am I thus dealt with?
“Am I to foster the opinion that you treat me thus on account of not sharing so fully in your confidence as it may be, another?
“Or is it, can it be, imaginative that you have reluctantly shared, only shared, with me that which I have bought and paid for fully?
“Can it be that your attention has ever been, or is still, attracted by another, who, by some artifice or other, had the audacity to steal your desire for me and hide it beneath his pillaged pillow of poverty, there to conceal it until demanded with my ransom?
“Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!"
Read Amanda for yourself!