Wednesday, November 27, 2013

unlucky star of the Lemmist school of poets

  "Lemm's appearance didn't work to his advantage . . . He moved laboriously, swinging his ungainly body forward . . . Some of his movements recalled the clumsy actions of an owl in a cage when it senses that it's being looked at but itself can hardly see out of its large, yellow eyes as it blinks fearfully and yet drowsily.  
  Pitiless, prolonged sorrow had laid its indelible stamp on the poor [German music teacher and would-be composer,] distorting and deforming his body, which was by no means attractive to begin with. . . . Lemm might have joined the ranks of the great composers of his fatherland, had his life been different—but he was born under an unlucky star!  He'd written a good deal of music in his day, but he hadn't been destined to see even one of his compositions performed.  He didn't know how to go about things in the right way, how to ingratiate himself in the right places, how to assert himself at the right moment. . . .
  Lemm finally renounced all his hopes, and the years did their work as well: his mind grew as calloused and stiff as his fingers [on the piano keys]. . . ."

As a Lemmist myself, I identify with this pathetic dilettante who comes to life (and death) in Turgenev's novel "A Nest of Gentry"—

from page 345 of The Essential Turgenev (edited/translated by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen):

"Lemm always greeted every new personage in the [provincial Russian] town of O—, whereas he always turned away from his acquaintances on the street—that was the rule he'd made for himself . . ."


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