Memoirs of Montparnasse

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In , a young Canadian named John Glassco set out for Paris with his best friend. The two set out to explore all that the city had to offer: the cafes, bars, and brasseries that the Americans of A great memoir of a misspent youth, and of Paris in that wonderful time between the wars, when the city was the world capital of art and sex and adventure.

The author fled from Canada to Montmartre in Memoirs of Montparnasse.

A GENTLEMAN OF PLEASURE

John Glassco. Much of the feeling in these lines is communicated in the final text, pp. One wonders whether the louring Hector MacSween MOM , ; ; , clearly a fictional creation, is Glassco's revenge on his victorious rival. Quayle figure, though other characters from the last part of the book, like the Princess of Sarawak, are included.

Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco - AbeBooks

This plan anticipates much that eventually made its way into the manuscript, but also mentions several episodes that were never written up, including an extended homosexual affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, and briefer sexual encounters with Jean Cocteau and A. At this stage of sketching his ideas, Glassco tended to use real names. One comes on this tantalizing sentence: "I go into keeping with Mrs.

Mary Warfield [crossed out; "Porterhouse" substituted] for a week. She has money from her husband, who is getting a divorce from her. This excites her so much that I succeed in sleeping with her that night for the first time.


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We decide to go to Spain summer , where P. I develop t. The persistence of Mrs.

Montparnasse Bienvenüe / Jeune Femme (2017) - Trailer (English Subs)

Warfield-Peggy R. Porterhouse-Quayle through two stages of planning, the manuscript and the final text argues for some factual basis to the character, although only the outcome of the affair is repeated in the same way through each stage of composition. The Mrs. Quayle figure appears to be a conflation of two women, the bluestocking Mrs. Warfield, and the fatal Peggy R. I have not been able to find any references to Mary Warfield or Roland Hayes in the memoirs of the period, but there must have been a few individuals in Paris who existed without being made into autobiographical literature.

It must by now be evident that the character who, in the manuscript, allowed himself to be smelled by Mrs. Porterfield and walloped Stanley, is not exactly the same person as the protagonist of the Memoirs. In his excellent article, John Lauber chose to refer to the protagonist of the Memoirs as Buffy, the author as Glassco. Now that the existence of the manuscript is known, I propose to play the same game under different rules, by identifying the manuscript character as Buffy; the character in the finished Memoirs will be Glassco. Buffy may be distinguished from Glassco by his eager participation in a wider variety of sexual activities.

In the final text, Glassco does visit a brothel, write pornographic fiction, work as a male prostitute, and pose for pornographic pictures. The atmosphere of the Memoirs is racy enough. The supplementary practices Buffy engages in nevertheless produce a considerable difference in tone. The revised Memoirs are a strange but cleverly contrived blend of intensely literary conversation and the theory and practice of hedonism. In the main text of the manuscript some literary scenes are later inserts , the proportion of literary dialogue is somewhat less, and the sexual episodes sometimes have the air of pornography.

The characterization of the two protagonists is not what one might expect, in view of the differences in the narrative just outlined. It is the Glassco of the Memoirs whom one might associate in spirit with the Rajah of the pornographic film shown in Nice MOM , Glassco has his moments of anguished feeling, particularly in the final chapters, but on the whole we are shown his "grinning face" MOM , , lapping up sensual pleasures without much introspection or contemplation. Buffy is allowed to exhibit a wider range of emotion. On balance, he is the more attractive as well as the more complex character the complexity of the creator of these two personas goes without saying.

His passion for Daphne 4, is expressed more powerfully than in the final text. He thinks of marrying Mrs. Glassco's hostile feelings about his father are fully stated in the Memoirs , but the manuscript contains two passages of equal bitterness about his mother that are not found in the final version. Comparing himself to McAlmon, the narrator in this instance giving his thoughts in hospital congratulates himself because "my mother never cared for me, thank God" 6, Thus he is spared that "spurious pumped-up sympathy of one's closest blood-relation" 6, Reflecting on the useless lives of the rich, Buffy focuses on his mother's occasional thought about her "unwanted son oh Archie, couldn't you control yourself?

Paris in the spring

In the final text of the Memoirs , Glassco is simply glad to join McAlmon when the latter returns to Paris. Unreflectingly, he enjoys the comforts of a well-heated apartment and of good food, though his former employer in the male prostitution trade remarks, without precise knowledge, that "he goes into keeping" MOM , The more sensitive Buffy is alloted two pages of manuscript to express "a certain discomfort" he feels "over my situation as a kept boy" 6, The Glassco of the final text most of the time wears the mask McAlmon took to be the real person: "He was then eighteen, and much the oldest, most ironic, and disillusioned of the three of us.

In a rage, she threw a stein of beer at McAlmon and hit Buffy instead with the beer, not the glass : "in the moment before I rushed out into the Boulevard Montparnasse I saw Buffy put his head down on the bar and cry. Not surprisingly, Glassco does not tell this story in either version of the Memoirs , but the vulnerability it reveals is certainly present in the manuscript's Buffy. Perhaps it was this aspect of his protagonist that Glassco eventually came to dislike.

In the "Note" just mentioned, Glassco tells himself that "everything related in it [the manuscript] is circumstantially true. This is a principle Glassco consistently maintained. A draft describing his affair with Daphne is condemned with the curt annotation: "Cancel all this. True, but not interesting. Conversely, Frank Harris's autobiography is lavishly praised as the work of an "inspired liar" MOM , Clearly, Glassco's views are both characteristic of his temperament, and also self-serving, but they do raise a legitimate question about the nature of autobiography.

To what extent do we permit an autobiographer "to impose a narrative form on everything that has happened," as Glassco delicately puts it MOM , 4 , before calling him either a liar or a novelist?

This question involves two separable, though inter-related issues. The wider problem is the relationship of autobiography to fiction. In dealing with Memoirs of Montparnasse , one must also weigh the value to be attached to a professedly autobiographical work which chooses to give little heed to literal truth. It is often claimed that no absolute and persuasive distinction can be made between autobiography and fiction. Critical studies bearing the titles The Forms of Autobiography 31 and Figures of Autobiography 32 have included extended discussions of such works as David Copperfield which is analyzed in both volumes , The Scarlet Letter and The Mill on the Floss.

Though Spengemann, in The Forms of Autobiography , laments that "what was once a rather clearly demarcated territory. Efforts to claim a unique character for autobiography are often founded both on the author's handling of his material and on the reader's response to what he accepts as autobiography.

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"GLASSCO, MEMOIRS OF MONTPARNASSE AND AMERICAN MODERNISM: AN ATTEMPT TO (RE)DEFINE THE CANON"

Francis R. Hart grants that "seeking to be history, autobiography must be fictive. In understanding fiction one seeks an imaginative grasp of another's meaning; in understanding personal history one seeks an imaginative comprehension of another's historic identity. One has no obligation to a fantasy. Barret J. Mandel similarly directs attention to the autobiographer's responsibility, and the reader's expectation:.

At every moment of any true autobiography I do not speak of autobiographical novels the author's intention is to convey the sense that "this has happened to me". Despite the autobiographer's use of fiction techniques, the intention itself always speaks through very clearly. Readers turn to autobiography to satisfy a need for verifying a fellow human being's experience of reality. They achieve satisfaction when they feel strongly that the book is true to the experience of the author. The most widely accepted attempt to base a definition of autobiography upon the interaction of author and reader is Philippe Lejeune's postulation of "le pacte autobiographique," a contract established by the author's indication, on the title page or elsewhere, that he is indeed writing an autobiography.

Critics who admit that fiction and autobiography have much in common, yet who wish to find a specific place for autobiography, have sometimes been inclined to state that a whole spectrum of possibilities exists, ranging from fact-oriented memoir to the fiction of pure fantasy.

This tendency can be traced to Northrop Frye, who observed in The Anatomy of Criticism that "autobiography is another form which merges with the novel by a series of insensible gradations. Yet it is clear to every reader that, however autobiographical a work it may be, Tales's aim is the exercise of the imagination rather than the communication of autobiographical truth. If it were to be discovered that Lawrence Garber did not have the experiences ascribed to "Garber," one's estimate of the book would be unchanged.


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  8. The falsity contained in Memoirs of Montparnasse does inevitably affect any judgment of Glassco's work, in one way or another. Such is the admirable tolerance of contemporary criticism that revelations of massive fictionalization may actually serve to raise an autobiographer's reputation. William L. Howarth has given the name of "dramatic autobiography" to those works which are "a puzzling mixture of fakery and truth. We may call it fiction or fraud, but its artistic value is real. Avrom Fleishman praises "a wide audience of modern readers" because, unlike literalist critics, "it welcomes displays of fictionality" 43 in autobiography.