Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Genius and Love

The last time I wrote about Theodore Dreiser's “The Genius” (July 4th), Eugene Witla was romantically involved with two young women, Angela Blue and Ruby Kenny, at the same time. Because, unlike with Ruby, Angela didn't yield herself to Eugene, he found this particularly titillating. As a result, Angela slowly gained the ascendancy over Ruby for Eugene's affections.

Angela was hoping Eugene would offer her his hand in marriage, for her situation was getting to be desperate. She was five years older than Eugene, nearing thirty – the age when she would be in danger of becoming forever an Old Maid.

While Eugene liked romance, he wasn't big on marriage. Angela, realising that if she was to hold on to Eugene she would have to yield herself to him, accordingly did. Then she said to him in so many words that if she couldn't be married, so to be left on the shelf as an Old Maid, she would drown herself in a lake.

Being not totally devoid of conscience, Eugene promised to marry Angela. First, though, he planned to move to New York City where there were more opportunities for him as an artist. Once established there, he would send for Angela and they would marry.

However, in New York City, Eugene met young women, like Miriam Finch and Christine Channing, who, through their sophistication and erudition, made Angela seem to him a country bumpkin.

Nonetheless, and with a heavy heart, Eugene eventually did send for Angela, and they were married. Then they moved to Paris for a short while.

Angela was the very model of a selfless wife. She took care of all the household duties, thereby freeing Eugene to devote all his time to his painting.
.....Only at night when there were no alien sights and sounds to engage his attention, when not even his art could come between them, and she could draw him into her arms and submerge his restless spirit in the tides of her love did she feel his equal – really worthy of him.

These transports which came with the darkness or with the mellow light of the little oil lamp that hung in chains from the ceiling near their wide bed, or in the faint freshness of dawn with the birds cheeping from the one tree of the little garden below – were to her at once utterly generous and profoundly selfish. She had eagerly absorbed Eugene's philosophy of self-indulgent joy where it concerned themselves – all the more readily as it coincided with her own vague ideas and her own hot impulses.

Angela had come to marriage through years of self-denial, years of bitter longing for the marriage that perhaps would never be, and out of these years she had come to the marriage bed with a cumulative and intense passion.

Without any knowledge either of the ethics or physiology of sex, except as pertained to her state as a virgin, she was vastly ignorant of marriage itself; the hearsay of girls, the unequivocal confessions of newly-married women, and the advice of her elder sister had left her almost as ignorant as before, and now she explored its mysteries with abandon, convinced that the unrestrained gratification of passion was normal and excellent........

Beginning with their life in the studio in Washington Square, and continuing with even greater fervour now in Paris, there was what might be described as a prolonged riot of indulgence between them, bearing no relation to any necessity in their natures, and certainly none to the demands which Eugene's intellectual and artistic tasks laid upon him. She was to Eugene astonishing and delightful; and yet perhaps not so much delightful as astonishing.......”

Could “Fifty Shades of Grey” do better?

Can we even wonder why “The Genius”, shortly after being published, was Banned, and could only be re-published several years afterwards?

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