Jean Lorrain Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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the presence of others has become even more intolerable to me, their conversation most of all. Oh, how it all annoys and exasperates me: their attitudes, their manners, their whole way of being! The people of my world, all my unhappy peers, have come to irritate, oppress and sadden me with their noisy and empty chatter, their monstrous and boundless vanity, their even more monstrous egotism, their club gossip... the endless repetition of opinions already formed and judgments already made; the automatic vomiting forth of articles read in those morning papers which are the recognised outlet of the hopeless wilderness of their ideas; the eternal daily meal of overfamiliar cliches concerning racing stables and the stalls of fillies of the human variety... the hutches of the 'petites femmes' - another worn out phrase in the dirty usury of shapeless expression! Oh my contemporaries, my dear contemporaries... Their idiotic self-satisfaction; their fat and full-blown self-sufficiency: the stupid display of their good fortune; the clink of fifty- and a hundred-franc coins forever sounding out their financial prowess, according their own reckoning; their hen-like clucking and their pig-like grunting, as they pronounce the names of certain women; the obesity of their minds, the obscenity of their eyes, and the toneless-ness of their laughter! They are, in truth, handsome puppets of amour, with all the exhausted despondency of their gestures and the slackness of their chic... Chic! A hideous word, which fits their manner like a new glove: as dejected as undertakers' mutes, as full-blown as Falstaff... Oh my contemporaries: the ceusses of my circle, to put it in their own ignoble argot. They have all welcomed the moneylenders into their homes, and have been recruited as their clients, and they have likewise played host to the fat journalists who milk their conversations for the society columns. How I hate them; how I execrate them; how I would love to devour them liver and lights - and how well I understand the Anarchists and their bombs!

Jean Lorrain
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March 1898 What a strange dream I had last night! I wandered in the warm streets of a port, in the low quarter of some Barcelona or Marseille. The streets were noisome, with their freshly-heaped piles of ordure outside the doors, in the blue shadows of their high roofs. They all led down towards the sea. The gold-spangled sea, seeming as if it had been polished by the sun, could be seen at the end of each thoroughfare, bristling with yard-arms and luminous masts. The implacable blue of the sky shone brilliantly overhead as I wandered through the long, cool and sombre corridors in the emptiness of a deserted district: a quarter which might almost have been dead, abruptly abandoned by seamen and foreigners. I was alone, subjected to the stares of prostitutes seated at their windows or in the doorways, whose eyes seemed to ransack my very soul. They did not speak to me. Leaning on the sides of tall bay-windows or huddled in doorways, they were silent. Their breasts and arms were bare, bizarrely made up in pink, their eyebrows were darkened, they wore their hair in corkscrew-curls, decorated with paper flowers and metal birds. And they were all exactly alike! They might have been huge marionettes, or tall mannequin dolls left behind in panic - for I divined that some plague, some frightful epidemic brought from the Orient by sailors, had swept through the town and emptied it of its inhabitants. I was alone with these simulacra of love, abandoned by the men on the doorsteps of the brothels. I had already been wandering for hours without being able to find a way out of that miserable quarter, obsessed by the fixed and varnished eyes of all those automata, when I was seized by the sudden thought that all these girls were dead, plague-stricken and putrefied by cholera where they stood, in the solitude, beneath their carmine plaster masks... and my entrails were liquefied by cold. In spite of that harrowing chill, I was drawn closer to a motionless girl. I saw that she was indeed wearing a mask... and the girl in the next doorway was also masked... and all of them were horribly alike under their identical crude colouring... I was alone with the masks, with the masked corpses, worse than the masks... when, all of a sudden, I perceived that beneath the false faces of plaster and cardboard, the eyes of these dead women were alive. Their vitreous eyes were looking at me... I woke up with a cry, for in that moment I had recognised all the women. They all had the eyes of Kranile and Willie, of Willie the mime and Kranile the dancer. Every one of the dead women had Kranile's left eye and Willie's right eye... so that every one of them appeared to be squinting. Am I to be haunted by masks now?

Jean Lorrain
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It is said that one of his acquaintances - an old school-friend and a painter as highly-valued and as fashionable as himself - became an idiot in less than two years as a result of frequenting Claudius' studio. Certain cigarettes prepared by Ethal are said to provoke the worst debauchery; and it is said that the young Duchess of Searley was dead in six months, by virtue of having breathed the scent of certain strange and heady flowers in his home, whose peculiar property is to make the skin lustrous and the eyes delectably hollow. According to Tairamond, dangerous elixirs of beauty are offered by Claudius to those who pose for him. The Marchioness of Beacoscome might have died too, if she had not been ordered by her doctors to suspend her sittings. These marvellous flowers which generate pallors and shadowed eyes contain within their perfume, it seems, the germ of consumption. For love of beauty, in his fervour for delicate flesh-tints and expressions swamped with languor, Claudius Ethal would poison his models! Tairamond also asked me if I had seen Ethal wearing a certain emerald mounted in a ring, whose green depths contain a poison so powerful that a single drop on the lips of a man would suffice to strike him down. Ethal has allegedly tested that frightful glaucous death two or three times, before witnesses, on dogs. Cantharidian cigarettes, opium pipes, venomous flowers, Far-Eastern poisons and murderous rings... I knew nothing about any of this. Ethal has never breathed a word of it to me. The tales which Tairamond told gave me entry into a fearful and dismal legend. The corrupter and perverter of ideas that I already knew him to be was overtaken by a new image: he was, definitively, a poisoner: an impish master of every kind of venom.

Jean Lorrain
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The Marquis de V... - whose falsetto voice and little watery eyes I have always detested - was saying to me with a wicked smile: 'Then again, the master gymnast might break his neck at any moment. What he is doing now is very dangerous, my dear, and the pleasure you take in his performance is the little frisson that danger affords you. Wouldn't it be thrilling, if his sweaty hand failed to grip the bar? The velocity acquired by his rotation about the bar would break his spine quite cleanly, and perhaps a little of the cervical matter might spurt out as far as this! It would be most sensational, and you would have a rare emotion to add to the field of your experience - for you collect emotions, don't you? What a pretty stew of terrors that man in tights stirs up in us! 'Admit that you almost wish that he will fall! Me too. Many others in the auditorium are in the same state of attention and anguish. That is the horrible instinct of a crowd confronted with a spectacle which awakens in it the ideas of lust and death. Those two agreeable companions always travel together! Take it from me that at the very same moment - see, the man is now holding on to the bar by his fingertips alone - at the very same moment, a good number of the women in these boxes are ardently lusting after that man, not so much for his beauty as for the danger he courts.' The voice subtly changed its tone, suddenly becoming more interested. 'You have singularly pale eyes this evening, my dear Freneuse. You ought to give up bromides and take valerian instead. You have a charming and curious soul, but you must take command of its changes. You are too ardently and too obviously covetous, this evening, of the death - or at least the fall - of that man.' I did not reply. The Marquis de V... was quite right. The madness of murder had taken hold of me again; the spectacle had me in its hallucinatory grip. Straitened by a penetrating and delirious anguish, I yearned for that man to fall. There are appalling depths of cruelty within me.

Jean Lorrain
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