The Snow White Tigress -by Mike Steeden

Don’t miss this interview of Mike and review of his book by Resa.

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ADULT

FICTION SET IN REALITY( WWII – London & Paris)

SEXUAL CONTENT (Integral)

My words are in blue. Mike’s words are in black italics.

“Frenchie”sobriquet forthe French Resistance hero of this tale, is one kick ass martial arts fighter. She can kill a nazi in the blink of an eye. She uses guns, knives and her head. Her head has two uses; thinking and butting. Fearless, she will use her sexuality, in more ways than one.

Sex born of choice, no matter one’s sexual persuasion, is nobody’s business but theirs. Yet, when the ‘I own the world’ male of the species hold sway: women young, old and in-between beware! Those male scum bag’s brawn trumps feminine delicacy and brains. It’s been that way ever since poor Eve copped the blame for tempting a namby-pamby Adam in the supposed Eden. The Nazi’s history in that regard is…

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Vita Sackville-West and Virgina Woolf

Vita Sackville-West had many lovers. Virginia Woolf was but one.

An English author and garden designer as well as a successful novelist, poet, and journalist, prolific letter writer and diarist, Vita would describe her onetime lover and lifelong friend as “the loveliest mind and spirit” she ever knew and “a loss which can never diminish.”

“I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia…It is incredible how essential to me you have become,” she wrote to the novelist in 1926. A popular writer herself Sackville-West proclaimed her love for Woolf during the most intense years of their romantic relationship in the 1920’s. Both married to men, they penned hundreds of poetic love letters to one another and their affair inspired Woolf’s most celebrated work Orlando in 1928.

In an eighty page autobiography-cum-confessional discovered in the tower of Sissinghurst castle (purchased in 1930 with her husband Harold Nicolson where they maintained a happy if unconventional marriage) she writes that her mother called her “ugly” and told her she could not bear looking at her. Later in life she withdrew into the solitude of her garden.

Nicolson Wrote in his novel Portrait of a Marriage, “she was always in love. I do not know of any moment in her life when she was not longing to see or hear from the only person who could satisfy that longing”.

Portrait of a Marriage
Early Bird Books
Time.com

Written by Vita to Virginia Wolfe
Milan [posted in Trieste]
Thursday, January 21, 1926

I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this—But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it …

Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.

V.

GLS219806
GLS219806 Lady with a Red Hat (oil on canvas) by Strang, William (1859-1921); 102.9×77.5 cm; Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove, Glasgow, Scotland; (add.info.: portrait of Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) poet, novelist and gardener; created the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, England; wife of Harold Nicholson (1886-1968) diplomat, author and politician); © Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums); Scottish, out of copyright

Keep The Aspidistra Flying

aspidistra

The aspidistra is a hardy long-lived houseplant popular in the oil and gas lit Victorian era and still common in the middle class homes of George Orwell’s time. The comedienne Gracie Fields recorded a  song called “Biggest Aspidistra in the World” due to its virtual indestructibility and a nod to its ubiquity in undistinguished English homes.  Orwell uses the plant to symbolize and spoof the mediocrity of pedestrian patriotism adapting the expression “Keep the flag flying” or “up with the middle class”.

Gordon Comstock comes from a decent but impoverished background. He received an adequate education and knows the literary canon as well as all the contemporary writers most of whom he holds in disdain. Fully realizing he is a minor literary talent with one barely noticed little book of poems to his name he gives up a promising career as a copywriter to manifest his contempt for the money cult and its perversions.
His pretentious badge of honor descends into bitterness and anti-social behavior. Eschewing every luxury as a snob in reverse he harbors envy toward those who enjoy them. Professing “no room for ambition, no effort, no hope,” he pokes at his poetry, a life deteriorating from one day to the next, even as family and girlfriend Rosemary attempt to redeem him.

At one point Comstock and Rosemary are on the verge of intimacy for the first time but she refuses when he won’t use contraception. He rants “ When you say you can’t have a baby  you mean you dare not because I’ve got no money and we would starve”.

In scenes like this Comstock shows himself to be both a bully and cad lording his vows of poverty over other people who have not accepted his terms. Although he exonerates himself  by marrying Rosemary who is pregnant with his child. Not so much an honorable act as a  step toward his fatalistic reentry into “respectability.”

Aspidistra continues the investigations Orwell already explored in his nonfiction work Down and Out in Paris and London. It was his two post-war books, Animal Farm and 1984, that brought him real everlasting renown.

In the novel one of Comstock’s poems has been accepted by a San Francisco magazine and he is paid well for it. The magazine further asks to see more of his work, which he never follows through on. His self-important  identity of being a writer held back only by money issues shatters against the actual reality that he has talent but simply lacks the perseverance required Of a writers life.

What is missing in the novel is any mention of what becomes of the poem that preoccupies the waking thoughts of the protagonist. Was it ever submitted for publication or tossed now that he has a respectable day job?
Perhaps Orwell meant it in a narrative sense  awaiting discovery only in the pages of this novel.
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Per Norman Mailer: Keep the Aspidistra Flying  ” is perfect from the first page to the last”.

Find the book in full on line  free of charge at Project  Gutenberg Australia:

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200021.txt

or it can be read in full here:

https://gurkski.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/george-orwellkeep-the-aspidistra-flying/