SHE "NEVER HAD A ROOM OF HER OWN": HEMINGWAY AND THE NEW EDITION OF KIKI'S MEMOIRS.
(E. W. Titus in 1930, reprinted in Kluver 63)
THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION of the Memoirs of Kiki of Montparnasse is back in print after many years. For students of Hemingway, this is an important event for a number of reasons. First, because it includes one of Hemingway's liveliest pieces of critical prose--the introduction written especially for the English version published in Paris in 1930. Second, because of Kiki's importance in the Paris of the twenties. As Ernest himself said,
It was also very pleasant aft>r working, to see Kiki. She was very wonderful to look at. Having a fine face to start with she had made it a work of art. She had a wonderfully beautiful body and a fine voice, talking voice, not singing voice, and she certainly dominated the era of Montparnasse more than Queen Victoria ever dominated the Victorian Era. (Kluver 50)
Finally, this is an important book for all those interested in modernism and the position of women during the period when modernism flourished, for reasons we will elaborate in the following discussion.
In his Introduction Hemingway argued that Kiki's book was untranslatable, which annoyed Samuel Putnam, who had been hired to do that job, to the extent that he felt obliged to defend himself in his own Introduction. If he was good enough for Cervantes and Rabelais, whose work he also translated, he must have felt up to Kiki's simple prose. But simplicity, as Hemingway knew better than most, is far from easy. In the following pages, we propose to examine the new edition (Billy Kluver and Julie Martin, eds. Kiki's Memoirs. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1996,298 pp.), attending in particular to the question of translation and to some other matters.(1) Before beginning, however, we have an interest to declare. We had embarked on precisely this editorial adventure ourselves, and put considerable time and effort into gathering materials, when we ran across the trail of the present editors, Billy K1uver and Julie Martin. Communicating with them, we learned that they had an edition already in progress and had apparently acquired most of the relevant copyrights for their work. Whereupon, we abandoned our project and turned to other things. The interest we must declare, then, goes in two directions. For one, .we were already convinced of the value of Kiki's book and of its relevance for students of modern culture in general and Hemingway studies in particular. And, for another, we would have done some things differently from the present editors.
The first question, however, is why Hemingway thought this was an important book and Kiki an important person. Alice Prin was born in Burgundy in 190l, came to Paris to live with her mother when she was twelve, and at the age of fifteen started posing for artists to make a little money. In a few years she had met and posed for many of the best painters and sculptors working in Paris. But she was not a passive model. Consider the way Foujita described her first posing session with him:
When she took off her coat, she was absolutely naked, a small handkerchief, in lively colors, pinned to the inside of her coat gave the illusion of the latest dress. She took my place in front of the easel, told me not to move, and calmly began to draw my portrait. When the work was finished she had sucked and bitten all my pencils and lost my small eraser, and delighted, danced, sung and yelled, and walked all over a box of camembert. She demanded money from me for posing and left triumphantly, carrying her drawing with her. Three minutes later at the Cafe du Dome a rich American Collector bought this drawing for an outrageous price. (Preface 42)
Kiki was not the first model who was also a painter, but her way of displacing the artist from his own easel puts her in a very special class, and her drawing of Foujita (40) is excellent. Kiki drew and painted a lot, and, when she had a show, her work sold in a way to make the "real" artists envious. She was untrained, of course, and remained a "primitive" in all her work, but she was a primitive at a time when painters like Matisse were exploring techniques derived from African and Oceanic art--and her visual art often reminds the viewer of Matisse's.
But Kiki not only drew and painted. She also wrote. In 1929, after much persuasion, she produced a series of short autobiographical sketches that traced her life from its Burgundian beginnings to its Montparnassian present. Published as Souvenirs, and including a preface by Foujita as well as pictures of her and by her, the book caused a small sensation. The following year an English translation--with some additions by Kiki and, in place of Foujita's original statement, new framing material by Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Putnam (the translator) and Edward Titus (the publisher)--was published in Paris, causing yet another stir, though censorship problems prevented an American edition. The result, in English, is a short, jolly book, in which we hear a Voice that is usually silenced--and therein lies much of this text's importance for those interested in modern culture. Can the sexual subaltern speak? Kiki's Memoirs may be as close as we will ever come to hearing this voice as it existed in the 1920s. And from it we may learn many things, including the startling fact that, after a few conventional pages on her first twelve years, she speaks of the past in the present tense. Chapter 2, for instance (each chapter is a few tiny pages long), begins with the following paragraph: "I am twelve" (81).
When this particular sexual subaltern writes, she writes as if she were speaking. In the original, we imagine, Hemingway could hear that speaking voice he so admired. Her style is both lively and laconic. She uses the present tense not because she lacks grammar--she is perfectly capable of the past when she needs it, as in the following passage from Chapter 3: "My mother had noticed that I had a big mark the color of eggplant on my neck. I spit on my handkerchief, but it wouldn't go away. I was wondering what it could be, when I got such a box on the ear that it knocked me silly... I hadn't thought that kisses left marks, too; I'll know better after this" (88--this passage, not in the French original, exists only in the English version). Between the past and future tenses in this passage is the one in which Kiki lives and writes. She is rethinking her life in the historical present tense, used by Virgil and others for rhetorical effect. For Kiki it is just her way of recounting her life. She is comfortable in the present. It is tempting to suggest that her way of living in the present was part of the effect she had on those around her, which was extraordinary. But let us return to the question of her writing.
We are reading a translation, here, which poses certain problems--and not just for us. In his Introduction, Hemingway indicated that he had not seen the translation but was convinced that it must be a failure. His final paragraph sums up a number of things:
This is the only book I have ever written an introduction for and, God help me, the only one I ever will. It is a crime to translate it. If it shouldn't be any good in English, and reading it just now again and seeing how it goes, I know it is going to be a bad job for whoever translates it, please read it in the original. It is written by a woman who, so far as I know, never had a Room of Her Own, but I think part of it will remind you, and some of it will bear comparison with, another book with a woman's name written by Daniel Defoe. If you ever tire of books written by present day lady writers of all Sexes, you have a book here written by a woman who was never a lady at any time. For about ten years she was about as close as people get nowadays to being a Queen but that, of course, is very different from being a lady. (53)
In addition to the difficulties involved in translating Kiki, Hemingway draws our attention to her status. She is definitely not a "lady" and she never had a "Room of Her Own." The allusion to Virginia Woolf's discussion (1929) of what a woman needs to write is quite deliberate on Hemingway's part. He means to remind us that we are not hearing the voice of a cultivated bourgeoise, here, but that of a woman who knows and says things that her privileged counterpart could neither know nor say.
There are also things that Kiki does not say. Her reticences are as much a part of her cultural construction as her utterances. In Chapter 12, one of those Hemingway recommended particularly, she recounts bits of her grandmother's life, including an adventure with an American soldier:
One day, when she had been a long way from home and was coming back, she caught sight of a woman who was running away for dear life, and behind a tree, she saw a young American soldier making a bed of leaves on the ground. She came up close to find out what he was up to, when the American came over to her with some money in his hand. He finally made her understand that, in spite of her age, he'd like ... My grandmother understood at last, and had such a scare that she forgot al! about her cartload of wood and began running as hard as she could tear across a field of beets, which is not exactly an easy thing to do. "That young brat" she would say, "wanted to rape me right there in the woods." (122-23)
The ellipsis in the passage is Kiki's. She doesn't need to tell us what the soldier would like, and she has a certain delicacy that goes with her frankness. The last sentence, however, betrays the translator's inability to solve his problems. It was not "rape" that was in question, but a commercial transaction. In the French text Kiki writes, "`Ce sagouin-la,' disait-elle, `il voulait me souiller dans les bols.'" Which translates literally as "`That prick,' said she, `he wanted to dirty me in the woods'" Sagouin is a word that means pig, slob, bastard, and prick, with connotations of both dirtiness and sex--connotations that are reinforced by souiller, which means to dirty, soil, or sully. In this edition there are notes, some of which correct Putnam's translation, hut not in this case. We will have more to say about the edition later on, but it is worth pointing out, right here that there is a case for a completely new translation.
The case we are making at the moment, however, is for Kiki's Memoirs as an important text for the study of modern culture, and, in particular, the artistic life as enacted in Montparnasse in the 1920s. The chapter titles alone tell part of the story. There are individual chapters called "Soutine Period," "Kisling," "1922 Foujita" "Man Ray," and "Jean Cocteau," as well as many others that recount aspects of Montparnasse life during its high period. There is also a fascinating episode in the south of France. Chapter 24 begins, "Here I am at Villefranche." She writes about the women from Marseilles and Nice ("some nice whores among them" 162) who line the wharf when their sailor lovers-leave on their ship. Her friend Treize arrives with the artist Per Krogh:
Treize and Per Krogh have just arrived. They are crazy about the good-looking sailors. We've adopted five or six of 'em, and we're together all the time. Per Krogh never gets tired of sketching sailors. For recreation, he gives me a few pinches in the rump. That tickles Treize, but it leaves me cold. I've got a behind that's proof against anything.
Once again, we must stop and look at the French text, the last sentences of which reads: "[Per Krogh], pour se delasser, me donne des fessees aide Treize. (Ca me laisse froid: j'ai un derriere a toute epreuve" (153). In this version Krogh gives Kiki some fessees (spanks), helped by Treize, who is not, a spectator but a participant. There is a casual bi-sexuality here, that is part of the general ambiance, though Kiki is not moved.
What does indeed move her, but in a different way, is being called a whore. When the boss of an English bar tells her "No whores allowed here!" ("Pas de putain ici!" 154) she does not hesitate: "I make one leap for him and shove a pile of saucers in his face" (16 4). The line between prostitution and the level of sexual activity just above it is crucial for women in Kiki's world. It is a line that appears, with all its threatening aspects, in much of the writing of Jean Rhys, for instance, and in stories such as Katherine Mansfield's "Je ne parle pas francais." It is a line, once crossed, that is difficult to re-cross in the other direction. Jean Rhys, like many of her characters, sometimes lived very close to the line, which defines the sexism and exploitation of women near the center of modernist art and life. Part of Kiki's importance, and the importance of her book, may be found in the way she lived as close to that line as possible without ever being pushed over it. Her response, it should be noted, is not to weep or complain, but to fight. No one would accuse her of a lack of femininity. Fighting is not a gendered response, here, but a response of class, in that she comes from a class in which women are not considered fragile. Because she is threatened in her respectability as a working girl--but not that kind of working girl--she goes on the attack.
These are the sorts of issues that come up when one reads Kiki along with texts by women brought up more gently, like Rhys and Mansfield, and this is why she must be read alongside them. Her fight leads to the arrival of the police, and a brief imprisonment, followed by a trial. There is a moment while she is in jail that is revealing about her feelings and about Putnam's translation of them:
They take me down into a dark cellar, where there is nothing but a board, what's left of a bicycle, and a lot of other old junk ... I've been there long enough to think things over plenty, when the door opens and one of my girl-friends comes in sobbing, with a basket on her arm, followed by a big copper. When I looked at that copper's neck, my fingers twitched, I can tell you! (168)
From the English text we expect the "copper" to be called something equivalently colloquial (like "flic") in the French original, but this is far from the case. He is merely a "gros gendarme"--a big policeman, about whom she says, "J'ai regarde le cou du gendarme, et mes doigts se serraient machinalement" 058)--literally, "I looked at the neck of the policeman and my fingers squeezed mechanically" Putnam hides the big word, mechanically, and throws in the colloquial "I can tell you" Hemingway was right to worry about the translation. The temptation to make Kiki into what she should have been, to hide the mixture of discourses that in effect constitute her being, must have been sometimes too great for the translator to deal with. He wanted a lively gamine. We want something else, a textual Kiki as close to reality as we can get it--if only to her textual reality. What comes across in the original and the translation, of course, is that Kiki reacts to the police not in flight mode but in fight mode. Her friend is crying, but Kiki's hands want to choke the guy.
The translation both censors Kiki and colloquializes her clean French prose. When she is moved to a prison cell, she notes that her "pot de chambre en fonte, qui n'est jamais nettoye, parfume la cellule" (159). Putnam's Kiki says "my thunder-mug, which is never cleaned, stinks up the whole cell" 170). In the French text, the chamber pot is "en fonte" which means something like congealing. The word is used in smelting and casting metals, and, by painters, for mixing colors. Here it gets lost in translation, as does "parfume" which is colloquialized to "stinks." It might have been better to translate the piece from scratch, or, as Hemingway suggested, to read it in French. On the other hand, this is the English version that was read by all those who were not comfortable with the French. It is a text of record and has a certain status. Kluver and Martin were faced with a difficult decision; the result is still worth reading, much better than not having the book in print--which has been the case for so many years, though not so many as Kluver and Martin claim. One might wish, however, that Hemingway himself, or Gertrude Stein, could have taken a crack at it.
Just how long Kiki's memoirs have been out of print is another issue we need to address, since Kluver and Martin's edition misleads readers on this count. The dust jacket announces that "the English translation was banned by U. S. Customs and never appeared in this country. Now, at last, these infamous memoirs are available in English to a wide readership." What, this overlooks is that Kiki's memoirs were reprinted in the 1950s and 1960o s and widely circulated in America under the title The Education of a French Model The editors, however, are either unaware of this or have chosen to suppress this information. Whatever the cause, this omission is unfortunate, because it hides the fact that Kiki's infamous memoirs had an even more infamous afterlife: these American editions were the handiwork of the notorious book pirate and purveyor of cheap erotica, Samuel Roth.
During his career, Roth developed a lucrative mail-order business in New York City publishing books and journals that promised sensual stimulation. Because any sexually explicit text could be deemed obscene in Roth's day, his trade frequently won him visits to the courtroom and extended stays in jail. For his trouble, he has been immortalized by the Supreme Court decision "Roth vs. the United States" (1957)--a ruling that officially denied First Amendment protection to obscene material but whose ambiguous definition of obscenity may have opened the door to a flood of explicit publications in the years that followed (Hamalian 1968,336; Randall, 57-59). In literary circles, Roth is known less for his pornography than for his pirating of high modernist literature, which he admired for its frank treatment of sexual matters anal its appeal to a mature audience., Most notably, Roth drove James Joyce to distraction by serializing and expurgating Ulysses without permission in his Two Worlds Monthly (a journal that Roth "devoted to the increase of the gaiety of nations") and then publishing the following year--again without the author's permission--the first American edition of Ulysses.
Students of Hemingway may recall how upset the young author was about Roth's pirating of Joyce's work.(2) In February 1927, Hemingway joined the public condemnation of Roth when he, along with 161 other writers and artists, signed a letter of protest that was sent to hundreds of newspapers in the states(3) He also made his feelings explicit in letters he wrote to his new editor, Maxwell Perkins, in November and December 1926. Hemingway describes Joyce as "all broken up" and "in absolute despair" about Roth's publishing Ulysses in America: "The work of thirteen years of his life being stolen from him by a man who not content with that trys to blacken Joyce's character and not content with stealing a man's life work and lieing about it then garbles it" (SL 225). We may gauge how personally Hemingway identified with Joyce's loss when, in the same letter, he claims that Roth was also stealing from him: `,everything I publish over here is stolen by Samuel Roth who has never had my permission to publish one word and pirates everything that appears here. as fast as it comes out and has never paid me a cent." Apparently, he was disturbed enough even to "set a trap" for Roth by copyrighting one of his unpublished stories ("Today Is Friday") in the states and then circulating "a few hundred copies" of the manuscript as bait around the New York area (SL 237). "We may be able to bag him with that," he tells Perkins (238).
Baiting his trap with a story about the crucifixion, Hemingway the hunter hoped to bag his quarry in the urban jungle of New York. So far as we know Roth did not take the bait. The Joyce affair, however--along with Hemingway's involvement in it--would make a curious reappearance in the editions of Kiki's memoirs that Roth published thirty years later. For now, we want to note that Hemingway was overstating the loss he suffered at Roth's hands--though he certainly had good reason to suspect Roth was stealing from him. Hemingway most likely Saw an advertisement that Roth placed in The Nation (13 October 1926) that listed him, along with eight other modern authors, as being published in Two Worlds Monthly.(3) And in an ad (possibly never seen by Hemingway) that appeared on the inside back cover of Roth's journal in 1926, subscribers learned that Hemingway's short story "The Undefeated" would be published in an upcoming issue. Roth ultimately did not publish this story--or any other story by Hemingway--in his journal.(5) But the pirate hardly suffered a setback here, since he had at his disposal plenty of other texts that, like "The Undefeated" were published in Europe and left vulnerable to unauthorized republication in the states.(6) Besides stealing from Joyce, Roth sampled works from such talents as D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Djuna Barnes, John Galsworthy, and Frank Harris.
Scholars should now add Kiki to this impressive list of Roth's victims. Though all of Roth's editions of Kiki's memoirs carry copyright imprints, no separate copyright for these editions was ever registered with the Library of Congress--which suggests that Roth was up to his usual tricks when he reissued them. (Because the American edition of Kiki's memoirs was banned in 1930, her text--like Ulysses, initially--did not receive copyright protection in the U.S.). It is easy to understand Roth's interest in Kiki's memoirs: they were available for the taking, they depicted the intersecting worlds of art and sex, and they offered what Roth most prized in a book--a sensational glimpse into the private life of a woman or celebrity.(7) Nor did Roth have scruples about altering Kiki's. text to make it even more suited to his purposes. In 1997, he expurgated Ulysses to get around the censor; by the early 1950's, an increased tolerance for sexual material allowed him to introduce changes to Kiki's text that compounded its erotic value. Though the typesetting in Roth's 1950 and 1955 editions came straight from Titus's 1930 book, Roth made these editions his own by inserting a series of pin-up glossies of nude women--whom he identified, with no justification whatever, as "A Few of Kiki's Beautiful Friends." And in the 1955 edition, Roth further reshaped Kiki's memoirs into his kind of publication by replacing all of Kiki's artwork and that of the other artists, with a set of crude line drawings that illustrate (sometimes obscenely) various moments in her narrative.
The result is a far cry from Kiki's original memoirs, which allowed the reader to hear the author's distinctive voice and admire her as a visual artist. If Putnam's English translation homogenized the cultural range of Kiki's expressions, Roth's editions flattened her out even more by recasting her into the generic female types that populated the advertising circulars Roth mailed to possible subscribers: "French Wench" and "Nudes posed by leading French artists"
However, only in the editions that Roth published in 1955 and after does Kiki completely lose her self. Besides containing new pictures, these volumes include a sequel to the memoirs--ten new chapters about her life that Kiki had presumably written twenty-three years after finishing her book, but which we Suspect were composed by Roth himself. On stylistic grounds alone, a reading of the first few pages of this "continuation" proclaims their inauthenticity. But Roth's likely hand in this forgery is also suggested by internal textual evidence and by his professional habit of appropriating the voices of the authors he exploited.(8) What distinguishes Kiki's supposed sequel from some of Roth's other forgeries is that this book, far from hiding all traces of Roth's ventriloqual persona, deliberately directs our attention to the old pirate himself. Roth's "pseudo-Kiki" recounts how, on a recent trip to New York City, she is surprised to find that she has become a successful author again, since a new edition of her memoirs has been reintroduced into the American market; she then discovers that her new success will not solve her financial woes, since the person publishing her book is Samuel Roth--"a prince among book pirates, who makes millions selling books by people of talent whom he never gives any money" (71). Kiki, intent on getting something out of this man, eventually tracks down the infamous Roth (who implausibly tells her that he has paid Titus, Kiki's American publisher in Paris, for the right to republish her memoirs in the states). But before she reaches Roth, Kiki has another surprising encounter--this time with an old friend of hers from years earlier in Paris, "Papa Hemingway"
When the real Kiki composed her memoirs in the late 1920s, she had some fun at Hemingway's, expense, writing: "I saw Ernest again, looking more like a first-communion lad and friendlier than ever; and I wondered if he was still a virgin" 078). As Kiki undoubtedly knew, Hemingway by this time (the spring of 1925) had been married to Hadley for over three years and their son, Bumby, was well on his way to celebrating his second birthday. Thirty years later, Roth's "pseudo-Kiki" also pokes fun at Hemingway--but the taunting is not quite so good-humored this time around, and Hemingway no longer seems to be quite so innocent. In Roth's sequel, Kiki exclusively refers to Hemingway as "Papa," and the author-as-patriarch has become a "big millionaire" living at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel--a residence he uses (as Roth's character later assures Kiki) "as a fortress for keeping out his old friends" (87). These images of Papa reflect, in part, the stardom that Hemingway had come into by the fifties(9) and Roth was probably responding to the many stories of Hemingway that were appearing in the American press, such as Malcolm Cowley's 1949 Life Magazine profile "A Portrait of Mister Papa" or Lillian Ross's 1950 New Yorker portrait of Hemingway. Much as Ross's interview follows the author into his New York hotel suite, so does Roth's Kiki pay Papa a visit at his apartment in the Waldorf.(10)
Roth's "pseudo-Kiki" is desperately poor and needs Papa to be her. sugar daddy; but Roth--who has his own, personal score to settle with Hemingway's public persona--won't grant Hemingway much paternalism. Rather, the sequel whittles Papa down to Size. Despite his alleged wealth, Hemingway proves to be a skinflint and won't give Kiki more than $25 (plus cab fare)--an amount she is happy to receive until Roth points out to her that Hemingway was merely paying her to leave his apartment. Nor does Hemingway fare, any better as a writer. When Kiki calls Hemingway an artist, Roth shrugs his shoulders and responds that "he works too hard at it": "Papa Hemingway writes as if everything in the world surprises him.... No one can be that surprised" (88). And neither does Hemingway's vaunted manhood go unchallenged: when Roth learns from Kiki that Hemingway doesn't like him, he declares that he will "punch his silly nose the first time I catch sigh(of him again" (89), This horrifies Kiki, who--impressed by Roth's "hefty character"--notes that "[he] looked as if he could take care of two Papa Hemingways" (89), whereas Papa had been described earlier as giggling "like any school-girl" (77). Finally, Hemingway reveals his true untrustworthiness by playing a dirty trick on Kiki which involves having the Rockettes pursue her, en masse, through the streets of the city at night. Because Kiki mistakes the dancers for prostitutes (she calls them "delightful little cocottes" 76), the joke is taken to anew low when she identifies Hemingway as the mastermind behind the prank and mistakes Papa for a pimp.
As the above paragraph suggests, much of the writing in Roth's sequel is puerile and fatuous. But we are intrigued nonetheless by the way Roth has concocted here a triangle of characters--Kiki, Hemingway, and himself--that allows him to rewrite his dealings with Joyce from thirty years earlier. In real life, Roth sought to implicate Hemingway in that affair; and his daughter, Adelaide Kugel, recounts the following episode in which Roth presumably met--and dined--with Hemingway in early 1926:
When Roth, who had just had a tooth pulled and had to write out his end of the conversation, asked Hemingway how much he was asking for his four remaining stories, Hemingway said $100 each. Disappointed, Roth said he paid Joyce only fifty dollars an installment,(11) and considered Joyce a genius. (Kugel 246)(12)
In Roth's spurious sequel to Kiki's memoirs, a strikingly similar version of this episode is recounted--except this time, Roth tells his side of the story through the mouth of Hemingway. When Kiki asks Hemingway if he had ever met Roth, he nods and answers:
Many years ago, in a place called Cafe Royal. I offered to sell him four of my best short stories at $100.00 a story. He agreed that the stories were wonderful, but wouldn't give me more than $100.00 for the four of them.... He wouldn't give me more than twenty-five dollars a story because he paid Joyce fifty, arguing that Joyce was a least twice as good as I was. (81)(13)
As Roth would have it, Hemingway felt slighted when Roth complimented Joyce at his expense, and he retaliated against Roth by deliberately exaggerating to Sylvia Beach (Joyce's American publisher in Paris) the number of subscriptions and amount of money that Joyce's name had generated for Roth's journal (Kugel 246). Kugel maintains that "the 1925 agreement between [Roth] and Joyce fell apart" after Hemingway's meeting with Roth (246); and the hand that Hemingway played in Roth's misfortune appears all the more consequential if we agree with Roth that the international protest against him which resulted once Joyce's imagination inflated Roth's subscriptions to 40,000 or 50,000 (Kugel 247)--ruined Roth financially and forever branded him an outlaw in literary circles.
Hemingway may not have been the "first-communion lad" described by Kiki, but there is good reason to believe that he was not responsible for getting Roth into hot water with Joyce. What Kugel overlooks in her careful defense of her father is that Roth himself wildly exaggerated the number of subscriptions to his journal. In a full-page advertisement that he ran in The Nation (and probably elsewhere) in the fall of 1926, Roth tries to entice publishers to advertise in his Two Worlds Monthly by claiming that his magazine is "displayed on 22,000 news stands from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast" and has a "net paid circulation of 40,000 copies monthly" making it "the greatest book market in America."(14) Inflating advertising claims was business-as-usual for Roth, and here his extravagant boasts were clearly intended to make advertisers salivate. But surely such claims also made other readers of the advertisement--the authors Roth was stealing from--get very angry at the thought of all the money they were losing. Joyce especially can be excused for having such a reaction to this ad--provided he ever saw it--for directly across from its inflated subscription claims appears an oversized, boldfaced notice for his Ulysses. Who can blame Joyce for putting the two together? He hardly needed Hemingway to do so for him-though it is likely Roth found in Hemingway a convenient scapegoat for the mess his lies got him into.
In Roth's spurious sequel, Hemingway quite literally plays a scapegoat for Roth's sins, since Hemingway's character assumes the failings Roth was known for (cheapness, untrustworthiness), whereas Roth's character extends to Kiki the paternal kindness we would expect her Papa to offer. Not only is Roth twice the man Hemingway is, he is also twice as generous--and he combines the two by offering Kiki $50 for her "permission to punch Papa Hemingway's nose"(15) Oddly, "Papa Hemingway" can hardly say anything bad about Roth--but this is not surprising once we remember that Roth has appropriated Hemingway's voice to vindicate himself of wrong-doing. When Kiki asks Hemingway about Roth and Joyce, he assures her that "Roth is the only one who ever paid Joyce anything. But every time he sent Joyce fifty dollars Joyce got delusions of grandeur" (82). And when Kiki asks Hemingway if he signed that protest, he guiltily admits that he did--"But I'm not so happy about it."(16)
Only in the backward world of Roth's underground fiction can we imagine Hemingway completely reversing himself to become a contrite apologist for Roth. Perhaps Roth knew how implausible this sounded--for even as his Hemingway works hard to clear Roth's name, the text never disowns Roth's status as a notorious literary pirate. It's as if Roth needed to celebrate his crimes even as he sought to hide them; or, better, his denial of old crimes gave him the opportunity to commit new ones. In the sequel, Roth sets out to clear his name and reputation, but at the same time he manages to steal Kiki's work, forge her identity, and appropriate Hemingway's voice and authority for his own gain. Once in Roth's hands, Kiki's memoirs have become something altogether new--a vehicle for selling sex and settling old scores. It's likely that Kiki never crossed the line into prostitution during her life; but we know that her memoirs, in Roth's hands, fell into the underworld of illegal publishing, forgery, and mail-order pornography in America. By admitting to none of this in their introduction; which recounts the history of the memoirs, Kluver and Martin deny readers a look into the undercurrents of modernist literature--a place where literary geniuses rubbed shoulders with pornographers and where high art was prized for its sensuality and sensationalism. Much as her memoirs deserve a new English translation, so do they deserve to be situated in the context of their entire publishing history. By not doing so, Kluver and Martin seem to be protecting Kiki's reputation while sanitizing the history of her text, denying that the interest an American audience has had in Kiki and Montparnasse could be something less than salubrious.
We also wonder if these editors, by not acknowledging how someone else could misuse Kiki, are unprepared to examine how they have employed her themselves. There is a sharp contrast between Roth's Kiki and the image of her that steps out of the 1996 edition of her memoirs--Roth's Kiki is paper-thin, exchangeable for a cheap thrill as an emblem of avant-garde licentiousness; whereas Kluver and Martin's Kiki adamantly hangs onto her identity. Echoing Foujita's claim that "Kiki does not change" (45), the editors write, "Through it all Kiki remained Kiki" (35). Yet being impervious to external influences in no way prevents their Kiki from acting as a mirror for her environment; indeed, precisely because Kiki is Kiki can she serve, for Kluver and Martin, as the symbol of her time. In an earlier (and quite wonderful) book by the editors, Kiki's Paris, Kiki was identified as the touchstone for the whole Montparnasse art scene, and here again, in their introduction to her memoirs, they write: "Kiki remains the embodiment of the outspokenness, audacity, and creativity that marked this period of Montparnasse" (39). This may be a celebratory mythology, but as a mythology it is dangerous nonetheless. We wonder how Kiki can sustain such cultural inflation and not lose her integrity as a person and an artist. We also wonder how readers of this edition are supposed to relate to Kiki--and whether, by relating themselves to her, they should suppose that they can authentically recover "a moment in time forever lost, but never forgotten" that the editors, citing Jules Romaine, identify with Montparnasse.
Kluver and Martin tell us they have not produced "a facsimile, but ... have tried to keep the look and flavor of the original edition as designed by Henri Broca" (239). This is both an overstatement and an understatement. Textually, the memoirs as reproduced here are as close to a facsimile of the 1930 edition as one may like: it exactly reproduces the glossy paper, page size, page layout, page breaks, typeface and type size of the earlier version, reproducing as well Hemingway's introduction along with Putnam and Titus's rejoinders. This new edition also includes the following texts not found in the earlier English version: a translation of Tsuguharu Foujita's introduction (from the 1929 French text); a second series of autobiographical reflections titled "Kiki Talks Openly to You" (translated by the authors) that Kiki wrote and published in three installments in Ici Paris Hebdo in 1950; and a long introduction, as well as a "Notes and Comments" section, composed by the editors.
Where the editors overstate their claims to fidelity to the original lies not in the text, but rather in the pictures they include; there are many more of them than in the editions published in Kiki's lifetime, and their arrangement departs considerably from the 1929 original. In that edition, there were significantly more pieces of art by Kiki than images (photographs and portraits) of her produced by others. Moreover, the dominant visual note in that text was created by Kiki's paintings, since they were set off in a section all their own between the prefatory material and the memoirs themselves. This arrangement simulated the experience of attending Kiki's exhibition, and it clearly called attention to the idea that Kiki was not just a model but also a painter--not simply to be looked at, but to be reckoned with. In Kluver and Martin's edition, there are fewer paintings and drawings by Kiki, and the ones that do appear are scattered randomly throughout the text. This prevents them from having any distinct impact as paintings, but their insignificance for this volume is proclaimed more clearly by there being three times as many pictures of Kiki in the 1996 edition as in the original. The dominant visual note of this edition, it would seem, is Kiki as object, not as artist.
This disparity in how the two editions use images may. have resulted from the editors' gaining copyright access to Man Ray's photographs (which constitute the bulk of the pictures of Kiki in their edition) but not to many of Kiki's paintings. But this does not account for why so many of the new pictures of Kiki show her naked. The contrast becomes clear when we compare a Man Ray photograph from the Kluver/Martin edition (230) with a nearly identical photograph of her that appeared in the 1929 and 1930 editions; whereas the earlier photo offers us only a shot of Kiki's head, the latter--proving the earlier photograph had been cropped--now reveals the full torso of Kiki with one bared breast. The deliberate decision to present Kiki nude is underscored by the cover photo--another picture by Man Ray that shows Kiki barebreasted and holding a cloth about her waist. One could make the case that in order to capture the provocative flavor of the original, the editors had to compensate for our greater tolerance to nudity, for nothing about these pictures strikes us today as obscene. Nonetheless, the conjunction of Kiki's naked image with the title of her book--Kiki's Memoirs--feels a bit too much like an advertising gimmick pulled out of Sam Roth's bag of tricks. Surely, the picture tells us that Kiki has practically nothing to hide, and the insinuation is that her memoirs will be equally explicit. It is worth noting that, with respect to fetishized body parts, there is more to see in this edition than in any of the pornographic editions of Kiki's memoirs that Roth published in his day.
In short, the new edition of her memoirs should have given us fewer photographs of Kiki nude and more photographs of her paintings. If Kiki's own painting is interesting, as we believe it is, one would especially like to know more about her use of color. Even a single reproduction in color would have given us clues about the works reproduced here only in black and white. But no attempt is made to provide such a sample or even to describe her use of colors to us. The insistence on black-and-white in this edition may be defended in the name of fidelity to the original. Still, because color photography was not an option in 1929, choosing to use black/white today also feels like a deliberate effort toward period nostalgia. One wonders whether any of Kiki's paintings have survived, and, if so, where they might be. Kluver and Martin offer us a tantalizing clue when they tell us that the apartment of Andre Laroque, Kiki's longtime companion, was "still filled with her paintings" (36) when Kluver met Laroque years after Kiki's death. Apparently Kluver knows first-hand about the color of Kiki's paintings, and he may even know where her paintings are located today; but he does not think this information is important enough to share with us.
A smarter edition, we think, would have made these changes, as well as providing appendices for Roth's spurious sequel and other related material (such as Djuna Barnes's article on Kiki) which currently are lost in the erratic (and confusingly mispaginated) "Notes and Comments" section of the text. Nonetheless, we do appreciate what this edition has brought together: Foujita's introduction (fully translated here for the first time), followed by Hemingway's introduction; Kiki's memoirs from the 1920s, followed by her later writings about her life. We also welcome having in the same volume the more famous of Man Ray's photographs, of Kiki: his Violon d'Ingres (in which Kiki's bare back is rendered into a musical instrument), his pictures of Kiki posing with a Baoule mask, as well as stills of Kiki from such films as Ballet mecanique. Readers will also appreciate seeing the postcard Of Kiki that, as the editors note, may have sold l00,000 copies; surely this was the most recognized image of Kiki in her day. Kluver and Martin write an engaging introduction to the volume that, despite its omissions and its fulsome celebration of Kiki, nonetheless is informative and useful. They bring to the edition the advantage of a great deal of research and, in many cases, first-hand experience, including intimate knowledge of Kiki's family history as well as details about the social history of Montparnasse that are not to be found readily anywhere else. Kluver and Martin know things about Kiki and her circle that, one suspects, no one else knows. However hard it is for us to say, we must admit that they were the right people for this job. As scholars, however, we wish that they had given more thought to the book's future in classrooms and less to its life on coffee tables.
(1.) All quotations in English from Kiki's Memoirs are from this edition unless otherwise specified.
(2.) Jeffrey Meyers writes that Hemingway "was furious when Samuel Roth pirated Ulysses and paid Joyce no royalties" (83).
(3.) In a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver (dated i February 1927), Joyce wrote that the protest had been "cabled to 900 papers in the U.S."
(4.) In his 16 November 1926 letter to Perkins, Hemingway says he has "seen the advertisements in the Nation and New Republic of [Roth's] Two Worlds Monthly" (225). The New Republic, however, seems to have run only ads for Roth's Two Worlds, a quarterly publication distinct from Two Worlds Monthly.
(5.) Hemingway does not appear as a contributor in any of the twelve issues of Two Worlds Monthly, which ran betweeen August 1926 and October 1927.
(6.) "The Undefeated" appeared in This Quarter in October 1925. Roth may have dropped his plans to appropriate Hemingway's story for his journal when he discovered that "The Undefeated" would be reprinted in The Best Short Stories of 1926, which was published by the New York based firm of Dodd, Mead & Company.
(7.) Other titles published by Roth include such offerings as Celestine: The Diary of a Chambermaid, The Intimate Journal of Rudolph Valentino, The Secret Life of Walter Winchell, and Vagabond Scholar: A Venture into the Privacy of George Santayana; Roth even found a way to bring the intrigue of voyeurism to his loony treatise on metaphysics, titled The PeepHole of the Present.
(8.) For instance, after Roth pirated Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1930, he followed up his success by anonymously dramatizing the novel and then writing two sequels, Lady Chatterley's Husbands (1931) and Lady Chatterley's Friends (1932). His talents for forgery (or writing under an identity other than his own) were particularly tested in his 1951 publication My Sister and I, which presumes to be Nietzsche's confessional account from his diary of his incestuous relationship with his sister Elisabeth. In fact, as Leo Hamalian notes, the text borrows frequently from Walter Kaufmann's 1950 critical study on Nietzsche and contains many unlikely and anachronistic details--such as references to Detroit (1968, 332).
(9.) Meyers has this to say about Hemingway's public life as a celebrity: "Hemingway allowed himself to be photographed in his home for glossy magazines ... lived without expense in Sun Valley while lending glamour to the new resort ... became friendly with movie stars and helped choose the actors for his film; endorsed Parker pens and Ballantine beer.... Like a film star, he was handsome, glamorous, wealthy, well traveled and much married. In later life he enjoyed the adoration of young women, stayed in luxurious hotels, and made various attempts to return to earlier pastimes and settings he (and the public) associated with his dashing youth" (428).
(10.) Cowley's "A Portrait of Mister Papa" appeared in the 10 January 1949 issue of Life Magazine, and Lillian Ross's profile--"How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?"--appeared in The New Yorkeron 13 May 1950. Ross accompanies Hemingway and his wife from the airport to their hotel, the Sherry-Netherland; and she's there when Marlene Dietrich (whom Hemingway refers to as "The Kraut") arrives for a visit. Curiously, when Kiki telephones Hemingway at the Waldorf Astoria in Roth's spurious sequel, the woman who answers the phone tells Hemingway that "there is someone on the telephone who sounds like Marlene Dietrich only she has a French accent" (77). "Papa Hemingway Is in Town" is the title for the chapter in which Kiki visits Hemingway in Roth's sequel, but it could easily have served as the title for Ross's interview. In Cowley's piece, a section titled "Papa takes a good hotel" recounts how Hemingway raced ahead of the victorious French troups in Paris to get to the Ritz Hotel. General Leclerc, who liberated Paris in Hemingway's wake, may have suggested to Roth the name of the former lover, "Antoine Leclerc" for whom Kiki searches while she is in New York (no).
(11.) Roth had been publishing installments of Finnegans Wake in his earlier journal, Two Worlds quarterly.
(12.) Kugel cites Roth's Stone Walls Do Not--the memoir he wrote about his first prison stay in 1928--as the Source for this story; yet the account that Roth gives in his book is considerably different: he recounts how Hemingway sought him out not only to offer him his stories but "to discuss with me the Joyce matter" and he then maintains that "Hemingway left without having a conversation with me" since Roth's toothache prevented him from moving his lips (113). Nothing is mentioned about Roth's writing out his end of the conversation, let alone about his offending Hemingway by comparing him to Joyce.
(13.) If such a meeting indeed occurred, it must have taken place when Hemingway was visiting New York (in order to change his publisher) between 9 and 20 February of 1926. In his memoir, Roth claims the meeting took place two days before Hemingway was to depart for France--which would make the date 18 February. Interestingly, Joyce himself supplies evidence for this meeting; in a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, dated 18 March 1926, he describes all the money that "Roth told Hemingway" he was making off of Joyce in his Two Worlds. Cafe Royal, which was located on second Avenue at Twelfth Street, is described by the WPA Guide as a "forum and meeting place of the Jewish intelligentsia" (124). Hemingway was staying only a few blocks away--at the Hotel Brevoort, on Fifth Avenue and 8th Street.
(14.) The Nation (24 November 1926): 541.
(15.) Delighted at this bargain, Kiki cries, "Even if it [Roth's punch] draws blood!" But she doubts that would ever happen, since "I don't think there is any blood in Papa Hemingway to draw on" (90).
(16.) We also learn from "Hemingway" that it was not Roth who mutilated Ulysses, but rather his faithless, backstabbing associate (a.k.a. Waverly Root) who "swiped Roth's lists of subscribers, tried to use it as a means of founding a theatre for the presentation of obscene plays, and was compelled to flee from the United States postal inspectors to Paris where he denounced Roth both as a pirate and bowdlerizer of Joyce's work." The international protest against Roth that soon followed was also Root's doing, it seems, and the protest Wildly overstated the public animus against Roth: "The good names were taken from a directory of authors which was so old that many of the authors had been dead quite a while before they were supposed to be signing" (82).
Hamalian, Leo. "The Secret Careers of Samuel Roth." The Journal of Popular Culture (Spring 1968): 317-38.
--. "The Secret Careers of Samuel Roth." In Harry Barba, Harold Bond, and Leo Hamalian. 3x3. Sarasota Springs, NY: Harian, 1969. 69-110.
Hemingway, Ernest. Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917-1961. Ed. Carlos Baker. New York: Scribner's, 1981.
Joyce, James. Letters. 3 volumes. Ed. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Viking Press, 1957.
Kiki (Alice Prin). The Education of a French Model. New York: Boar's Head Books, 1950.
--. The Education of a French Model. New York: Bridgehead Books, 1955.
--. Kiki's Memoirs. Ed. Edward W. Titus. Trans. Samuel Putnam. Paris: At the Sign of the Black Manikin Press, 1930.
--. Kiki's Memoirs. Ed. Billy Kluver and Julie Martin. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1996.
--. Souvenirs Kiki. Paris: Henri Broca, 1929.
Kluver, Billy and Julie Martin. Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930. New York: Abrams, 1989.
Kugel, Adelaide. "'Wroth Wrackt Joyce': Samuel Roth and the `Not Quite Unauthorized' Edition of Ulysses." Joyce Studies Annual 3 (Summer 1992): 242-48.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. New York: Harper and Row, 1985.
Randall, Richard S. Freedom and Taboo: Pornography and the Politics of a Self Divided. Berkeley: U California R 1989.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: An Annotated Chronology. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 1991.
Roth, Samuel. Stone Walls Do Not: The Chronicle of a Captivity. 2 volumes. New York: William Faro, 1930.
Smith, Paul. A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.
The WPA Guide to New York City: The Federal Writer's Project Guide to 1930's New York. New York: New Press, 1939.
MARK GAIPA AND ROBERT SCHOLES Harvard University and Brown University3
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|Author:||GAIPA, MARK; SCHOLES, ROBERT|
|Publication:||The Hemingway Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1999|
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