gershon hepner

Rookie - 10 Points (5 3 38 / leipzig)

Erotic Aunts And Uncles - Poem by gershon hepner

In his famous book, Stendahl
describes a man who loves his aunt,
literarily scandale
to which I would be nonchalant
were it not ruled out by the Code
of Holiness, Lev.20: 20,
to which allegiance I have owed
since I was thirteen. There are plenty
of men prepared to make their peace
with lovers who, avunculous,
excite a naughty nymphet niece,
turned on by their homunculus,
because they do not feel encumbered
by bible laws, but I, dear reader,
am not in sympathy with Humbert,
although I’d like to meet Lolita.

Adam Begley writes about Parma, which Linda and I visited in the summer of 2007, in the NYT, December 27,2009:
FROM a practical point of view, “The Charterhouse of Parma” makes a lousy guidebook. An ardent fan of all things Italian, and a brilliant, impressionistic travel writer, Stendhal could have bequeathed to the ages an unforgettable prose portrait of Parma, the small, sleepy, provincial northern Italian city where most of the action of his great novel takes place. But instead he made it up; his Parma is imaginary. He never mentions the unmissable monument, the six-story octagonal Baptistery of pink-and-cream Verona marble, built at the beginning of the 13th century, one of the world’s most elegant medieval buildings. In its place, so to speak, he erects a huge, forbidding tower,180 feet high, that looms over the city, a prison where our hero, Fabrice del Dongo, is eventually incarcerated, and from which he makes a daring escape…
What is the effect of Parma on the characters in Stendhal’s novel? The verdict is nearly unanimous, I’m afraid: over and over again, they pronounce it dull — they’re beset by “that implacable foe of small towns and minor courts, boredom.” Stendhal’s Parma is a principality ruled by a petty tyrant (Ranuce-Erneste IV) , and his clever, resourceful prime minister, Count Mosca, who is the lover of Fabrice’s aunt Gina, the lovely Duchess of Sanseverina. All of them, at one point or another, confess that they’re bored by Parma. Like Fabrice, the brilliant duchess is fatally attractive to the opposite sex, and the two of them are eventually snared in a knot of political and sexual intrigue. The tangle is made worse by the aunt’s passion for her nephew, whose fortunes are her obsessive concern. (The late Harry Levin, an eminent Harvard professor of comparative literature who considered “The Charterhouse of Parma” to be “perhaps the most civilized novel ever written, ” pointed out with a wit worthy of Stendhal’s own dry humor that Fabrice’s relationship with his aunt “is a delicate blend of the nepotic and the erotic.”) All their scheming, and the wild drama it provokes, is a relief from what would otherwise be general tedium. The tower that looms over the principality of Parma reminds us that the dreary monotony of provincial life is itself a kind of prison house.


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, December 27, 2009

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