That Which We Call A Rose

Someone needs to do for Emma what Nabokov did for Lolita. I am sorry, but I am no Janeite, and I hanker only for old Russian magic, Baba Yaga in a glade of silver birch, Count Leo in chalk blue and boots.

Actually I am not sorry at all. Why is every Emma a Venetian blond, eternally young heiress of industry or at the very least beauty, the authentic Woodhouse?

I want an Emma with uncut nails and a long neck. The curve of her back is warm, a mid-ocean ridge swimming with neon monkfish, and the skin behind her ear is like that of a white nectarine, or dark yellow Mirabelle plum. She can be as dirty as dishwater or as pure as the driven snow, femme fatale or Galatea. Hair gelled, ridden with lice, bronze glasses, bombastic. I want a gutsy Emma, a gutted Emma, salty, sour, housefly, dragonfly Emma.

She can be a spongy Swiss mademoiselle, hardboiled American lass, delicate Buddhist princess, mooney extraterrestrial damsel. My Emma is a prostitute, a seller of exotic curios, a British matchmaker as dear Jane Austen intended her to be. She gets to go home happy or up in smoke.

The whole time I was reading “Lolita” I was waiting for Nabokov to allude to the literal meaning of the name Dolores. Dolores, in Spanish, meaning sorrow, pains. He took that name apart and put it back together again, put little Lolita in every kind of metaphor, simile, allusion, elevated her to a special plane of literary beauty. But never does he once mention what the dictionary has to say about Dolores. Not once does he say, “and this is Dolores, and her future is sadness, as her name so indicates.”

Maybe that’s what I really want for my pen and paper Emma.


  • Kylie put this up somewhere and I clicked and found six paragraphs of shiny wonder~ And I went through more of your blog, and look! MORE shiny wonder!

    AND you mentioned Valencia. You… live there? I’m going to be staying there for a semester. Would it be too imposing/creepy/weird to ask for any advice (cool places to visit, yummy restaurants, neat stores, general warnings, etc)? Haha, sorry if that’s awkward coming from a stranger. :]

    Your writing truly is lovely.

    Absolutely! I am sending you an e-mail with tips.

  • I FREAKIN DREAMT ABOUT PARTS OF THESE LINES THE OTHER NIGHT which is giddying except that I can’t pin down the context or relevancies or any other useful kind of where-when-whats, and also it took me a stupidly long stretch on the dream-timeline to figure out where they were from, so now I think a reread is necessary to rub it in the nose of my unconscious that plagiarism is Not Okay and anyway, did zero justice to the original.

    (yep, still dizzyng.)

    Em edit: THIS IS THE COOLEST THING. I find it ridiculously thrilling that somehow I HAVE INVADED YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS. Like the extraterrestrial parasite eggs in “Alien”! SO NEAT.

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