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Art, Books

Two Women

04.21.08 | Comment?

I’ve been reading through  John Updike’s collected early short stories.   From “Snowing in Greenwich Village”, we have this passage:

Her face was pale, mottled pink and yellow; this accentuated the Modiglianiesque quality established by her oval blue eyes and her habit of sitting to her full height, her head quizzically tilted and her hands palm upward in her lap.

At the same time I have finally gotten around to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.  Early on we get this description:

Marylou was a pretty blonde with immense ringlets of hair like a sea of golden tresses; she sat there on the edge of the couch with her hands hanging in her lap and her smoky blue country eyes fixed in a wide stare because she was in an evil gray pad that she’d heard about back West, and waiting like a longbodied emaciated Modigliani surrealist woman in a serious room.

Someone else can get an essay out of this; for me it’s just a marker of cultural allusions in the mid-Fifties.  Two of our best writers, but not directly comparable.  I doubt I’ve seen any references to Modigliani in recent fiction.  Reubenesque and Titian, perhaps.  Warholian?  They’re all writer’s crutches anyway, good riddance.

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