venerdì 7 luglio 2017

Irma Brandeis trasposta

La sezione di letteratura al Bard College. Irma Brandeis è in alto, al centro. L'uomo che tiene tra le mani un libro aperto, alla destra di lei, è Saul Bellow.

D. M. Hertz, Eugenio Montale, the Fascist Storm and the Jewish Sunflower, University of Toronto Press, 2013, pp. 247-248

It is commonly assumed that Irma Brandeis was the model for Domna Rejnev, one the main characters in McCarthy's Groves of Academe.  

Mary McCarthy, The Groves of Academe, Harcourt Inc., Orlando (Florida) 1992 [1952], pp. 37-38

Domna Rejnev was  the youngest member of the Literature department, a Radcliffe B.A., twenty-three years old, teaching Russian literature and French. To deter familiarities, she wore a plan smock in her office that gave her something of the look of a young woman scientist or interne. Her grandfather had been a famous Liberal, one of the Leaders of the Cadet party in the Duma; her father, a well-educated man, a friend of Cocteau and Diaghileff, sold jewelry for a firm in Paris. She herself was a smoldering anachronism, a throwback to one of those ardent young women of the Sixties who cut their curls short, studied Hegel, crossed their mammas and papas, reproved their suitors, and dreamed resolutely of a "new day" for peasants, workers and technicians. Like her prototypes, she gave the appearance of stifling in conventional surroundings; her finely cut, mobile nostrils quivered during a banal conversation as though, literally, seeking air. Her dark, stark, glossy hair was worn short and lose, without so much as a bobby-pin; she kept ruffling an impatient hand through it to brush it back from their eyes. She had a severe, beautiful, clear-cut profile, very pure ivory skin, the color of old piano-keys; her lips, also, were finely drawn and a true natural pink or rose. Her very beauty had the quality, not of radiance or softness, but of incorruptibility; it was the beauty of an absolute or of a political theorem. Unlike most advanced young women, she dressed quietly, without tendentiousness - no ballet-slippers, bangles, dirndls, flowers in the hair. She wore dark suits of rather heavy, good material, cut somewhat full in the coat-skirts: the European taylor-made. Only her eyes were an exception to this restraint and muted gravity of person; they were grey and queerly lit from within, as by some dangerous electricity; she had a startling intensity of gaze that never wavered from his object, like that of a palmist or a seer.