Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Virtuose du renvoi d'ascenseur"

I mentioned the other day Julien Gracq's delicious description of a certain Bernard-Henri Lévy: "virtuose du renvoi d'ascenseur, auteur d'un étrange borborygme historico-philosophique, La Barbarie à visage humain." As "un virtuose du renvoi d'ascenseur," he now has a rival, or accomplice: Ségolène Royal. Her paean in Le Monde is not to be missed. The strength of her piece derives from her absolute identification with her subject: like him, she is soi-disant persecuted and oppressed, and like him she was blessed with the favors of that eminently perceptive fisher of men and women, François Mitterrand. This is a piece of Royal rhetoric to treasure. Vladimir Nabokov had a word for this sort of writing: poshlost.

Vladimir Nabokov made it more widely known in his book on Gogol, where he romanized it as "poshlust" (punningly: "posh + lust"). Poshlust, Nabokov explained, "is not only the obviously trashy but mainly the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely attractive"

1 comment:

sushi105 said...