Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Annotated Nexus - Page 59

59.0 Stasia explains to Henry why she thinks she’s pregnant. Henry then tends to her in a caring way, as she reads aloud from Rimbaud. It’s a rare but pleasant moment between the two. The next morning, Dr. Kronski’s tests prove that Stasia is not in fact pregnant.

59.1 yellow puss appeared
To prove she’s pregnant, Stasia removes a naked breast from her blouse and squeezes out what she says is milk (she provides confirmation by saying she’s tasted it). Miller describes it as “yellow puss.”

The yellowish, milky liquid that leaks from a woman’s nipple is called colostrum. But we are later told that Stasia’s pregnancy result is negative. According to the Breast Fit website, a non-pregnant woman may lactate because: a) of frequent rubbing, sucking or chaffing of nipples; or, b) the presence of a non-cancerous pituitary tumour inside the breast gland.

59.2 The Captive
When Henry asks if they’ve notified police (Stasia is pregnant as the result of a rape), they change the subject by telling him that they’re planning on seeing a French play called The Captive: “Everybody’s talking about it.” This Edouard Bourdet play was indeed performed in New York during the time frame of Nexus. This play will be referenced at greater length on page 63—I’ll go into it more when we get there.

59.3 The Drunken Boat
Henry helps Stasia clip her toenails because it’s bothering him how she’s doing it. He then offers to comb her hair. As he does so, she reads from Rimbaud’s The Drunken Boat. Henry listens with “evident pleasure.” Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) wrote his poem The Drunken Boat (Le bateau ivre) in 1871.

Although Miller listened to Rimbaud’s words as read by Stasia (Jean Kronski) in 1926 [1], he would not actually read Rimbaud for himself for another seven years. As explained in his study of Rimbaud, The Time of the Assassins (1946), the first Rimbaud that Miller read was The Drunken Boat. “I suddenly remembered that it was of Le Bateau Ivre that Thelma [Jean Kronski/Stasia] had raved so much” (p.3). Stasia is said to have modelled herself after Rimbaud (see footnote [1]).

59.4 Carré’s Season In Hell
Seeing that Henry is impressed with Drunken Boat, Stasia hauls out a copy of the Rimbaud biography, Season In Hell by Carré. The idea of Rimbaud began to make its imprint: “Had events not conspired to thwart it, I would have become a devotee of Rimbaud then and there” (Assassins, p.3).

Jean-Marie Carré (1887-1958) wrote a biography of Rimbaud in 1926, in French, by the title of La Vie aventureuse de Jean-Arthur Rimbaud. (see listings at AbeBooks). This fact complicates Henry’s timeline. The book would not be translated into English as Season In Hell until 1931—five years after the event portrayed here. Fair enough; he is just referencing the book in English for readers of Nexus. However, this would mean that Stasia could only have had Carré’s 1926 French biography; Miller did not understand much French at this point. It also means that Stasia would have translated from French as she read to him—something that is possible; however, Miller will later state on page 100 that neither June nor Jean knew French (although Jean would use Henry for French practice months later in 1927).

“An absorbing book about Rimbaud was lying about the house,” remembers Miller on page one of Time of the Assassins, “but I never once glanced at it. The reason was that I loathed the woman who owned it…”

59.5 Kronski’s arrival next day
Dr. Kronki comes by the next day with negative pregnancy results. Kronski has already been referenced numerous times in Nexus, starting at 9.2, and prominently on pages 48, 49,50, 51 and 52.

<--- Previous pages 55-58 . Next page 60 --->


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[1] Based on time indicators within the text of Nexus, which I’ve been identifying over the course of this annotation, the date for page 59 is approximately October-November 1926. On the first page of Time of the Assassins (Miller’s study on Rimbaud), Miller says he first heard of Rimbaud in 1927. Close enough. But in that book, he never mentions this reading by Jean Kronski. Instead, he just says that he’d heard Rimbaud’s name discussed all the time, but forced himself to ignore it because he hated Jean (called “Thelma”) and everything he associated with her. Jean/Thelma “identified herself with him, was imitating him as best she could, not only in her behavior but in the kind of verse she wrote” (Asassins, p. 2).