Saturday, April 14, 2018

Francine Prose's BLUE ANGEL: The Professor and the "Little Slut"



Francine Prose’s Blue Angel is a national bestseller and National Book Award finalist.

Here’s part of Publisher’s Weekly's plot summary:

Trust the iconoclastic Prose to turn conventional received wisdom on such subjects as predatory professors, innocent female students and the necessity for a degree of political correctness on campus on their silly heads […] He is [47-year-old] Ted Swenson, a happily married and reasonably content novelist who teaches creative writing at a much less than Ivy League college in darkest Vermont. Stuck on his own latest book, he is nevertheless charmed and intrigued by the writing skills of the unlikely, ungainly and punky [freshman] Angela Argo […]

Per usual, the jeune femme in the age-gap affair is deemed “innocent”. Not only did “innocent” Angela seduce her professor but she recorded and submitted a conversation she had with Professor Swenson to the college’s administration admitting, “The only reason I let you fuck me [in her dorm room] was so you would help me get this novel to someone who could do something---“


Angela’s novel and poetry are of interest too. In the novel, which I learned about while reading “The Real Scandal in Academia” in The Paris Review, the nymphet protagonist is having a sexual affair with Mr. Reynaud, her high school music teacher.

“All that summer […]” after her sophomore year (15-years-old?), the nymphet daydreamed about Mr. Reynaud. And shortly after her junior year began, the nymphet and her music teacher had rough sex in the shed behind her house:

“He took my hand with his free hand and closed my fingers around his, the one that held the egg. He pressed until the egg cracked […] he released my hand and reached down and opened his pants. Then he took my hand again, still slippery from the egg, and wrapped it around his penis […] Actually, it felt sort of nice, velvety and warm […] Maybe he knew I was thinking that, because he got rougher, angrier, and he picked my skirt up and pushed down my tights, and pushed himself hard inside me […] I began to cry because it hurt, and it was unromantic to think that there was raw egg on his penis inside of me […] At the same time I felt happy because he wanted me […] My parents were across the yard […]”

It turns out that Angela’s novel was semi-autobiographical. A biology teacher at her high school was, “[…] messing around with a whole bunch of girls. He had himself a regular harem. Friends of Angela’s, too.”

And Angela’s poems are often about a “[teen] phone-sex worker’s sexually abusive father.” Here’s one:





There's a reference to two famous ephebophiles in the Blue Angel: In reference to Poe, a student asked, 'Are you telling us that we've been studying the work of a child molester? And referring to a Chaplin poster on the wall of Angela’s dorm room, the professor asked, “What’s Chaplin got to look gloomy about? He slept with harems of women [i.e., nymphets]!”

In this New York Times Notable Book, despite being a college freshman, Prose and the professor referred to Angela as “little girl”, “child” and “little slut”.

Lastly, Blue Angel was adapted into Submission (2017). Surprisingly, I haven't been able to find an online copy of the film, but here's the trailer: