Saturday, July 27, 2013

Daniel Harper's THE NYMPHETS: Jewels & The Allure of Ballet Girls

In addition to Victoria Lincoln's "Down in the Reeds by the River", I found a number of other short stories in the contents of Daniel Harper's The Nymphets.

"Anna on the Neck" by Anton Chekhov is about 18-year-old Anna's arranged marriage to Modest Alexeitch, a 52-year-old wealthy government official. Anna agrees to marry Alexeitch, who is "[...] of medium height, rather stout and puffy [...]" to help her family financially but becomes dismayed after Alexeitch gives her "[...] bracelets, rings, and brooches [...]" that he keeps a close eye on, instead of cash, which causes the nymphet's father, a poor teacher, private tutor, painter, musician, and drunkard, and her two brothers to remain in poverty.

Initially, Anna is afraid to oppose her husband and ask him for some money. But after she attends the winter ball in the Hall of Nobility, meets His Excellency Artynov, dazzles everyone with her youth, dark hair and dark eyes, and is exposed to the good life, Anna's demeanor and behavior changes drastically towards her middle-aged husband.

"Twenty-Six Men and a Girl" by Maxim Gorky is about 26 men who are "[...] locked in a damp cellar from morning to night [...]" kneading dough and making kringles and crackers. To the men's delight, Tanya, a 16-year-old with a "[...] rosy face with sky-blue, happy eyes [...]" visits them daily. To the dismay of their mean-spirited boss, the men precariously grace the nymphet with kringles. The bakers are infatuated and think highly of the nymphet until a very confident pickup artist and dandy comes to town.

Lastly, in Guy de Maupassant's "Virtue in the Ballet" he shares that German author Friedrich Wilhelm Hackländer related in his earlier novels that "[...] true virtue appears in tights and short petticoats and is only found in ballet girls." Guy de Maupassant then goes on to write that "Whenever a new, youthful dancer appeared at the Vienna Opera House, the habitues began to go after her [...] until the fresh young rose had been plucked by some hand [...] though often it was old and trembling." Those young, pretty, and often poor roses were plucked by the "smell of flowers and the flash of diamonds".

At the beginning of the winter season, Santanella, a "voluptuous" young girl of "dazzling beauty" joined the company. Santanella was "surrounded by the bright halo of virginity". The next morning after her first appearance on the stage, she was showered with "billets doux, jewels and bouquets" Eventually, Santanella was seduced by a wealthy banker through her mother, Henrietta. He "[...] furnished them elegantly, hired a cook and housemaid, made an arrangement with a fly-driver, and lastly clothed her daughter's lovely limbs in silk, velvet and valuable lace."

However, and unsurprisingly to any established pickup artist who knows that one can't buy love, the wealthy banker's seduction faux paus caused him to lose the nymphet to the youthful and handsome Count  L-- who "[...] sent her no diamonds, and not even any flowers". However, Count  L-- had to make a major sacrifice to be with Santanella.

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