The Crimson Curtain & Impassive Faces: book crystals, squirrel stashes, blurp deaths, cheap irony-Ep.9

A 60-minute episode in which we discuss flamboyant dandyism in “The Crimson Curtain” by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly and contrast that with the everything-sucks-ism of postmodern literature. Kaisha talks about her squirrel stash of books and Kelsey delves into the misconception that indie publishing is easier than traditional publishing. We explore what humanity will look like in the year five billion if postmodernists get their way.

Welcome to Read.Write.Repeat.

This month we will be giving away an advanced reader copy of The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus. We explain how to enter toward the end of the show notes. You can find other Giveaways on the giveaways tab and in the Give us a Shout tab. Be sure to check those out. We ship worldwide, so don’t hesitate to enter our giveaway.

Bookish Rants:

How has owning a bookstore changed how you read?

Kaisha’s Notes

  • Owning a bookstore has impacted Kaisha in many ways:
    • She often reads to keep up with what is hot, new and current.
    • She has developed a stash of books and is overwhelmed that a TBR that would take more than five years to read through.
  • She’s planning on being more impulsive and letting her next reads come to her.
  • Our next overambitious reading goal: For the month of September we are going to see how many books we can read, and we are going to read whatever the universe sends us!
  • Kaisha is the anti-crafter.

Listeners weigh in:

  • What are your reading plans for this next month?

Let us know in the comments section below, or by tagging us on social media! Your response might be featured in an upcoming show!

Author Rants:

The question everyone asks: Why on earth are you torturing yourself by attempting the traditional publishing route.

  • There is a big misconception about the ease of independent publishing: doing it well is no easier than going the traditional route.
  • I am not good at marketing.
  • The indie authors I know who are doing well are working their butts off.
  • I am still early in my writing career and still discovering my voice, and the traditional route is pushing my writing to be better.
  • It doesn’t cost anything to try the traditional route first.
  • Pub Crawl has great tips for both indie and traditional publishing.

Which brings us to Prompt Up:

  • This one is from Think Written:
    • Write about a ship or other vehicle that can take you somewhere different from where you are now.
  • Don’t forget to share your writing with us. You can submit your writing to be featured through the Submit Your Writing tab at or post it as a comment on our show notes!

Short Story Powwow

It’s that time again! For today’s Powwow we are reading another short story from Somerset Maugham‘s Teller of Tales.

Today we read “The Crimson Curtain” by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly. Unfortunately, we cannot find a free, translated version of the story. You can find it on Project MUSE, if you have a subscription. You can also check out an eBook of Teller of Tales from

Kaisha read the translation that is part of Diaboliques (this is Amazon since Powell’s is out of stock).

  • Barbey stood out in his own time (the era of Napoleon III, the era of capitalist excess and the commodification of everything, of galloping utilitarianism, of secularism and democracy) by virtue of being an aristocrat, a Catholic, a monarchist, and a flamboyant dandy—though each of these terms requires a great deal of qualification.
  • His life work was one long protest against the soul-deadening drift of modernity, against the age of mass man and the worship of money.

Quotes from The Crimson Curtain

  • “but it is beautiful in the way that so many nonsensical things are!”
  • “heroic, it is no less so in the face of aging, which does not, after all, carry along with it any of the poetry of bayonets.”
  • “There is always something impressive about a human being keeping watch through the night—even if it be only a sentinel—when everyone else is plunged into that slumber that is the slumber of the fatigued animal. And one’s ignorance of what it was that kept someone awake behind that window, behind those closed curtains, where a ray of light indicates life and thought, adds the poetry of a dream to the poetry of reality.”
  • “In any case, speaking or myself, I’ve never been able to see a window—lit up at night, in a village through which I was passing—without projecting a whole world of fantasies upon that screen of light—without imagining intimacies, dramas going on behind those curtains.”
  • we always live more intensely in the life we want than in the life we have.
  • despotically, intensely, passionately!
  • I did not want to be an ass. Not wanting to be an ass! That is the grand French reason for doing the worst things without any remorse.
  • I knew the happiness of those who have to hide. I knew the intense pleasure of being complicit in a mystery that, even while it has no chance at all of success, nonetheless makes the conspirators incorrigible.

Other points:

  • Dandyism

“Dandyism, he says, . . . springs from the unending struggle between propriety and boredom. . . . Accordingly, one of the consequences and Diaboliques principal characteristics—or rather the most general characteristic—of Dandyism, is always to produce the unexpected, that which could not logically be anticipated by those accustomed to the yoke of rules. . . . [It differs from mere eccentricity, which] is the revolt of the individual against the established order, sometimes against nature: here we approach mania. Dandyism on the contrary, while still respecting the conventionalities, plays with them. While admitting their power, it suffers from and revenges itself upon them, and pleads them as an excuse against themselves; dominates and is dominated by them in turn. To play this twofold and changing game, requires complete control of all the suppleness which goes to the making of elegance, in the same way as by their union all the shades of the prism go to the making of the opal.

Dandyism is the way to remain sane in the modern world, with its “yoke of rules” and its conventions. It is a method of asserting control over life and over the self, of making sense of both—all of which is to say, dandyism is a kind of art, not unlike writing. And while Barbey himself lived the life of the dandy, strolling”

  • Misogyny, original sin, and female sexual desire
  • Using horror and hell to inspire religious devotion
  • “the fiction writer must be free to depict the truth, including the truth about passions and about evildoing, but if they are depicted well, they cannot but disgust the reader.”
  • “What is morally and intellectually magnificent about Catholicism is that it is large, comprehensive, immense; that it embraces human nature in its entirety, in all its diverse spheres of activity, and, above and beyond all it embraces, it deploys always this great ax-iom: “Shame to anyone who lets himself be shocked!” Catholicism has nothing in it of the prude, the pedant, the worrywart. It leaves all that to the hypocrites, the carefully clipped puritans. Catholicism loves the arts and accepts their audacities without trembling. It admits their passions and their depictions, because it knows it can learn something from them, even when the artist in question seems not to have done so.”

All of Kaisha’s background research comes from the introduction in Diaboliques: Six Tales of Decadence published by University of Minnesota Press by Raymond N. MacKenzie. While the idea for reading this story came from the Teller of Tales edition she ended up buy a book which has more of Jules Barbey d’Aurevilles stories in it and the introduction was absolutely wonderful. If this story sounded interesting to you, she highly recommends purchasing this edition.

  • Next reading if you want to read along: “A Simple Heart” by Gustave Flaubert which will post August 13th.

Nerd Girl Lit


Characterized by

  • Intertextuality-heavy dependence on and connections with other texts
  • Pastiche-Creating something by mixing parts from art that already exists
  • Embracing excess
  • Irony
  • Paranoia
  • Fragmentation
  • Here’s Ihab Hassan’s “Toward A Concept of Postmodernism”. Page six has a great table of postmodernism Versus modernism.

As told through Doctor Who:

  • The End of the World (17 Mar. 2006)
  • The Doctor takes Rose to the year 5 billion to witness the destruction of the Earth.
  • The guests include Lady Cassandra O’Brien, billed as “the last human” but actually a face on a large piece of skin that must be continually moisturised.
  • Cassandra is evil and tries to kill everyone for profit
  • Everyone is gathered to witness the destruction of earth by the expanding sun.

Books, quirks, and intrigues, oh my!

Kaisha’s views on postmodernism.

  • I hate postmodernism….until I don’t.
  • One of my all-time favorite novels is John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
  • I think one of the big irritants to me of Postmodernism boils down to tone.
  • I despise irony in books. Irony is cheap and easy , and I HATE IT (in literature, anyway), give me ernestness anytime!
  • I think that I prefer modernism because as one scholar stated: “Modernism, for example, tends to present a fragmented view of human subjectivity and history, but presents that fragmentation as something tragic, something to be lamented and mourned as a loss. Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn’t lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence.”

Connect and Win!!

  • Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for August. This month we will be giving away an advanced reader copy of The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus! To enter, rate us and leave a review on Itunes, and then let us know how to get in touch with you if you win on any of our social media platforms. A winner will be drawn at random on September first.
  • If anything sparked an idea for you, or you have thoughts or ideas about what we should discuss next. Let us know. Fill out our survey for a chance to win cool prizes!

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Thanks for listening to Read.Write.Repeat! Talk with you next time!