Bottom’s Dream – Arno Schmidt (tr. John E. Woods) Pages 80-95


It has been a few weeks since I posted a “Bottom’s Dream” update, however in that time I have managed to make it through a whole fifteen pages, and I would have kept reading without an update here, however I read back through my notes and thought it was time I put the gibberish onto a page and made it public.

When I last left you, on my BD journey, it was due to Arno Schmidt’s reference to Marie Rogét, a reference to Poe’s short story “The Mystery of Marie Roget”. Here’s a look at that Poe work:

The beautiful Marie, much against the wishes of her mother, works at a perfumery, and goes missing for a week, no reasonable explanation is given, but that soon becomes past news as she again disappears, this time she is found floating in the Seine, a victim of murder. After three weeks of investigations and the posting of an extraordinary sum of thirty-thousand francs as a reward, noting is forthcoming, enter our unnamed narrator, the sidekick of Chevalier Auguste Dupin, a detective character first appearing in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, these two are going to solve out murder.

Poe based the story on the real-life death of Mary Celia Rogers in New Jersey and changed the setting to Paris. A story of deduction, elimination it has many parallels to the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, although Poe’s first “modern detective story” being “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” this story is considered to be the second.

Prone, at all times, to abstraction, I readily fell in with his humor; and continuing to occupy our chambers in the Faubourg Saint Germain, we gave the Future to the winds, and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into dreams.

Dreams…a Schmidt favourite…the story is lengthy, originally appearing as three serialised parts in “The Ladies’ Companion” published by William W. Snowden. It is peppered with information drawn from various sources, with newspaper articles reproduced, and includes conspiracy theories, for example the corpse was NOT Marie’s;

… — that Marie, with the connivance of her friends, had absented herself from the city for reason involving a charge against her chastity; and that these friends upon the discovery of a corpse in the Seine, somewhat resembling that of the girl, had availed themselves of the opportunity to impress the public with the belief of her death.

After reading a forty page Poe short story I learn that the “Bottom’s Dream” reference was the analytical methods used and the irrefutable proof of the existence of etyms.

Then begins pages after page of discussions of Poe’s works…Fay, Arnheim, Pym, Rodman, Siope, Landor, Rugged Mountains…the discussion turns to a common theme of wandering, as in a labyrinth, the ship hold in Pym, the lost voyager in Arnheim. Moving through to a discussion about the hero’s state of mind , a “thick + peculiar mist”, further relayed as being part of Poe’s semi-consciousness, his heroes “must be >warmly=foggerd< totally be=>visioned<.” Fog of the mind is referenced in the far right column as “(EUREKA: fuck of the mind” …”Eureka” being Poe’s lengthy prose poem.

The next discussions are on the watery themes in Poe’s works and his favourite colours “sunset=hued red=values” and “>>HE once lived on a >Carmin=Street< in New York -<<…(:’nd maybe the name was I reason for his moving=in there:”…”yellow read values of the spectrum monstrosity of color”.

From colours to scents in Poe’s works, “In fact POE ties together his ideas=&=eldola as if he were predestined:” He is “/(As cautious& diplomatic as LEOPOLD BLUM”. (blum being Bloom the protagonist of Joyce’s Ulysses), now I apologise folks, I’m not heading off and reading Ulysses just because Schmidt makes a few references, if I was to do so it would make this “Bottom’s Dream” journey move into the decades!!!

There is a reference to “>Black Goats among Agave<; picture by EBERHARD SCHOTTER”, an artist friend of Schmidt’s, unfortunately I cannot find an image of the painting on the web, otherwise I would have posted it here. I pass on this titbit of trivial information as it is references like this that lead you on wild goose chases, researching to dead ends or useless facts that do not enlighten you any further.

Whilst these discussions are taking place, our four characters are continuing the ambling journey and whilst walking they come across a cow being led by “2 inditchinous maids” with city folk surely thinking that it is being led to the slaughter, but they are “leading…to her forist=cov’reing<< our characters arriving in a village where the four go shopping, food galore:

Verily, there lay the red giant=wursts; pointed at spectatorettes: 16 inches long, & as thick as a fore=arm! plump to bursting with pure sauce=itch;

Whilst in the store they observe others coming in and shopping, all buying the newspaper “BILD”, some cigarettes, they discuss a drink “you kno bytheby, that >quenche< also means twat?” with the side column letting us know “why in CHAUCER of course”

How is this for something that appears unintelligible? A section features a snippet from a book catalogue


This is aligned to:

Altho as the adage has it, >skioch doch na skiaill< But, evidently, We weren’t being rusht yet?/: >>Just no hurry, <<; (He confirmD.Hmmm-): >>What ‘ve Y’ got left in your gunny-sack?-:<</(HANS SACKS,eh?-(But : do women always stare so étalonic=servicingly?,

From this I have deduced our characters are having an alcoholic drink, however I’ve totally missed the Kant reference. How do I think they’re having a drink? Well “skioch doch na skiaill” is from Walter Scott’s “Bride of Lammermoor – A Legend of Montrose”;

‘Then I don’t like it at all,’ said Bucklaw; ‘So fill a brimmer of my auld auntiews’ claret, rest her heart! And as Hielandman says, Skioch Dock na Skiaill’*
*’Cut a drink with a tale;” equivalent to the English adage of “boon companions don’t preach over your liquor.’

Our tale moves onto theorising about Poe’s superego. References to a “garden” aligned to “The Domain of Arnheim”, another Poe short story where the epigraph opens with “The garden like a lady fair was cut”, this is aligned to a discussion between Paul and Dan where Paul is fiddling with his button hole whilst talking to Frau Schurzfliesh; “He was mentally caressing her buttox, the garden of the >ham=in=spheres<,”

The sexual references do not stop, there is a discussion on “menstrual fragruntses” aligned to a section “(BOYLAN holds out a forefinger:> smell=that!</LENEHAN smells glee-fully: > Ah! Lobster & Mayonnaise; ahh! < JOYCE, >ULYSSES<, 534…))

The poem of Poe’s “Al Aaraaf” is referenced, aligned to a discussion where they talk of a passion to walk naked through life, one day with “that capricious creature” and “one last uninterrupted visitation of those >proud orbs that twinkle<”. Poe’s poem is about a star that was discovered that was more brilliant than Jupiter that appeared for 17 months in 1572 and suddenly disappeared, (a place between paradise and hell).

More references to Poe’s “ignition” words, his second being “sinuous” associated with “>Sinus<? : both breast and loin” or simply “sin” and then marriage, it is “>offending your hole clientell for the sake of one customer<.”

I finished today’s reading at the references to Poe’s short story “Mesmeric Revelation” which I will read and start my next instalment in this lengthy journey. Maybe the next post I will pass page 100!!!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s