the geisha


In Anton Chekhov's sublime short story, "The Lady With the Dog," Dmitri Gurov pursues his love, Anna Sergeyevna, to her provincial Russian town and finds her with her balding husband at a performance of the operetta The Geisha. In Dezsö Kosztolányi's novel Skylark, the Vajkays, husband and wife, attend a Sárzeg performance of The Geisha. He is amused by the lyrics: "Happy Japan,/ Garden of glitter!/ Flower and fan/ Flutter and flitter . . ./ Merry little geishas we!/Come along at once and see/ Ample entertainment free,/ Given as you take your tea."

The Geisha (1896) is an actual operetta, a musical play really, by British composer Sidney Jones with Owen Hall and Harry Greenbank. It was inspired by Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado and by the fad for all things oriental. Lieutenant Reginald Fairfax is enjoying a dalliance with the head geisha, Mimosa San, when his betrothed, Molly, arrives. The operetta included a song called “The Dear Little Jappy-Jap-Jappy”and another “Chin Chin Chinaman,” which may preclude it being performed any time soon. You can hear samples of both songs, if you dare, or buy the album at Amazon.



The symposium, "Lewis Nordan and the Heartbreaking Laughter of Transcendence and Hope" is now available on video, for free, at iTunes. You'll find me there.


The summer issue of Verbsap features two of our Friday Nght Writers: Tom Lassiter ("Lawns count, take mine, a beautiful carpet of St. Augustine, kinda an oasis in this damn crazy world. And it is crazy, right?") and Neil Crabtree ("For a moment, I regretted what I’d said. Her face twitched around the eyes and she looked away, blinking, like someone awakened from a faint with smelling salts under her nose.")


A new Nabokov story in the New Yorker.  "On the stairs Natasha ran into her neighbor from across the hall, Baron Wolfe. He was somewhat laboriously ascending the bare wooden steps, caressing the bannister with his hand and whistling softly through his teeth."