Friday, January 22, 2010

Essebac on von Plüschow photographs (2)

Why is it so hard to translate in English a French writer  from the beginning of XXth c. describing  photographs of young male models he saw in Rome ? Achille Essebac's style and sensitivity are so unique... his artistic vision is so particular... As far as I know, no one of his novels were translated in English... Oh well, the answer to my first question is because I am a poor English speaker myself ;-)

Well, as it was clear from part 1 of this post, Essebac was more moved by photographs of young men from Rome and Naples than by those of Taorminian boys. That is, he preferred von Plüschow portraits... rather than von Gloeden's ones...

Let me try now to translate his lyrical praise of von Plüschow models....

"Ephebs totally naked or draped, in such an artistic way, in white antic clothes ! They wear on their feet leather sandals or Greek cnemides,  emphasizing perfect legs... Around their heads, a crown of flowers or just a white band containing the black buckles of their hairs... They are marvellous examples of such an elegant blood, I would even say a divine blood, because in all the outlines of their bodies, one can see the inexhaustible splendour of marbles from ancient Greece. How cute are the shoulders of these teen boys whose magnificent nudity is smiling to the sun of Naples ! Such a glorious sap of youth carry in some of these teen boys, from their delicate feet to their tight chest (...) like a visible tepidness of a life one could touch while caressing their tired members. In some other models, a caressing lassitude is shown in the way they are stretching their limbs, as very young cats... This lassitude is distending their members full of health, it is visible on the surface of their body, it creates curves, it raises to the magnificent and immortal summits of pagan gods the pleasant manhood of these young men".

Achille Essebac, Partenza... vers la beauté !, 3e éd., 1903, p. 194.

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