NABOKV-L post 0015800, Fri, 7 Dec 2007 10:48:26 -0800

more on poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox
from C Kunin

> The view and language seemed similar to old John Shade, or so it
> seemed to me. that I see that VN did indeed know of her
> work (her poems, at least), I will venture the possibility that
> Mrs. Wilcox does indeed make a cameo appearance in Shade's poem. -
> Matt Roth
Dear Matt,

As an inveterate reader on the subject of spiritualism I can tell you
that your three parallels are all commonplaces of the genre. The
mandolin, trumpet and occasional accordeon were the favored musical
instruments of humbug mediums. I suspect that is why VN, another
inveterate reader on the subject, used the image. The "pale jellies"
refers to what was called "ectoplasm" at the time. A little research
shall reward you with some images - - some silly, others quite
disgusting, and even lewd.

In SM, besides EWW, VN mentions the far more interesting Houdini of
mediums, the greatest genius of deception, Daniel Dunglas Home,
immortalized by Robert Browning as "Sludge, the Medium." Some of
Home's greatest successes came during his many years in Russia amidst
royalty and nobility and he twice married very wealthy Russian
noblewomen. He is, and hopefully shall always remain, in a class by

By luck I found an image showing DDH indulging in a little mandolin-

I also found some interesting info regarding EWW, the poet. Her
poetry it seems was well-enough known and silly enough to be
frequently parodied. Wikipedia has this example: " Sinclair Lewis
indicates Babbitt's lack of literary sophistication by having him
refer to a piece of verse as "one of the classic poems, like 'If' by
Kipling, or Ella Wheeler Wilcox's 'The Man Worth While.'"

Here are some lines from that classic:

It is easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile,
When everything goes dead wrong."

She did however achieve a moderate degree of immortality by penning
these lines: Laugh and the world laughs with you, Weep, and you weep

Isn't that a hoot?
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