My name, I believe, is Robert Jones

I am, that is to say I was, a great man, but I am neither the author of Junius nor the man in the mask, for my name, I believe, is Robert Jones, and I was born somewhere in the city of Fum-Fudge.

The first action of my life was the taking hold of my nose with both hands. My mother saw this and called me a genius:—my father wept for joy and presented me with a treatise on Nosology. This I mastered before I was breeched. ..

Who else but Borges could start a story by introducing a character who is unsure of his own name? The answer is Poe, the story is titled Lionizing (1835). It makes you wonder if there are any precedents of stories with characters who are unsure who they are.

I am currently reading Poe for the first time in my life. I’d written about Poe without ever having read one of his stories. Much like I had written about Baudelaire and Borges (and decided I was going to like them) without ever having read them. Recently, I found a rationale for my behaviour. It came by way of Oscar Wilde who supposedly said: “I never read a book I must review, it prejudices you so.”

I am reading Poe in Dutch, my native language. Poe is really too difficult for non-native speakers. I mean, how many native speakers know what vituperate means? In Dutch this translates as beschimpen, and while not a word I use every day, nor every month, maybe once every year, I do know what to make of it. Nevertheless, I enjoy difficult words and I learn every day. My main site Jahsonic helps me in this by providing context. Yesterday I came across arcane, I look it up at my place and at Wikipedia and at Roughly it means esoteric.

Then I remember Eric Losfeld and his Editions Arcanes:

Losfeld began secret publishing about 1949, and openly in 1952 when he established Editions Arcanes. For the following ten years or so his feet were planted firmly in the fields of both clandestine and open publishing. His open publications were certainly avant-garde and included works by Nelly Kaplan, Claude Seignolle, Boris Vian, Francis Picabia, Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues amongst others. —Patrick J. Kearney more…

Back to Poe. Please check this post with a very good illustration of Lionizing. And the superb The Nose by Gogol.

Totally unrelated is a Horace Andy track over at Sly and Robbie’s MySpace.

Excuse the rambling post. My name, I believe, is Jan Geerinck.

3 thoughts on “My name, I believe, is Robert Jones

  1. roger

    in this particular case it is easier for us Spaniards -VITUPERATE comes from latin and reads VITUPERAR in Spanish; interestingly, I believe I first learned of this word not from any old classical work but from national comic heroes “Mortadelo y Filemón” -“Paling & Ko” in the Dutch version. The author of the books, Francisco Ibáñez, is keen on using formal language parodically.

    congratulations for the blog, it is really worth spending time digging in it

  2. roger

    Thanks a lot for the link, Jan. “Mortadelo” is much more of a mainstream comic book -though still very recommendable.

    I guess comics will be a most-affected-genre if you show an interest for others such as music, cinema, literature… It happened with some friends of mine, who ended up considering comics as “too much of a limited medium” (that would make for an interesting discussion too)

    Unaware though I am about precedents to the “unsure-of-own-identity- character” topic, I feel that could make also for an interesting post -I can think now of some Leonard Cohen´s songs, but no further than that, sorry

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