One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stefan Zweig: "The Post-Office Girl"

Yes, I'm still reading. I hope to get back to Hoffmansthal's Ein Brief (kicked up by Coetzee), but in the meanwhile I've already tackled half (Zweig doesn't cut the text into chapters but parts: Part 1 & 2) of The Post-Office Girl.

It started a bit slow for me (but I suppose it was also just hectic life). Then yesterday, while waiting at the Honda dealer, I really got sucked into it: I could almost slip into Christine's skin.

A lower middle class girl gets a taste of the "high life" (she visits her rich American aunt in Switzerland), and then, really through no fault of her own, she must leave abruptly and return to her drab job and existence.

*

Re a taxi dancer:
   She handed in her coat at the cloakroom, feeling better when the hated carapace was gone and she could hear the fast, aggressive music coming from below. She went down to the cellar. Disappointingly, it was mostly empty. Some white-jacketed lads in the orchestra were giving it all they had, apparently trying to make the few people sitting self-consciously at the tables get up and dance, but there was only a taxi dancer--plainly for hire, with hints of black eyeliner, a bit too soigne and too mincing in his dancing style--guiding one of the barmaids listlessly up and down the middle of the square dance floor.

From Wikipedia:

A taxi dancer, or taxi for short (the word has been used since circa 1927), is a paid dance partner in a partner dance. For official purposes in the US, their occupation was referred to as "dancer", when they worked in taxi-dance halls that had all the necessary business permits. But there were some professional secretaries who did moonlighting, or who worked part-time legally as a "dancer". Taxi dancers are hired to dance with their customers on a dance-by-dance basis. The term "taxi dancer" comes from the fact that, as with a taxi-cab driver, the dancer's pay is proportional to the time he or she spends dancing with the customer.
Joan Crawford Pictures, Images and Photos

Joan Crawford (circa 1927)
[She starred in a silent film called The Taxi Dancer]
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