‘Lucinella’ by Lore Segal – Her One Night Stand with the Greek God Zeus in the 1970s

‘Lucinella’ by Lore Segal (1976) – 177 pages

 “Forgive me all my vanities as I forgive all of you yours.”

piatto_lucinella_72-199x300“Lucinella” is a witty little novel about aspiring poet Lucinella attending writers’ conferences.  You know the sort of thing, lectures on “Why a Symposium?”, “Why Write?”, “Why Publish?”, “Why Read?”  Between lectures, there is plenty of time for the participants to party and mingle, and mingle they do in 1970s fashion.

Mostly the poets and their significant others sit around and gossip about the other poets’ breakups or breakdowns.

For me the classic literary party novel is “The Wicked Pavilion” by Dawn Powell.  “Lucinella” does not match “The Wicked Pavilion” in terms of wit, but as a playful antic sexy little novel of the Seventies it is very good.  “Lucinella” is a novel that is worthy to be salvaged and preserved from the huge pile of Seventies novels.

All of the poets, novelists, editors, and other literary big shots at the symposium do not have individual distinct personalities but are instead treated as interchangeable parts.  Winterneet, Betterwheatling, Friendling, etc.  That’s about right for this novel.

Lucinella’s boyfriend William’s poem is near greatness or at least publication if only he can fix that weakness in the second stanza.

 “Sometime,” I say, “let me see some of your stuff.”   Why am I asking to see it?  What will I do if he is terrible, which is statistically much more probable than that he’s any good? Or if he’s marvelous what will I say then?

Then the major literary couple Zeus and Hera arrives.   Yes, that Zeus, the former Greek god.  Here is Hera’s description of Zeus in the 1970s:

“Desecrated, deposed, exiled, but incapable of dying, no longer god and unwilling – or is it unable? – to be human, what can he do but turn into an intellectual, write a book, research his own descent – heaven forgive me, maybe it’s an ascent – from a bearded snake to what? A refugee college professor!”

 Knowing Hera does not really care, Lucinella winds up in bed with Zeus.  Great sex.

 “His divine cock has lost none of its potence, and his hand is omniscient.” 

  This is very much a novel of its time, the 1970s.  It is a women’s liberation novel at a time when many women were just awakening to their own sexuality.  This was before the time feminism became strident and more anti-male.  This is an era many males of a certain age remember fondly.

2 responses to this post.

  1. I must read this! Anything about Greek gods…


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