“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”
– Roman Payne, The Wanderess
By Roman Payne
Why do so many humans invest a considerable portion of their fortunes on, and are so appreciative of, the advancements in neuroscience? It used to be assumed that the goal of neuroscientific studies were to cure dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and overall: to cheat death.
In 2016, however, we no longer kid ourselves privately or publicly. Today it is as acceptable to tell a stranger or a new acquaintance that you are on antidepressant drug or other psychotropic substances; or that you perform anything from yoga and meditation, to Catholic rituals or Muslim prayer.
Twenty-First Century literature, popular media in Western countries, and articles by learnéd scholars and the intelligentsia tend to agree that a fully-realized human being is someone who is not afraid to die. *
*Epicurus, for example, regarded “the unacknowledged fear of death and punishment as the primary cause of anxiety among human beings”; while Saint Augustine believed that “the fear of death makes a happy life impossible. […] The true, happy life,” Saint Augustine wrote, “requires immortality. The true life is one that is both everlasting and happy.” Scholars and writers from Plato onward wrote similar doctrines. Every man and woman may have “once have had” a fear of death. In fact, “almost all” humans feared death during childhood, and many later on. But those of us who live more or less: “contemplative lives”; those of us who devote part of each day to such activities as: introspection, self-improvement; philosophy, morality and religious practice, or the intake of pharmacological or natural psychotropic medicines, have either come to the point (and if they have not, they hopefully will, for such is the entire goal of everything from philosophy to magic to religion) where they are and can be considered “A fully-realized,” or a “flourishing,” adult.
A “flourishing” adult lives a “flourishing life”—(more specifically, a “eudaimonic” life).
Ô, Muse of Morocco, sing me my soliloquy so that I may tell my tale of your land. For never did I experience a story so hallucinatory as when I embarked upon your sand.
Morocco is a “polytropolous” land, (completely topsy-turvy); it is a land where Reality is flipped upside down and painted multi-colored—living here is like being constantly high on a wonderfully happy hallucinogenic drug. Due to the fact that I have been a wanderer—a stranger tossed among the continents—for the last twenty years, (I first began traveling at the age of nineteen and I expatriated to France when I was just a lad of twenty-one—now I am thirty-nine—from this, I have learned an important skill: how to maintain incredible strength and feed and grow the power to overcome all of life’s obstacles—no matter how drastic they are. Twenty years of traveling has taught me to survive all culture shock, fits of panic, agoraphobia, and other disorders that originate from fear. Yet this only applied to the most sophisticated cities in the world. Coming from Paris—arguably the most elegant and polite metropolis on our planet—to a bustling city in Africa where the main square near my riad
I am thankful for all of the photos I have received from women around the world who tattoo words from my books and poems, or simply inscribe the title of my novel The Wanderess anywhere from their breasts to their dimples of Venus; or on their wrists, ankles, and toes.
…In any case, by tattooing my words on your delicate self, I am obliged to love you for your entire life, you realize… to answer all of your letters (though otherwise I almost never answer readers’ letters [simply because I am lazy]). Yet now, I am obliged, you understand, to treat you always with profound kindness, replying with courtesy to every message you send me. For I would never forgive myself if a woman started to hate one of her body parts because she found out just how selfish, idle and monstrous the author of her tattoo is in real life. So for you, My Loves, I will offer my eternal affection, and I will pretend that I am a good person – God forbid you should learn that my soul is dirty and I am only “slightly” better than the Devil.
Very few novels are published with titles like: ‘The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman.’ While writers of coming-of-age novels about young men have a well-worn, established path to follow in the centuries-old genre of the: “Bildungsroman.” This German word, made popular by writers such as Goethe, refers to a “tale of initiation” where a boy, through worldly experience—usually involving solitary travel—becomes a mature man who is successful in the world. Female initiation tales in novels are much more rare, and when we do see them, they almost never involve solitary travel. A girl who has travelled alone has always risked experiencing social taboos—and still does, even in our “enlightened” 21st Century.
But a “girl travelling alone” is the subject and setting of the story in Roman Payne’s new novel, The Wanderess, which was published this month (November 2013) chez Aesthete Press. The Wanderess—Payne coined the word “wanderess” as the feminine form of “wanderer”—tells the story of “Saskia,” who begins the novel as a girl, and finishes as a young woman. Upon the death of her family, she inherits an income which allows her complete independence throughout her teenage years. This income far from consoles her. As she doesn’t need to work, nor aspire to the ambitions her—no longer living—family expects of her, she must ask herself: “what we are alive for?”… Her temporary answer is to search for the best friend she had while at boarding school in London, who now could be anywhere in Europe.
Like any great novel, there is a great romance. It begins when Saskia’s life gets tangled with the life of an adventurer (Saul), whose pursuit of pleasure and fortune gets tangled with the quest of this “Wanderess” for her long-lost friend and her own fortune. From the back cover description: “The two find themselves on a picaresque path that leads them through Spain, France, Italy and beyond; their adventures weaving them deeper and deeper into a web of jealous passion, intrigue, betrayal, and finally, murder.”
Payne admits that writing this, his fifth novel, wasn’t easy: “I already wrote a novel of initiation [Cities and Countries] about a young man’s solitary travels, adventures, and his coming-of-age; but The Wanderess is my first book where the hero is female. I obviously have no life experience in that role, yet the women who have read the advanced copies are unanimously positive. They expressed their delight and say that Saskia is lovable, convincing, and a highly-successful character.
About the Author: Roman Payne, born January 31, 1977 in Seattle, USA, is an American expatriate literary-fiction novelist. He left America in 1999 and currently lives in Paris. His novels are highly poetic, romantic and literary. They focus on the lives of dreamers and wanderers who travel (usually throughout Europe) looking for the meaning of their lives and of the world. You can meet him on Instagram at: @novelistromanpayne, join him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/novelistromanpayne, or follow his blog at: https://novelistromanpayne.wordpress.com.
Order a copy of “The Wanderess” through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wanderess-Roman-Payne/dp/098522813X. For more information about “The Wanderess,” visit the novel’s official website at: www.wanderess.com.
On April 10th, 2015, William Sheller at GreatNovels.org asks Roman Payne:
“Mr. Payne, your new novel, The Love of Europa, was just partially published – that is, the first 13 chapters were released to give readers a taste for what to expect. Do you intend to serial publish more of the book? Or will the next release be the entire book?”
Roman Payne: It will be the entire book, it should come out this summer. I have to finish writing it first, though.
William Sheller: It is an amazing beginning, I have to say. Personally, I enjoyed reading those first 70 or so pages more than anything you’ve ever written. I like it even more than The Wanderess, which some people believed would be your masterpiece, and perhaps your final work.
RP: Did they think I would drop dead? Or just take up watercolours instead of writing? …No, but I see what you mean. I hesitated to start a book after writing The Wanderess because I was worried that I couldn’t outdo The Wanderess. I thought that was the best writing I was capable of, and I didn’t want to make a slipshod performance to follow it.
WS: Well The Love of Europa is anything but slipshod! It is a beautiful story, beautifully written, and it will find a large market because it speaks primarily to “young women who love to travel.” And there are a lot of young women who love to travel, and those who love to travel tend to have the time to read a lot.
RP: Yes, well like all my books, it is written for the wanderers of the world.
WS: That is something I wanted to ask you… your thoughts on travel vs. wandering. May I print the first paragraph of The Love of Europa so people reading this can see what I’m talking about?
RP: Be my guest.
WS: You wrote: “She called herself Europa, and wandered the world from girlhood till death. She lived every kind of life and dreamt every kind of dream. She was wild in her wandering, a drop of free water. She believed only in her life and in her dreams. She called herself Europa, and her god was Beauty.”
RP: Do you like it?
WS: It’s excellent. You are like a classical composer who reuses bits of his own melodies in multiple symphonies. You take one of your quotes – one of your “wanderess” quotes, for example – and spin it into a new phrase, into a new literary quote, into a new poem.
RP: If you hit on something you like, why not create variations on that theme?
WS: Exactly. But my question here is about your use of the word “wandering” and “wandered” (“she was wild in her wandering”)… doesn’t wandering mean, sort of, walking about aimlessly!
RP: Not at all! (He punches the table)
RP: You know, “wandering” is the major theme of both my life and my work – and they are the same thing. Let me find something in my manuscript for The Love of Europa that I wrote to explain this. Somebody else asked me what “wandering” really means, and why I don’t use the word “travelling” instead. And I’ll tell you why. I wrote this to explain to that person why I use “wander” and not travel”; and then I thought, you know, a lot of people reading The Love of Europa are going to have this question, so I decided to include this paragraph in the book:
The word “travel” comes from the Old French word “travail” (or “travailler”), which means “to work, to labor; a suffering or painful effort, an arduous journey, a tormenting experience.” (“Travel,” thus, is “a painful and laborious journey”). Whereas “to wander” comes from the West Germanic “wandran,” which simply means “to roam about.” There is no labor or torment in “wandering.” There is only “roaming.” Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both at one with and separate from the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries, Dear Reader, are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.
They are both Americans, both highly-literary: Payne is the author of five novels that take place in Europe and follow the lives of itinerant dreamers who wander the world in search of adventure, meaning, and the “poetic life.” Like his characters, Payne, 38, is an itinerant dreamer who lives in Paris, wanders in Europe, and devotes his time to “living the Homeric life,” and “inventing the next novel.” Payne and Maneos are both published by Aesthete Press.
Maneos, 35, is no less a son of the divine Homer. He seeks aesthetic perfection in all things: his life, his Ancient Greek body, and his literature, which, like Payne’s, marries Classicism and Romanticism. Unlike other professional authors who seek the cliché in mid-life of some kind of professorship at a university, or a pay check in exchange for scholary pursuits in a library, Maneos chose a life that few have managed to live since the decline of the Ancient Roman aristocracy: he purchased 40-acres of Eden in North Carolina where he is constructing a vineyard to live his own version of a life like one of his heroes: the Roman literary-patron Gaius Maecenas. “Bramabella” is the name that Maneos chose for his vineyard—a construction of two Italian words that, assembled, mean “yearning for beauty.”
The two authors and the editor Jean Sitori are sitting in the office of the newspaper Literature Monthly in Paris. Jean is entranced as he watches Maneos stand and demonstrate how to properly hurl the discus. After a moment, Jean turns his attention to Payne…
JEAN SITORI: Roman, speaking of hurling the discus, you just got back from Greece where you were living for about four months… Are you happy to be back in France? Were you writing well in Greece?
PAYNE: I am always happy to be back in France—that is why I almost never leave France to begin with. When I get tricked into leaving France, I almost always regret it afterwards. I initially went to Greece this trip to research my next novel at a place on the beach just outside of Athens. But the weather got bad, the sea turned cold and violent—fault of Poseidon! I can deal with nasty weather. But when the inspiration to write disappears, I lose my mind. Here I was in Greece: the birthplace of the muses, and they had abandoned me. I tried all the tricks to get literary inspiration back: yoga, running, hard alcohol, nothing worked. My thoughts were so black that I became convinced that writing was something that was no longer a part of me at all. Now, back in France, I suddenly feel like writing again; and my work is going well.
JS: Are you reading at present?
PAYNE: No. When I am writing well, I do not read. Reading takes valuable time away, and it puts another man’s or woman’s style in your head to mar your own. What are you reading at present, Jean?
Jean makes a wholehearted laugh at this and says, “Let’s see… what am I reading these days?” With that, he begins leafing through a copy of the woman’s magazine Grazia, which he said, had “mysteriously” appeared in his briefcase that day. After scanning a blonde woman smoking a cigar for a moment, his eyes light up. He’d found an article worth commenting on to his guests. Jean summarized the article…
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg told Grazia that he made it his 2015 New Year’s resolution to, quote, “read more literature,” and to finish a book every two weeks. This resolution, he said, inspired him to make reading “chic” (we didn’t know that Zuckerberg had a magic wand for making things chic, but why not?!), so he has created a Facebook page called “A Year of Books.” It currently has just over 350,000 likes.
JS: Pietros, what do you think of Zuckerberg’ public display of affection for reading?
MANEOS: Well, I think that it is noble of Mr. Zuckerberg to do so, especially as the head of a technology company, since society seems to be awhirl over technological platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and others, which has perhaps led to a decline in the written word. Not that there aren’t a plethora of authors flooding the marketplace, but it seems that modern man has lost the ability to sit quietly with a book for an extended period of time without succumbing to the lure of online ephemera’
JS: Some of the books Zuckerberg said he is reading are excellent titles. Perhaps his publicist thought them up to make the Facebook founder seem complex and interesting, or perhaps he really is interesting. Anyway, many of the titles delve into the Baroque, others into Romanticism, others into Ornate Gothic Style… since your own books are complex and ornate, and explore Baroque Romanticism, do you foresee that pop-culture is going to lean more in your direction and away from current trends, like Philip Roth ?
MANEOS: Well, I think popular culture and literary culture are two disparate entities. With regard to popular culture, I think that it is enamored with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and other such works, no?
But now transitioning to literary culture, I don’t think that there has been much cultural shift from the irony, cynicism, and anti-aestheticism of the previous epoch. I still think that many writers and artists are busy declaiming ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’, while writing in short, spare, suburban sentences. I, of course, have rejected this trend for a Baroque aestheticism that one finds in personages like D’Annunzio and Kazantzakis. I embrace epithet, adjective, apposition and heightened musicality, which are despised by many moderns. So, I certainly consider myself part of a burgeoning counter-culture of To Kalon in modernity along with such movements in the visual arts such as Post-Contemporary.
JS: Pietros, just what is it about “Baroque aestheticism” that you embrace? And can you explain the term a little for our readers who have turned a blind eye to that phrase up until now?
MANEOS: An example of Baroque aestheticism might be, ‘The light, soft and sensuous, brushed across the crest of the Brushy Mountain,’ where spare, suburban 20th century minimalism would simply say, ‘The light hit the Brushy Mountain.’
The great Matthew Arnold once noted, ”The instinct for beauty is served by Greek literature and art as it is served by no other literature and art,’ and I am striving to continue this Hellenic sensibility in the 21st century.
JS: Pietros, when one reads your work; or talks to you personally, and listens to your music playlists, one feels that you are more Greek than any full-blood Greek currently alive in Athens, or in Sparta, or Macedonia… How come you didn’t start Bramabella in Greece instead of America? Or at least, why don’t you live six months of the year in North Carolina, and six months of the year in Greece?
MANEOS: Well, although I am Greek by descent and sensibility as an ardent student of classical antiquity, I do not speak demotic Greek, so that alone would be a challenge. Additionally, Greece is suffering under dire economic conditions, so if I ventured there, I might end up starving to death, ha!
Also, similarly to the orator/philosopher Isocrates, I have always believed that Greece or rather Hellenism is not so much of a language, or a land-mass as it is a world-view, a philosophy, if you will. Figures like Oscar Wilde, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Paul Cartledge, John Boardman and many other Artist/Scholars are as Hellenic as any Greek whose last name happens to end in ‘os’ by happenstance. You too, my friend, are Hellenic even though you were born in America, and have elected to reside abroad.
Though, I must make a final confession to you – Traveling to Greece to raise a classicizing army to battle ISIL in Syria-Iraq does intrigue me, as it is perfumed with both Herakleanism and Byronism.
JS: Pietros, our poor friend Roman is starting to daydream over there in his chair—one can tell because his eyes look like Lucy in the Heavens with Rhinestones—maybe he is bored because we are so interested in your work right now. To ask you a question about Roman’s work… His first novel was a Parisian thriller in the Dostoevsky style. His second, Cities and Countries, was a Bildungsroman set in an imaginary world. His third was a tragic love story. His fourth was a diary of seducing women in Paris—everyone from impoverished seamstresses without breeding and a ripe age that can be counted on three hands, to blue-blooded countesses cheating on their husbands. Then his fifth novel, “The Wanderess,” well that is more hard to define. The question is… you, Pietros, are a literary scholar and, if I may flatter you by saying: a literary visionary. What do you think Roman’s sixth novel will be about? What do you think it “should” be about?
MANEOS: Roman is a great genius, and I think that for Rooftop Soliloquy and The Wanderess he should be considered for the Nobel Prize, but to speak of your question, I think that he should continue in the Heroic and Aesthetic vein. Perhaps, since he is descended from the ‘Chian Nightingale’ – Homer – in such a pronounced way, he could write a Modern Odyssey akin to what Kazantzakis attempted.
JS: You make the distinction between two phrases: ‘The light hit the Brushy Mountain,’ and one that I believe you appreciate more: ‘The light, soft and sensuous, brushed across the crest of the Brushy Mountain.’ …Mark Zuckerberg would probably claim to agree with your tastes. Do you think this is an anomaly—the preference of a well-educated billionaire matching the preference of a Homeric poet who is most likely a descendant of the immortal poet Sappho ? Or do you think that we may be entering a new literary age—a time when people are, frankly, sick and tired of “spare, suburban, 20th Century minimalism?”
MANEOS: Well, I am not sure about a new literary age, but one can only hope! I think that my kinship with figures like Roman Payne, Tomasz Rut, Michael Newberry, Sabin Howard, Graydon Parrish, Michael Imber and others is indicative of a cultural paradigm shift. I am always hesitant to use the term ‘movement’ – but – there is certainly a shared sense of aesthetic values. And one of my aims is to have Bramabella stand as an expression of this aesthetic.
JS to PAYNE: Pietros Maneos is a poet, novella scribe, and satirist… he is a writer of many styles, many genres. What is your favorite genre of his at present?
PAYNE: Maneos has arrived at a sacred mastery of certain literary forms (I am not fond of the word “genre”). I would say, these “sacred forms” are my favorites of his, since no one does them better than he does. The forms that come to my mind first is what I would call his “Bramabella Pastorales.” In these poems, Maneos is able paint a landscape like Renoir or Monet, construct a exquisite virgin like John Williams Waterhouse, sing of the youthful love of a troubadour, or the old man’s lament of a Cavafy poem. He can prepare the body to fight like a Homeric hero, fall to tears like a Nocturne of Chopin. They are all that is life: his Bramabella poems are the laments of a poet intoxicated with wine, and the joys of a madman sipping the sweet fumes of the poppy.
JS: And what is the literary style that you would like to see Maneos work on next?
PAYNE: I would love to see him write a 200 page “roman d’amour” in the French tradition… an old style novel about a couple’s first love, and their last.
JS: (To the readers)… This concludes our all-too-short interview, but we at Literature Monthly hope to have Maneos and Payne with us again soon!
The way the novelist watched a woman as she lay in his bed in the morning light, her naked legs covered only by a thin sheet, the way her legs would tremble… softly shaking, softly quivering… The novelist would observe her legs half-naked, half-covered by a cotton sheet; and as they quivered he would liken them to the strings of a well-strung classical guitar played by a master musician. Each shudder of her legs beneath the sheet was the vibration of the string of the plucked guitar uttering a gentle and romantic ode that went to fill the citrus-scented air with a sweet serenade that filled the novelist’s heart with perfection, inspiring him to write and create… to write and write until his fingers exploded in a passion that can only be felt when one reads the lines of a perfect poem or hears a song gloriously played, or listens enraptured to the breath of a woman as breathes her sweet breath after she’s come to the most sensual of all climaxes a body can experience.
(excerpt from Payne’s new novel, coming in 2015)
In the world of literature, it is extremely difficult to find novels with titles like: “The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman.” And even if a woman comes of age in a novel, she may be an artist, but never an adventuress. Writers of coming-of-age novels about young adventurous men have a well-worn, established path to follow through the centuries-old genre of the: “Bildungsroman.” This German word, made popular by writers such as Goethe, refers to a “tale of initiation” where a boy, through worldly experience (usually involving solitary travel), becomes a mature man who is successful in the world. Female initiation tales in novels are much more rare, and when we do see them, they almost never involve solitary travel. Up until now, it was a social taboo for a woman to travel alone. Beyond concerns for their safety, there was the general opinion that “women just don’t do that.” Fortunately, times have changed.
“A girl travelling alone” is the subject and setting of Roman Payne’s new novel “The Wanderess” (Aesthete Press, November 2013). Payne coined the term: “wanderess,” which before the novel’s release was unfound in Google. Now, a popular quote from Payne’s novel containing this word is found in Google on over 200,000 webpages. The quote reads:
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”
“This quote especially resonates with young women,” says Payne’s publisher, “They post this quote on their WordPress and Tumblr blogs. Many are even titling their blogs ‘The Wanderess’ now.” The infatuation with this quote is partly due to the jealousy women feel towards men who travel alone. Editor of Salon Magazine, Sarah Hepola, described her jealousy in an article in Salon titled “Every Woman should Travel Alone.” In it, she recounts a scene in a movie that inspired her to travel the world: A dying mother tells her daughter, “I never got to be in the driver’s seat of my own life […] I always did what someone else wanted me to do. I’ve always been someone else’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.” Later, after traveling the world, Hepola wrote that it was “the best thing she had ever done.”
Besides literary and magazine claims supporting this lifestyle, our culture and society as a whole has changed in a way that urges women to go alone on the road… “Women have never experienced the freedom they do today,” says social anthropologist, Sophie Reynolds, “As menopause onset and marriage customs have changed, women are no longer expected to get married and have babies at a young age. And due to workplace globalization, corporations have begun to put high value on world travel in candidates for positions within their firms.” In addition to those points, women have more financial independence than they used to, airplane fares are now cheaper than ever, and safety concerns for woman travelling alone have relaxed because there is more emphasis now on women’s quality of life than before. As Payne argues, “An increase in safety risk is a small price to pay where it concerns depriving women of their right to experience a life that is as beautiful and meaningful as the lives we men experience.”
Critical reception to Payne’s novel has been entirely positive. The average Amazon review gives it five stars, and claims it is his best novel ever. Like any great novel, “The Wanderess” has a great romance. It begins when the life of the book’s heroine, Saskia (the “wanderess” in the novel) gets tangled up with the life of an adventurer named Saul, whose pursuit of pleasure and fortune is abandoned to help Saskia’s quest for her long-lost friend and her own “fortune.”
The back cover description reads: “The two find themselves on a picaresque path that leads them through Spain, France, Italy and beyond; their adventures weaving them deeper and deeper into a web of jealous passion, intrigue, betrayal, and finally, murder.”
Writer, photographer, and adventurer, Lauren Metzler writes on the subject:
“If I had let the fact that I was a woman keep me from traveling, I would’ve never lived in Thailand for nearly three years or traveled to Australia on my own, backpacked around Europe, wandered Southeast Asia, motorcycled across Italy or trekked across the Great Wall in China! I would have missed out on the most incredible adventures of my life! I believe that everyone can and should travel alone, at least once in their lifetime. Rewards from traveling are such that you will never be the same, and you will never view the world in the same way again.”
Payne receives numerous fan letters everyday from readers, mostly women, who say that “The Wanderess” has been an enormous inspiration in their lives. Many say that they take the book with them on their travels and read and re-read the novel several times, each time they need to refuel their inspiration.
“The Wanderess” is available in many bookstores worldwide, as well as on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle formats. Roman Payne greatly welcomes reader feedback. You can email him directly at email@example.com.
“The Wanderess,” Roman Payne’s latest novel, is experiencing a boom in viral activity. The subject of the book resonates with our internet culture, which allows and encourages women to brave the world on their own
In the world of literature, it is extremely difficult to find novels with titles like: “The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman.” And even if a woman comes of age in a novel, she may be an artist, but seldom an adventuress. Writers of coming-of-age novels about young adventurous men have a well-worn, established path to follow through the centuries-old genre of the: “Bildungsroman.” This German word, made popular by writers such as Goethe, refers to a “tale of initiation” where a boy, through worldly experience (usually involving solitary travel), becomes a mature man who is successful in the world. Female initiation tales in novels are much more rare, and when we do see them, they almost never involve solitary travel. Up until now, it was a social taboo for a woman to travel alone. Beyond concerns for their safety, there was the general opinion that “women just don’t do that.” Fortunately, times have changed.
“A girl traveling alone” is the subject and setting of Roman Payne’s new novel “The Wanderess” (Aesthete Press, November 2013). Payne coined the term: “wanderess,” which before the novel’s release was not found in Google or the dictionary. Now, a popular quote from Payne’s novel containing this word is found in Google on over 200,000 webpages. The quote reads:
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.” (- Roman Payne, “The Wanderess”)
“As I look back on my life, I think of how few rules should be followed. As for men, we must learn bravery and live for Pleasure and for Beauty. More important than those two things should stand only one thing for us… Honor. A man’s honor should be more sacred to him than his life — especially in our age, a time when very few men know what honor is.”
– Roman Payne
“As for you girls, you must risk everything for Freedom, and give everything for Passion, loving everything that your hearts and your bodies love. The only thing higher for a girl and more sacred for a young woman than her freedom and her passion should be her desire to make her life into poetry, surrendering everything she has to create a life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in her imagination.”
– Roman Payne
“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
– Roman Payne
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”
~Roman Payne, “The Wanderess” | www.wanderess.com
“Champagne arrived in flûtes on trays, and we emptied them
with gladness in our hearts… for when feasts are laid
and classical music is played, where champagne is drunk
once the sun has sunk, and the season of summer is alive
in spicy bloom, and beautiful women fill the room,
and are generous with laughter and smiles…
these things fill men’s hearts with joy and remind one
that life’s bounty is not always fleeting
but can be captured, and enjoyed.
It is in writing about this scene that I relive
this night in my soul.”
~ Roman Payne (Rooftop Soliloquy)
Photo Copyright 2014 Marta Szczesniak
“It’s not that we have to quit
this life one day, but it’s how
many things we have to quit
all at once: music, laughter,
the physics of falling leaves,
automobiles, holding hands,
the scent of rain, the concept
of subway trains… if only one
could leave this life slowly!”
― Roman Payne,
Friends, try to take a moment for this survey…
(Eight questions about travel & wandering, women & men)
I wrote this song back in 1997 while I was living in New Orleans on the corner of Bourbon Street and Ursulines (the old “Slave Quarters”). Recorded 2005.
I will always know the glory of the beautiful and rare,
as they will know security from labour and prayer.
As they will hear the laughter of the children they gave life,
I will know the torments of the song born under knife.
And to their girls, they will give,
while with their sons they’ll share;
where I will bear a song—a son!
The wife of despair.
SAUL FROM THE WANDERESS: “When I was younger,
I would cling to life because life was at the top of the
turning wheel. But like the song of my gypsy-girl, the
great wheel turns over and lands on a minor key. It is
then that you come of age and life means nothing to
you. To live, to die, to overdose, to fall in a coma in
the street… it is all the same. It is only in the peach
innocence of youth that life is at its crest on top of
the wheel. And there being only life, the young cling
to it, they fear death… And they should! …For they
are in life.”
― Roman Payne
(The Wanderess, Chapter XVII)
Back in 2009 I recorded this excerpt from my novel, new at the time, Rooftop Soliliquy… On “The Coming of Spring”…
From the novel, The Wanderess, by Roman Payne.
“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.”
“She was a free bird one minute: queen of the world and laughing. The next minute she would be in tears like a porcelain angel, about to teeter, fall and break. She never cried because she was afraid that something ‘would’ happen; she would cry because she feared something that could render the world more beautiful, ‘would not’ happen.”
― Roman Payne, The Wanderess, Chapter XXV
Amazon.com: the world’s largest bookstore and literature’s most powerful decision-maker. They seem to have now assumed the position of the Minister of Cultural and Judge of Public Decency… but is this business powerhouse capable of justice in the domain of Art & Culture? It appears so, as they have just banished a work of literature from their Kindle Store with the accusation that it is “Erotica”
France-based, American literary-fiction author, Roman Payne, and his publisher, Aesthete Press, have been tried, judged, and convicted in the past few days, (without defense permissible), of publishing a novel of “Erotica.” The content of the novel, which critics agree is nowhere near erotic, is not the question. The question is the cover of the book, which displays two identical naked representations (sculptures) of a nude woman. This cover is hardly racy compared to other books that Amazon categorizes as “Classics,” “Literary-Fiction” or others of a more respected nature.
Amazon’s Kindle team has already condemned his novel, The Wanderess, to the category of “Erotica.” And they refuse to budge. Up until today, the book was available on Kindle with an Adult-Warning” attached. Now, the Kindle book is no longer for sale anywhere on Amazon.
Payne who comments, “I have absolutely nothing against Erotica, although it is not my art. I am a literary-fiction author, pure and simple,” declares that he refuses to be listed on Amazon or anywhere else under the heading “Erotica.” Amazon responded to this refusal in writing to tell him that he has no choice: “The cover image of your book contains mature content, and therefore won’t surface in our general product search,” they wrote, and added that if he couldn’t accept the label of “Erotica,” he would be forced to be removed from Amazon’s Kindle Store.
“The damage has already been done,” wrote Payne before today’s removal, “My publisher and I have been refused on multiple occasions, (and I have written proof of this), to have my novel publicized by press agencies on the basis that these agencies ‘will not publicize erotica.’ These missed opportunities have cost me a lot. […] What I expect for the near-future? I will refuse the label of “Erotica” and my book will be removed from Kindle, and possibly from Amazon USA altogether.”
Just what is acceptable in 2014 to show to citizens of all ages when it comes to art? Of course there are modern modes of flagrant expression that should be reserved for adults. But what about the classics? Marble sculptures of nudes, for example… for one, they are not photographic nudes, but only artistic representations; secondly, they have to be shown to all people in real life (for the very reason that these sculptures are in public gardens, public squares, public museums)? Why are these same sculptures not allowed on the covers of mainstream books?
Novelist, Roman Payne—who emigrated to France in 1999 and has ever since lived in Paris—had high hopes for The Wanderess (his fifth novel), which he considers “his first great masterpiece.” The Wanderess is a poetic, literary-fiction love-story about “two lost souls” vagabonding in Europe where they search for a mysterious “fortune” as well as things they’ve lost in this world. Payne, who before finding success as a novelist worked as a graphic designer, used a marble statue of a nude woman as a model to create an extremely compelling book cover. The finished cover doesn’t show frontal nudity, and it doesn’t show full backside nudity (the buttocks are concealed and an arm conceals the breasts).
“Amazon’s decision not only surprised me, it blew my mind completely!” said Payne, “I’ve always tried to ignore the puritanical label people put on America. In France, where I live, nudity showing the naked breasts and backsides of women are used in the posters that advertise health & beauty products on the windows of pharmacies and perfumeries. And this is real-body nudity—not representations such as sculpture. Yes, I was and am mystified by Amazon’s reaction.” A curious coincidence is that Payne and Amazon have a reason to share similar values: they are both from Seattle.
Payne and his publisher are asking for readers opinion of this. Please log-in to the active discussion at culturalbook.com. Payne is also happy to provide interviews on the subject. To request an interview, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amazon.com: la plus grande librairie du monde, le décideur le plus puissant en matière de littérature. Le géant américain semble à présent avoir également adopté la position de Ministère de la Culture ainsi que le rôle de juge de moralité publique… mais cette “usine à gaz” a-t-elle légitimité quand il s’agit de rendre la justice dans les domaines de l’Art et de la Culture ? Cela apparaît bien comme tel, puisqu’ils viennent de bannir une œuvre littéraire de leur librairie Kindle sous le prétexte qu’elle serait “Erotica”.
L’auteur de fiction littéraire Roman Payne, résidant en France, et sa maison d’édition Aesthete Press, ont étés examinés, jugés puis finalement condamnés au cours des derniers jours, par ailleurs sans pouvoir se défendre, pour avoir publié un roman “érotique”. La teneur du roman, que les critiques s’accordent à dire qu’elle n’a absolument rien d’érotique, n’est pas en remise en question. La question réside en fait dans la couverture du livre, qui met en scène deux reproductions (de sculptures), identiques, d’une femme nue. Cette couverture est à peine plus osée, si ce n’est moins, que d’autres œuvres pourtant catégorisées dans leurs divisions “Classiques”, “Fiction Littéraire” ou tout autre section d’un genre respectable.
Le personnel de la librairie Kindle d’Amazon avait d’ores et déjà condamné son roman, The Wanderess, à cette catégorie “Erotica”. Et ils refusaient de changer de position. Un peu plus tôt aujourd’hui, le livre était encore disponible dans la librairie Kindle avec un avertissement quant à son contenu réserve aux adultes. A présent, l’édition Kindle du roman n’est plus en vente sur Amazon, où que ce soit.
Roman Payne commente : “Je n’ai absolument rien contre le genre érotique, seulement ce n’est pas mon Art. Je suis un auteur de fiction littéraire, purement et simplement.” et déclare qu’il refuse d’être listé sur Amazon ou n’importe où ailleurs sous cette bannière. A son refus, à Amazon de répondre par l’argument qu’il n’a pas le choix : “L’image de couverture de votre livre renferme un contenu adulte, et en conséquence n’adhère pas à notre politique générale de recherche de produit,” et d’ajouter que s’il ne pouvait accepter cette catégorie “Erotica”, ils se verront forcés de retirer son titre de la librairie Kindle d’Amazon.
“Le mal était déjà fait,” écrivait Payne plus tôt avant que son roman ne soit retiré, “Mon éditeur et moi-même avions déjà été refusés à de multiples occasions (et j’en ai des preuves écrites), d’être assures de la promotion de mon roman par des agences publicitaires au motif que ces dernières ‘ne pratiquent pas la promotion d’œuvres érotiques’. Ces occasions manquées m’ont coûté cher. […] Ce que je prévois dans l’avenir proche ? Je refuserai ce label “Erotica” et mon roman sera retiré de la liste des titres de la librairie Kindle, et tout compte fait, peut-être aussi du site d’Amazon aux USA.
Qu’est-ce qui est « acceptable » ? Que peut-on montrer aux citoyens de tous âges en 2014 quand il s’agit d’art ? Evidemment, il existe des modes d’expression modernes flagrants qui se doivent d’être réservés aux adultes. Mais quand il s’agit de classiques ? Les sculptures, les nus en marbre par exemple… Certes, ce ne sont pas vraiment de vrais nus, car ils en sont seulement la représentation. Mais ces sculptures et la nudité qu’elles représentent sont exposées aux yeux de tous, au quotidien, sans regard d’âge. Elles ornent fièrement les squares de nos jardins publics, de nos places publiques, de nos musées publics… Pourquoi donc ces mêmes sculptures ne sont pas autorisées sur les couvertures de livres destinés au grand public?
Le romancier Roman Payne, auteur d’origine américaine qui a émigré en France en 1999 et qui vit depuis à Paris, fondait de grands espoirs pour The Wanderess (son cinquième roman), qu’il considère comme « son premier grand chef-d’œuvre ». The Wanderess est une œuvre littéraire et poétique relatant l’histoire d’amour de « deux âmes perdues » qui vagabondent à travers l’Europe à la recherche entre autres d’une « mystérieuse fortune », ainsi que les choses qu’ils ont perdu dans ce monde. Payne, avant de trouver le succès en tant que romancier, a travaillé en tant que graphiste. Et pour créer sa couverture de livre, a utilisé comme modèle une statue de marbre d’une femme nue, pour la transformer ensuite en une couverture extrêmement convaincante. La couverture ne montre aucune nudité agressive, explicite, frontale. Elle ne montre pas plus de pleine nudité arrière (les fesses sont camouflées et un bras dissimule les seins).
«La décision d’Amazon, non seulement m’a surprise, mais m’a complètement sidérée! », a déclaré Payne, «J’ai toujours crédité l’Amérique d’une approche progressiste, comme la France, où je vis. En France, la nudité est montrée au quotidien, des seins dévoilés, des fesses sont affichées dans les vitrines des pharmacies et des parfumeries. Et ce sont des images bien réelles! Non des “représentations” de la nudité comme la sculpture. Oui, j’étais, et je suis mystifié par la réaction d’Amazon. » Une curieuse coïncidence est que Payne et Amazon devraient partager les mêmes valeurs : Ils sont tous deux de Seattle.
Payne et son éditeur vous demandent votre opinion, à vous lecteurs, et vous remercient de vous connecter sur culturalbook.com pour une discussion interactive. Roman Payne se fera également un plaisir de vous donner une interview sur le sujet. Pour demander une entrevue, merci d’adresser votre demande par mail à email@example.com.
Today, March 19th, 2014, my book The Wanderess was removed from the Kindle Store on Amazon. Click and you will find a broken link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wanderess-Roman-Payne-ebook/dp/B00H00JQZS
“Champagne arrived in flûtes on trays, and we emptied them with gladness in our hearts… for when feasts are laid and classical music is played, where champagne is drunk once the sun has sunk and the season of summer is alive in spicy bloom, and beautiful women fill the room, and are generous with laughter and smiles… these things fill men’s hearts with joy and remind one that life’s bounty is not always fleeting but can be captured, and enjoyed. It is in writing about this scene that I relive this night in my soul.”
― Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy
In this image I’ve displayed Four book covers: three of the classic,
Manon Lescaut, that are currently live on
Amazon in the General Search, “Classics”
category. The fourth: The Wanderess, will
be placed in the category called “Erotica.”
…IN RESPONSE TO ALL WHO SAY THAT THE COVER DOESN’T REPRESENT THE STORY: This in itself is an interesting story. I started writing the novel in late 2009 and it is the only novel I worked on between 2009 and 2014 (which is to say it is the sole thing that occupied my thoughts during this period).
And the first thing I created – after creating, in my head, a rough outline of the story, which I knew would center around a youngish man and a girl… some masculine heroic type, an adventurer; as for the girl all I knew was she would be what I coined was “a wanderess – the first thing I created was the cover! That is to say that I’ve carried that same cover around with me all these years “knowing” that this would be the cover of The Wanderess… whatever The Wanderess would be!