Will Facebook Win the Next Nobel Prize for Literature? Will Wine Intoxication Ever Become Mandatory for Shepherds? …An Afternoon with Authors Pietros Maneos and Roman Payne.

(See the original interview at www.literaturemonthly.com)

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.

Above, Left: Roman Payne (Photo, copyright 2014: Marta Szczesniak, Photography) | Above, Right: Pietros Maneos. NOTE: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE FOR FULL-SIZED PHOTOS OF THE AUTHORS.

Above, Left: Roman Payne (Photo, copyright 2014: Marta Szczesniak, Photography) | Above, Right: Pietros Maneos. NOTE: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE FOR FULL-SIZED PHOTOS OF THE AUTHORS.

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!

 

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“The Dawning of the Age of The Wanderess” – From “Literature Monthly” Magazine

The Dawning of the Age of the Wanderess: How Modern Culture is Encouraging Young Women to Travel the World Alone and Free

 

“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 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 roman@wanderess.com.

 

Above: Roman Payne on the bank of the Seine in Paris, December 2013.  Photo credit: Mimi Bildstein Photography.

Above: Roman Payne on the bank of the Seine in Paris, December 2013. Photo credit: Mimi Bildstein Photography.

Article About Roman Payne on “Books World”

Capture_195The Dawning of the Age of the Wanderess: How Modern Culture is Encouraging Young Women to Travel the World Alone and Free

“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”)

More:  Click Here to Read the Full Article on Books World

The Huffington Post Reviews: The Wanderess, by Roman Payne

“I believe The Wanderess to not only be a triumph of literature, but part of the burgeoning counter-culture of Aestheticism that is steadily developing in the 21st century.”

– Huffington Post Author, Pietros Maneos

[Here’s a link to the full review of my book]

….I’d say!!! That’s a nice thing to read only two days after your book is published and available for sale!  Usually two days after one of my novels gets published, I open my mail and get to read things like…

  • “20% Off Fine Broccoli Cutlets in your Grocer’s Freezer!”

  • “Buy 12 pairs of linen underwear and get the 13th pair free!”

and…

  • “Mr Payne, your rent is overdue, please attach a check for _____€ and send it by [tomorrow] or you will be forced to evict said premises.”

…Don’t they know that writers don’t have checkbooks?

…Anyway, thanks to Huffington Post writer, Pietros Maneos, for this cheerful morning.  If any of you others reading this want to brighten my day by putting a link to this article on your website, or by just clicking “like” or sending it to a friend, I want to thank you all I can.  Send me a note to gift@wanderess.com and I’ll do my best.

Yours,

Roman Payne

 

PS: Here’s a link to where my book can be bought as of yet

Wine, Saffron, Nature: The Greece of Homer in North Carolina, America

My good friend, (my close literary friend, Pietros Maneos, a writer and poet of an excellence that competes with the best of the Greeks), just purchased a farm in North Carolina where he will grow in rich soil: saffron, black truffles, grape-vines, even poppies—while he yearns for beauty. 

“Bramabella” is the name of his farm.  It is a portmanteau of two Italian words: to long/yearn for, and beauty).

I’ll digress for one paragraph with a quote by Nietzsche, inspired by his mentor: Burckhardt, who popularized the term “Renaissance” in the 1860s: “No one shall wither our faith in the imminent rebirth of Greek antiquity.”

Bramabella of Pietros Maneos

“The picture above was taken from the porch of my beloved Bramabella.” (- Maneos)

Maneos traveled from his home in Florida to North Carolina to purchase the house and farm where he can live out his love of Classicism and his search for Beauty: “…As I enter into my mid-thirties, I desire nothing more than to live a quiet life in the country, immersing myself in the wealth of pastoral Beauty […] inhaling the crisp country air, while gazing upon the picturesque rolling mountains, completely and utterly happy.”

 

It is strange how we meet friends and acquaintances at turning points in our lives, (so long as we live a dramatic life with dramatic turning points, such are lived by we artists who suffer from ‘the dramatic urge’); so that at the turning point in our lives, we grow closer to some people and lose contact with friends and people we knew before.  It was like this when I met Maneos.  I was at the time engaged so much in Homer, living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Paris and living my own heroic and decadent version of The Odyssey, that classic “Heroic Wanderer’s Tale”.  Pietros is a classical scholar, (and Hellenophile, as I am), so our literary aesthetic principals were naturally in accord.  At the time, I had just seen the publication of my fourth novel: Rooftop Soliloquy, an ode to sensuality based in part on The Odyssey.

A dramatic turning-point in my life then made me temporarily forget The Odyssey and The Iliad of Homer, as my life began to resemble a tragedy as horrible to me as Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis was to Wilde.  My days became bitter enough that I finally could find consolation only in reading Wide’s De Profundis—that amazing account of Suffering, written while the writer himself was suffering:

“Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. […] The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.”

– Oscar Wilde

Add to this another line from Nietzsche:

“The Dionysiac musician, himself imageless, is nothing but original pain….”

…Thus I changed roles in life and begin a phase that was tragic.  As a literary man, I am required to be true to who I am in life.  I could not write heroically while living tragically.  So I changed my literary style to fit my living style.  I left a lot of friends behind when I changed cities and changed personalities.  People don’t often tolerate a ‘Polytropos’ individual (to use the first adjective in the Odyssey to describe Odysseus).  Maneos was my one literary friend who truly showed a literary acceptance of my Polytropos life, an acceptance of people I believe is essential to the great writer of literature.  Also Maneos has an excellent talent—I would say better than I have—for defining aesthetic styles, and defining literary genres.  He is also an amateur of Romanticism and Oscar Wilde, so he was able to expand our principals of Heroism to include concepts of ‘Suffering’ that are overlooked in Homer.  (Recall how the tears of Achilles and the tears of Odysseus on the beach of Calypso are both overlooked when readers neglect to assign these heroes with any weaknesses.)  Indeed, in De Profundis, Wilde appears to us to possess a rather weak spirit—though his spirit shows a certain Heroism in suffering. 

My friendship with Maneos reminds me of the friendship of the Dadaists: Tristan Tzara (one of the very founders of Dadaism) with his friend and literary colleague: the tragic, depressive anti-hero, Jacques Rigaut, who became Tzara’s friend and adopted his movement.  I am happy to let Maneos be the master of his Bramabella and use his land to write the artistic/aesthetic Manifesto that will come to define Bramabellaistes.   And I would be happy to adopt such a movement as my own, shall I remain Master over my own literary works, letting them twist and shift (‘Polytropos’) according to my dramatic life changes.  And so that my literary works help to shape a part of what the Bramabella aesthetic is.

The way Maneos talks about Bramabella, it sounds like an Arcadian forum for great modern artists and writers: “I anticipate my painter friends such as Tomasz Rut, Michael Newberry, Gabriela Dellosso, Graydon Parrish and many others spending time at Bramabella so as to cultivate their artistic genius.”

It still isn’t completed decided, I think, exactly how Maneos will sculpt his Paradise.  Moreover, I believe that today he is successfully living out his dreams for tomorrow.  He said that that strolling in Bramabella, he “often [stops] to rest and to simply marvel at the multiplicity of colors of the leaves as they [dance] gently in the branches.”…Thus Maneos has successfully achieved his goal, of living for the moment, in a constant longing for Beauty!

 

Roman Payne, Novelist

www.romanpayne.com

 

INFORMATION: For more details about Bramabella or Pietros Maneos, or to inquire into how you can possibly participate in Bramabella, please email Maneos at: pietrosmaneos@aol.com.