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This article is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

Camera Lucida (Part II) Peter Hoyle

Slow mouldering and withering into Hades

I suspect that many people secretly believe my sexual impotence with Effie to be somehow related to my general impotence in age. Is it so terrible to have to admit that Effie was too mature, too womanly for the sort of man I was and am? And by 'womanly' I do not mean simply that Effie was more ample of flesh than a young girl but also that she was so much more worldly, more superficial, a Slave to Fashion, her life dominated, to the exclusion of all else, by the minutiae of social matters. So stylishly handsome for the Austrian officers in Venice! So lacking in pathos! In sensitivity and imagination! . . . In fact by remaining virgin I escaped the brothel-taint that has incapacitated many other minds this century. With all my strength I rejected the vileness of the path of Modernism in Art, Thought, and Religion - the path that leads inevitably to the same iron-fenced well at the bottom of which an indecent Truth is to be seen squatting in an ignominious posture as though relieving Herself. Unfortunately I could not escape the brain-fever produced by my inability to prevent this blackguardly century from accelerating along its present 'express' rail-road of inhuman Laissez-Faire Capitalism to Perdition. Not the body of a polluted cocotte but an immaculate contagion from the grey eyes and rosy cheeks that were never to be mine ...

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