From The Missing Pieces, a book describing works of art that were lost, forgotten, destroyed, left unfinished, or never made, by Henri Lefebvre, published this month by Semiotext(e). Lefebvre founded and directs Les Cahiers de la Seine, a publishing house devoted to contemporary poetry. Translated from the French by David L. Sweet.
Murder, the Hope of Women, a twenty-five minute opera composed in 1919 by Paul Hindemith • Missing, the poems of Robert Creeley, which littered the hardwood floor of Brautigan’s house in Bolinas, on drunken nights; Brautigan would gather them in the morning and put them in a bowl on the piano, “for posterity,” he’d say • Lost, the rope given to Marina Tsvetaeva by Boris Pasternak to tie up an overstuffed valise; in 1941, Tsvetaeva used the rope to hang herself • In 1899, the Spanish demand Goya’s remains, buried in Bordeaux in 1828; the body, without the head, is returned to Spain • “To S. A.,” the initials of a lost name, in the dedication to The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence • In 1921, in a film by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray is asked to shave off the pubic hair of the very eccentric Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven; the film is destroyed in the course of being developed • Jerry Burt says that Salinger told him in 1978 that he had written fifteen or sixteen other books after The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey: “He may have burned them all. He may have published them under another name. He didn’t have any idea at the time what he was going to do with them” • Dorothy Parker was cremated in 1967 (the epitaph suggested by Dottie: “Sorry for the dust”); the urn stayed at the undertaker’s until 1973, the year it ended up in the office of a notary, who put it in a drawer where it was forgotten until 1988 • The erotic narrative The Life Story of a Viennese Whore, As Told by Herself (1906) is signed with the pseudonym Josephine Mutzenbacher; the hypothesis is advanced that it was the work of the author of Bambi (1929), but evidence is lacking • In a fit of rage, Egon Schiele’s father, stationmaster at Tulln, burned all his son’s drawings representing railroad cars • Diego Rivera came to New York to undertake a commission at Rockefeller Center; in his mural he depicted the triumph of Marxism over capitalism and drew a portrait of Lenin; his mural was destroyed • The letters of Proust torn up by Marie-Laure de Noailles (six years old) • On the Road: the final seven meters of Jack Kerouac’s original typescript were eaten by a dog • For the 4 percent of the population afflicted with a congenital inability to perceive music, Mozart no longer exists • Jean Giraudoux: “Plagiarism is the foundation of all literatures except the first, which is unknown” • Influential surrealist “poet” Jacques Vaché never wrote a thing • In Vladivostok, the city where Osip Mandelstam is said to have died (no one is sure of this), a cast-iron statue representing the poet was lost, a victim of metal looters • William Burroughs had no memory of the writing of Naked Lunch • For her film Scarlet Diva (2000), Asia Argento requires non-simulated sex from her actors and then cuts the scenes during the editing • Pierre Louÿs started to write a Treatise on Sodomy, which he left unfinished • As a student, Ezra Pound wrote a sonnet every day for a year and destroyed all three hundred and sixty-five poems at the end • Two works by Picasso painted on Yvonne Zervos’s hands, May 23, 1937, washed since then • Destroyed, the canvases of the painter Alberto Greco, which he threw under the wheels of cars while screaming “Long live living art!” • Flaubert’s Bouvard and Pécuchet, unfinished novel; finished, it would have no ending because there is no end to the stupidity of human beings • From the train that took him to Buchenwald, the father of Martin Monestier managed to send a letter to his wife who forwarded it to their son; Martin Monestier, who didn’t want to know the contents of the letter, never opened it • A woman spreads her fingers around an object that no longer exists: The Invisible Object, a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti • Bombarded forty times and forty times rebuilt, Belgrade has lost almost all its original architectural character • The library at Alexandria in 47 b.c. • The Pit and the Pendulum, the first opus of Stephen King • After two years of work, Julio Cortázar abandons writing a biography of John Keats • Before starting the monologue of How I Ate a Dog, Yevgeni Grishkovetz wrote a version in dialogue that he destroyed: “They say manuscripts don’t burn. They burn very well,” he pointed out • Cervantes used to say of himself that he should also be admired for what he didn’t write • The National Museum of Iraq is sacked on Friday, April 11, 2003, resulting in the loss of two to three thousand antiquities • The indigenous art of all epochs destroyed by missionaries • As part of an exhibition called Land’s End, the artist Bas Jan Ader decides to cross the Atlantic solo from Cape Cod and disappears forever • In 1937, in Hollywood, Salvador Dalí works successively with the Marx Brothers and Walt Disney; only a portion of a screenplay and some photos remain of the first collaboration; of the second, ten seconds of footage and a hundred drawings were preserved • The sixteen drawings offered by Amedeo Modigliani to his lover Anna Akhmatova were “smoked” by the Red Guards, who used them as cigarette paper.