« Women are more imaginative than men. They have secrets they don’t even know they have. »The belief that women have resources different from and richer than those of men was stated as early as 1871 by Rimbaud, who prophesied: « When the infinite servitude of woman shall have ended, when she will be able to live by and for herself; then man-hitherto abominable-having given her freedom, she too will be a poet. Woman will discover the unknown. Will her world be different from ours? She will discover strange, unfathomable things, repulsive, delicious. We shall take them, we shall understand them. » Here the Eve theme is treated somewhat differently, since Rimbaud recognized the unjustness of women’s servitude, but basically he sees woman as the initiator, as Eve instigating action, as a creature especially suited to « strange, unfathomable things. » The twentieth-century « liberation » of sex brought further extrapolations on the Eve theme. The conventional view, which is essentially the view Lindner took when he commenced painting seriously, was that women were both victims of man’s lust and amoral seductresses. This view was widely expressed in the mores, the literature, and the visual arts during Lindner’s Wanderjahre. In addition, the early
twentieth century was a period of aggressive suffragette activity in both Europe and the United States. Women emerged as political leaders Rosa Luxembourg in Germany, for instance, and later La Pasionaria in Spain. Woman as a modern motif took on a special coloration in our century, and Lindner shared with his artistic confreres a vivid interest in her new guises. Even the harshness, the cruelty often remarked in Lindner’s paintings, cannot be seen solely as sublimation. The hard light and graphic details in the endless Early Renaissance torture and martyr scenes cannot always have been a projection of the artist’s own sentiments. Such narratives were part of the lore, the attitudes of the period. Lindner’s work, like a good novel, deals expressly with the lore of his period, which he transforms, by means of wit and plastic invention, into a synthetic vision, a parable of the world not anchored in any special time or place. To identify Lindner wholly with his cast of characters would be like identifying Nabokov with his protagonist in Lolita, forgetting the Nabokov who so consummately identified with Gogol, or Pushkin, or poor Pnin. It would be to forget Nabokov the grand bourgeois, whose style in literature is certainly separated by his imagination from his style in life.