Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 974310 times)

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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10200 on: October 08, 2020, 05:07:57 PM »
Who translated that edition of Dead Souls? I ask because I remember it being a pleasure, even fun to read.

If the text is very old, it could be Charles James Hogarth. There are several new translations and they are much better.

Offline Jo498

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10201 on: October 09, 2020, 12:23:44 AM »
As for the dog. I seem to recall a short story by Cekhov (not sure, could have been another late 19th century writer, it must have been in some anthology) where (as a side note, not a main plot) a boy tortures a dog or dogs by letting them eat bits of meat tied to string so he can pull them up again after the dog had swallowed them.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Brewski

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Louise Glück, new to me
« Reply #10202 on: October 09, 2020, 07:04:19 AM »
Like many people, I suspect, I was not familiar with the work of Louise Glück, who just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. A friend in Austin (also unfamiliar with her) posted this fine introduction. Like many fine writers, Glück deploys disarming simplicity.

* * * * *

The Denial of Death
Issue no. 226 (Fall 2018)

1. A Travel Diary

I had left my passport at an inn we stayed at for a night or so whose name I couldn’t remember. This is how it began. The next hotel would not receive me. A beautiful hotel, in an orange grove, with a view of the sea. How casually you accepted the room that would have been ours, and, later, how merrily you stood on the balcony, pelting me with foil-wrapped chocolates. The next day you resumed the journey we would have taken together.

The concierge procured an old blanket for me. By day, I sat outside the kitchen. By night, I spread my blanket among the orange trees. Every day was the same, except for the weather.

After a time, the staff took pity on me. A busboy would bring me food from the evening meal, the odd potato or bit of lamb. Sometimes a postcard arrived. On the front, glossy landmarks and works of art. Once, a mountain covered in snow. After a month or so there was a postscript: X sends regards.

I say a month, but really I had no idea of time. The busboy disappeared. There was a new busboy, then one more, I believe. From time to time, one would join me on my blanket.

I loved those days! Each one exactly like its predecessor. There were the stone steps we climbed together and the little town where we breakfasted. Very far away, I could see the cove where we used to swim, but not hear anymore the children calling out to one another, nor hear you anymore, asking me if I would like a cold drink, which I always would.

When the postcards stopped, I read the old ones again. I saw myself standing under the balcony in that rain of foil-covered kisses, unable to believe you would abandon me, begging you, of course, though not in words—

The concierge, I realized, had been standing beside me. Do not be sad, he said. You have begun your own journey, not into the world, like your friend, but into yourself and your memories. As they fall away, perhaps you will attain that enviable emptiness into which all things flow, like the empty cup in the Daodejing—

Everything is change, he said, and everything is connected. Also everything returns, but what returns is not what went away.

We watched you walk away. Down the stone steps and into the little town. I felt something true had been spoken, and though I would have preferred to have spoken it myself, I was glad at least to have heard it.

2. The Story of the Passport

It came back but you did not come back.
It happened as follows:

One day an envelope arrived,
bearing stamps from a small European republic.
This the concierge handed me with an air of great ceremony;
I tried to open it in the same spirit.

Inside was my passport.
There was my face, or what had been my face
at some point, deep in the past.
But I had parted ways with it,
that face smiling with such conviction,
filled with all the memories of our travels together
and our dreams of other journeys—
I threw it into the sea.

It sank immediately.
Downward, downward, while I continued
staring into the empty water.
All this time the concierge was watching me.

Come, he said, taking my arm. And we began
to walk around the lake, as was my daily habit.

I see, he said, that you no longer
wish to resume your former life,
to move, that is, in a straight line as time
suggests we do, but rather (here he gestured toward the lake)
in a circle, which aspires to
that stillness at the heart of things,
though I prefer to think it also resembles a clock.

Here he took out of his pocket
the large watch that was always with him. I challenge you, he said,
to tell, looking at this, if it is Monday or Tuesday.
But if you look at the hand that holds it, you will realize I am not
a young man anymore, my hair is silver.
Nor will you be surprised to learn
it was once dark, as yours must have been dark,
and curly, I would say.

Through this recital, we were both
watching a group of children playing in the shallows,
each body circled by a rubber tube.

Red and blue, green and yellow,
a rainbow of children splashing in the clear lake.

I could hear the clock ticking,
presumably alluding to the passage of time
while in fact annulling it.

You must ask yourself, he said, if you deceive yourself.
By which I mean looking at the watch and not
the hand holding it. We stood awhile, staring at the lake,
each of us thinking our own thoughts.

But isn’t the life of the philosopher
exactly as you describe, I said. Going over the same course,
waiting for truth to disclose itself.

But you have stopped making things, he said, which is what
the philosopher does. Remember when you kept what you called
your travel journal? You used to read it to me,
I remember it was filled with stories of every kind,
mostly love stories and stories about loss, punctuated
with fantastic details such as wouldn’t occur to most of us,

and yet hearing them I had a sense I was listening
to my own experience but more beautifully related
than I could ever have done. I felt

you were talking to me or about me though I never left your side.
What was it called? A travel diary, I think you said,
though I often called it The Denial of Death, after Ernest Becker.
And you had an odd name for me, I remember.

Concierge, I said. Concierge is what I called you.
And before that, you, which is, I believe,
a convention in fiction.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10203 on: October 09, 2020, 04:44:28 PM »
Niels Bohr’s Times, Abraham Pais.

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10204 on: October 10, 2020, 04:22:46 AM »


Haven't yet actually started this but borrowed it from the library the other day.

Offline Scion7

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10205 on: October 10, 2020, 05:45:53 AM »


A little light reading ...  0:)
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10206 on: October 10, 2020, 10:23:41 AM »
Some Cocteau: Mon premier voyage (Tour du monde en 80 jours).


In the mid-1930s, Cocteau managed to convince the Paris-Soir newspaper to sponsor a trip in which he’d emulate Phileas Fogg’s feat in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. As Cocteau would later say, to keep the 80 day deadline was barely possible in those times (aeroplanes were purposefully avoided).

This is a very entertaining book (so far Cocteau and his “Passepartout”, Marcel Khill, have reached Kuala Lumpur). The author combines a journalistic style with at times strikingly  poetic images. Of course, some attitudes and expressions regarding “exotic” lands and peoples will raise some eyebrows today, but the book is a product of it’s time and culture, not ours.

ritter
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« Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer

Liberté »

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10207 on: October 10, 2020, 10:33:53 AM »
a product of it’s time and culture, not ours.

So is the music of JS Bach.


“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10208 on: October 10, 2020, 10:48:19 AM »
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer

Liberté »

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10209 on: October 10, 2020, 10:54:16 AM »
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10210 on: October 10, 2020, 10:56:47 AM »
? ?   ;D

I just don’t understand what you’re trying to say (or imply), cher ami.
ritter
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« Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer

Liberté »

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10211 on: October 10, 2020, 11:10:57 AM »
? ?   ;D

I just don’t understand what you’re trying to say (or imply), cher ami.

What I'm trying to say, querido amigo,  is that each and every work of art created before we were born is a product of its time and culture, not ours.
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10212 on: October 10, 2020, 11:13:47 AM »
What I'm trying to say, querido amigo,  is that each and every work of art created before we were born is a product of its time and culture, not ours.
Thanks.
ritter
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« Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer

Liberté »

Offline MN Dave

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    beethoven, chopin, brahms ...
Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10213 on: October 10, 2020, 02:09:51 PM »
John D. MacDonald, Soren Kierkegard, and a book on Macca.
“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10214 on: October 10, 2020, 03:22:19 PM »
John D. MacDonald, Soren Kierkegard, and a book on Macca.

Paul McCartney? Which book?

Offline MN Dave

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10215 on: October 10, 2020, 07:54:49 PM »
Paul McCartney? Which book?

FAB. It’s pretty well done, but the author’s sometimes too opinionated for my liking.
“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10216 on: October 15, 2020, 04:41:13 PM »


That cover I've got makes it look like a novel so I considered using a different image, but looking now it seems to me that all the other options represent the book equally poorly if in differing ways.

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10217 on: October 19, 2020, 01:32:44 AM »
First approach to a novel by Julien Green (after having read a good chunk of volume 1 of his recently published "complete" diaries):

Épaves ("The Strange River"") from1932, included in volume 2 of the Pléiade edition.


The story is taking a while to "take off" (a well-to-do Parisian man witnesses one night a woman being abused by her lover on the banks of the Seine but is too weak to intervene, and four months later--I haven't reached that point--a corpse is found which may or may not be her). The malaise of the high bourgeosie of the 16ème arrondissement seems to be the point of this novel, and the city of Paris is supposed to play a dominant role in it. So far, though, it all feels quite dated and rather uninteresting. Let's see how it evolves...
ritter
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« Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer

Liberté »

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10218 on: October 19, 2020, 06:19:31 PM »
Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam. Poems of ephemerality of life by the Persian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, and poet.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 06:22:56 PM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10219 on: October 20, 2020, 07:15:01 AM »
Goodbye Christopher Robin:

Set locally on Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).