A horrible Coelhoesque piece of pseudo-feminism, in which a fortyish Greek chambermaid who doesn't know the difference between a pawn and a bishop sud
A horrible Coelhoesque piece of pseudo-feminism, in which a fortyish Greek chambermaid who doesn't know the difference between a pawn and a bishop suddenly conceives a passion for chess, develops a touching friendship with her wise old school-teacher, finds her true self under his guidance and becomes a champion player, all in the course of a few months.
The moral is clear. Chicks are dumb: they can only become smart through the operation of divine grace, mediated by a suitable man. A slap in the face for every woman who's spent years of her life working hard to learn something difficult. Avoid at all costs. ...more
This is now the third classic Swedish children's book that I've read in German translation, and once again I find, to my considerable surprise, that SThis is now the third classic Swedish children's book that I've read in German translation, and once again I find, to my considerable surprise, that Swedish stories can survive the transition to this new language intact. I read it, and I'm amazed by the translator's skill, but even more by the fact that it's possible in the first place. It sounds like Madicken! The teasing conversations with her little sister Lisabeth sound the same; the author's ironic asides about the many things that go right past the seven year old heroine sound the same; the wonderful lyrical passages on the beauty of the Swedish seasons sound the same; they've even found a way to translate the sisters' trademark private phrase, which in Swedish is Pilutta dig! and in German becomes Ätsch, Pustekuchen! so that it sounds the same. I really want to sit down and do a detailed comparison with the original to see if I can figure out how the magic works. Somehow, it seems that a skillful translator can usually find German words which keep the prosody more or less unchanged, so you can hear the different voices the way they're supposed to be. This doesn't work in English.
The book consists of a series of loosely connected short stories, spanning a year of Madicken's life, and they are utterly charming. I have trouble saying which bit I liked most, they're all perfect, but maybe the beginning of the winter story. It's the first day when the river has frozen over properly. Madicken and Lisabeth have rushed out of bed as soon as they were alerted to the amazing news, and they've put on their warm clothes and their skates as fast as ever they could. They've promised to be back in time for breakfast. But now they're out on the ice, and Astrid Lindgren does such a good job of describing how wonderful it is to be seven and out skating with your little sister on new ice that's completely shiny and clean because no one else has discovered it yet. They skate and skate and skate.
"We could skate all the way to the farm," suggests Madicken.
"Are we allowed to do that?" asks Lisabeth.
"We wouldn't be allowed to go down the road," says Madicken. "It's too far. But it's much quicker skating, so that's okay."
Lisabeth accepts this extremely dubious argument and they skate off. It turns out that the farm's rather a long way by river too. They go round bend after bend, but it just won't turn up like it's supposed to. Suddenly the girls realize that they're half an hour from home and they're very hungry and they'd promised to be back for breakfast.
"We must be nearly there," says Madicken. "We can't turn round now. I know what. We'll ask if we can buy some eggs."
"But how will we eat them?" asks Lisabeth.
"We can ask them boil them for us," says Madicken.
"But do we have any money?" asks Lisabeth.
"I have two öre in my pocket," says Madicken.
"Is that enough to buy two eggs?" asks Lisabeth.
"Well," says Madicken. "We'll ask how many eggs we can buy for two öre. It'll work out."
So she looks in her pocket, but she can't find the two öre. It's just gone.
"It doesn't matter," she says. "Two öre more or less doesn't make any difference. I bet they'll invite us to stay for breakfast."
Lisabeth isn't so sure about all this, and the farm still hasn't turned up, and she's hungry and cold. She starts crying, but then they go round the next bend and there it is. They take off their skates and knock on the door. The family is already sitting down and eating breakfast.
"Can we buy some eggs?" asks Lisabeth, who's forgotten all the changes of plan. Madicken grits her teeth. Her stupid little sister has just ruined everything!
"How many did your mother tell you to buy?" asks kind Mrs. Karlsson.
"I'm afraid we don't have any money," says Madicken.
"But we're very hungry," says Lisabeth.
"I understand that you are," says Farmer Karlsson, but he doesn't really seem to understand very well, since he just goes back to eating his breakfast without saying anything else. Luckily his wife understand better.
"Would you girls like some porridge?" she asks.
"Oh yes please!" say Madicken and Lisabeth at the same time. They take off their coats and sit down. A moment later they have two steaming bowls of porridge in front of them.
"Porridge is my absolute favorite!" says Madicken politely.
"And is it your favorite too?" Mrs. Karlsson asks Lisabeth.
"No," says Lisabeth, who is very truthful but doesn't like to waste words when she's eating.
"And what is your favorite?" asks Mrs. Karlsson.
"Chocolate pudding and pudding and other puddings," says Lisabeth. Madicken sighs.
"Chocolate pudding means chocolate pudding and pudding means vanilla pudding and other puddings means other puddings," she explains. No one understands what Lisabeth says except her.
For some reason, Mr. Karlsson seems to be sort of laughing without really laughing. Madicken has noticed that people at the farm often do that. ...more
My initial reason for reading this dual-language edition of the Brothers Grimm was to try and improve my German, and it certainly seems to have workedMy initial reason for reading this dual-language edition of the Brothers Grimm was to try and improve my German, and it certainly seems to have worked; when I started, I was peeking at the English shamefully often, but by the time I got to the end I was sometimes reading whole pages without a glance at the right-hand side. But never mind the pedagogical aspects: the book itself was so fascinating. As with Les trois mousquetaires and the Arabian Nights, I had somehow got the idea that it was a children's book. Was I ever wrong.
In the pre-Disneyfied version, the stories turn out to be most unsuitable for children. They are violent fantasies written in a clever faux-naive style, and it is easy to see why they have enjoyed their huge success. To give a couple of striking examples, in Allerleirauh the princess first has to escape from her home after her father announces that he is going to marry her (she reminds him too much of her dead mother); she takes refuge at another castle, where she is forced to work as a scullery maid and sleep, Harry Potter-style, in a cupboard under the stairs. Another remarkable story was Die Gänsemagd; this time, the princess is forced to change places with her evil maidservant, who marries the prince while her mistress is given a job herding geese. At the end, the maidservant's treachery is uncovered. The king describes to her what she has done, pretending that he is talking about someone else, and asks what a suitable punishment would be. The conclusion is as follows:
Da sprach die falsche Braut: "Die ist nichts Besseres wert, als daß sie splitternackt ausgezogen und in ein Faß gesteckt wird, das inwendig mit spitzen Nägeln beschlagen ist; und zwei weiße Pferde müssen vorgespannt werden, die sie Gasse auf Gasse ab zu Tode schleifen." - "Das bist du," sprach der alte König, "und hast dein eigen Urteil gefunden, und danach soll dir widerfahren." Und als das Urteil vollzogen war, vermählte sich der junge König mit seiner rechten Gemahlin, und beide beherrschten ihr Reich in Frieden und Seligkeit.
["No better than this," answered the false bride, "that she be stripped naked, put into a cask studded inside with sharp nails, and be dragged along in it by two white horses from street to street, until she be dead." - "Thou art that woman," said the old King, "Thou hast spoken thy own doom, and as thou hast said, so shall it be done." And when the sentence was fulfilled, the Prince married the true bride, and ever after they ruled over their kingdom in peace and blessedness.]
As already noted, most parents will not want to read this to their kids. The thing that will make the adult reader increasingly uneasy, however, is the contrast between the brilliant writing and the underlying message. The heroes and heroines are beautiful, almost always blonde, and justified in committing any kind of barbaric cruelty against their enemies; I lost count of the number of evil witches, stepmothers and stepsisters who were burned alive, eaten by wild animals, torn limb from limb or blinded. It is obvious why the book was popular with the Nazis - so popular, apparently, that it was banned for a while after the end of World War II. But it's a masterpiece, and I think it's entirely appropriate that it's been reinstated.
Karl Ove Knausgård is one of the most insightful modern commentators on the Nazi era, and he has had many interesting things to say about this subject. In an interview he gave a few years ago, he defended himself against the charge that he was trying to glorify Nazism. Of course Nazism was beautiful, he said scornfully. If it hadn't been, how could it have seduced so many people? When I read the Brother Grimm in the original German, I felt I understood better what he had meant. ...more
There's a certain pattern of behavior which will be familiar to many people who write, and in particular to many people who write on Goodreads. You wrThere's a certain pattern of behavior which will be familiar to many people who write, and in particular to many people who write on Goodreads. You write things. Some of the things you write get more attention, and some get less attention. After a while, you notice that when you write about yourself, directly or indirectly, you get more attention. You like getting attention, so you write more about yourself and you write more directly about yourself. After a while, you discover that you're writing about yourself rather a lot and rather directly. In fact, you're doing it so much that you're starting to view your whole life as material for your next piece of writing.
As I said, many people who write will recognize this cycle. (I am certainly not exempt, if anyone's wondering). Most of us can control it. But some people can't control it: they have to write about themselves more and more, and in the end it becomes, literally, a drug. This book is a biography of Agnar Mykle, a Norwegian writer who was briefly famous in the mid-50s and then sank into obscurity. Mykle had the problem worse than anyone I've ever heard of; the book is a brilliant exploration of what it means to be afflicted with this syndrome. Forgive me for going into so much detail in the following, but it's a remarkable story and I am astonished to see how little there is about him available on the web. It's as though he's been airbrushed out of history.
Mykle was born in 1915; he was a sickly child, with an overprotective mother who worshipped him and a cold and distant father who ignored him. Howl of Minerva referred me to Alice Miller's classic The Drama of the Gifted Child and the Search for the True Self, and Mykle seems to fit Miller's profile extremely well. He experienced a constant urge to live up to the high expectations placed on him from an early age, but nothing ever left him feeling satisfied. He worked obsessively at school and it soon became clear that he was very intelligent. He picked up languages without effort - he spoke English, German and French almost perfectly by the time he was a teenager, despite never having visited the countries in question - and he wrote well. He was attending a business school run by an unconventional and eccentric headmaster, and when he was 20 he got what seemed like a lucky break. Another business school in Kirkenes, a little town up in the extreme north of Norway, urgently needed a substitute teacher. The school only had one teacher, so this person would formally become its acting head. Based on his excellent academic record, Mykle was offered the post and thus became, at least on paper, Norway's youngest headmaster. He took the boat up to Kirkenes a few days later.
Mykle had never had much of a chance to meet women, but now he discovered, to his surprise, that he was very attractive. (He was good-looking and had a way with words...) He quickly found himself a girlfriend and hung out with her for a few months. But then he was transferred to another school at Vardø, a couple of hours away, and met a second girl; weirdly, both girls were called Ruth. Somewhere in the middle of this, he discovered that he'd managed to get both of them pregnant. At the end of the year he escaped back to the south, leaving them and his two children behind. He did an MBA at the University of Bergen, had numerous other romantic adventures, and when he was 27 married Jane Kielland, a woman he'd met through the young socialist movement. Jane was beautiful, talented, unconventional and didn't understand the concept of jealousy. She encouraged Mykle to start writing seriously and had no objection to his constant philandering. He mostly liked young, innocent girls.
Things started to come together for Mykle. He found a sympathetic editor and sold a few short stories. After a while, he had enough of them that he could publish a collection, which got positive reviews. Many of the stories were autobiographical, and it became clear that these were the ones people liked. In 1950, he started writing a novel based on an incident that had happened late in Jane's second pregnancy. Mykle had been carrying on an affair with a 17-year-old girl up in Narvik, which had ended when they were both thrown out of the hotel where they had been staying. He was furious and wrote several angry letters to the management; then he turned the whole thing into a 400 page book. Jane, astonishingly, helped him with it, reading every page he wrote and commenting encouragingly. The novel did moderately well.
You can see how the Pavlovian training is taking effect, and in a way the whole sequence of events is perfectly logical, but I still found it amazing to follow how things progressed. Three years later, Mykle wrote a second novel, Lasso rundt fru Luna, based on his year up in the north back when he was 20. The story was very close to the real events, and was by far his most successful work to date. Two years after that, he published a sequel, Sangen om den røde rubin, based on his experiences when he was doing his MBA at Bergen. By the standards of the time, Rubin contained an extraordinary quantity of explicit sex; in fact, even today there are some passages which one can't help remarking on. (Few authors go into quite this much detail when describing the insides of women's cunts...) The book received mixed reviews but became Norway's biggest bestseller. It was then prosecuted for obscenity.
The court case, and the subsequent appeal, went on for a year. They polarized the whole country and made Mykle and his books internationally famous for a short time. The court first ruled that Rubin was obscene and impounded every copy in Norwegian bookshops and libraries; then, a few months later, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in a split decision, and it was reissued. The oddest thing about the two trials was that they ignored what was clearly the most important question: was Mykle infringing people's right to privacy by using intimate details of their lives in his novels? The problem was that none of the women concerned wanted to come forward; all the prosecutors had was one tearful anonymous letter, which was apparently written by a former lover but which could also been a forgery. They might have won if they had prosecuted on infringement of privacy, but they had little chance when the only charge was obscenity. All they managed to do was hand Mykle a mountain of free publicity and get all the public intellectuals on his side.
Mykle's life, as his biographer says many times, is like a novel, and what happened next was ridiculously theatrical. He had won against the system and finally managed to become rich; he had sold millions of copies of his last two books, with translations into twelve languages. He blew it all in a couple of years, divorced Jane and married a fragile 20-year-old called Toril. (There were hundreds of other women in between). Toril left him after a year and went back to her parents, carrying her newborn son. There was a messy and rancourous divorce, where Toril's lawyers succeeded in forcing Mykle to sign a statement forbidding him to write anything about her without her explicit permission.
Mykle went over the edge and had a mental breakdown; in a theme the biographer takes pleasure in underlining, it was almost as though he had signed a pact with the Devil, who had now come to fetch him. (Weirdly, he had produced a version of Faust as a puppet play several years earlier...) The rest of his life was indeed hell. His publishers begged him for a third volume of his autobiographical novel series but he couldn't deliver. He could no longer recast his life as fiction; all he could do was write, endlessly, about himself. He started explaining to people, over and over again, that he was the world's greatest author and that he would win a double Nobel Prize in 1984. He wrote long letters, sometimes of hundreds or even thousands of pages, to all kinds of bizarre addressees: the tax authorities, the King, the newly widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. He compared himself with Jesus, or sometimes God the Father. Bankrupt, he went back to live with Jane while continuing to persecute his former third wife, who eventually killed herself. The later Mykle is one of the most unpleasant characters I have ever come across, in real life or in fiction; his biographer, who spent 15 years researching this excellent book, is often unable to restrain his expressions of distaste when recounting the more lurid details. Jane loved him and supported him until he died in 1994. She died a year later.
What a strange, moving, terrifying story. So many times, while reading it, I thought: why hasn't this been translated? Why hasn't it been turned into a movie? Why hasn't someone written a novel based on it? Because, if ever there were someone whose life deserves to be turned into a novel, that man is Agnar Mykle. I wondered what the novel would be like. Mykle always wrote too much (he could never stop), so it would have to be monstrously long. Evidently, it would also have to be monstrously egoistic: it would be about an author who was convinced that he was the most interesting person in the world (Mykle loved to say that he was the most interesting person in the world), who was sure that he could create great literature just by writing down what had happened to him. And needless to say, this literary masterpiece would be produced regardless of what it did to the other people in the author's life. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. If the models used to create some of these immortal characters were driven to madness or suicide as a result of having their most intimate secrets exposed to the whole world, it would be the necessary price.
You know, now that I write it down, that does remind me of something. Whatever can it be? It's on the tip of my tongue... ...more
**spoiler alert** This book is invariably described as a love story - which is true as far as it goes, but it's an unusual example of the genre. The b**spoiler alert** This book is invariably described as a love story - which is true as far as it goes, but it's an unusual example of the genre. The bare bones of the plot are soon apparent. Arvid, a diffident young man who has just moved from his provincial Swedish town to 1890s Stockholm, is smitten with Lydia, the beautiful daughter of a well-known artist. His feelings are reciprocated; there is some passionate kissing in the arbor, and Lydia says she will wait for him always. But this makes Arvid nervous, since he has no idea how long it will take him to accumulate enough money for marriage to be a possibility. He discourages Lydia, which deeply wounds her feelings. Then her father dies, and she impulsively marries a rich, much older man. Arvid also marries. Ten years later, they meet again by chance and cannot resist the temptation to begin an illicit affair.
In most books of this kind, the focus will be on the the intrigue - can things somehow work out for the star-crossed lovers? Failing that, it will be on the morality of the situation or on the main characters' feelings. But here, it's clear pretty much from the start that things can't possibly work out, and there is little talk of morals either. There is more about feelings: Den allvarsamma leken came out in 1912, the year before Un amour de Swann, and in some ways reminds me of it. Though Söderberg's analysis is in some ways rather different from Proust's; he is much more explicit about sex - shockingly so by the standards of the time - and one of the obvious reasons why things go wrong is that Arvid fails to understand how women can be just as interested in sex as men are. Söderberg's deadpan way of presenting this is nicely done, and I believe got him into a fair amount of trouble.
But, as with Proust, feelings aren't the central thing either. What both authors are most interested in motivation, and here Söderberg comes up with a striking way of presenting his answer. Arvid is a journalist at a major newspaper, and his work is described in considerable detail. Over and over again, we see that no one really controls what the paper publishes. People make solemn promises that articles will not be published, and then they turn up in the next day's number anyway. Solecisms are carefully corrected in the proofs, but despite everyone's efforts they reappear. No one is surprised: this is how a newspaper operates, and it's taken for granted that the editor's ability to enforce his will is very limited. And, just in the same way, Arvid and Lydia have no real control over their destinies. Arvid gets involved with her again, knowing that it will lead to disaster; she takes a lover, treats him badly, then bitterly regrets it; he writes a cruel and wounding letter that can only make her hate him, reads it through, then posts it.
Throughout most of the book the philosophy is kept in the background, but once or twice it briefly moves center-stage. There is a striking scene where an older colleague, seeing that Arvid is becoming involved with the woman he later marries against his better judgement, attempts to dissuade him. Arvid asks him why he thinks it's any of his business; Herr Rissler replies that, if he was going down the street and saw a runaway horse, he would grab hold of the reins before it overturned the carriage. Arvid replies mockingly that this is surely a mixed metaphor: he can't be the horse and the driver, can he? Oh, but you can! says Herr Rissler. Let's talk Kant: as phenomenon, als Erscheinung, you are the horse, but in the noumenal world, als Ding an Sich, you are the driver. Beware.
What a clever man Hjalmar Söderberg was. In just the same way, I think his novel is two things at the same time: als Erscheinung, it is a love story, but als Ding an Sich it is a philosophical treatise. Most authors who try this manoeuvre come unstuck, but he does it so well that hardly anyone even bothers to look past the beautiful appearances; he's at least as skillful as Sartre or Camus. Chapeau, monsieur. It's comforting to see that you are not forgotten, and that your works finally seem to be reaching a wider audience.
Or, at least, that was my reaction on first reading the book. But after considering it for another couple of days, I decided it was nonsense. You only have to think a little more about Kant's picture to see why it makes no sense: we can never know anything about the Ding an Sich, so it's not reasonable to say that the philosophy is the "real" book and the love story is the appearance. As Kant points out, we only ever have appearances: here, we have a book which sometimes appears as a love story, and sometimes as a work of philosophy.
I think this way of looking at it is rather closer to the truth. The author has divided himself between the two characters of Arvid and Herr Rissler, who respectively stand for the emotional and the philosophical ways of seeing what is happening. Arvid is interested in happenings and feelings; but Rissler, like Proust, is interested in why people do things, and, even more, how they write about them to turn experience into art. Proust seems to view art as an end in itself; Marcel's dream is to become an author, and life is mostly viewed as raw material for this process. But Söderberg reverses the process and views art as therapy for the pain of life. Goethe, says Rissler at one point, wrote Die Leiden des Jungen Werther to get over his own heartbreak and inflict it on his readers instead; Strindberg (very topical in early 20th century Sweden) put all his misery into his plays and novels, and was in private life a very happy person. Similarly, Söderberg himself is writing this book to avoid shooting himself after he has been abandoned by his beloved Gertrud. So it's not necessarily a work of philosophy masquerading as a love story; it's at least as plausible that it's a love story masquerading as a work of philosophy.
We do not perceive the true reality, as Chuang Tzu said in his celebrated parable of the butterfly and the Emperor...
This is a remarkable book, and it's quite likely the main reason why its illustrator, Charb, was killed on January 7 2015 along with most of the CharlThis is a remarkable book, and it's quite likely the main reason why its illustrator, Charb, was killed on January 7 2015 along with most of the Charlie Hebdo staff. First point to note for any members of Al-Quaeda who happen to be reading this: if the Kouachi brothers hadn't murdered Charb and his colleagues, I wouldn't be posting this review, I wouldn't have read the book, and, indeed, I wouldn't even have heard of it. I presume jihadists are all familiar with the concept of martyrdom. Well, it works both ways. Je suis Charlie.
Anyway, enough of that and let's talk about the book itself. It is, indeed, very blasphemous and also very funny. But why is it so blasphemous and so funny? It's easy to give a straightforward answer to these questions: it's very blasphemous, not merely to do a cartoon Life of the Prophet, but to depict him naked, having sex with his numerous women, going to the bathroom, etc; and, if you have a sufficiently warped mind, it's very funny to see how Charb's adroit pencil treats these subjects using his trademark deadpan humor. I completely understand that the preceding sentences will make any believing Muslim's blood boil with fury, but please don't martyr me until we get to the end of the review. You'll only have to wait a couple of minutes.
I submit that there is a more interesting reason why La vie de Mahomet is both blasphemous and funny, and that is that the book, at least according to what I've seen so far, presents a fairly standard biography of the Prophet; the text has been written by "Zineb", an Arabic-speaking scholar who's very familiar with Islamic traditions, and contains numerous direct quotes from the surahs and hadiths. I hope one of my Muslim friends will suggest a mainstream book that I can read and compare with this one, so that I can be surer of my facts; but, at least as far as I am aware right now, Charb has done no more than supply the illustrations.
I think that Charb is making a worthwhile point here that isn't frivolous at all. The Muslim prohibition against depicting the Prophet doesn't strike me as irrational or wrong, but on the contrary entirely sensible. Religions have a well-known tendency towards idolatry, worshiping humanly created symbols (statues, paintings, cathedrals) rather than the thought behind them; the Catholic Church has historically been one of the most egregious sufferers from this syndrome. Clearly idolatry is wrong, and a simple way to limit its spread is to be brutal about controlling the production of idols. But, unfortunately, people have a deep-rooted love of idols, and if they aren't allowed to worship a statue they'll find the next best thing available. Charb is just pointing out in his satirical way that Muslims, even though they aren't allowed to idolize painted depictions of the Prophet, are idolizing the story of his life; when you add pictures, you can see at once that a lot of it is evidently just another ridiculous human construct. The core message of monotheism, which comes across clearly in this book, is that we should worship the intangible and immaterial One, not earthly symbols that stand for Him. This in particular includes people. People are weak and fallible. They are greedy for food and sex, they are full of petty anger and jealousy, they lie when it suits them and they think they can get away with it, and they should not be confused with God. But, somehow, we want to do it, even though we know it's wrong.
That, in my humble opinion, is the contrast which makes Charb's book so funny. Okay, I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. You can shoot me now. ...more
This week, on Dystopia! Michel Houellebecq discusses the future with Robert Heinlein
- Good evening, M. Houellebecq.
- Bonsoir, M. Heinlein. Alors, pleaThis week, on Dystopia! Michel Houellebecq discusses the future with Robert Heinlein
- Good evening, M. Houellebecq.
- Bonsoir, M. Heinlein. Alors, please, tell me your vision of the future.
- Sure. So Western civilization, it's already--
- --in a process of, ah, désintegration?
- You got it, buddy. As my old friend Cyril Kornbluth used to say, they breed faster than we do.
- Muslims, monsieur?
- People with low IQs. Same difference.
- Excusez-moi, monsieur, my novel is respectful towards the Muslim world.
- But you do say they breed faster than us?
- I do--
- You ain't foolin' anyone, Michel. I rest my case.
- We must, ah, agree to disagree. Alors, la désintegration de la civilisation occidentale. There will be increasing relaxation of the mœurs sexuels. Women will comport themselves like prostitutes, openly flaunting their faces, their legs, their breasts-
- I think it's important to describe this process explicitly.
- Absoluement, très important. The reader must be shown how these femmes décadentes behave.
- At length.
- This time, I see we agree, M. Heinlein! And then, there will be violence.
- Limited nuclear war.
- Disruption of the élection présidentielle française.
- Details, details, Michel. We can sort that out later. But the important thing is, the West is finished.
- Oui, fini.
- They will take over. It's inevitable.
- C'est inévitable.
- But there will be a few strong, survivor types. Rugged, well-prepared libertarians.
- Oui, professors of nineteenth century literature.
- They will still be there. They will take younger women.
- Jeunes étudiantes.
- Their daughters-in-law.
- Again, M. Heinlein, des détails. We agree that there is only one thing to do?
Their have been many descriptions of the grieving process in world literature a very famous one is In Search of LoThe Grieving Process in Literature
Their have been many descriptions of the grieving process in world literature a very famous one is In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust Marcel's GF has died in an acsident he is very sad and goes round asking all her friends if she was a lezzy but no one will tell him for sure in the end he thinks maybe it wasnt so important really. A modern book about the grieving process is Min Camp by Karl Over Knaugard his father has died and he is very sad and cries all the time speshully becoz his father has left the house looking like a bomb hit it there are empties and crap everywhere so he has to spend all week cleaning it up it is a nightmare.
Unfortunately In Search of Lost Time and Min Camp are very long they are like litrally thousands of pages so I havent had time to read them for this essay but they are very important books in world literature all the same. But last nite I went and saw Cans by Stuart Slade it is also about the grieving process but it is shorter and the theater is above a pub that is a plus if you ask me. This girl Jen and her uncle Len are grieving for Jens father who is also Lens brother they are cleaning up his shit putting stuff in boxes it is a bit like Min Camp I think. They are very sad becoz he topped himself he was a TV personalty who was accused of being a perv and a cereal rapist it is a refrence to Rolf Harris or Bill Cosby one of those people anyway.
Cans is quite funny people were LOLing all the time you learn a lot about how grieving works like when you are grieving you dont see the funny side of things their is this bit at the beginning when they are drowning mice it is hilarius but Jen cant see that becoz she is so broken up about her dad. And when you are grieving you arent interested in sex Jens BF wants her to sext him pictures of her ladybits but shes not interested in the end she smses him gifs she has got off a porn site she wonders if he will notice but he dont.
You learn that grief is very difficult Jen is so sad but their are 2 things that are very important if you want to feel better you have to have someone to talk to and you have to drink a lot of cider. I liked this play a lot next time something really bad happens to me I will remember that. ...more
I Grandmaster Igor Ivanov, I character in this book. I write review for Manny. Manny too scared for write review, too weak chessplayer, only FIDE mastI Grandmaster Igor Ivanov, I character in this book. I write review for Manny. Manny too scared for write review, too weak chessplayer, only FIDE master, know nothing, not even Russian. He say, Igor, you write for me. I write.
Manny say, write review for Goodreads. I look at Goodreads, is stupid site. Is just womens talk about books, talk about lityeratura. Is stupid womens, not think deep, think own thoughts, just repeat words of other womens. I know how they say, they say Lisa not good book, not good writing, not Joyce, not Proust, not lityeratura. Understand nothing. Fuck Goodreads womens.
I read Lisa, is deep book, author Jesse Kraai real man, Grandmaster, study filosofia. Has own ideas he think himself, compare chess and life. Is metafora, you understand metafora? Good. On Goodreads site you like comparison, now I make comparison with other books. I choose three books. Will be good comparison.
First book is Защита Лужина, how you say, Luzhin’s Defence. Great novel of Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov. Impossible write chess novel without think of Luzhin. Name Lisa little bit like Luzhin, kharakter of Lisa little bit like kharakter of Luzhin. Story different, Jesse Kraai write own story.
Second book is Black Cloud of great English scientist Fred Hoyle. I see you surprise, you ask why Black Cloud? I tell you. Fred Hoyle young man, he read science-fiction books, he say very bad. Authors of books know no science, how you write science-fiction book without know science? Hoyle say, I write better book. Hoyle write Black Cloud, people of lityeratura say bad book, no Proust, no Joyce, no lityeratura. Like stupid womens of Goodreads. Hoyle book published 1957, many peoples still read 2014. Hoyle right, stupid peoples of lityeratura wrong. Lisa book like Black Cloud. Is more important know chess than know lityeratura. People still read Lisa in 2070. This I am sure.
Third book is Voyage to Arcturus of David Lindsay. Is published 1920, not famous book. Is strange story, not science-fiction, not filosofia, not lityeratura. Lindsay say deep truth for life, he say life is fight, he say life is pain. People still read. Lisa make me think for Lindsay, Jesse Kraai say life is chess is fight is pain. Is good book for real man that fight, not for stupid womens of Goodreads.
Maybe few womens like Lisa, not stupid. Learn chess, learn fight, learn pain. They read Lisa, they understand. Other womens understands nothing.
Knausgård is such a crafty bastard. I can't find the heart to parody him again after the episode where his colleague adds an extra pa[from Min kamp 3]
Knausgård is such a crafty bastard. I can't find the heart to parody him again after the episode where his colleague adds an extra paragraph to the story his eighteen year old self is in the middle of writing:
I det samme jeg la øyene på papiret som stod i skrivmaskinen, så jeg at noen hade skrevet på det. Jeg blev helt kald. Den første halve siden var min, og så kom det fem linjer som ikke var mine. Jeg leste dem.
"Gabriel stakk fingrerne langt inne i den våte fitte. Å herregud, stønna Lisa. Gabriel dro fingrene ut og lukta på dem. Fitte, tenkte han. Lisa sprella under han. Gabriel drakk en drøy slurk av vodkaen. Så gliste han og dro ned glidelåsen og stakk den harde kuken in i den rynkete fitta hennes. Hun skrek av fryd. Gabriel, du er gutten sin!"
Rystet i mitt innerste, ja, nesten på gråten, satt jeg og stirret på de fem linjerne. Det var en treffende parodi på måten jeg skrev på.
I'm guessing that this is going to cause Don Bartlett some headaches when he translates it, since part of the humor resides in the contrast between the different Norwegian dialects used, but here's the best I can do right now:
The moment I saw the paper that was sitting in the typewriter, I knew someone had written on it. I felt cold with horror. The first half was mine, then there were five lines that were not mine. I read them.
"Gabriel slid his fingers all the way into her wet cunt. Oh god, moaned Lisa. Gabriel pulled his fingers out and sniffed them. Cunt, he thought. Lisa wriggled under him. Gabriel knocked back a good mouthful of the vodka. Then he smiled and pulled down his zip and shoved his hard cock into her wrinkled cunt. She screamed with pleasure. Gabriel, you're my man!"
Shaken to the core, almost in tears, I sat and stared at the five lines. It was a horribly accurate parody of my writing style.
A little later, after drinking a bottle of red wine, he vomits all over his notes; although this is in a way the book in miniature (bad sex, alcohol, bodily fluids, literary ambitions and humiliation), he's successfully dissuaded me from assisting his heartless friend Tor Einar any further. The two parodies I've already written will have to be enough.
But writing a serious review is almost as unattractive, since he's ready to meet me there too. Uncle Kjartan's interminable monologues on Heidegger seem embarrassingly close to the things I've been saying this week about Min kamp 4; Kjartan's relatives try their best to create a Heidegger-free zone, and Not has been making similar suggestions about a moratorium on Knausgård criticism. I just have to admit I've been boxed in. Evidently, Knausgård feels he can take himself to pieces more brutally than any of us onlookers, and will in due course spend a thousand pages doing exactly that in the last volume. I can see he's getting nicely warmed up.
Okay, Karl Ove, you win. Carry on telling me about what an appalling person you are while taking my time and money, and don't even let me get a word in edgeways. You really are a slick con artist.
Basically, Russell's History of Western Philosophy adapted as a postmodern Norwegian YA novel. Or if you want more details:
(view spoiler)["Where are wBasically, Russell's History of Western Philosophy adapted as a postmodern Norwegian YA novel. Or if you want more details:
(view spoiler)["Where are we?" asked Sofie. "I don't understand. We aren't in my world any more. Or in Hilde's world. So..."
Alberto sighed. "It is clear," he said, "that we have entered another narrative. By the look of it, I strongly suspect a review. On the Goodreads website."
"Explain!" said Sofie.
"You remember that we became a book," continued Alberto patiently. "I can see that this book was very successful. It has been widely read - so widely, in fact, that people have started parodying it. We are in one of those parodies."
"Then we are being written again?" asked Sofie. "By someone else?"
"Indeed," replied Alberto. "I can immediately tell from the style that the author has changed."
"But in that case," said Sofie, "are we still us? If we're in the mind of a different person?"
"Ah," said Alberto. "A very interesting question! Come, Sofie, you have now finished my philosophy course. What possibilities are there?"
"Well," said Sofie, considering. "I suppose Plato might have argued that the real Sofie was never in the mind of her author. What was there could only have been a poor shadow of the true Sofie, who was in the world of Forms. So why could not another shadow appear in the mind of a different person, and be just as real as the first one?"
"Excellent, excellent," murmured her teacher. "Please continue."
"And Berkeley," said Sofie, "would have told me I was an idea in the mind of God, even if I was at the same time an idea in the mind of another of God's creatures. So even if I have a different author, I am still one of God's thoughts."
"You are an attentive student," smiled Alberto.
"And Hegel would also agree," said Sofie. "He would say I had become part of the Weltgeist, the World Spirit. The Weltgeist encompasses many individual minds, so although I am written by a different person, I am still me."
"I am proud of you," said Alberto. "And now--"
"No, wait!" said Sofie. "Sartre would have said that it is my individual choice to decide who I am. Only I can resolve my existential situation. I have to take responsibility for it myself."
"And do you take responsibility for it?" asked Alberto.
"Hm," said Sofie. "On the one hand, I don't feel I'm very well written. My dialogue is flat and implausible. I'm not a particularly credible character, just a mouthpiece for the author. Of course the same goes for you."
"And is that bad?" asked Alberto.
"Maybe not," said Sofie. "After all, it's made clear that we are just characters in an invented philosophy text. And there are so many references to Plato. Many of his characters are flat and unbelievable too, and only serve as foils for Socrates."
"A good point," murmured Alberto.
"And the author's intentions are admirable!" said Sofie enthusiastically. "The passage about Nils Holgerssons underbara resa could not be more clear. He wants to write a philosophy course suitable for younger teens that will genuinely engage their attention. Maybe the Philip K. Dick plays on the nature of reality are unsubtle. But they work. Tens of millions of people have read and enjoyed this book, who would never have dreamed of reading an ordinary piece of philosophy. Of course we aren't as good as Russell, but is that the relevant comparison? We're so much better than Harry Potter or Twilight."
"But are you still you?" asked Alberto. "That, after all, is the question we started off discussing."
"I am!" replied Sofie firmly. "I decide that I am. I know I'm now being written by someone else, but it makes no difference. I can feel he wants to start picking at the details - that absurdly incorrect description of the Big Bang, for example - but I won't let him!"
"Irony, irony," said Alberto.
"I'll let him have his little bit of irony," said Sofie in a scornful voice, "but I don't care! I'm stronger than he is, and I will go on to introduce millions more kids to philosophy. Maybe they'll look back one day when they've become more sophisticated and sneer, but it doesn't matter. I'll know what really got them started on the subject."
"Well said!" said Alberto, and laughed out loud. "You are my very favorite teen girl philosopher superhero. Bravo! Bravo!"
"Thank you," said Sofie modestly. "I wondered when you'd figure out why I was wearing a cape. Here, I have one for you too. I hope the color goes with your skiing hat?"
"Not bad," said Alberto, as he surveyed his reflection in the magic mirror.
"Okay then!" said Sofie. She pointed towards the infinite realms of chaos around them. "No time to lose! Come on! Let's philosophize!" (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I had trouble at first making sense of this controversial book, but after a while I thought of my autistic son Jonathan and it all came into focus. JoI had trouble at first making sense of this controversial book, but after a while I thought of my autistic son Jonathan and it all came into focus. Jonathan has a number of behavioral patterns which make life difficult for him, and the worst of them is his love of Making People Angry. As he explains in his disarmingly candid way, Making People Angry Is Fun. Ideally, the people being made angry should be attractive women; these are described as "Sweet And Pretty" if they are under 30, or "Beautiful And Exciting" if they are older than the cutoff date. (As you can see, Jonathan is ageist, but chivalrously so). Possibly under the influence of watching too many Elvis Presley movies - he is a huge fan - Jonathan sometimes hopes, as a result of being Made Angry, that the Sweet And Pretty women will Lie Down In His Lap. It has never become clear what this would involve, since Jonathan's carers, particularly the Sweet and Pretty ones, have made it clear that Making People Angry is Inappropriate, and resolutely refuse even to talk about the possibility of any Lying Down In Laps. But Jonathan continues to hope.
And so to Mind and Cosmos. I am afraid that Thomas Nagel, a distinguished philosopher who definitely should know better, also seems to be rather fond of Making People Angry. Here, he says a number of very Inappropriate things. He casts doubt on the validity of Neo-Darwinian evolution as an explanatory mechanism for the development of the mental faculties we observe in the higher species, and in particular in humans. He states that there is no reason to believe that life arose on Earth as a result of natural physical and chemical processes, and impudently quotes authorities like Crick and Monod as supporting his position. He dismisses the notion of a multiverse in two sentences, which, to provide added sting, he puts in a footnote. He argues that moral judgments have objective validity, which humans are somehow capable of directly perceiving. Worst of all, he repeatedly uses the T-word: if you have not come across it, this word starts with a T and ends in "eleology", and it is a very Inappropriate word indeed. I strongly advise you not to use it yourself.
I can only guess why Professor Nagel has been behaving so Inappropriately, but I note that he repeatedly mentions the many interesting discussions he has had with Professor Sharon Street of New York University. Professor Street has published several articles on evolutionary theory and its implications for theories of morality, from which Nagel quotes at length. Her position here is very different from Nagel's, and I can well believe that some of his claims could have left her feeling a little Angry. Looking at her picture, it does not seem out of the question that an elderly male academic might consider her Beautiful and Exciting, or perhaps even Sweet and Pretty.
One hopes that Professor Nagel is already behaving more Appropriately, in which case my advice will be superfluous. If not, I would recommend that he spends less time with the personable Professor Street, who seems to have an Unsettling Influence, and reads less Aristotle. Possibly he would also find it therapeutic to write a sequel to his very popular article on the philosophy of being a bat.
When a book contains a detailed description of a work of art, and especially when it explains how the work was created, that's often a clue that the oWhen a book contains a detailed description of a work of art, and especially when it explains how the work was created, that's often a clue that the object in question is standing in for the book itself. In Cat's Cradle, Newt's ironic and deceptively simple painting is the focal point of the story. In A la recherche de temps perdu, Proust uses Elstir's canvases and Vinteuil's sonata to give you some indications about his overall plan. And in Kjærstad's Jonas Wergeland trilogy, the TV series Å Tenke Stort is so clearly the book that I often have trouble remembering which is which. Self-referentiality may be a trick, but many authors are clearly unable to resist the temptation to wink at their readers in this particular way.
Åsa Larsson, a Northern Swedish writer I had not come across before, appears to be another member of this distinguished family. One of the threads in Svart Stig follows Esther, a young Lapp girl who composes a number of disturbing paintings, several of which are linked to the story. One, in particular, attracted my attention. Esther's fostermother is also an artist, and sells her work to tourists who want to go home with a Lapp souvenir. She tones it down to fit the lowest common denominator: it's not smart to be too fancy and get ideas above your station. Esther loves her mother, and what she wants most of all is to paint in oils like her. But the mother won't let her, because they are too expensive. The girl has a suggestion. She asks if she can just paint a little on the canvas, and then her mother can paint over it. It would be so cute, she begs. She'd know it was there, and her mother would too, but no one else would even guess. Her mother likes the thought, but refuses: the paint would be too thick, it'd look wrong. But Esther won't let go of her discovery and realizes it in a different way. She does a watercolor on paper, then sticks another sheet on top with a different picture. She leaves one corner loose, so that it's possible to get a glimpse of what the original painting looked like.
I think that this painting, once again, is standing in for the book. On the surface, it is a competently realized thriller set largely in Northern Sweden. There is a passable intrigue which starts with a woman being found dead in an ark, a kind of little mobile home that Northern Swedish people use for ice-fishing in the frozen lakes. The charm of the novel is derived from the use of similar details about life in the Kiruna region, a desolate Arctic mining area where many of the locals are more comfortable speaking samiska or tornedalsfinska than Swedish. It's a nice piece of work and has sold well; the blurb boasts that it's already been translated into a dozen languages.
I do wonder, though, if it is the book Larsson really wanted to write. Clearly visible under the surface there is a second book, a magical-realist story with a much less clearly defined plot. It is about snow and blood and loneliness and madness, about a world where it's just as normal to own fifty reindeer that you herd and slaughter yourself as it is to spend an hour painfully composing an email to the city slicker from Stockholm that you've had the bad luck to fall in love with. It's a beautiful and unusual piece of work, judging from the fragments that are left, and it's a shame that Larsson felt she had to paint over it. But I'm sure she was right. It wasn't anything that the tourists were likely to appreciate. ...more
- No. I'm calling by intertemporal communicator from the year- I'd like to talk to John Updike.
- My name is Manny Rayner -
- Do I know you?
- No. I'm calling by intertemporal communicator from the year 2013. I -
- You'll excuse me, Mr. Rayner, I don't find this kind of thing particularly -
- Please don't hang up yet, Mr. Updike! I believe you're writing a book called Roger's Version.
- Yes, I am as a matter of fact. But I don't -
- You've nearly finished it.
- I was working on the final pages when you called. Now I -
- They're in a revolving restaurant. He starts with the consommé, she has the prawn cocktail.
- How the hell did you know that?
- I tell you, I've read it. It was published 27 years ago.
- Jesus Christ, you really are calling from the future?
- I am.
- I... I need a moment to get used to the idea. I'm sorry. I -
- Take your time.
- So, uh, so I guess I could ask who the President is and so on, but let's cut to the chase. Do people like the book? In 2013?
- It has its fans.
- Did you like it?
- To be honest, I found it absolutely unputdownable. I've been at a conference this week in the beautiful city of Seville, which I've never seen before. But any time I had a spare moment I took it out and read some more.
- Ha! Okay, you've started off the right way. Please continue.
- I loved the narrator. Roger is one of your finest creations. So wonderfully cold and manipulative and full of intellectual insincerity. He's fantastic. Verna and Esther are nearly as good. Dale is a terrific nerd. The writing is consistently brilliant, even by your high standards. Once again, you show that you are the true heir of Flaubert.
- You do know how to pile on the flattery.
- I particularly liked the oral sex scene. Surely the most perfectly realized blow-job in all world literature. No one else could have thought of intercutting it with passages from Tertullian in the original Latin, and if they had they wouldn't have been able to make it work. Chapeau, Monsieur.
- I wondered if I'd gone too far.
- No, it's a miracle that it holds together, but it does. You make your point in an extraordinarily imaginative and original way. Not gratuitous at all. I'm lost in admiration.
- Well, thank you. Other people agree?
- I am far from being the only one.
- This really is very good to hear. So was there anything you didn't like?
- As a matter of fact...
- Look, don't get me wrong. The idea of using the modern Argument from Design as the heresy was excellent. I happen to know a lot about that, and I can see you've done your homework. You present it with your usual ironic wit. But -
- But when Dale's actually going to look for evidence of the existence of God in the physical world, why does he use that ridiculous method? You don't put a foot wrong before or after, and it's such a disappointment to see you screw up at this pivotal moment. I mean, with some novelists I wouldn't nitpick, but I know you love to get the details right. It simply wasn't worthy of you.
- Look, what on Earth was I supposed to use? I'm not a cutting-edge cosmologist. I did the best I could. At least I know about computer graphics.
- I can see you do, Mr. Updike. Good old Common LISP. It made feel quite nostalgic for the 80s. But here's what you should have done.
- I'm all ears.
- You know about the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation?
- As you've read in the book, I do.
- In 1986, people are just starting to find patterns in it. There's a guy called Smoot -
- I'm sorry, you're breaking up. Please say that again.
- Smoot. George Smoot.
- Boot? It's terrible, you were completely clear a minute ago -
- SMOOT. S-M-O-O-T. He's developed methods for measuring the tiny variations in the CMBR. His team is trying to launch a satellite experiment to do the measurements. It's called Cosmic Background Explorer, COBE. You need to check it out. Dale could take the data Smoot's team will find and use his image processing expertise to develop a new way to analyze it. He could find something extraordinary. Ambiguous, needless to say, but possibly extraordinary. So COBE -
- It's so frustrating, I can't make out a word you're saying. Adobe? Did you say Adobe?
- COBE. COBE.
- Kobe? In Japan?
- COBE. C-O-B-
- You're breaking up completely.
- C-O- Hello? Hello, Mr. Updike? Are you there? Hello?
As I say in my review, I wanted to write a parody of this wonderful book but was forced to admit defeat. Burton is too damn clever for a good parody tAs I say in my review, I wanted to write a parody of this wonderful book but was forced to admit defeat. Burton is too damn clever for a good parody to be possible. During my preliminary negotiations, I had however received a remarkable offer from Alfonso. A Burton parody without political incorrectness is unthinkable, and Alfonso bravely put himself forward to play the role of an evil blackamoor of hideous appearance.
It seems wrong that Alfonso's selfless devotion to literature should go unrewarded. I am therefore proud to present:
A Fragment of the Tale of Rashid al-Bhattan and al-Fonso the Maghrabi
Now there dwelt not far from the Caliph's court another foreigner, a Darwaysh from the Maghrib named al-Fonso, a powerful magician and geomancer; from his earliest age upwards he had been addicted to witchcraft and had studied and practiced every manner of occult science, for which unholy lore the city of Africa is notorious. And the Maghrabi possessed a seal ring, a signet that once had graced the hand of Solomon Davids-son; yet so woven about with secret spells and enchantments was it, that the Maghrabi could not avail himself of its familiar, for all his arts. But by his gramarye, the Maghrabi learned how it stood with Rashid, and he thought himself a scheme whereby he might bend the ring to his will. And one day, as Rashid left the Caliph's court, the Maghribi thrust himself in Rashid's way; and addressing him, he asked if he would learn the infallible method to win the favour of any woman, even the highest and most beautiful.
The Maghrabi was a hideous blackamoor, ill-favoured and foul with grease and grime, and Rashid laughed to hear his words, believing that he spoke in jest. But the Maghrabi spoke kindly to Rashid and flattered him and used all his charms to put him at his ease; and presently he took forth the ring and instructed him in its use, telling him that he had but to rub it to gain aught that he might want, but that only one of the Isles of the Setting Sun might thus constrain the Spirit of the Ring; and Rashid still doubting, the Maghrabi put the ring on Rashid's finger and told him to rub it. Rashid did as the Maghrabi bade; and instantly before him appeared a Marid. He trembled at the terrible sight; but, hearing the Slave of the Ring say, "Ask whatso thou wantest, verily, I am thy thrall, seeing that the signet of my lord be upon thy finger", he took courage. "Command the Marid," said the Maghrabi, "that he transport us to the Caliph's Harim." Rashid did as the Maghrabi said; "Hearing and obeying," replied the Marid, and smote the earth, so that it clave in two; and taking the Maghrabi under one arm and Rashid under the other, he bore them to the innermost sanctum of the Harim.
"Hide thyself in this closet," said the Maghrabi to Rashid, when they were arrived. "As soon as thou dost espy one of the Caliph's concubines, command the Marid to make me in all ways pleasing to her; then shalt thou see the true power of the Ring." Rashid did as the Maghrabi said; and no sooner had he concealed himself, than entered a girl high-bosomed and pleasing of face, slender-waisted and heavy of hip, of whom one might soothly say as the poet¹
Eyes like two stars and hair as black as night Lips ruby red caught in a winsome pucker So fair a maid I ween ne'er crossed my sight To look on her is aye to wish to embrace her.
She glanced with displeasure on the Maghrabi; but Rashid, heeding the magician's rede, rubbed the ring and commanded the Marid. The Maghrabi spake some words to the girl; and instantly her aspect changed, and she did with goodly gree suffer the Maghrabi, for all his hideousness, to kiss her and toy with her, and presently to disrobe her of her gold-purfled dress and even of her petticoat-trousers and know her carnally², whereby she joyed with great joyance. "Now command the Marid to take us hence," said the Maghrabi without even making the Ghusl-ablution, for he was a Kafir; and again Rashid commanded the Marid, and they made good their escape, leaving the Caliph's concubine swooned on the ground.
¹ I use Lane's somewhat anaemic translation.
² The Breslau Edition adds some details concerning the excessive size of the Maghrabi's manhood; the wording leaves it unclear whether or not this can be ascribed to the influence of the Ring....more
I am shocked, shocked, shocked that this play is officially attributed to Shakespeare. I suppose there is some tenuous evidence linking him to it, butI am shocked, shocked, shocked that this play is officially attributed to Shakespeare. I suppose there is some tenuous evidence linking him to it, but, come on guys, it would never stand up in court. And, in particular, it should never stand up on Goodreads, which has such inordinately high standards concerning questions of authorship.
Let's be reasonable: if the official policy is that the Quran is supposed to be listed as "by Anonymous", then surely the same label is appropriate here? Though I admit that I can't rule out God Almighty as a possible author. The story has a distinctly Old Testament ring to it... rape, violence against women, insane acts of vengeance, the odd bit of breathtaking poetry......more
After watching the new movie last week, I had to reread the book.
Well, the text version is better, but the movie is reasonably faithful to it and doeAfter watching the new movie last week, I had to reread the book.
Well, the text version is better, but the movie is reasonably faithful to it and does sometimes manage to supply a charming or witty illustration. For example:
- À chaque note, dit Colin, je fais correspondre un alcool, une liqueur ou un aromate. La pédale forte correspond à l'œuf battu et la pédale faible à la glace. Pour l'eau de Seltz, il faut un trille dans le registre aigu. Les quantités sont en raison directe de la durée : à la quadruple croche équivaut le seizième d'unité, à la noire l'unité, à la ronde la quadruple unité. Lorsque l'on joue un air lent, un système de registre est mis en action, de façon que la dose ne soit pas augmentée - ce qui donnerait un cocktail trop abondant - mais la teneur en alcool. Et, suivant la durée de l'air, on peut, si l'on veut, faire varier la valeur de l'unité, la réduisant, par exemple, au centième, pour pouvoir obtenir une boisson tenant compte de toutes les harmonies au moyen d'un réglage latéral.
« Le principe du biglemoi, dit Nicolas, que Monsieur connaît sans doute, repose sur la production d'interférences par deux sources animées d'un mouvement oscillatoire rigoureusement synchrone.
- J'ignorais, dit Colin, que cela mît en œuvre des éléments de physique aussi avancés.
Ils marchaient, suivant le premier trottoir venu. Un petit nuage rose descendait de l'air et s'approchait d'eux.
« J'y vais ! proposa-t-il.
- Vas-y », dit Colin.
Et le nuage les enveloppa. À l'intérieur, il faisait chaud et ça sentait le sucre à la cannelle.
Le fond de l'estrade était garni d'une tenture de velours enkysté, dans laquelle Chick avait percé des trous pour voir. Ils s'assirent sur des coussins et attendirent. À un mètre d'eux, à peine, Partre se préparait à lire sa conférence. Il émanait de son corps souple et ascétique une radiance extraordinaire, et le public, captivé par le charme redoutable qui parait ses moindres gestes, attendait, anxieux, le signal du départ.
La souris grise à moustaches noires grimpa le long de l'échelle et vint les avertir que Nicolas attendait. Ils se rappelèrent le voyage et bondirent hors du lit. La souris profitait de leur inattention pour puiser largement dans une grosse boîte de chocolats à la sapote qui se trouvait au chevet du lit.
All quite good except for the mouse, who was terrible... ...more
Ah, if only I could write like the late Sir Richard Burton! Normally I dislike translations, but to refuse to read The Arabian Nights on those groundsAh, if only I could write like the late Sir Richard Burton! Normally I dislike translations, but to refuse to read The Arabian Nights on those grounds would be like refusing to read the Bible. I love parodying people's styles, and I have tried my utmost to parody Burton convincingly, but I can't do it. He's too clever. He has taken this unique book, a miraculous survival from the most ancient antiquity, and he has created a unique language to make it accessible to us: the backbone is a kind of Spenserian English, but he has modified it in subtle ways, adding some French roots here, some Nordic ones there, pinches of more obscure ingredients when he feels he needs them, creating alliterations and internal rhymes and odd sentence structures to echo the rhythms of the original, inserting endless footnotes to tell us poor people what we're missing through not knowing Arabic.
Burton is always present in the text, leading us by the hand through his favorite passages, flooring us with a jaw-droppingly inappropriate comment one moment (it isn't sexist or racist: it transcends sexism and racism) and then turning round a second later to hit us with a marvellous piece of poetry or romance or heroism, crowing over his rivals' mistakes, inserting irrelevant anecdotes or obscure pieces of etymology that he just couldn't resist, showing off his knowledge of the seventeen languages he speaks fluently and the others that he just has a passing acquaintance with. And all the time, often without us even realizing what he's doing, telling us about Islam, the religion so many of us Westerners fear without understanding it, showing us what it's like from the inside, from the perspective of an eighth century cobbler or Caliph or slave-girl, how, whatever else it may be, it is a great religion, one that hundreds of millions of people have gladly lived and died in, without ever questioning the will of Allah or his prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.
anyone lived in a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down) spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn’t he danced his did.
Women and men(boanyone lived in a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down) spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn’t he danced his did.
Women and men(both little and small) cared for anyone not at all they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same sun moon stars rain
children guessed(but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew autumn winter spring summer) that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf she laughed his joy she cried his grief bird by snow and stir by still anyone’s any was all to her
someones married their everyones laughed their cryings and did their dance (sleep wake up and then)they said their nevers they slept their dream stars rain sun moon (and only the snow can begin to explain how children are apt to forget to remember with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess (and noone stooped to kiss his face) busy folk buried them side by side little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep and more by more they dream their sleep noone and anyone earth by april wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men(both dong and ding) summer autumn winter spring reaped their sowing and went their came sun moon stars rain...more
Although superficially similar in form, most scholars do not consider that the Abridged Pericles belongs to the Madelinian Canon; the most plauPreface
Although superficially similar in form, most scholars do not consider that the Abridged Pericles belongs to the Madelinian Canon; the most plausible theory holds that it was partly or wholly composed by an imitator, possibly a Manfred Reiner (the spelling is uncertain), who lived in Geneva around 2013.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (abridged version)
ANTIOCHUS: Here's a riddle: if you can't guess, I'm going to kill you. What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the evening, and sleeps with his daughter?
PERICLES: Humbert Humbert?
ANTIOCHUS: Close enough. But I'm going to kill you anyway.
PERICLES: Hey, no fair!
[Dumb show. Pericles flees Antioch, is shipwrecked, falls in love with Thaisa, marries her, incorrectly believes she has died in childbirth, dumps her body in the sea, places his newborn daughter in the care of an idiot and his homicidal consort, etc. Distressed by this unfortunate series of events, he decides to stop visiting his hairdresser]
PERICLES: [much longer hair] Her voice was ever soft and low An excellent thing in woman.
ATTENDANT: His wits are wandering, he thinks he's Lear.
PERICLES: And my poor fool is hanged.
ATTENDANT: He means his wife.
[Enter MARINA and THAISA]
MARINA: Hello Daddy!
PERICLES: Thou livest!
THAISA: There was a mixup. They hanged a different fool.
PERICLES: Yay! Group hug!
CHORUS: Don't you wish you could write like William Shakespeare and his unknown collaborator?
[Fresh from his triumphs in Bel-Ami, ROBERT PATTINSON will shortly be appearing in Pierre et Jean, directed by A FAMOUS FRENCH DIRECTOR. The following[Fresh from his triumphs in Bel-Ami, ROBERT PATTINSON will shortly be appearing in Pierre et Jean, directed by A FAMOUS FRENCH DIRECTOR. The following outtake has turned up on YouTube]
FRENCH DIRECTOR: Vous vous souvenez peut-être, j'ai dit que tout le monde doit lire le roman. Monsieur Pattinson, nous comprenons bien que vous êtes la grande star américaine, mais avez-vous le lit, oui ou merde?
INTERPRETER: He asks if you have read the book.
PATTINSON: Well, I've had a lot of shit going on, you know, interviews about my breakup with Kristen, and I've had to change my publicist and my personal trainer in the same week, then there's been some tax shit, so, like, give me a break dude, I'll get to it real soon, I promise, you know?
INTERPRETER: Il n'a pas lu.
FRENCH DIRECTOR: Alors, je vais vous lire un petit bout:
Une heure plus tard il était étendu dans son petit lit marin, étroit et long comme un cercueil. Il y resta longtemps, les yeux ouverts, songeant à tout ce qui s'était passé depuis deux mois dans sa vie, et surtout dans son âme. À force d'avoir souffert et fait souffrir les autres, sa douleur agressive et vengeresse s'était fatiguée, comme une lame émoussée. Il n'avait presque plus le courage d'en vouloir à quelqu'un et de quoi que ce fût, et il laissait aller sa révolte à vau-l'eau à la façon de son existence. Il se sentait tellement las de lutter, las de frapper, las de détester, las de tout, qu'il n'en pouvait plus et tâchait d'engourdir son coeur dans l'oubli, comme on tombe dans le sommeil. Il entendait vaguement autour de lui les bruits nouveaux du navire, bruits légers, à peine perceptibles en cette nuit calme du port; et de sa blessure jusque-là si cruelle il ne sentait plus aussi que les tiraillements douloureux des plaies qui se cicatrisent.
INTERPRETER: You're lying down. You don't feel too good about what's happened. You're really tired.
[PATTINSON lies down and stares at the ceiling]
FRENCH DIRECTOR: J'en ai marre marre marre de cet comédien de merde, dites-lui encore une fois que c'est Maupassant, pas cette merde de Twilight. Est-ce vraiment impossible de comprendre?
INTERPRETER: He asks if you can try to remember you're not Edward.
Gideon ushered me into the elevator with a firm, masculine hand behind the small of my back, and as always I felt an electric shock go through me. AsGideon ushered me into the elevator with a firm, masculine hand behind the small of my back, and as always I felt an electric shock go through me. As soon as the doors had closed, I sank to my knees, hardly even noticing the teak interior with its antique silver accents, and began to pleasure him. He sighed and plunged his hands into my hair.
"Oh Eva!" he groaned.
The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)...more
(Geneva, late 2012. Plainpalais market, a riotous display of phallic vegetables, ill-smelling cheese and trash literature. THE REVIEWER and his GIRLFR(Geneva, late 2012. Plainpalais market, a riotous display of phallic vegetables, ill-smelling cheese and trash literature. THE REVIEWER and his GIRLFRIEND walk through the stalls hand in hand. Polyglot conversations around them.)
THE REVIEWER: Now here's a significant quote. "My methods are new and are causing surprise To make the blind see I throw dust in their eyes."
STANISLAW LEM: Mogę to rozwinąć. MICHAEL KANDEL: I can give you more details on that.
SWEDISH SHOPPER: Hej! Jag kommer ifrån Bollestad.
THE REVIEWER: And this one. "The sense of beauty leads us astray." It's like Proust, but the exact opposite. Maximally implicit rather than maximally explicit.
AMERICAN SHOPPER: I'm from Biloxi.
THE REVIEWER: A projective space? A Riemann sphere? U.P.: up. Or down, if you prefer. It comes to the same thing.
(THE GIRLFRIEND gives him a irritated look)
THE REVIEWER: [Smugly] Don't get your knickors in a twistor.
[They have reached a bookstall full of lurid French paperbacks. THE GIRLFRIEND, ignoring him, starts going through them]
THE GIRLFRIEND: Have you read this one? Les Sirènes de l'Autoroute.
THE REVIEWER: Très douce.
THE GIRLFRIEND: Les Sacrifiés du Soleil?
THE REVIEWER: Amazingly, appallingly alliterative!
THE GIRLFRIEND: La Plage aux Nymphes?
THE REVIEWER: Nausicating.
GIRLFRIEND: [Giving up in disgust] You're such a smartarse. What were you talking about? Cosmology again?
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Take one curvature tensor, contract, subtract a scalar, et voilà! Instant universe. On that mystery and not on the Madonna which the cunning Italian intellect flung to the mob of Europe the Church is founded and founded irremovably because founded, like the world, macro- and microcosm, upon the void. Ex nihilo nihil fit. Mais non.
THE GIRLFRIEND: Speak English, you old fart.
[EINSTEIN shrugs and calls over LAWRENCE KRAUSS and RICHARD DAWKINS to join him. They sing together in uncertain harmony]
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Space is curved.
LAWRENCE KRAUSS: But it's flat.
RICHARD DAWKINS: Well, that's put an end to that.
THE REVIEWER: I'm not sure I follow---
RICHARD DAWKINS: [Irritated] There is no God. Do I have to explain everything?
[EINSTEIN, KRAUSS and DAWKINS all disappear again. THE REVIEWER and his GIRLFRIEND proceed towards the Route de Carouge. A TRAM passes, on its side a Christmas-themed wine poster whose title is "La belle houx"]
THE TRAM: Brhm brhm brhm brhm-hm-hm. Brhm.
STEPHEN POTTER: [Holding wine-glass] Too many tramlines.
THE REVIEWER: A little bit cornery round the edges.
STEPHEN POTTER: Well ployed sir!
[He raises his glass in salutation to THE REVIEWER, who follows his GIRLFRIEND across the Route de Carouge. CHARLES DARWIN steps out of the Rue De-Candolle to meet them]
CHARLES DARWIN: There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers.
THE REVIEWER: [Blankly] What's evolution got to do with it?
CHARLES DARWIN: Oh, I don't know. Survival of the fittest or something. I mean, it's survived? You can't deny that? And you wouldn't expect it to if it were as crazy as it looks?
THE REVIEWER: I suppose not. But---
CHARLES DARWIN: Not only that, it's reproduced. Any number of people have copied it.
THE GIRLFRIEND: Look, just because---
CHARLES DARWIN: [Cutting her off] Well then. I rest my case.
THE REVIEWER: [To his GIRLFRIEND] So what is the fascination of the book? What revelation does it promise us?
[Enter KRISTEN STEWART, wearing a semi-transparent gown]
THE GIRLFRIEND: You can't see as much as you think.
THE REVIEWER: The opacity only makes it more interesting. Trust me.
KRISTEN STEWART: Art thou real, my ideal? it was called, and after that there was something about twilight, will thou ever? That's so inspiring, isn't it?
THE REVIEWER: [who cannot take his eyes off her] May I write a poem to your breasts? [With an insinuating leer] They say I'm good at that.
ROBERT PATTINSON: [Shoving in ahead of him] I was first.
THE GIRLFRIEND: Well fuck me dead.
ROBERT PATTINSON: Necrophilia I've heard of sillier The question is Wont ya or will ya.
[He goes down on one knee]
KRISTEN STEWART: I will. Voglio. However you pronounce it.
THE REVIEWER: But she'll be hard. Impenetrable. Like marble. Where's the pleasure of the text?
ROBERT PATTINSON: It's not hard when you're married. You need to make a commitment.
THE REVIEWER: All the same---
[THE GIRLFRIEND drags him away towards the Pont du Mont-Blanc. Halfway across, they meet THE PROPHET ELIJAH]
[They turn, following his outstretched arm, to see the Jet d'eau]
THE REVIEWER: A height of one hundred and forty metres. Five hundred litres per second. That's --- ah --- thirty thousand litres a minute. Nearly two million litres an---
ELIJAH: Yet the lake is not full.
THE GIRLFRIEND: Well of course it fucking isn't. It flows off down the Rhône.
ELIJAH: [Disappointedly] Don't pick at the metaphor.
[THE GIRLFRIEND is about to say something else but THE REVIEWER, seeing that ELIJAH is about to make a speech, manages to stop her]
ELIJAH: Regardez! Protéiforme, constant mais toujours en changement, ange annonciateur, puissance inépuisable. C'est ça, ce livre. Vous comprenez?
THE GIRLFRIEND: [Surprised at herself] Yes.
[ELIJAH bows, first to her and then to the fountain. For a moment, they all gaze at it in silence]
E.L. JAMES: [who has somehow turned up unnoticed] Holy shit!
- Kids today! I wonder if the 70s won't be even worse than than the 60s. Honestly, you don't know what to think, dropping out of school, letting their- Kids today! I wonder if the 70s won't be even worse than than the 60s. Honestly, you don't know what to think, dropping out of school, letting their hair grow, rock and roll music, free love, drugs...
- Another martini?
- Oh, why not! Thank you. As I was saying, I don't understand young people any more, as they would say, I just don't "get" them...
- Have you read the new James Mitchener? The Drifters?
- You should take a look at it, he'll answer your questions. Great piece of work. A bit shocking in places, he's not afraid to use crude language, hit you with the occasional motherf-
- Sorry. I tell you, I've been reading Mitchener since 1947 and he just gets better. Wish I knew how he did the research for this one. A week ago, I was as "square" as they come, but now, "man!", I'm "with it".
- Harold, don't show off.
- But really, it's opened my eyes! I even went and bought the new Doors LP. L.A. Woman. My secretary recommended it. Shall I put it on?
- Harold, was that the girl at the office party who-
- Ah, yes, that was Karen.
- I think I'd rather have some more Frank Sinatra.
- Sinatra, Harold.
- Sorry darling. Maybe we should talk about something else. What do you think of Nixon's chances in '72?
- My friends in DC tell me it's a sure thing.
- Well thank God for that anyway. And here are our martinis. Cheers!
Dr. Rayner has just finished reading Mr. Phillips, a novel he greatly enjoyed, and now he walks to work along his usual route thinking aboutDr. Rayner
Dr. Rayner has just finished reading Mr. Phillips, a novel he greatly enjoyed, and now he walks to work along his usual route thinking about the review he is planning to write. Dr. Rayner has recently learned, from an online friend he feels he knows quite well but has never met in person, that he may be a High Energy Introvert or HEI. HEIs spend a large part of their time having entertaining conversations with themselves, since they tend to find the company of other people enervating. Dr. Rayner thinks that Mr. Phillips, who must be about the same age as himself, is probably also an HEI.
The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)...more
In response to innumerable queries from MJ and other people, this cheap, tacky PDF edition is now available to people who want to post sarcastic revieIn response to innumerable queries from MJ and other people, this cheap, tacky PDF edition is now available to people who want to post sarcastic reviews without substantially affecting their bank balance.