More A_Musing?

SnakLe Salon Littéraire du Peuple pour le Peuple

Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg

More A_Musing?

Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.

Redigeret: dec 19, 2011, 6:42pm

OK, time for a new thread. I'm going to start decorating this one with some newly restored Tibetan Thangka, possibly dating from as early as the 16th century, now on exhibit at Amherst College:

Many of these had not been viewed in decades. I hope this will be an auspicious start to a new thread.

dec 19, 2011, 7:03pm

If that isn't I don't know what is. Oh hey: I brought Sakuntala home to the island for the holidays, to be read over Christmas as a richly deserved break from Laura Warholic, for to fuck with that twisted tome on a holy day would be a travesty beyond words.

dec 19, 2011, 7:19pm

I think you will enjoy Sakuntala. It's fun to think about staging it, too. Maybe put on a nice bollywood movie to get yourself ready?

I promise, it is very, very far from Hrosvitha and Hildegard.

dec 20, 2011, 4:59am

Those are gorgeous!

dec 21, 2011, 5:15am

fabulous art.

Sam, surely the best way to encourage a youngster to read a book is, in his or her presence, to throw it violently across the room and declaim loudly, "This book is total crap. I forbid you to read it!"


dec 21, 2011, 7:27am

You should always mutter something that includes 'trite nonsense'

dec 21, 2011, 10:10am

Anyone want to become an artnapper? I may be 51, but I still look reasonably decent in the required dress of the trade: a black catsuit. Black is so slimming. This job will require an obligatory visit to Amherst College.

As for Laura Warholic, I knew better than to crack the covers of that one. Such trite nonsense. Henri Etta has a lot of explaining to do. Thus far she seems to be hanging out in the kitchen closet looking for recipes and muttering under her breath. As for Brent, no one knows what has happened to him. Perhaps Henri Etta cooked him up in a holiday-that-must-not-be named mince meat pie.

dec 21, 2011, 10:51am

Those were apparently holed up in a basement nearly forgotten until a new Museum director showed up. Just a short couple years ago you might have grabbed them and no one would have noticed.

The problem with the trite nonsense book across the room is that I can't pull it off for Moby Dick or Dusty, two I'd like to push her way. Maybe I can try some Tolstoy....

dec 21, 2011, 11:00am


You know my difficulty with Moby Dick. I decided to pull it off the shelf and give it a go again. The bookmark was in place where I last stopped, but I started at the beginning. The first chapter has been strangely engaging--does it get worse? I cannot remember. I know most 17 year olds don't really care what 50 somethings think, but maybe my story could help!

Redigeret: dec 21, 2011, 11:33am

The first roughly 130 pages or so are much more traditional novel form and you should find them all about as engaging as the first chapter (which I also find very engaging). Then you start hitting his long asides on whaling and the whaling industry and on philosophy, and you start getting somewhat disjointed chapters whose meaning only becomes apparent as you move on. You need to really get his humor or those start getting a bit dull and tedious, though if you get the humor in them, the very dry, sardonic humor, these are also very engaging and intellectually it is getting deeper and deeper. Then the pace picks back up and it builds toward extraordinarily high drama, so at the end you're flipping pages in a cold sweat and telling yourself you need to slow down even though you can't.

The last discussion we had on Moby Dick she admitted to a bit of fear of it, as she had a teacher in 5th grade suggest she read it, and even opening it at that point was daunting. She will discover it at some point, but I won't be the one who will prompt her. I may be starting to get traction on the russians. Xmas break, High school junior year, really is about right for the first introduction, no?

dec 21, 2011, 6:28pm

I'm with Murr on this one.

dec 21, 2011, 10:06pm

wasn't it George Bernard Shaw who said that the best way to make a book really popular was to ban it? something like that.

Redigeret: dec 28, 2011, 11:41am

I am happy. Little blue books are marching across my shelves.

Christmas haul = nine volume set of stories and tales

Funny. Those look green on this screen. They're not!

dec 29, 2011, 10:53am


dec 29, 2011, 2:09pm

13 those have a Homer Kitabevi look to them to me. Perchance?

Redigeret: dec 29, 2011, 2:51pm

Ah, no, but I'll have you know that I'm sending a couple of folks by Homer Kitabevi next June, when they visit Istanbul. A sister-in-law and mother-in-law. Somday, I shall get to visit - I have placed a spare order already.

Those are volumes of the Clay Sanskrit Library - between this haul, the full Ramayana my son got for his last birthday, and random Mahabharata purchases, we now have almost 20 of the just over 50 available volumes. They look so good, it's almost a shame that a year from now they'll be showing the tattering effects of some good reading.

jan 1, 2012, 2:55pm

So we've been looking for a new house with some more land forever now, and have even been considering building, something we thought we'd gotten over when we built our current house.

Yesterday, we looked at a house originally designed by Henry Adams; from the timing I'm guessing a place to live while he courted his soon to be wife before whisking her off to the more cosmpolitan cities. I don't know much of the history of it at all, but it's kind of cool, about 20% more than we planned on spending (at the most), and really tempting, because the idea that I'd be lifting books off shelves and poking logs in a library designed by Adams is just way cool. And his wife is rumored to be the original model for Daisy Miller, so, who knows, we just might get haunted by the same ghosts, perhaps down in that odd wing with the kitchen and the cramped little spare bedrooms.

Then, of course, there's the fact that it looks like a money-pit...

jan 1, 2012, 3:19pm

Sounds eldritchly wonderful.

jan 1, 2012, 11:53pm

I would never ever sleep in a house that belonged to the Adams family !

jan 1, 2012, 11:57pm

Is there room for goats at the Adams family house. If not, it a no brainer. Don't buy it.

jan 2, 2012, 12:12am

19 lol
A Chinese would not live there either. Remember HA's wife committed suicide, not in that house, but if he lived there when he was courting her, it might be cursed.

On the other hand, how awesome to live in a house designed by Henry Adams! get it!

jan 2, 2012, 2:17pm

Yes, Henry Adams' wife was an interesting person in her own right. Have there been any good books written about her?

jan 2, 2012, 2:18pm

It sounds wonderful. Post pics if you buy it.

Redigeret: jan 2, 2012, 2:48pm

This is the place: Even though it is ostensibly in a city, it is on 19 acres of land down a dirt road (which turns back to pavement at its driveway) - there is room for goats, but I don't know whether the zoning would permit it. Looks like the lot next store is about to get subdivided and developed, and the lot this one is on is very overgrown with scrubby pine now but looks like it was one of those marvelous park-like estates back in the 19th century. The house needs a completely new kitchen - not a remodel, but just a whole new one, the existing one is basically in a room the size of a modest bathroom - and is probably chock-full of various plumbing and electrical disasters. But the interior "public" rooms have beautiful wainscotting and there are lots of chimneys and a fair bit of new england charm.

I don't think we're going to buy it, just because of the cost factor, especially after adding in all the work needed on the house and grounds. But it's a really interesting place.

Clover, Adam's wife, was pretty interesting, and so was her mother, who was a transcendentalist poet.

jan 2, 2012, 2:48pm

Challenge the zoning. This has been done successfully all across the country. I will come and testify.

jan 2, 2012, 2:51pm

We will likely end up one or two towns to the north of there, where farm animals of all sorts are not merely permitted, but encouraged.

Redigeret: jan 2, 2012, 4:39pm

Gore Vidal's novel of the period deals with the Adam's family extensively.
Called EMPIRE if memory serves.

jan 3, 2012, 7:35am

Just what I was going to say, Por.

jan 3, 2012, 8:43am

That house is like a brainworm. I may need an exorcist.

jan 9, 2012, 3:35pm


When you are settled I will send you a goat. I do not know when that will be. An outbreak of respiratory infections that seemed to be conquered after three rounds of antibiotics has again hit goats of our friends D. and P. whose farm our goats visit for vacation and small talk with the bucks. And far, far worse, P. has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be having a double mastectomy on Jan. 18th. D. is beside himself and she is too upset and private to talk with friends about it. They will be coming to Knoxville, our equivalent of a big city next door neighbor, for her surgery and treatment. Apparently, doctors in their part of Tennessee are still practicing medieval medicine. Sigh. It has not been a good six months for beloved people or goats.

So for this year, we must find another goat breeder ... more difficult than one might think. We are picky about other people's goat management. And the people who are picky about their own goat management usually keep closed herds and will not allow unknown goats (even those with sterling health credentials) on their farms.

jan 9, 2012, 3:39pm

What a lovely house! I hope you find something you really love (and can afford!)

jan 9, 2012, 3:42pm

I think that one will pass us by, but, U, there is little I'd love more than a wee goat running about any place, reminding us that sururbia was left behind.

I am sorry to hear about P, so awful. There is some comfort, though, in having goats to come home to. Helps the fight and the recovery.

Redigeret: jan 11, 2012, 11:19am

If people haven't been to Boston lately, we're undergoing a Museum Renaissance that I suspect is unlike anything in the world other than the new complexes in Dubai.

This weekend, we get the new 70,000 square foot building being added to the Gardner Museum:

Just a couple months ago, we got a half billion dollar, 135,000 square foot "Arts of the Americas" wing added to the Museum of Fine Arts: That freed up space so all the other galleries could expand and rennovate, too. Later this month, I get to go to a fancy dinner in some of the museum that's been getting rennovated and about to reopen, and that will be fun!

Next year, the Harvard Art Museums will open their new construction, which adds a wing to the Fogg and connects 3 of the Harvard Art Museums through a structure built across their roofs: Both this and the Gardner are Renzo Piano designs.

We got a brand new 65,000 square foot building for the Institute of Contemporary Arts just 5 years ago:

And it was less than ten years ago that we got the new 250,000 square foot Peabody Essex Museum in Salem:

This doesn't even touch on some of the smaller museums around the area, including the college museums, but it's pretty incredible. I was just realizing as making plans to hit the Gardner how much we've gotten. A whole lot of stuff that has been in Museum basements around here is coming out, and it's really pretty cool.

So who is going to come visit?

jan 11, 2012, 11:36am

Wow, Sam. I already thought Boston was a great city. Have not been there in a very long time. Will have to think about a trip.

jan 11, 2012, 12:09pm

Me, too, Sam. That just sounds awesome.

jan 11, 2012, 12:30pm

So there you have. Le Salon meets in 2013 in Boston. Didn't we have a conversation similar to this sometime back.

jan 11, 2012, 12:38pm

If people wanted to trek here, I could host you all at a special lunch or dinner at one of those places.

jan 11, 2012, 12:43pm

We have had such a conversation, but the discussions of location to meet were--perhaps--somewhat less than realistic. Boston, on the other hand . . . .

jan 11, 2012, 12:57pm

We generally have reasonable flights for most of the country, Canada, and Europe. Good Trains on the East Coast. You have to be careful about some conventions, graduation weeks, homecoming weeks and school vacations, when a lot of hotels get tied up and prices go up for flights and hotels.

jan 11, 2012, 1:57pm

I endorse this plan.

jan 11, 2012, 2:01pm

If the no name restaurant is still there, I'm in, but I don't go for the arkytectschur.

jan 11, 2012, 2:22pm

I will come to Boston. Free lunch, you said?

Just kidding, those museums do look fabulous, and I will seriously consider making a weekend trip to Boston. (When does it warm up around there?)

Redigeret: jan 11, 2012, 3:20pm

Hey, my general rule for all guests, you pick up the travel, I pick up the lunch! We think it is warm come late April or Early May, but many tell us it's later in May or June.

Rick, you are a true connysure of the greater lesser things in life, but the no name is almost in the shadow of that new contemporary art museum, so you'd not be permitted to avoid arkytectschur.

jan 11, 2012, 4:03pm

Sam, you might want to qualify that pick up the lunch thing to say "travel and drinks". If we somehow managed to pull this off the drinking could mightily contribute to some Boston bar or restaurant owner's bottom line!

jan 11, 2012, 4:09pm

Friendly amendment! Friendly amendment!

jan 11, 2012, 5:23pm

Name the date! Check for conventions in town. I have a friend with whom I can stay in Washington D.C. I can catch a train from their.

By the by, has anyone seen Henri_Etta. Methinks she may have been raptured up to the the heavens. This morning as I was going to the barn to milk the goats, I thought I heard her her flute-like tenor falling like the gentle rain rain from heaven. I got wet. I hope it was rain and not spittle.

jan 11, 2012, 5:28pm

I got a message last week that H.E., whom for ease of reference I shall simply call "He", was terribly terribly busy with some hush hush but fascinating stuff and so couldn' t wail with us, much to His regret. He hoped to be through before Gorminghist but He thought it might be tough.

I suspect He has not raptured.

He will appear here eventually. Wait for Him.

jan 11, 2012, 5:32pm

I suspect He has not raptured.


You are just envious.

jan 11, 2012, 5:32pm

For dates, U had suggest 2013, which would be post-Harvard museums opening. Good, bad, indififernt? Favored/impossible months?

jan 11, 2012, 8:27pm

Maybe May? From a purely selfish perspective, our boat is in the water after about May 15 and I hate to travel anywhere without it once it is there. May can, however, be iffy for weather in Chicago, so a long weekend in Boston would likely not be a significant loss of boating time.

jan 11, 2012, 9:41pm

So A_, the no name still exists? I was there in 79--chowder, something else, a beer, six or seven dollars.

jan 12, 2012, 9:43am

The no name still exists, tucked out on the wharf, but the area around it is rapidly becoming quite posh and fancy. We're worried about it's longevity.

Lisa, it would have to be very early in May as May starts running into graduations when Boston gets crazy to visit. Are we thinking 2013 or 2012?

jan 12, 2012, 9:46am

I am thinking 2013 as U suggested. I forgot that Boston is such a college town. Does it get rainy in the spring? It would not be nice to visit a place that is so conducive to walking if it is raining. Maybe September or October would be better.

jan 12, 2012, 10:25am

April can be gorgeous but also can be rainy and muddy. TS Eliot hung out around here. I think late April, first weekend in May could work, or Sept. or October. Yes, the college schedule rules hotel and flight availability around here.

So let's see what others think, and right now we'll think of those periods in 2013 as good possibilities.

jan 12, 2012, 11:06am

If we're thinking May-ish, late April, and beyond it's gonna have to be 2013 for me.

jan 12, 2012, 11:31am

You'll bring citybaby, yes?

jan 12, 2012, 11:37am

Of course! The youngest Salonista!

jan 12, 2012, 11:48am

Fall is always a pretty time of year.

jan 12, 2012, 12:01pm

If we did Friday of Columbus Day weekend for a lunch and museum excursion, in 2013, people could then head out for their own stuff over the weekend in what is usually great New England fall weather. Alternatively, we could do the Monday itself, sort of a half-hearted holiday in my book, though then the museums will be quite crowded. That is a big museum day.

jan 12, 2012, 12:12pm

I like the Friday idea. The Columbus Day weekend is a good time for me to take off.

jan 12, 2012, 3:33pm

Well, whatever is decided, I hope it does not conflict with the planned all-Salon Slovenia visit.

jan 12, 2012, 4:02pm

Where's Slovenia? Is it a planet?

jan 12, 2012, 4:30pm

Well let us know when the Slovenia visit is scheduled so we don't choose the same dates.

jan 12, 2012, 4:34pm

Start at Wallachia, go left, then hang another left when you get to Transylvania, keep going until you hit a lot of signs in Cyrillic, turn right, sticking to the heights. Keep going until people are only moderately destitute. If you are offered rich pastries in a fancy ski chalet, you've gone too far.

jan 12, 2012, 9:39pm

>64 A_musing:,

I want to go too far.

jan 13, 2012, 8:28am

If you reach dry pastries upon downhilltumbling you are here. Head to coast.

Is it a planet? maybe plutonian. But then I 've asked the same about Earth for some years now. THIS is a planet? Why is there human life on it? What kind of a planet...

jan 13, 2012, 8:57am

Ditto 65.

jan 13, 2012, 8:59am

The whale obsession can start taking a toll on the family.

Yesterday, we discovered my 11 year old had a copy of the book in his backpack, and had started reading it in his free time at school.

jan 13, 2012, 9:00am

I think the Salon excursion to Slovenia may need to be a ski trip to Austria. Close enough, right?

(Am I getting myself in trouble here?)

jan 13, 2012, 9:18am

67, I don't know whether to applaud you on raising literate small people or to pity your poor son for an obvious cry for attention. I've got to get through to Dad. I'd better learn to speak Whale.

Ski trip in Austria sounds good.

jan 13, 2012, 9:26am

No ski trip. Barge trip in France--that is another story.

I think CG is right--a cry for attention.

jan 13, 2012, 4:10pm

Ah, there is an element of that!

When I realized the story of Queequeg's Ramadan was based on part of the story of the Snake Sacrifice in the Mahabharata, he and I had a long conversation about it, since I had read the Snake Sacrifice out loud to him. I read him parts of the M.D. chapter and he found the way Melville did it uproriously funny. Since then he's been the family member most willing to listen when I get excited about something in the book. So he would like to have the attention and share it with me, but I don't think it's a desperate plea, just a plain old normal desire for, attention.

He just finished reading War of the Worlds with one of his best friends, and he and I are suspending the Bharata a little so I can read him Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

jan 14, 2012, 8:12am

Ski trip in Austria! Outrageous.

however, just this morning i got a mail from mama telling me she and papa met a guy from Klagenfurt (Slovene Celovec, only it ain't in Slovenee) who winters in Las Vegas and summers in Austria and has a lodge in the Alps. She figures he'll visit us and we may get an invitation to the lodge.

From here on the coast, by highway it's probably just under two hours to southern Austria.

jan 14, 2012, 3:38pm

>ooh where is it?!!? buy a refrigerator from my uncle. He'll look like me only gouty and with cruel eyes.

jan 14, 2012, 5:09pm

M. you mean to say you don't have gout? I'd always assumed....

jan 14, 2012, 5:24pm

Well, more gouty.

jan 15, 2012, 8:44pm

OK, Ben didn't think Tom Sawyer was read worthy, and just finished the book himself. We went back to Gilgamesh, which he is eating up, but will be likely done tonight, and now have to find the next read.

It may be that we go back to a different translation of 3 Kingdoms. We're looking at a whole range of possible books, but nothing is quite catching on.

jan 15, 2012, 9:03pm

maybe it's time to notch it up a bit? Have you done homer?

Redigeret: jan 15, 2012, 9:09pm

You know, Homer may be a very good suggestion. I'm going to offer that to him.

jan 16, 2012, 12:30am

What about The Kalevala?

Redigeret: jan 16, 2012, 8:21am

Too late, as he is already much taken with the question of whether Ulysses or Kongming is more clever.

But I want to read The Kalevala; never have.

jan 16, 2012, 8:58am

I bet reading Homer aloud would give it a whole new aspect. I might try reading the Odyssey aloud to myself!

jan 16, 2012, 9:11am

Lisa in that case you should read the Richmond Lattimore translation, as he sticks to the Greek hexameter throughout. This creates a weirdly archaic feel to everything, as the standard english rhythm is pentameter. The hexameter is wonderful to read aloud: it demands more breath. his translation has been rather overlooked in recent years by Fagles's.

jan 16, 2012, 11:47am

Alas, I have two copies of both the Odyssey and the Iliad, but none is translated by Lattimore. One set is Fagles and the other is Robert Fitzgerald.

jan 16, 2012, 11:57am

I have taught from both the Lattimore and the Fagles. Textbook anthologies love to change translations on one. Students can resell those textbooks. As for teachers, it keeps them on their feet. I'd be teaching from one translation and find myself quoting from another. Confused both my students and me. That's when I really began to feel frustrated about teaching works in translation.

Redigeret: jan 16, 2012, 3:30pm

Any thoughts on the Murray translation in the Loeb, which has the advantage of the facing Greek page?

OK, looked, and it looks like it is not in verse, even though the prose retains some of the rhythms.

Hmmm. We may need to spend some time looking at different copies.

jan 16, 2012, 1:18pm

Can I just say, this Salon here is reading an awful lot of fat books rights now.

If anyone can do all three, they really should get an official Salon hairshirt.

jan 16, 2012, 3:36pm

You design it; you get the first one. But the Odyssey is so tempting not having read it since high school and we won't say when that was.

And I might already have said this, but it seems serendipitous to me that we MD and the Alter going at the same time.

Redigeret: jan 16, 2012, 3:56pm

jan 16, 2012, 4:00pm

Wow! Have you been thinking about this or are you just that quick?

jan 16, 2012, 4:02pm

That was a pretty hasty photoshop job. Since we already had the valprotini image, I just needed a hairshirt, so I grabbed the first one in my closet.

jan 16, 2012, 4:15pm

Here are the first bits of The Odyssey from my two translations:


Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.
Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove--
the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,
the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun
and the Sungod blotted out the day of their return.
Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from where you will--sing for our time too.

Robert Fitzgerald:

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man, skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.
But not by will nor valor could he save them,
for their own recklessness destroyed them all--
children and fools, they killed and feasted on
the cattle of Lord Hêlios, the Sun,
and he who moves all day through heaven
took from their eyes the dawn of their return.

Of these adventures, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
tell us in our time, lift the great song again.

Fagles seems so modern and not so lyrical.

And I think you should pull out a long sleeved hairshirt--it is winter!

jan 16, 2012, 8:10pm

>89 A_musing: Awesome!!!!!!!!

I used to have a book that included the key passages from both epics translated by all the main translators into English: Chapman, Murray, TE Lawrence, Fitzgerald, Pound (oh if only he had done the whole thing) , but I leant it to someone and never got it back: grrrrrr. It was wonderful to compare.

Redigeret: jan 16, 2012, 10:06pm

I did not realize Pound translated Homer. Hmmm. Any idea how to get ahold of that?

And Murr, if you want that hairshirt, all you need to do is 3 tomes this month. That's it! Gorminghast, Alter, and the Dick.

jan 16, 2012, 10:41pm

as far as I remember, the opening of canto 1 consists of the opening lines of the Odyssey Book 11.

jan 16, 2012, 11:24pm

I think I should read it - I keep feeling like Homer is addressing me.

"Muse, daughter of Zeus"...

jan 17, 2012, 9:05am

I keep waking up in a shirt like that above only longer--I feel like Homer is dressing me.

jan 17, 2012, 9:27am

I just looked at that first Canto -- quite different from the Greek, indeed, bears very little relation to it - he translated an interpretation in a late medieval Latin retelling.

I am afraid I really need the invocation of the Muse to open my Odyssey. Anything else just seems so wrong!

Still looking forward to tackling Ezra later in the year.

Watch out, Rick. Homer might put you in a sheepskin.

jan 17, 2012, 9:36am

Well, I think several of us are reading at least 2 tomes, so I think we should get a prize for that. If not a hair shirt, maybe a nice self-flagellation kit?

jan 17, 2012, 9:50am

Lattimore, Fitzgerald and Fagles...

As a colleague likes to say "each generation has its translation..." Incidentally there are 2 new translations of the Iliad (Verity & Mitchell)

I like the Murray in that you get the most literal translation from the greek -

And this may be of interest:

And if you want to see how oppressive 'choice' can be:

Redigeret: jan 17, 2012, 10:01am

I just ordered Murray. Even without the versification, it looks like it's got rhythm. And I love Loebs in general.

Great Links, Peter! I really do need to start looking around for some of the old Homers, the Popes and Chapmans and the like. I mean, how interesting to see how the translations have worked across the years, in the hands of such greats?

CG, do you like the little knotted cords or the leather strips with spikes on the end?

jan 17, 2012, 10:16am

the little knotted cords, and preferably with fuzzy padding.

Thanks for checking.

jan 17, 2012, 2:22pm

I have two Faggles. I like the hardback editions and the textilish paper

jan 17, 2012, 2:41pm

103> mind your spelling! At first I was quite confused - and wondered whether you were confessing or referring to the boardgame.. ;)

101> I remember some remark about the Pope being "it is beautiful, but it is not Homer" or something to that effect. Find versions of Pope's Iliad and Odyssey illustrated by Robert Flaxman, an added treat.

jan 17, 2012, 4:14pm

Of course the Pope isn't Homer, JEESUS!

jan 17, 2012, 4:45pm

Homer may not be either.

feb 11, 2012, 1:12pm

So my oldest daughter feels like Moby Dick is haunting her in some otherworldly way, what with my obsession with it, with her history teacher waxing poetic on it during their discussion of Job this week, and with her English teacher telling the class, also this week, of its wonders. It seems to be getting discussed all around her.

It may be that she's ready for the book.

feb 11, 2012, 10:40pm

ban it. forbid her to read it. Say it's dirty and disgusting. That will make her even more eager to try it.

feb 12, 2012, 8:58am

I have been telling her she is not ready for it - too sophisticated, comples, beyond her - but I may need a harder line.

feb 12, 2012, 9:08am

20 lashes at the mizzen.

feb 12, 2012, 1:12pm

>109 A_musing: whaaa?? She should read it, of course!

feb 13, 2012, 9:55am

My reading was completely uncensored when I was growing up. I believe in the uncensored approach.

feb 13, 2012, 10:30am

I am thinking that Sam does not censor his children--he tells them not to read what they should read. Then they read it.

feb 13, 2012, 11:24am

Murr was remembering that my oldest was ceasing to take my suggestions, insisting on running off to find her own thing, and I was trying to figure out how to make my thing hers without just pushing the book on her. We've been joking about reverse physcology (which, by the way, would have worked on me - the only way to get me to paint a fence was to forbid it).

I've not censored their reading, though have encouraged and discouraged many books.

feb 15, 2012, 4:43pm

Now I have to figure out what to do with my blog. Keep it around for the next Melville read, expand its purpose, or sell it on the secondary market. What do used blogs fetch these days?

feb 15, 2012, 10:38pm

leave it up there. Later readers of Moby will find it invaluable.

Redigeret: feb 21, 2012, 1:47pm

Aye, second that mate

Redigeret: feb 16, 2012, 10:42am

Rick, I'm still trying to repossess my kindle to start reading Arjun - I believe I preempted my son taking it for some book he wants that just came out in Australia, but my daughter claims it's the only place she has the version of Job they've just finished in school and she needs it for her paper. Arrrghhh! I'm holding off on the Arjun thread until the reposession occurs.

That poor blog seems so lonely, with no positng planned any more. Ah, well.

Last night, I started The Columbia History of Chinese Literature and am reading a bit about how the exam system came into being during the centuries just before the Tang and the impact of having essentially a writing exam become the key to entering the bureaucracy. Fascinating stuff. But I'm also only just beginning to see how many diverse genres of literary writing there are in Tang times, and beginning to swim a bit in all of it.

feb 16, 2012, 11:34am


Just buy Kindles for all your children. Register them to the same address and you can share the contents with everyone in your household.

mar 3, 2012, 10:37am

We keep buying kindles and nooks, but they seem to have about a 2 year life to them. I've just ordered another - I'm never getting back the one I got for Christmas, and I am missing things I want to read for lack of it.

Wrapping up Pen of Iron, which I've been reading off and on over the last month. Great stuff. Really compliments that discussion on what might be American about Moby Dick we were having, but extends it to Faulkner, Bellow, Hemingway, etc. Great ear. Somehow, Pinksky's translation of the Inferno put itself in front of other books waiting to be read on my shelves and I've been dipping into that, too.

mar 3, 2012, 1:05pm

The Hollander translation is better. For some reason LT has wife listed as first translator of the Hollander couple. she is not. He is.

Redigeret: mar 3, 2012, 1:25pm

Yes, but it has not fought its way into the fore. Instead, it found its way into a Christmas gift to a brother-in-law a couple years ago and is no longer in the library. Of course, I could read it here:

Besides, Pinsky is a local. Maybe when the new kindle comes I'll download Hollander.

mar 3, 2012, 9:38pm

Is the Hollander on Kindle? I surprised.

Redigeret: mar 6, 2012, 10:41am

Well, I will find out later today. My new kindle should be here. And I will finally start Rick's book, which I specifically got the last kindle to read, though while I was busy on Moby Dick my son took it over. Rick, you wrote a two-kindle book.

I'm thinking of tuning in tomorrow night for the Dalai Lama teaching from the Jakata Tales: It's too bad he doesn't say what tales, so I can read them in advance.

Redigeret: mar 6, 2012, 11:13am

excellent heads-up on HHDL, thanks.

edit: seems to be March 8th not tomorrow, fyi.

mar 6, 2012, 11:38am

March 8 in the morning in India - for me, that is tomorrow evening.

mar 6, 2012, 11:49am

ah yes. I should have read past the first blurb.

mar 10, 2012, 8:47am

My daughter woke me at 5:30 this morning brimming with excitement about her big Robotics meet today. Collision between paternal pride and excitement and total exhaustion.

mar 10, 2012, 12:37pm

I will bite--what is a Robotics meet?

mar 10, 2012, 12:53pm

It's a speed-dating service where single robots are matched by their political, cultural, sexual, and emotional compatibility.

Redigeret: mar 10, 2012, 12:55pm

Ah, Lisa, this is very hot among technically inclined teens these days - schools have robotics teams that build robots that go up against each other in meets, where they'll do anything from see which robots can win a game of basketball (on a small little court) to which can stay standing in a contest to knock the other robots over or otherwise disable them.

In the most recent Robotics contest, my daughter's team made it into the semi-finals before the Exeter team pulled out their Romneybot and bought all the referees off.

mar 10, 2012, 1:00pm

Sam, I like Dawg's answer better, but thanks for the enlightenment. Too bad about the Romneybot. They will have to make a robot with more money next time.

Redigeret: mar 19, 2012, 11:10am

I am finally getting around to reading Chinese Poetry by Wai-lim Yip, recommended earlier by Tomcat Murr. The intro is absolutely fascinating, as is his approach to Pound. I've got to read his book on Ezra Pound's Cathay.

Yip does a direct transliteration of the individual Chinese characters, discusses the very loose grammatical syntax of the classical Chinese, and focuses in on how different translators render the Chinese as they import it into the heavily structured grammar of the English language. He spends a lot of time talking about the interaction of language and world-views or philosophy, all of which is fascinating.

I do wish he spent more time on the sounds of the poetry; while he gives both characters and transliterations, he doesn't give Wade-Giles or Pinyin, so we don't get the sound of the Chinese (unless you actually read Classical Chinese, of course!). But there is already a ton of very interesting stuff to digest. This one is going to sit by the bedside for a long time.

mar 26, 2012, 6:10pm

So, a new play by America's Greatest Playwright, after all these years. I wish I had an excuse to be in NYC.

mar 26, 2012, 6:46pm

Wait, how old is he?

mar 26, 2012, 6:56pm

Dead these last nineteen years. Choked on a bottle cap from pills he was popping. It hasn't been clear who had rights to it so it's been in limbo and never seen. I haven't found a good article on the story, and so only have bits and pieces.

mar 26, 2012, 9:14pm

Great to see you getting to Yip. I also want to read his book on Pound.

you are right about the lack of any discussion about the phonic elements in Chinese poetry. I had a friend explain them all to me and took notes in the end pages of the book, so I could refer to them as I was reading. Why don't you take the book to your Chinese teacher and do the same? It's ferociously complicated.

Can't wait to read the new TW play.

mar 26, 2012, 9:25pm

Another Tennessee Williams -- ooh la la -- may have to go to NYC after my son's wedding in DC (if we can afford it).

Redigeret: mar 29, 2012, 8:23pm

I am not yet ready to handle phonic elements in Chinese poetry; still crawling, that will require at least a walk. My teacher did say she hoped we'd get to read a poem by the end of the semester, so we will see.

I am finding reading books like Yip's immensely helpful, though, in learning Chinese. See the characters in action and in context, even with a low hit-rate in my rapid naming, really helps my character recognition. I am also reading a volume of Laozi that has both Modern Standard Mandarin and Literary Sinitic characters on one page and the English translation on the facing page; while I focus the MSM, it's still very interesting to occassionally contemplate the Literary Sinitic.

Last weekend, we worked on English to Chinese Character translations of simple sentences. I managed to inspire much laughter.

Oh, and Laozi can be a bit of an ass.

mar 29, 2012, 8:24pm

Jane, I am awaiting reviews. Please go and review it. I love Tennessee.

maj 20, 2012, 1:25pm

Looks like no NYC this time, unfortunately -- we're heading South -- maybe will try for the Spoleto festival in Charleston.

I've missed your postings -- hope everything is OK.

maj 20, 2012, 6:54pm

Me toooo. I hate being A_Musingless. Hope you're okay, Sam.

maj 23, 2012, 2:43pm

Checking in briefly - sorry folks for being away, we've had a wild few months around here, much of which has just been work (work and more work) but some of which was some craziness on the parental front (someone remind me, why did we have parents, anyway?) and kid front. I AM planning on being around for summerstock! When do we begin?

maj 23, 2012, 6:26pm

Sam, you're back! We missed you!

maj 23, 2012, 10:05pm

maj 23, 2012, 10:32pm

Saaaaam!! I felt like Frodo without you.

maj 24, 2012, 9:02am

Ahoy shipmate!

maj 24, 2012, 11:27am

Can I quietly stowaway here somewhere? Glad you're back.

maj 24, 2012, 12:02pm

Yessireebob, I mean Sam.

jun 2, 2012, 9:17pm

Welcome back, Sam. We've missed you -- I've been on a bit of a hiatus myself, as my son got married last weekend and we slowly wended our way home.

jun 3, 2012, 7:01am

I tried riding a hiatus once and landed on my head, inches from a large sharp-edged rock.

jun 3, 2012, 7:18am

lucky you didn't get a hernia Rick

jun 3, 2012, 8:55am

We saw a small herd of them, but I was in no position to join the chase.

jun 3, 2012, 12:03pm

A nodd to the hern-ia is as good as a wink to the waab-saanti.

jun 3, 2012, 12:04pm


jun 3, 2012, 12:07pm

A liddle hi attus wouldn't be bad neither.

jun 24, 2012, 10:57pm

Made it out to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival this weekend, and saw some great dancing. I've also been spending a lot of time taking my oldest daughter around to visit colleges. On the way back today, we stopped at the Odyssey Bookstore, an old haunt of mine, and talked to the daughter of the Original (and that is the right word) owner. I think the biggest find was a book that tells the history of Tibet through watercolors of its architecture painted over many years of visits to the country: Tibetan Pilgrimage: Architecture of the Sacred Land. Really great book.

We do need to start summer stock, but I think few are around. Any interest still? It is summer now, here in the north!

jun 25, 2012, 12:19am

I'm here, will probably have difficulty getting access to anything not African or in the public domain though.

jun 25, 2012, 12:19am

(I love how much they valorize African literature here.)

jun 25, 2012, 9:46am

I'm game -- what are we reading?

jun 25, 2012, 9:51am

We had talked about Derek Walcott, Caryl Churchill, and Bertolt Brecht, but I'm game for just about anything. Maybe African given MM's limits? Or some more classic stuff that would be in the public domain? I have collected a bunch of Walcott, and have some Brecht about, but would have to find/download Churchill.

jun 25, 2012, 10:30am

I just read The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka, which was good for a chuckle--would check him out again. Don't know any other African playwrights off the top. But of course don't let me stop you if you guys have other (and let's face it, prior) plans!

jun 25, 2012, 1:43pm

I have lots of Brecht, Walcott's Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays, Churchill's Top Girls and Cloud 9 and The Collected Plays of Wole Soyinka and Athol Fugard's A Lesson from Aloes. I've seen a couple of Brechts, Dream on Monkey Mountain back in the 1970s, Soyinka's Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and The Island in the 1970s, Cloud 9 about 5 years ago, and A Lesson from Aloes in the 90s. I'm up for whatever.

jun 25, 2012, 1:56pm

Leopold sedar senghor

jun 25, 2012, 2:06pm

Is there much of Senghor in English translation?

jun 25, 2012, 11:44pm

Probably not

jun 26, 2012, 7:11am

I have Dream on Monkey Mountain and just ordered the Sole Woyinka Collected Plays; it looks like I can download Top Girls from Amazon and I will do that as well (MM, can you download?). MM, let us know what you'd like to next read in Woyinka and don't be surprised if at least one of us reads that Lion and Jewel one you just read. Also let us know if you can get any Brecht or Churchill. I haven't yet looked for Fugard. What should we read first from among all these? I'll dive in to something and open a thread. Of course, all adventures in theatre welcome!

jun 26, 2012, 7:29am

Okay, will hit the bookstore this weekend:) I can download, but I find myself highly resistant to the idea of paying for an ebook. Maybe it's because I don't have a Kindle. Maybe I should get one.

Redigeret: jun 27, 2012, 4:23pm

Ha ha, I went to my local store and all I could find was The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Not only not African, but Caucasian! And German! And Brecht, the Greatest Cultural Figure!

jul 2, 2012, 4:30am

MM, you should definitely get a Kindle or another e-book reader! Freedom from the local bookstore. Well, there are other limitations and they can be especially frustrating, but in general it's a great way to have instant access to a lot of books you may not find locally.

jul 2, 2012, 5:25am

Yeah, I know, I know. I resisted because you can't take them in the bath or the rain, but I should get over it. It'll make moving a lot easier too.

jul 2, 2012, 6:03am

You can take them in the bath. I hear ziploc bags work good.

jul 2, 2012, 6:05am

And I think they take the rain about as good as a paper book would ;-)

jul 2, 2012, 7:55am

Fine, I'll do it. But I'm frowning mightily.

Redigeret: jul 3, 2012, 4:09pm

For kickoff, some thoughts on Soyinka's Lion and the Jewel and John Ruganda's The Burdens. I'll keep picking up African plays as I find them, but in the meantime I've got Brecht and ... Coriolanus.

Redigeret: jul 5, 2012, 5:12pm

The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. C'mon, guys! Get into the groove! Better to die reading plays than live on your knees!

jul 5, 2012, 7:16pm


I have got some comedies by Machiavelli to read The woman from Andros, The Mandrake and Clizia

jul 9, 2012, 12:32pm

Apologies, sidetracked by some wicked virus in my lungs courtesy of the young'uns. I spent last week in bed too sick to read!

CCC is a favorite of law school classes that want to inject some literature. Nothing like a judge who got their job through family connections.

sep 3, 2012, 11:57am

So, I've spent most of the summer, despite summer stock, lost in Chinese poetry of one sort or another. Question for all: Ezra Pound's encounter with Chinese poetry is the stuff of literary legend, and its hard not to run into Rexroth's and Snyder's own obsessions. What other poets (not academic translators, but poets with other verse of their own of some real merit) can we think of who have had extended struggles translating Chinese poetry? Vikram Seth is the next that comes to mind.

sep 3, 2012, 3:03pm

There's almost as big a club of Rumi translators who are really poets themselves. An interesting point. I didn't even know that V. Seth was into Chinese poetry - I know that I love his poetry, simple and direct and moving.

sep 3, 2012, 3:04pm

Welcome back Sam, I forgot to say that! We have missed you.

sep 3, 2012, 3:20pm


Segalen !

sep 3, 2012, 8:19pm

Ah, Mac, yes, Segalen! A very influential struggle there.

On Vikram Seth, he has a little book of Three Chinese Poets that specifically focused on the Tang ultra-greats (Du Fu, Li Po, and Wang Wei). Great book.

By the way, lost is the word for where I am now. Just swimming in the Ocean. But I'm finding I'm also fascinated, by turns, in the impact on other poets across time and language and culture. It's really hard to understand what happened in English poetry in the last century without looking at how poets tried to access this stuff.

sep 4, 2012, 10:41pm

Sam, another recommendation for you:

Du Fu's laments from the South, a detailed commentary and new translations of a selection of Du Fu. The introduction looks very interesting.

Also, check out David Hinton's translations, if I haven't already mentioned them. I think they are excellent.

sep 5, 2012, 9:02am

I will have to look up laments from the South.

I've got a number of collections with Hinton's work - he seems spiritually/philosophically driven in his work, but I haven't focused at one time on a whole bunch of his translations, the way I have with Rexroth and Snyder, for example. New Directions publishing really rocks. I probably should gather some of Hinton's stuff up.

I will be off to Madrid for a week later this month (with a day in Toledo); a certain amount of my time will be spent on business, but should have at least a couple days away from it and my wife is coming with me. Anyone have any thoughts on out of the way things we should see/do?

sep 17, 2012, 10:38am

We use too many words.

sep 17, 2012, 11:04am

ha. I hear you.

sep 17, 2012, 11:56am

185 Museum of Modern Art in Madrid during the hottest hours. You can have your coffee in a quiet spot in the garden. Guernica is there

Eat tapas in the covered market of San Miguel. ( Avoid the oysters ),

sep 17, 2012, 2:07pm

Boy would it be amazing to see the original of Guernica. I believe it is really big, right? Covers a whole wall?

sep 17, 2012, 2:19pm

yes , but the walls are really big too

sep 17, 2012, 3:55pm

I used to love going to MoMa just to sit in front of Guernica back when I was young. It moved back to Spain when I was in college. I have not seen it since. Thanks, Mac, I need to look up my old friend.

sep 17, 2012, 4:11pm

You lucky person. One day I will see great Spain and its great art and architecture.

Redigeret: dec 4, 2012, 12:44pm

I haven't posted for a while, so I thought I'd just leave some book porn lying out:

dec 4, 2012, 7:39pm

don't let the children see that!

Redigeret: dec 13, 2012, 2:23pm

I spent a good bit of time going through Ottoman Lyric Poetry, a provocative little bomb of poetry translations and commentary trying to spark interest in a wildly underexplored 500 year poetic tradition.

One of the interesting tidbits: Ottoman lyric poetry is generally addressed to the beloved using a gender- neutral pronoun; it was usually taboo to publicly discuss trysts involving women, and considered to be highly offensive to the woman involved, but not so much to discuss love affairs whose object was young men, so the pronoun in its original was generally understood to be addressed to a young man. The pronoun is generally translated (including in this volume) in the feminine.

Redigeret: dec 13, 2012, 3:25pm

By the way, Anna, you really would love an architechtural tour in Spain. I realized I haven't chatted at all about that wonderful sojourn of ours, but Toledo is a place where you just kick back and stare at everything. We were in one church that had begun as a mosque that was constructed in part with the ruins of a Visigothic church. So the core architecture is Islamic, overlaid with gothic christian additions and reconfigurations, but you find columns and decorations that go back to the Visigoths. A row of columns would be made up of individual columns that were each distinct to a radically different period in Andalusian history. We had been in Portugul last year, which is a little less hung up about denying any links to its Arabic past and has some of the same architectural elements, but without that underlying Visigothic element. Portugul was lovely, but only went back 8 or 900 years in its architecture, where Toledo was clearly much older than that.

dec 13, 2012, 2:36pm

An idea: A salon meeting in Toledo Spain, say 2014 or 2015 if we are all still in life? Bas, Mac, Rick, what do you say? Others from farther afield?

dec 13, 2012, 2:37pm

195: My ex used to sing silly songs to our two sons as babies calling them by the female endings. Whereas with little girls the opposite is often done. It is like a "cutifying" thing, the way Spanish uses endings like -ita or -ito.

dec 13, 2012, 3:26pm

I might opt for Cordoba or Seville, just to keep rounding out my education.

dec 13, 2012, 7:04pm

Toledo sounds good.

dec 13, 2012, 10:12pm


Redigeret: dec 13, 2012, 11:00pm

Any of the above!!!! Ditto!

195, you couldn't post a couple of excerpts, could you? I'm intrigued!

dec 14, 2012, 12:23am

I am in !
Closest harbour ?

dec 14, 2012, 4:35am

I know some drug dealers in Huelva should the need arise.

dec 14, 2012, 9:34am

Mac, Toledo is pretty landbound. You could come into one of the basque ports in the north and take a train down. I believe the river to Seville and Cordoba is navigable.

TCM, I'll have to pull out the book at home and see what I can post. One thing you should realize is these guys swung the rudder pretty hard to port, translating the poetry with a heavy dose of free verse. The most significant prior translator, HAR Gibbs, more than a century ago, went for heavily structured stuff full of repeated hard rhymes, and most translators have inevitably been heavily influenced by Gibbs translations (Gibbs' work is something a lover of Clarel might embrace). In part, they're trying to kick up interest and a fight, and being intentionally provacative.

dec 14, 2012, 10:00am

There's a pretty impressive Central/Eastern Europe read getting set up over at Global Readers:

dec 15, 2012, 12:35pm

Murr, not sure whether you are looking for excerpts of poetry or the analysis. Frankly, the analysis is riveting, the translations a bit devoid of spark. It's not a book to excite poets, unfortunately.

Here's a selection from Nef'i, a 17th century poet:

That black drunken eye has become a tavern of coquettishness
In every troublemaking corner, you'll find a drunk is sleeping

Her glance drinks angrily from the cup of sweet provacation
So what if every drunken look turns the world upside down!

If the tassel on the turban of the drunk doesn't sweep the threshold of the tavern
Then he doesn't give lustre to the party of Jemshid

So what if Nef'i prays to the beloved while drunk?
The sins of drunkards are forgiven by the most generous of the wise

Like the hero Rostam, my beloved's glance has taken scimitar in hand
And her black lashes are drunken soldiers, ready to war against me.

dec 15, 2012, 12:44pm

I selected that poem not because I thought it was a tremendous poetry, but because it is one where I would have found it more natural to use a masculine rather than feminine beloved. The metaphors, the fact of drinking together in public, the comparison to Rostam, all suggest a masculine lover to me.

If you go to the book in Amazon and use the "search inside" feature to search for a "Note on Gender" you get the beginning of the discussion on gender and Turkish poetry. Unfortunately, it gets cut off, and they continue to make some interesting points. Where women are depicted as lovers (e.g., where Kohl blackens their eyes - then you know it is a woman!), they are almost always lower class women. The story of Majnun and Lelya aside (and there is some extended discussion of that story and its various poetic references and depictions), it's pretty rare to find social equals in Ottoman love poetry period, but where women are involved it seems always to be a clear class divide (where when men are involved, it is often an age divide rather than a class divide).

dec 16, 2012, 6:33pm

It's a little wordy for Ghalib, but definitely worthy of Ghalib. (I can't believe this is our Moby Dick guy.)

dec 18, 2012, 10:48pm

>207 A_musing:, 208
yeah, thats what I thought. the imagery of the poem sits very uneasily with the gender of the pronoun. Interesting though.

dec 19, 2012, 9:23am

There are many where it sits less uneasily, but not a few where it is at least as uneasy - the poems run the gamut. I think it was a mistake not to apply a poetic ear to using one or the other gender rather than committing to doing translation with all female pronouns. I really appreciated their analysis discussion of the issue, though, because it is a good question. They include the turkish versions so someone who knows the language can play with the translations, but that is not helpful to some of us.

Redigeret: jan 1, 2013, 11:55am

My first attempt at translating Tang poetry:





--Gao Shih (Tang Era): Night Poem at Year End
高適: 除夜作

Sleepless guest, cold hotel
A traveler's soul bittered by business
Ancient land, modern night, distant thought
Our day frosts, its temples gray and glisten,
Another year slips.

jan 1, 2013, 3:54pm

Lovely translation. Perfect for the turning of the year.

jan 1, 2013, 8:04pm

yes, great stuff!

jan 2, 2013, 1:01pm

Wow, stumbling into Tang Poetry. Well done, Sam, enjoyed your effort.

Redigeret: jan 2, 2013, 2:30pm

I am sure that as my Chinese improves some of my choices will look silly, but, this is how we learn, and I remain a beginner. The last two lines, in particular, I found difficult to translate. I suspect few would agree with me in making the grey temples those of the day rather than the poet or the subject, but something I found interesting here was the lack of clarity about who the poem was about - there are no pronouns, no "I" or "he" - and so I see it as more about the time and place than the ostensible subject and wanted to avoid dwelling on the person here. And Chinese is full of compound words -- the characters for "old" or "ancient" and "village" or "country" when combined mean "home" or "homeland", but I opted for "ancient land", completely changing the tenor of the third line, which might also just mean "Tonight, I think of my distant home". I am sure I pull apart compounds too often, but it seemed right here, and added to the sort of disconnectedness of the poem. I don't know if a native speaker would laugh at that choice, as something only a beginner with a dictionary would do. Also, there's a lamp in the first line, and I really should do something with it. It's more an image of the traveler in the inn's lamplight.

But, thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to keep trying these, it is a good way for me to learn.

jan 2, 2013, 5:11pm

well it captured my feelings well in my umpteenth hotel in my umpteenth business trip.

jan 2, 2013, 6:15pm

Those trips have been the same for over a thousand years.

jan 2, 2013, 8:10pm


if we ever get the money our two trips are Istanbul and Spain

Redigeret: jan 8, 2013, 10:58pm

A poem and an excerpt from my current reading:

When the bird of sleep
thought to nest
in my eye

it saw the eyelashes
and flew away
for fear of nets


I say to my chains,
don't you understand?
I have surrendered to you.
Why, then, have you no pity,
no tenderness?

You drank my blood.
You ate my flesh.
Don't crush my bones.

My son sees me
fettered by you and turns away
his heart made sore.


This is a fascinating collection.

jan 9, 2013, 2:54am

is that the ottoman or the tang?

Redigeret: jan 9, 2013, 9:49am

Neither, actually. This is from Poems of Arab Andalusia, which is an English language translation from the Spanish language translation by Emilio Garcia Gomez of a c. 1243 anthology (with some later commentary and modification) of Arabic Andalusian poets. I posted by cell phone last night, sorry not to be clear what the source was. The Spanish version apparently had a big influence on the Generation of '27, especially Lorca. I picked it up at City Lights Books (thank you, Larry Ferlinghetti) when I was in San Francisco, and am really enjoying it. The second excerpt above, with the Christian imagery of drinking blood and eating flesh, was written by an Arabic Taifa King in Seville. This translation is also much more open on sexuality than the Ottoman collection - the poems from men to men are translated as such, something that actually surprises me a bit about early 20th century Spain.

There is a definite feel of 1920s European poetics hanging about the book, clearly some residues left along the way as it went through multiple languages and periods. Of course, there is no way for me to really pull out what comes from the original, what from the first translator, and what from the second, but it's fun to speculate.

I'm also reading the Poetry of Petrarch suggested in the other thread and Petrarch: a Critical Guide to the Complete Works. With all this poetry in translation, I'm going to need some good originally English poetry soon - maybe those Shakespeare narratives Jane was talking about.

jan 9, 2013, 10:04am

I'm in the middle of Idylls of the King, which is pretty good.

Your andalusian/arabic poem is great, and interesting connection with Lorca, too.

jan 9, 2013, 5:04pm

I've had that one hanging around for a long time unread - I picked up a 1930s illustrated edition several years back, and just haven't gotten to it.

jan 10, 2013, 5:21am

A translation of a translation of a translation? Wow! I have trouble reading translations of the first order already. There is a book by Mishima (a trilogy in fact, I think it's called Sea of Fertility) that I never read, because (at the time I heard about it) the French version was a translation of an English translation, which I found shocking.

But it is fascinating to think of all these different layers and of the history of this book and its translations...

jan 10, 2013, 8:48am

Actually, the first was an anthology so just a translation of a translation - still, something odd to do these days (perhaps not so odd in the Renaissance, when Aristotle came to us through the Arabic and people viewed the Vulgate Latin as the holy scripture one translated into English or German).

It works because it is good poetry in the English and seemed to have a life of its own in the Spanish. I would love to go through it with someone who spoke all three languages, or find an English language translation direct from the Arabic. I actually know a person with all three languages, and may make a gift of this book to them when I'm done!

jan 10, 2013, 9:02am

>225 FlorenceArt: actually, that's a tetralogy.

jan 10, 2013, 9:14am

it's worth reading in some language

jan 10, 2013, 9:38am

227, 228: oh, OK, thank you, and yes I should probably overcome that stupid prejudice and read it. It's been years anyway, maybe there is another translation available. Or maybe I can read the English translation instead of the French translation of the English translation.

jan 10, 2013, 9:58am

I could use some Mishima reading myself. Maybe Rick can guide us.

jan 10, 2013, 10:18am

I read a few shorter novels by him and loved them all.

jan 10, 2013, 11:40am

I know Arabic, English and Spanish, and I was thinking that a book with all three would be very cool.

jan 10, 2013, 7:08pm

Enjoyed the extract from Poems of Arab Andalusia I might have to go and search for this one.

jan 10, 2013, 7:40pm

It looks like Cambridge Press has a direct translation of the same anthology in to English, Moorish Poetry: a translation of The Pennants by AJ Arberry. Having read Arberry's translations before, though, I suspect the City Lights volume reads better as poetry - not that Arberry is bad or second rate at all, just that he tends to have a very academic Arabist approach, and emphasizes accuracy and fidelity in his translaions. The two together are likely really fascinating, so I may have to get that.

jan 10, 2013, 7:46pm

Arberry is great, but yeah, it's like reading Nicholson's Rumi translations. Like Robert Bly told Coleman Barks, "someone needs to release these poems from their chains."

jan 10, 2013, 8:03pm

The Sea of Fertility is awesome. Been on my reread list for a while. The Penguin Modern Classics trans is pretty readable.

Redigeret: jan 10, 2013, 8:18pm

Anna, exactly! Poems of Arab Andalusia is definitely unchained.

You've got all three languages!! I may need to send you this book. It doesn't have the spanish or arab language renditions, but you would love this.

jan 11, 2013, 2:26am

Austerity measures have me strapped. you send the books I will do a half-assed job of leading. Mainly because this forum needs a read.

jan 11, 2013, 1:47pm

Rick, happily, we do need a reading. Send me a private message with you're address - how many Salonistas are in! Maybe set a Feb. 1 reading date. I'm up for it.

Redigeret: jan 11, 2013, 1:51pm

Wait is this about the Arabic poetry translated from Spanish to English? Or another book referenced somewhere above? If it is the Arabic poetry (in English) I am in.

ETA Argh I just had to fix about 3 typos. Cannot type today.

jan 11, 2013, 1:58pm

Mishima - it's an interspersed conversation. But I'm very up for reading the Arabic poetry, too, and if people want to do that sometime, I can help lead - we can do it when it won't conflict with the Rick led Mishima. I want to get the Arberry as well, and so if others wanted to get the City Lights book, I could help lead by also doing some compares and contrasts (though I don't have Arabic and my spanish no es bueno).

jan 12, 2013, 12:06am

group read ? As long as it is not a tome , count me in

jan 12, 2013, 3:55am

Oh, I'm in for Mishima. Only read the sea of fertility halfway cause I couldn't find the 3rd book, but now I think Tuttle has made new editions so I should be fine.

jan 12, 2013, 5:41am

3 tomes ?

jan 12, 2013, 6:22am

4. And I would like a co-leader because I am no expert on Mishima. Mr. Feline?

I will give you my address, but I think we should first have a sure thing going before you take the trouble. I don't know what happened to the Dickens read (I dropped out on the second day due to a sudden influx of work and mostly, I think, because I was trying to read it on the computer screen).

rick harsch
Sončno nabrežje 6
Izola 6310

By the way, for those who think I am running a scam here, I am quite happy to post my financial situation, for it is as instructive as Choco's wildfires, and as threatening. Slovenia was the golden girlboy of the 'new' countries of ex-Yugoslavia, but as was said back in '98 or so by anoymous, 'With independence we thought we would be like Switzerland, now we're more like Albania.' Now that the country has joined the EU, Schengen, and NATO, it has ripened into something more like Moldova. And the politicians are still doing Angela's bidding, ramming austerity measures through. Last election, the centrist capitalist got the most votes, but couldn't form a coalition and so the fascist got in. The CC is corrupt enough, fabulously rich, lots of Cyprus-registered businesses and all. The fascist is just a nasty bastard who seems to be in it for the fun of causing pain. That, and the wealthier, non-Scandinavian, countries of Europe have done some feasting on Slovenia, picking up prime real estate, banks, and so on. Protests in Maribor this week brought down that city's mayor, and protests in Ljubljana have been big but not newsworthy in centers of power like France and England (one article). I don't know if Germany is watching. Cuts in education did me in--bigger classes, fewer teachers, less English. So I am unemployed (yet still publishing!), technically, though I have lately been getting editing work that may average 500€ a month. My wife has been working for approximately 600€ a month, but at a temporary position that ends in March. We have been lucky because we found a great apartment that the owners are not trying to squeeze into molten gold--after expenses it comes to 550 to 600. Meanwhile, unemployment is on the rise, and rents are rising, and so more and more folk are getting worse off, definitely worse than us, but the government has made inroads into the safety net. Medical care is still excellent and virtually free--if you have a job; but if you don't and go to the 'welfare' department medical is pretty much where it stops, and I have heard they are kicking people off (and I was kicked off for missing one appointment with a woman who talks to me every three months, a rote conversation that offers nothing). (I appealed the decision, yet the answer has not come, and since getting kicked off is a six month penalty, I should be back on before I get an answer.)

Walking your dog without a leash brings a 200€ penalty.

live from paradise,


jan 12, 2013, 8:15am

Jesus, Rick, that's terrible. I had no ideas things were so bad there. Hear very little European news here. I really hope tings improve for your guys soon.

Can I ask why you stay in Slovenia? Wouldn't it be better in India?

RE. Mishima, thanks for the hint, but I can't commit to this now. I'd love to study Mishima in more detail with Buddhism, but I must hold off on that till another time.

If you guys go ahead, I"ll be following with interest, but I won't read the book this time round.

jan 12, 2013, 10:48am

I think we should just start with Spring Snow, volume 1. I think we should get through that before moving to the remainders - we have done some phenomenal tomes here, but I do think the Salon will benefit from what should be a really pleasurable, fun read! I don't think it qualifies as a real tome - it's about 400 pages, and I think of Mishima as relatively easy reading, especially when up against a Magic Mountain or Moby Dick, which may be live-changing experiences but are also real work!

I was just starting to get into Dickens when first work and then the holidays hit - I've basically had to stop twice for over a week, which just makes it hard to keep going. With the new year, though, the distractions aren't as bad.

Unfortunately, I've seen more than a little of what austerity and the crisis has done to much of Southern Europe, from much beloved Greece to Spain and Portugul. I think we are extraordinarily lucky in my little corner of the world, particularly because the evil likes of Ms. Merkel cast little shadow here.

jan 12, 2013, 12:49pm

Mishima lead by Harsch sounds too good to pass by.

Rick, with one miss-hit on the keyboard the auto speller on this iPad suggested 'anarchy' when I tried to write your surname....!

jan 12, 2013, 3:38pm

oddly, I was just talking to a friend who I intend to go to a protest with, in Ljubljana on the 23rd. I showed her my Sardinian fishing knife and how I could use it to stab a cop in the ass--so anarchy might not be so far off. (my wife came out to the balcony while I was in the midst of this and now I think I can't even take the kids to the protest). (but like i told the woman I would only do it if I was 100% sure of getting away with it--carefuly anarchist)

jan 12, 2013, 3:43pm

TC--a hint? what about a hammer? never mind. to answer your question, I have wanted to live in India for quite a long time, but the problem before was that my wife's parents opposed it and I think my wife, too, deep down, and that mattered. Now the problem is the children. While they love India, especially Arjun, who has had more experiences to remember there, they really love Izola. Beyond that, if we lived in India I would be terribly torn by the class problems--do I let my kids compete with the 99% when I can afford a private school most of his neighbors can not? (The one percent in India, as I see it, includes a wide swath of incomes--plus we wouldn't pay rent...)

Redigeret: jan 28, 2013, 8:42am

I am still spending a fair bit of my reading time on Tang poetry. One of the things that has come to fascinate me is the lack of "little words" in the poems - there are generally very few pronouns, interjections, connectives, or really any kind of word you might think of as having little weight. Translators seem to really struggle with this, since it is not something people try to do in English, and it magnifies some of the ambiguity and obscurity of the poetry. But there are a few poems that don't seem to get as badly muddied with pronouns and the like by translators, one of which is Wang Wei's "Deer Park."

So, here's my attempt:

Vacant mountain, no visible person,
Yet voices resound, echoes of man.
Brightness reflects into darkest woods,
Fractured light illumes climbing moss.

This is the Chinese:


I love the visual of the Chinese - the character for "man" is 人 (ren), and it shows up on the 1st line, 5th character, and then as the third character of the second line. Right underneath it, in the third character of the third line, is the character that means to enter or join (I've translated it "into" here), which is simply the ren character with a little line at the top. But I think just looking at you you know it's about men (and, it turns out, light) entering the deer park. I also love the way the middle character splits each line, the two halves balancing on it.

There is one "light" word in the whole thing, the "yet", that serves as a fulcrum between the first line and the rest of the poem. I think paring out pronouns, articles, anything you can adds to the weight, which I think is part of the effect sought in the Chinese (admitting my Chinese isn't good enough yet to really get it clearly!).

Here are several other translations:

David Hinton:

No one seen. Among empty mountains,

hints of driftng voice, faint, no more.

Entering these deep woods, late sunlight
flares on green moss again, and rises.


Deep in the mountain wilderness
Where nobody ever comes
Only once in a great while
Something like the sound of a far off voice,
The low rays of the sun
Slip through the dark forest,
And gleam again on the shadowy moss.


Empty mountain: no man is seen,
But voices of men are heard.
Sun's reflection reaches into the woods
And shines upon the green moss.


Empty mountains:
no one to be seen.

Yet - hear -
human sounds and echoes.

Returning sunlight
enters the dark woods;

Again shining
on the green moss, above.

Redigeret: jan 21, 2013, 5:17pm

By the way, there is a book devoted to how just that little poem is translated, called nineteen ways of looking at Wang Wei, which I've just ordered. We'll see what I learn!

One thing I wonder is what he'll say on the moss. I kind of like Hinton's light flaring on the moss and rising, imagining the sort of bright beams you catch sometimes out in the woods almost floating in the air. I had the most climb, others make the moss "above" or just ignore the final sort of primeval rising character.

jan 21, 2013, 10:19pm

Cool post. All those translations are so different! Seems like Yip is the most literal, and Rexroth too wordy. I like yours. I like "echoes" and "fractured" and "brightness reflects". But I like the others too.

Redigeret: jan 22, 2013, 8:05am

Yes, I actually like all of those - I think Rexroth is trying to cram a wider range of interpretations into the poem, to leave less out in crossing language barriers, while Snyder, for example, is trying to get across the feel more effectively and the sparseness and weight.

But this stuff is fun. I enjoyed doing it, and am learning a lot by playing around with these.

jan 22, 2013, 8:10am

There's another "light" word, sam, the last character on the last line "shang", which can be a preposition, a verb or an adverb, with a range of meanings from 'up, on, upon, onto, start, next' etc.

Hence Snyder's 'above', (and I guess, your 'climbing'?)

great post, though. nice to see so many versions all together.

Redigeret: jan 22, 2013, 8:38am

I found that to be a really tough character in this poem. Hmmm. I guess I spent so much time thinking about it I didn't think about the weight issue with it - but, yes, another light word, but also in a key spot. It's like he was looking to make his light words heavy. I at least end the poem trying to figure out what that last word is meant to convey - "moss above" - is it hanging moss? could it possibly modify light instead of moss (as Hinton translates)? It seems highly ambiguous, which gave it more weight in my reading. Great point. And, yes, climbing does take some liberties!

jan 22, 2013, 8:35am

By the way, I was working in mine to keep it to five concrete words per line, mimicking the 5 characters per line, which is something no one else was trying to do (the place I really fail is "of man" - I just couldn't cram in the possessive and feel happy with the sound of it). Yip comes close. I don't know if it really works, but I want to keep trying with some of these.

jan 23, 2013, 2:25pm

We have a Taiwanese student coming to stay with us for the next couple of weeks. I fear for the poor girl, having to suffer through our poor attempts at her language. It's clear her English is in much better shape!

I was also reading some of the review's of Yip's Chinese Poetry on line, and this statement came up: "he fails to realise that the filling in of prepositions and other syntactic helpers is the result not of misunderstanding Chinese, but of understanding English. English translations need these words because that is the way that the English language expresses relationships; where they are omitted, we have good Chinese but bad English. Word for word translations such as Yip's are "half translations": helpful cribs for reading the original, but nothing more. Yip's failure to appreciate this shows the dangers of attempting to translate into, rather than from, a foreign language." Such total rubbish. I think he is fighting a cultural instead of linguistic battle. It is not that our language "needs" these words, it's just that many readers are attached to the precision and certitude the little words yield. I think there's a discomforture with ambiguity, while the Tang poems I've been reading at least seem to embrace it.

Redigeret: jan 23, 2013, 2:37pm

What TC is trying to say is that we need to do some thing and what that is is to strive for a certain clarification of the abstract, to get to the point as it were not as it might or may be or not to be.

jan 23, 2013, 8:13pm

Oh sam, you are right. Chinese as a language is directed away from disambiguation: it thrives on the unclear, the undetermined, the potential, the unlimited. This is an expression of the Dao (don't you wrinkle your nose up at me, young man), of the non interference in nature's flow. If words are the sign of ideas of things - as both Locke and the Dao would have us believe - then filling the language with the precision of prepositions, articles, possessives, pronouns, tenses, imposes a precision on the things of the world which only comes from us, and is not in the things themselves. Hence chinese words can be many things: nouns, verbs, prepositions: these distinctions are not delimited, as in the example of 'shang' I mentioned in post 255. Tang poetry is the most worked out expression of the ambiguities inherent in the grammar and meaning of the words.

So the reviewer is correct, but has the wrong end of the stick. Yip's translations make a virtue of the absence of precision: that's the point. your translations do too. You have got the point very well.

might I suggest 'woods', not 'wood' in line 3: the plural is a more general, ambiguous signifier than 'wood', and I think you mean wood as forest not wood as substance, right?

I love the way you get 5 words per line like the Chinese.
Keep going, I think.

that should be fun having a Taiwanese girl to stay. Chinese NEw YEAr is the 8th Feb. What's your plan to hep her celebrate it? she will no doubt feel terribly homesick that day.

more thoughts on translation for your interest:

Redigeret: jan 24, 2013, 10:09am

Ah, Murr, now it gets interesting! I love your discussion on translation, particularly your discussion of the assumptions behind the first discussion. But let's take it a step further. Isn't there an assumption of "meaning" in the original language, and isn't that assumption itself also pretty interesting. Poetry is sometimes that which can't translate in its own language - "explaining" a good poem is often an exercise in futility. Sometimes, the translation of the poem in another language may be more revealing than the essay on the poem in its own language. The challenge to translating the Tang is not translating "meaning" but "ambiguity". If one translates too faithfully the meaning, you will lose the poem, which is more about suggestion than meaning. How's that for Dao?

So I keep thinking on the character Shang, which seems to be a good illustration of the problem. I've played around looking for other uses of the charachter (Shanghai!) and its etymology, and I get a sense that besides its regular meaning, it is a word often used in settings with a wide range of other connotations - including connotations of rank, as in a person being "above" another, and philosophical connotations. Perhaps a bit like an English poet using "above" when he wants a word that alludes to heaven. It makes me think this poem should end with a vague, illusive word, rather than"moss". Snyder does this with "above", but maybe we could take it a step farther -- "Fractured light illumes lichen - Divine!" It may be too heavy-handed, and Snyder's more subtle "above" may capture it better (Rexroth's "shadowy" is pretty cool, too). This is where I wish my chinese were both better and more focused on literary sinitic. So maybe we should discuss this again in a few years?

On "woods", I have played with and without the "s". The s sounds seem pretty heavy already in that line. I am using it in the sense of forest, as in Frost's "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood", but it does have an archaic feel - good or bad? Does that add weight to the word (as I hope the odd word "illumes" does) or just sound clumsy?

Also, a side benefit of trying to get to five words in English is that it lends itself easily to a di-syllabic meter - working with words of one to three syllables, it's almost inevitable.

By the way, the more I think on the poem, the more I like Snyder's as a translation. It doesn't have the same compactness as the original, but it really gets something in the poem. It communicates those elusive qualities well.

jan 24, 2013, 9:48am

Our Taiwanese student goes home for the 8th, unfortunately. The place where my daughter and I study on the weekend has a big new years celebration each year. There are about a half dozen of us non-Chinese among the several hundred students and teachers in the place. It would have been fun to bring her. And, I have a box of Kongming lanterns!

jan 26, 2013, 11:19am

So our Taiwanese student arrived, and after getting past her joy at seeing snow (snow!), her first statement after entering the house was, so many books, do all Americans have this many books! She and my daughter read many of the same things, usually in different languages though. This will be a fun couple of weeks.

And, she brought tea!

Redigeret: jan 26, 2013, 2:02pm

Aw, lucky! No snow or Taiwanese exchange students or daughters here, but we're well stocked for books and tea (the great equalizers?). Have an awesome time; one of life's great joys is showing up somewhere weird with warm-hearted hosts, and another of course is being said hosts.

jan 26, 2013, 2:03pm

MM--exactly what i used to say about being born in the US, though without the warm-hearted hosts..

jan 26, 2013, 2:08pm

Well, I was buttering him up.

jan 26, 2013, 11:56pm

>261 A_musing: The challenge to translating the Tang is not translating "meaning" but "ambiguity".

yes, I agree completely. How do you translate from a language that prizes ambiguity to one that doesn't, in their very syntax and lexis?

re wood, in Frosts line, 'wood' is qualified by the article 'a'. If you wanna have the sense of the forest, not of the substance, you need to add an article somewhere, or add 's'. the grammar rule here is unavoidable. At the moment you are using zero article, which means wood is uncountable, which means it means 'substance' not 'forest'. In fact, the whole issue of ambiguity versus disambiguity is encapsulated in this one word!

I hope you enjoy your visitor.

Redigeret: jan 27, 2013, 3:07am

Every language has potential ambiguities, but usually they are not a problem in communication, and even in poetry, because a native speaker will know exactly what is meant even if, in theory, there could be several possible interpretations.

I think the problem with translating, especially poetry, is associations, not ambiguity. There are very few words, in any language I think, with only one meaning. And even if there is only one meaning, a word is not alone in a sentence. It carries memories and associations from other sentences, sometimes also other words. The older and more common a word is, the more associations it will carry. And that is what gets lost in translation. When reading a word in a sentence, native speakers will know immediately, in almost all cases, the exact meaning of the word in this sentence, because they will have already encountered this same word in similar contexts many times. But they will also have, somewhere in the back of their minds, other possible meanings of this word, other contexts where it might be used, and that will taint the meaning slightly. For a non-native speaker, the exact meaning is harder to pinpoint, and the associations are lost.

But the ambiguity is on the foreigner's side, not in the original text.

Redigeret: jan 27, 2013, 7:10am

And I also want to add that ambiguity, in my eyes, is an American obsession. It's probably linked to another obsession, litigation, but it may also have something to do with the need to interact daily with immigrant populations, people you cannot rely on to get your exact meaning, which may be nice in a book but can lead to disastrous results in real life. But I may be wrong about all this.

ETA: by "American obsession", what I mean is "the American obsession to get rid of ambiguity in language".

jan 28, 2013, 8:37am

No articles!!! If the Tang authors could purge all pronouns and participles, I can purge articles, no? You have convinced me to use an "s". Something else I note, since you indicate word is uncountable, is that measure words seem to be avoided in these poems as well.

My chinese class Sunday focused on many of the uses of Shang and Xia, among other things (Xia is the opposite of Shang, the below to Shang's above).

Flo, I find the conceptual difference between "associations" and "ambiguity" very helpful; though I think with the Tang poetry both are very difficult. The poems cultivate a degree of ambiguity, in part through their very leanness and careful avoidance of refining words (like pronouns - we just never know who is speaking or being referred to - making the poems sort of universal, a sort of god-speak). But then there are also association issues, which is much of what I was struggling with with climbing/above/divine as a translation for Shang. And I think the American obsession with precision is countered by a contrarianism among some - the Ezra Pounds and Gary Snyders attracted to this stuff tend to be very contrarian. But I do think you're on to something there.

jan 28, 2013, 8:41am

By the way, Martini, no need to butter me up, show up some time and there will be hospitality galore!

It is fun to see our city through a young visitor's eyes. We took her to the Museum of Fine Arts and she was jumping up and down excited to see the Monets there. Those paintings we have seen so many times that we usually just walk by; they are very familiar. But, you know, they're also pretty great, and it was good to spend some time there. She and my daughter are doing this thing where my daughter speaks Chinese to her and she speaks English back. I have trouble following them!

Redigeret: jan 28, 2013, 9:20am

By the way, here is the James Hightower version of the poem I am working on now (this is from The Cambridge Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature):

After Drinking Wine

I built my hut beside a traveled road
Yet hear no noise of passing carts and horses.
You would like to know how it is done?
With the mind detached, one's place becomes remote.
Picking chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge
I catch sight of the distant southern hills;
The mountain air is lovely as the sun sets
And flocks of flying birds return together.
In these things is a fundamental truth
I would like to tell but lack the words.

jan 28, 2013, 8:51am

272> Nice one! I can't wait to read your version of the translation.

jan 28, 2013, 9:30am

I love the title. Kind of makes everything clear attaining detachment happens after drinking wine.

jan 28, 2013, 1:22pm

>271 A_musing: aw, thanks! Ditto always.

jan 28, 2013, 8:07pm

272 love it. awesome.

jan 30, 2013, 8:54pm

Pooh thinks "wood" works just fine without the "s", since he lives in one, a Wood.

feb 3, 2013, 9:20pm

How many woods would a would chuck chuck if a would chuck could chuck woods?

Notes on Prosody came at the end of the week. Swimming. Swimmingly.

Redigeret: feb 6, 2013, 8:34am

Just got 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei and reading it was a thoroughly enjoyable 10 minutes. The author is highly opinionating and often quite sarcastic; he makes a number of good points but also makes an ass of himself on occassion, and doesn't seem to mind. The prose commentary is short and crisp, almost poetic in substance if not in form. Amusing. And the afterward by Octavio Paz is also interesting.

One of the most interesting points is in his afterwards to the second edition, which is on the character "Shang" we discussed above. Apparently, the character had a meaning in the Tang times, now obsolete, of "rising"; that is, it had an element of motion as well as relative place ("above").

feb 6, 2013, 1:38pm

I guess Murr's already covered it by noting the meanings "start, next" for 上, but I just read this in a paper (Boroditsky, 2001) I'm discussing for my thesis:

"Whereas in the English language people use a horizontal axis on which to position the various temporal events (employing words like ‘before’ and ‘after’), the speakers of Chinese (i.e. speakers of the Mandarin language) predominantly use a vertical axis on which temporal events are positioned (employing words that are the Mandarin equivalents of ‘above’ and ‘below’)."

So it seems like, most 上s may not be "before," but most befores may in fact be 上s? Japanese uses 上 ue usually to mean 'above, top', and 前 mae to mean 'before' both temporally and spatially--but unlike English, where spatial 'before' is now somewhat archaic ("Kneel before me!"), in Japanese it's still the normal term.

Redigeret: feb 7, 2013, 5:39am

280> interesting, except
i would beware of hard and fast categories such as horizontal and vertical. These category distinctions are very clear in English, but I have strong reason to believe that they are not so clear in Chinese.

indeed, the very notion of 'category distinction' may not exist in Chinese. Remember, in Chinese everything is permeated with cha bu duo.

feb 7, 2013, 8:40am

Hmmm. I have seen so far some words that seem horizontal (qian) and some words that seem vertical (shang); I don't know the frequency at all yet. I will keep an eye on that as I learn, it is interesting.

Murr, my impression so far is that the culture is rich with categories (four classic novels, five classics), even if they are all cha bu duo (e.g., makes little difference, close enough).

We say goodbye tomorrow to our exchange student. Almost two weaks of chattering with her much of the day means my daughter, who was already ahead of me in learning the language, is now blowing me away. And our exchange student's english has gotten noticably better.

feb 7, 2013, 12:29pm

yet yi sam--there, I said it (in Cantonese)...just to be a part of the exchange...

feb 9, 2013, 10:46pm

Happy New Year! It's always good when carnivale and New Year coincide, yes?

Redigeret: feb 9, 2013, 11:47pm

Xing Nien Kuei Le!!!!!!!!!!!

feb 12, 2013, 8:59pm

恭禧發財 (Gong Xi Fa Cai)!


Laissez les bons temps rouler!

feb 12, 2013, 10:42pm


mar 7, 2013, 12:12pm

This is going to be a very cool webcast on Chinese drama:

mar 19, 2013, 2:09pm

Tomorrow is both World Poetry Day and Nowruz. In honor of each, an illustration from the Shahnameh from Harvard's collections:

mar 19, 2013, 4:13pm

Great post.

mar 19, 2013, 7:02pm

So beautiful. What's it about?

mar 19, 2013, 7:16pm

Martini criticizing a translation of it might help!

mar 19, 2013, 9:09pm

Martini is always so much himself! That's great.

mar 19, 2013, 11:13pm

Awwww, I'll quote your blurb on my tombstone, Choco. Where you been at anyway? You should read Runaway Horses with us.

Also, I just found a miniature of two Turkish wrestlers that I got in the bazaar in Istanbul and put away for safekeeping and forgot where it was and thought it was lost for all time but now it's goin' on ma wall as an expression of my philosophy. It's not as pretty as that one.

mar 29, 2013, 11:32am

Choco! Good to see you. Martini, glad you found the miniature. You can feel free to post a scan....

Anna, that is one of my all-time favorite Martin reviews. So great in so many ways. That and his Clarel one. Well, and maybe a couple dozen others.

I just made the mistake of running through a list of the books cited in Bloom's Western Canon on Best Lists. I've been reading that fucking canon for 30 years and the computer tells me I'm only about 24% through it. It's amazing to see how many absolutely epic, indispensible works of literature I've just never gotten around to.

And I've only just begun on the Chinese stuff. I'm not going to try a list of that canon.

I'm never going to finish, am I?

mar 29, 2013, 1:03pm

>295 A_musing: makes me highly suspicious of Bloom. I mean, I know he gets paid to read, to a certain extent, and he is very old, but with all the teaching, sex scandals, and rehashing stuff he wrote in the sixties, how does he find the time?

Thanks for words, pals! I will try to scan that thing.

mar 29, 2013, 1:29pm

Sex scandals ? Come on ! Just one and it is not proofed, it was his canon against hers !

Redigeret: mar 29, 2013, 1:33pm

But I bet he still had to spend a lot of time dealing with it, and it wouldn't have looked good for him to be dipping into The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast at his internal investigation.

Redigeret: mar 29, 2013, 3:11pm

Mac, that's the thing. He's the only one of the two with a canon.

The thing is, to canonize that much stuff, you have to have read all the stuff that doesn't quite make it as well as the stuff that does. I mean, he had to figure out somehow that The Octopus and Edgar Allan Poe were more "canonical" than 1000 other writers of their period, right? Can you imagine reading everything in the 19th century not quite as good as those?

Redigeret: mar 29, 2013, 3:57pm

The Octopus? Ha ha. To borrow a term from Frank Norris' era, Bloom's a humbug.

Redigeret: mar 29, 2013, 4:03pm

And a humdinger to boot!

We may need to give him a comprehension test sometime. Maybe open each book 5 pages in, half way through, and a few pages from the end, and ask a basic memorable point, just to find out where he stops reading.

He does list Clarel, too. Which is the nicest thing I can say about him.

apr 21, 2013, 10:20pm

I love the place in Moby Dick when Ahab yells "Do you know who I am?!" at Moby....

apr 22, 2013, 12:44am

And moby answers :
I am afraid not, we have not been properly introduced

Redigeret: apr 22, 2013, 1:08am

Or moby :
Daddy, daddy !

How bizarre en tout cas

apr 22, 2013, 10:38am

Mac, suddenly, I can hear the rolling stones singing: Pleased to meet you! Hope you guessed my name!

Redigeret: apr 22, 2013, 11:00am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

apr 23, 2013, 4:05pm

So, my rule when traveling is to read of the place I am, but my next trip is a Paris/London trip in a few weeks, and that means I'm stuck with literatures I've read a disproportionate amount of; so, what should I sample from French and British lit that is likely to open my eyes in some new way? I can always go mine the classics to no end, but just as soon try to find something off the beaten path. I don't read French, unfortunately.

apr 23, 2013, 6:17pm

tropic of cancer

Redigeret: apr 23, 2013, 7:41pm

apr 23, 2013, 10:45pm

How about Cambodia? I'm going there in June. Is there anything in English other than accounts of horrors under Pol Pot?

apr 24, 2013, 12:10pm

The royal road by Malraux
Read while strolling through the Angkor ruins

apr 24, 2013, 12:12pm

Now Khmer lit sounds like an adventure! Certainly lots of Buddhist stuff there, right? I sort of liked the idea of Jataka tales until I started reading them and realized how much rambling goes on... I think they just have to be told right.

Rick, Martin, thanks for the thoughts. Nothing has quite grabbed me yet, but something will, and I may keep poking at Martin's list. Tropic would feel like cheating to me, too American. Sometimes I'm tempted just to never stop reading Charles Lamb when in England. Maybe it's time for one of his favorites, The Compleat Angler.

apr 24, 2013, 12:18pm

Mac, The Malraux could work for both Choco and I depending on the rules she applies - both written by a French dude and about Cambodia and Indochina. What say you, Choco, want to read that one with me? I'd be getting started before you, since my rules are I need to be reading it while in France.

apr 24, 2013, 1:51pm

The compleat angler has been on my tbr like forever

apr 24, 2013, 1:53pm

In 1923, aged 22, Malraux left for Cambodia with Clara.7 There, together with Clara and a friend, Louis Chevasson, he undertook a small expedition into unexplored areas of the Cambodian jungle in search of lost Khmer temples, hoping to recover items that might be sold to art museums. On his return, he was arrested by French colonial authorities for removing a bas-relief from Banteay Srei (a somewhat ironic turn of events given that French authorities had themselves removed large numbers of statues and bas-reliefs from temples such as Angkor Wat). Malraux, who believed he had acted within the law as it then stood, contested the charges but was unsuccessful.8
Malraux's experiences in Indochina led him to become highly critical of the French colonial authorities there. In 1925, he helped to organize the Young Annam League and founded a newspaper L'Indochine.9
On his return to France, Malraux published The Temptation of the West (1926). The work was in the form of an exchange of letters between a Westerner and an Asian, comparing aspects of the two cultures. This was followed by his first novel The Conquerors (1928), and then by The Royal Way (1930) which reflected some of his Cambodian experiences.10 In 1933 Malraux published Man's Fate (La Condition Humaine), a novel about the 1927 failed Communist rebellion in Shanghai. The work was awarded the 1933 Prix Goncourt.11

apr 24, 2013, 5:24pm

Oh um 1985?

apr 24, 2013, 9:53pm

I really want to read the temptation of the West. That sounds great. Everything else I have read by Malraux has been fantastic. Can't go wrong with him.

apr 24, 2013, 10:06pm

The Malraux sounds fantastic! Thank you! I'll happily read it with you Sam, soon as I can get hold of it.

If I was in England I'd have to read a lot of Charles Lamb too. I'm always planning to get around to more Lamb. And Robert Lynd.

apr 25, 2013, 12:22am

And why not : barrage contre le pacifique by Marguerite Duras ?

apr 25, 2013, 12:24am

And for the sailors : Bernard Moitessier : "Tamata"

apr 25, 2013, 1:51am

I was going to suggest Un barrage contre le Pacifique too.

For Paris, Léo Malet, Les choses which I've been meaning to re-read for ages, Les mystères de Paris if you like that kind of crazy roman feuilleton stuff (never got around to finish it myself to be honest).

apr 25, 2013, 2:01am

Zazie dans le metro (which I found googling for another book about the métro, but I can't remember the title and it's probably not as good as Zazie anyway).

Redigeret: apr 25, 2013, 9:35am

Ah, I can see this trip will be good for my library. I'm seeing a bunch of those I want to at least have and have the chance of reading; Duras is an old favorite, though I have not read The Sea Wall (the English translation). Flo, the Malet and Sue look like they'll be breezy fun kinds of reads; crazy roman feuilleton sounds like a good time. I may pick up both of those and see what strikes me, with one or two from Martin's lists, and then probably need to find something more ancient to throw in the bag, maybe some Villon or the Heptameron. That will make for a happy trip. Choco, we're reading Malraux; once I have the book and start, I'll begin posting some scribblings for our French-Indochina Adventures on a separate thread; if you get it first, open the thread when you're read and I'll do the same. I've also got some Segalen that will likely make the trip. Somehow, my traveling reads always extend for some time after the return from the trip.....

By the way, also planning a trip to Frankfurt area in September.

apr 25, 2013, 2:17pm

Yes Zazie is nice !

apr 26, 2013, 8:12pm

I know it's not connected in any way with your travels, sam, but you really should check out David Hinton's translations of Li Bai. They are perfect. Published by NDP.

apr 26, 2013, 9:20pm

The Royal Way, aka The Way of Kings, seems to be out of print in English in this country. If I order it online it might take a month to get here. Still, if that's the only way to get it...

apr 26, 2013, 10:56pm

I just ordered an old one from abebooks, and there were a bunch of copies there, though I don't know if any were with Australian booksellers. Murr, I have some of those in the NDP anthology of Chinese verse, but don't have a separate volume. I will have to look.

maj 16, 2013, 9:11am

Picked up a very nice first edition of the full set of Nabokov's Onegin translation this morning in London. There are beautiful things in the bookstores here, but the prices.... it will only be early presents for special occassions purchased here!

maj 16, 2013, 7:21pm

maj 16, 2013, 10:42pm

Not a strange assertion

maj 16, 2013, 11:09pm

Sounds reasonable to me.

jun 16, 2013, 11:20pm

So, tonight my son and younger daughter and I began reading The Inferno (Robert Pinsky's translation) together. So fertile for discussion! My daughter is drawing illustrations to it as I read.

jun 17, 2013, 2:43am

What's a good choice for a first selection by Malraux?

jun 17, 2013, 6:17am

La condition Humaine

Redigeret: jun 17, 2013, 7:38am

Mac is the man on Malraux! I need to read it myself; I think we read some selections back in college. The Royal Road was a fun read. By the way, I did open a thread on The Royal Road; Choco, when you get to it, let's talk!

jun 17, 2013, 8:07am

Mac puts the Mal in Malraux

jun 23, 2013, 4:59pm

Ah, sensei Pound, my old nemesis, it comes as no surprise to find you here in hell.

Reading Menocal on Pound on Dante. Writing in Dante's Cult of Truth.

jul 2, 2013, 12:59pm

I am now reading Andrew Frisardi's new translation of Dante's Vita Nova. Anyone else find Dante's obsession with Beatrice sort of Laylaesque?

jul 2, 2013, 5:32pm

Nobody cares, Sam, until you fall at the feet of Benedetti.

jul 2, 2013, 6:14pm


jul 2, 2013, 6:55pm

My god, Sam, he has been mentioned in virtually every one of our hockey discussions. Benedetti!

jul 2, 2013, 7:20pm

Did he play for one of those godforsaken teams you cheered on as a kid?

Or is this a comment on Dante? Bene detti!

jul 3, 2013, 1:02am

All right, I just wanted to see if you knew your Hawks. I made him up, but it took some time for you (or MM) to call me on it--enraptured in your bruinmania...

jul 3, 2013, 6:49pm

The Hawks are but a foil. They are like the shades of Hell - it is not their existence that is important, but Dante's perception of them. In other words, who cares about them?

Still, Benedetti has no goals, real or imagined, on Rask.

jul 3, 2013, 8:10pm

Nor Rask any stops on Benedetti.

jul 4, 2013, 12:39pm

Serious question now, which translations for the Purgatorio and the Paradiso? Pinsky's translation was a great choice for the Inferno.

jul 4, 2013, 7:10pm

Look who thinks he's going to decide about what is serious!

Redigeret: jul 14, 2013, 4:09pm

Dante is naturally leading to some near contemporaries among both the Christians and Arabs. Now doing Ramon Llull's Book of the Lover and the Beloved, Menocal et al.'s anthology The Literature of al-Andalus and The Pennants Anthology by Ibn Sa'id.

I'm also reading William Dalrymple's The Return of a King, on British foibles in Afghanistan in the 1830s. I am deeply jealous of Dalrymple's library.

aug 12, 2013, 11:22am

349: That was downright weird.

aug 12, 2013, 1:38pm

2 lqarls

aug 26, 2013, 8:19pm

I dropped my daughter at college this weekend. The long drive back, over eight hours, stopping two much, wondering if we really had to leave, was untherapeutic. It's a time of longing and hoping here. Waiting to see what she discovers. Knowing there are new friends every day - probably every hour at this point. Only guessing at all the new and exciting possibilities for her.

aug 26, 2013, 9:07pm

Ahh -- another turning point -- now it's her life to determine.............

aug 26, 2013, 9:19pm

With luck, she'll boomerang....

sep 1, 2013, 4:14pm

So, time for my next travel reading selections. What should I read for my trip to Germany in a couple of weeks?

The possibilities here are deep, as I really haven't even read that deeply in the country's classics. One I am considering is the work of the good Mr. Hoffmann, whom I have not read. However, I'll be in the Rhine valley, and it may be good to sample something from someone more Rhenish.

sep 1, 2013, 4:25pm

My favorites are Hesse, Brecht, Christa Wolf, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, and the Brothers Grimm -- but I have no idea if any of them are Rhenish.

sep 1, 2013, 5:09pm

Hmmm, great ideas there. I enjoyed a book by Wolf many, many years ago but haven't picked her up since. I don't even remember what it was. Parzival could be a ton of fun. Brecht and Grimm I've both read and reread and never tire from. Hesse I gave up on at an early age and maybe should try again.

sep 2, 2013, 12:34am

I've been reading of late about Brahms' connection to Hoffmann - in his teens Brahms kept a notebook of quotes and other jottings which he called "The Young Kreisler's Treasure Chest". Kreisler was his alter ego. I myself want to read Kreisleriana soon... (onedaysoonihope)... He may not be Rhenish, but I reckon the castles and hysteria would fit nicely.

How's your daughter settling in?

sep 2, 2013, 11:09am

She seems to be settling in well, though I want to go live in her dorm. It is the arts/theatre dorm. They have wood, metal and glass shops in the basement, performances that range from Jazz Improv sessions to play competitions with all plays written, produced and acted within a 24 hour period to Bhangra dance, live-in resident artists who help make it all happen, and a really intense kind of vibe about the place. We didn't have such a place where I went.

Castles and hysteria are my life.

sep 3, 2013, 7:42am

Kreisler is the cat's pajamas.

(Sam, I'm glad you expanded on your initial thought, I mean given your castleric hysterics...)

sep 8, 2013, 7:38am

If you're in the mood for poetry, the German Romantics are nice, and the language is simple enough to try to work out with limited German, or to follow easily with none if you get a bilingual edition. Heine? Novalis?

Also, I'm really really enjoying reading/writing about Johann Gottfried Herder at the moment, though I dunno that he's preferable to having actual fun reading fiction.

sep 8, 2013, 9:03am

Why can't Martin be NORMAL?

sep 8, 2013, 6:08pm

Presenting myself to be wedgied, sir.

sep 8, 2013, 6:52pm

Bucbuc in one hand and a fierce right grip and uppercut. Please visit again that we may make this all a reality.

sep 9, 2013, 2:23pm

Look for me in rainbows, Rick.

sep 19, 2013, 7:06am

Dear Sam,

Sorry to bring this to your page, but i have few scruples...

The BEST idea is to go for US distribution, dissemination of the already pubished in English Arjun and the Good Snake:

This from an award-winning poet just arrived:

As I am almost half-way through Arjun and the Good Snake--this cross-cultural riot, this mob of words overwhelming timid grammarians armed with nerf-shillelaghs--and having reached a lush thicket of snake-stats and imprecations against Perfidious Albion--the last twenty pages read in the Endoscopy Suite Waiting Lounge--it is time to say how much I'm loving this book, stranger and deeper with every digression, coinage, and brigandage against right reason.

If this was a refošk tasting, I would note smoky phantoms of Italo Svevo and Lawrence Sterne, a redolence of Twain, and the obsessional nose of Melville.

There is real grimness here, but the vision underlying it all is humane (yet no fake uplift, no Botoxed realities) & the children keep stealing the show!

Can a kickstart be aimed to take this book to the people?

If so, how start, what strategy...will one of your favorite composers turn it into an opera?


okt 1, 2013, 11:18am

The Opera, rick, is a marvelous way to kill a book. After all, we've all read Le Figaro, right?

Kickstarters are experiments by nature - one of those things where all one can do is try it and see if it works. Some of them fail.

On a different topic, I picked up and started reading Nabakov's Eugene Onegin, the four volume set of which the poem itself is half of one volume. Still, riveting, facscinating, so very differently translated than in other's hands....

okt 1, 2013, 1:01pm

oh oh how exciting!ii nabokovs commentary is a fantastic work! his translation is pretty terrible though.

okt 1, 2013, 2:48pm

I'm actually enjoying the translation, but it is a bit surreal and massively different from other translations. In the intro, he invokes LaFontaine as a model for the EO stanza, and you can see that in his verse. But Nabokov's touch with the verse also seems kind of trivializing, perhaps fine with the subject matter (at least at the beginning), but without the same complexity as he describes in the commentaries.

okt 1, 2013, 10:04pm

His translation is really a pony. The best translation of EO is that by James Falen. D.H.Thomas has also done one, but I haven't read it yet.

Sam, have you seen this? Forgive me if you have already:

okt 2, 2013, 3:22pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I had not seen that, and it is wonderful; I'm going to have to reread it after getting through more of this. Well, we all like ponies, right?

Redigeret: okt 28, 2013, 6:13pm

I will be giving a Eulogy for my father Wednesday. And I thought I would share it with my friends here. I promise you, this is the longest post I shall ever make.

My father was an imperfect man. For many years, he smoked too much, and for many more, he drank too much. He could hold a grudge: there were multiple family members he didn’t talk to for years. And I probably shouldn’t touch on the topic of women: he married twice; he divorced twice. When I went to visit him two years ago after a heart attack, he’d charmed a couple of nurses into calling him “General”, flirting himself into an instant and impressive promotion. Hope sprang eternal for him. But my father was not a saint.

As we gather together to say our goodbyes - for now – is it time to forget his imperfections, to ask that they be forgiven, and to ask for mercy on his soul? So what can I say to commend an imperfect man to God?

As you walk the grounds outside, look at the trees. He planted many of them, especially trees with bloom, to brighten the churchyard. Raised on grey city streets, crowded and colorless, Dad loved the green of the valley, the blue of the Hudson, and the full palette of flowers. With his faith in God, he felt death should be celebrated rather than mourned.

You’ll find crocuses come up in the oddest places here. They are vestiges of a mad, obsessive autumn, when thousands were planted all around, in hopes of a riotous colorful mob in spring. We got the whole congregation out digging, digging, putting them everywhere, two Sundays in a row. Unfortunately, come spring, the sexton couldn’t suffer the grass its early ragged growth, and he trimmed the lawns neatly short, meticulously edging them, too, just as the crocuses bloomed. Only a few survived, hidden in odd corners. But they held on, and a few multiplied. Come spring, Dad’s trees and his hidden crocuses will bloom. And in that spring bloom, while he may be gone to us, his body will be here, back among his old plantings.

Dad’s favorite line in the burial service, one I heard him sermonize on many times, was “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” It was a reminder that we people are of the earth, and that this body of ours must return to it. But not the soul. Not the soul. Dad had a hunger and passion for learning and thinking that was at the core of his soul. Dinner filled we kids more with Kant and Kierkegaard than meat and potatoes. And he would talk Kant’s universal imperative with everyone – a waitress at lunch, the auto repair worker, the poor delivery person trying to make the rest of their rounds. There was always a book to read, a debate to be had, and a question to ask. And he had an urgency about it, for part of his imperfection was that hole in the middle of his soul that needed to be filled.

Dad was always gregarious, eager to bend an ear, and willing to lay out all his thoughts, insecurities, and hopes. He picked up the mail at the post office instead of having it delivered, just so he could jaw with people there. Trips to the post office could take an hour – even two. I know; 10 year old me, stuck in the car waiting, would clock them. Trips to a bar or restaurant might never end.

That urgency, with an almost childlike need for people to always be all around him, was at the core both of Dad’s imperfection and his charm. The drinking, smoking, and bumpy relationships were all part of his endless searching, trying to find ways to connect with people. But even while searching, even when lost, he could summon some charm, singing off key – loudly – or belly up with a story - some of which may have been half-true. He was a man of infinite jest. And as we ask for mercy for an imperfect soul, let us not forget that his imperfections were all deeply human. I am sure there are many here today who found solace in his sympathy, who were encouraged by his friendship, or who found the way eased by his empathy and humanness.

During the last year, when I talked to him on the phone, I knew each call would end with a bit of downright sappiness. He’d say whatever else I did in life, I am proud of my children. And I love them.

Dad. We love you. And we hope your soul finds a garden in which to flourish with still more color, more perfect color, than this one where your ashes will remain. We commend your soul to God.

okt 28, 2013, 6:19pm

A heartfelt tribute. I'm sorry for your loss.

okt 28, 2013, 6:59pm

Beautiful. Your father sounds like he would have been a fantastic guy to be around. Thoughts and wishes to you and your family.

okt 28, 2013, 7:29pm

A beautiful eulogy. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

okt 28, 2013, 7:48pm

A wonderful eulogy - real, loving, intelligent. Something your Dad would clearly have appreciated. Hugs.

Redigeret: okt 28, 2013, 9:09pm

I am so very sorry. Having just eulogized my Dad, I have an inkling of your feelings right now. It's a beautiful tribute.

okt 28, 2013, 9:12pm

Thank you all. Somehow, writing about him helps, and having others read it.

okt 28, 2013, 10:03pm

From the heart Sam. Perfect tribute.

okt 28, 2013, 10:25pm

Sorry for your loss Sam. You dad sounds like he was a great guy. a eulogy to be proud of.

okt 29, 2013, 3:31pm

Thanks for sharing that, Sam.

Redigeret: dec 15, 2013, 4:20pm

I haven't caught up in a while as it has been a bit of a whirlwind since November when I got some bad health news - I start tomorrow on chemo for some lymphoma that is hanging out in my back creating enormous pain. I've been almost without reading since the news, days filled with trips for imaging and biopsying and general constant medical attention, but am now, thanks to a mix of various drugs, starting to feel up to it again and am hoping to begin catching up on the Faustus read, though plodding far behind. Read some nice Chinese poems today, picking away at Colubmia Press' How to Read Chinese Poetry, which includes both sound files and the Chinese version as well as the translated version. Hopefully you'll be hearing from me more soon enough.

My thread seems to have become a bit like my grandmother's old christmas letters: a chronicle of all the maladies of those near and dear or even just somewhat near and gossip-worthy. Well, Merry Christmas all, and looking forward to a thread next year that reads more like Dorothy Parker reporting on the Round Table than Grandma reporting on the Family Circle!

dec 15, 2013, 4:44pm

Sam, I thought first to say this is crushing...the word crushing, but let it not be that please.


Redigeret: dec 15, 2013, 5:36pm

There were times in the last month it seemed crushing, but now that I understand both the disease and the treatment, what it is is a thorough and deep and very literal pain in the ass. The risk that I won't be around in five or 10 years is quite low; the odds that a year from now I'm fixed and fine are very high. But, there are going to be a few months of nastiness to get there, during which I shall need use of every damn swear in your whole monkey-fucking vocabulary.

dec 15, 2013, 7:04pm

thanks for elaborating

here are some common serb swears: jebem ti materna, pičku ti maternu, mars v pičku maternu, jebo ti pas mater, boli me kurac

actually all are now slovene but originated from serbo-croat

definitions available upon request

dec 15, 2013, 7:12pm

Sam let me here and now give you the biggest bearhug EVER.


dec 15, 2013, 8:06pm

Sorry to hear your bad news, that is awful sam. I Hope you recover well. At least you will have lots of time for reading if you are stuck in bed. My thoughts are with you.

dec 16, 2013, 12:01am

Sam, I am terribly sorry to hear about your bad health news.
Wish you all the best for the next coming months.
Don't worry about lagging behind in Faustus, we'll send you a résumé.
: )

dec 16, 2013, 12:07am

I wish you well.


dec 16, 2013, 2:53am

I've been a lurker on your thread for a while, but now I just have to speak up and say I'm dreadfully sorry for what you're going through. Medicine accomplishes some wonderful cures these days, but the process isn't always pleasant. I wish you all the strength and courage you need--and, where possible, a reservoir of good humor.

dec 16, 2013, 12:06pm

Oh Sam. Sending my strongest thoughts your way. I can send lots of Arabic swear words and phrases towards your lymphoma, if it will help.

dec 16, 2013, 12:12pm

Consider whatever swears I have to contribute contributed too, Sam. Healthful wishes and check in from time to time, right?

dec 16, 2013, 12:47pm

Sam, you will be in my thoughts and I will pepper them with the worst swear words I can muster. Your ears will melt. Seriously, I will be thinking of you often and sending positive thoughts.

dec 16, 2013, 4:35pm

Get 'em!

dec 16, 2013, 6:03pm

Yes, all the best, Sam. A rotten year for you.

dec 17, 2013, 10:40am

Chin up Sam. Wishing you well.

dec 17, 2013, 11:20am

Many thanks, all. Spent most of the last two days with docs and nurses, and I seem to be handling my own little diet of poisons fairly well, though it seemed that way more to the doctors than to me sometimes. It turns out chemo treatment can be a nice time to get some books in, since I'm mostly lying around waiting for fluids to go through me. Listened to some of Dante's Purgatory by Audiobook, seemed to be appropriate to the day. My wife was reading Aphra Behn.

Anna, address those Arabic swears to this tumor. I've picked up some chinese ones, but it needs to be cursed in every way possible. And thanks for all hugs, thoughts, swears and prayers. All appreciated.

dec 17, 2013, 1:34pm

May God burn the religion of that tumor's father! Hmmm, it sounds really stupid in English.

dec 19, 2013, 1:55pm

Hang in there Sam, we're all thinking of you!

Redigeret: jan 1, 2014, 8:17pm

Well, my 16 year old daughter is about to embark on a reading of the Great Moby in school . I'm reading Job aloud to her in preparation.

This should be fun for her .

jan 1, 2014, 7:48pm

in perpetration?
Should indeed be fun. I'm on tenterhooks as to how she will like it.

jan 1, 2014, 8:17pm

Fixed it. Damn autocorrect

jan 2, 2014, 11:09pm

Hope the cure is on its way -- and all curses (in all languages) to the lymphoma! 2014 is a new year, once again.

feb 8, 2014, 8:41am

David Hinton's the Selected Poems of Du Fu, much recommended by Murr, has arrived. Poetry is just right for me these days; I'm reading a fair bit of it. I also just got Rexroth's The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China.

I am spending some time looking for the Chinese originals of Hinton; he produces very nice English versions, but because he eschews fidelity to the original form, it leaves me wondering a lot about the original. Part of why these things can inspire 5 great English versions. But I'm enjoying it immensely, and the notes and commentary are also great. The arrangement and selection gives a better idea of Du Fu's growth and development than I have had. Must read the full length biography of Du Fu that Hinton summarizes in the materials at the end.

feb 8, 2014, 8:06pm


feb 25, 2014, 10:06am

I just got PET scan results after 3 chemos: "no discernible tumor activity"! 3 more chemos to mop up, but we are winning!

feb 25, 2014, 10:15am

Great news!!! I hope the chemos are not too hard.

feb 25, 2014, 10:36am

Wonderful news!

feb 25, 2014, 12:59pm

Yay !

feb 25, 2014, 1:21pm

Good for you!


feb 26, 2014, 5:17am

great news sam!

feb 27, 2014, 9:27pm

thumbed. Really does sound awesome. CAn't wait to get a look at it.

Redigeret: feb 28, 2014, 5:06pm

Great review. I've thumbed it.

Redigeret: feb 28, 2014, 9:08pm

Aw Gawsh Sammie,

My little canid brain doesn't have the aptitude for this stuff, but I read your review (3X) and loved it. 'Another thumb (paw) for you.

Keep reviewing and keep fightin'.

BTW, how did your daughter like Moby?

mar 1, 2014, 12:29pm

She loves Moby Dick. She has no interest in reading my blog, though - she likes to come to me with her own thoughts to talk about. But she has been looking to talk about it a lot, and has been talking with her friends about it. The last big paper on it is due next week.

Redigeret: apr 10, 2014, 10:24pm

Ah, teens. I've one too. They "no" everything.

apr 5, 2014, 1:29pm

May you all have a bright Qingming Jie and a wonderful celebration of those who have passed!

Redigeret: apr 10, 2014, 10:28pm

Stay clear, pure and bright!

And a happy Godeberta day to you, Sam.

apr 11, 2014, 3:15pm

Happy Godeberta day to all!