Saturday, January 16, 2021

Dædalus now online

In January 2021, Dædalus became an Open Access journal. The editors of Dædalus thank you for your patience while they work to digitize the back catalog.

The current edition of the quarterly journal Dædalus is available online, and as you can see from the above quote from their "About" page they are working to make their back catalog available online, too. Many thanks to M. A. Orthofer at the Literary Saloon for noting this. As he mentions, the archive "will be something to return to again and again."

The entire Winter 2021 issue, "On the Novel" edited by Michael Wood, is available for free online. The articles feature

fourteen essays, written by scholars with a variety of approaches and interests, that offer remarkable insights into the behavior of this versatile literary form—how old the novel actually is, shifts in dominant patterns, the art of word-play, connections between the novel and TV and videogames, and the novel in the classroom—glimpses of where and what it has been and where it may go in the future.

The articles and their authors in the Winter 2021 issue
Introduction: In This World
(Michael Wood)

The essays in this volume of Dædalus do not survey or summarize the fate of the novel, but they do offer remarkable insights into the behavior of a versatile literary form, glimpses of where and what it has been and where it may go.

What Is It Like to Write a Novel?
(Lorrie Moore)

Two Theories
(Franco Moretti)

Finding the Time for Ancient Novels
(Simon D. Goldhill)

Some Endangered Feeling
(Nancy Armstrong)

Henry James in—and out of—the Classroom
(Ruth Bernard Yeazell)

The Hole in the Carpet: Henry James’s The Bostonians
(Sharon Cameron)

“A Woman Is a Sometime Thing”: (Re)Covering Black Womanhood in Porgy and Bess
(Daphne A. Brooks)

We “Other Victorians”? Novelistic Remains, Therapeutic Devices, Contemporary Televisual Dramas
(Rey Chow and Austin Sarfan)

The Survival of the Unfit
(Wai Chee Dimock)

Poets in Prose: Genre & History in the Arabic Novel
(Robyn Creswell)

Organic Reformations in Richard Powers’s The Overstory
(Garrett Stewart)

Video Games & the Novel
(Eric Hayot)

Losing Track of Time
(Jonathan Greenberg)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Quartet for the End of Time by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective (Live from Wigmore Hall)

I recently discovered the Wigmore Hall channel on YouTube and have been impressed by the recordings they have. This past Monday night (well, afternoon for me) I was able to catch their live performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time), one of the most remarkable 20th-century compositions. Messiaen (1908–92), a Frenchman, composed the quartet in the winter of 1940–41 while a prisoner in the Nazi Stalag camp 8A at Görlitz. The prisoners had to make do with battered instruments, and the piece premiered in front of almost 400 prisoners-of-war. As has been noted in several places, Messiaen recalled: "Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension."

While the inspiration for the piece comes from the Book of Revelation, there is a glimmer of hope at the end. There are eight movements, and it helps to read Messiaen's notes, which can be found here. Lawrence University has a site covering musical elements, analysis, and Biblical notes.

You can watch a recording of the performance at the Wigmore Hall channel (also embedded below). The performers from the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective are Matthew Hunt (clarinet), Elena Urioste (violin), Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello), and Tom Poster (piano). The live portion starts around the 4:30 mark and the performance lasts just over 50 minutes. All players are excellent and shine, but due to the nature of this piece Kanneh-Mason and Hunt really stand out. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wishing you a happy new year!

It has been a busy year, so I'll take this opportunity to apologize for staying predominantly silent. We have been incredibly fortunate and blessed this year in spite of everything that 2020 managed to throw at the world. What could be called my 'workload' multiplied this year with caretaking a friend's property, but it has been fun and educational. My reading suffered because of the extra work, but I hope to post soon on several books I think others would enjoy.

In addition, part of the silence came from things I saw on social media earlier this year that disgusted me, leading me to disconnect from the online world. It's disheartening to see repellent thoughts from people you've followed and held in high regard. We're all human, and my tendency in such circumstances is to simply withdraw and avoid the unpleasantries. So if I'm not commenting on your blog, please don't take it personally. It's just me.

It can be a magical world, though, and that's what I'm going to focus on in this coming year.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Too Loud a Solitude: One of RPI's Czech Books You Must Read

Radio Prague International named Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude one of its Czech Books You Must Read. It's an insightful and informative post that I highly recommend. Here's a comment about the book from Esther Peters, Associate Director of the Center for East European and Russian Studies at the University of Chicago:
“The world would be a better place if more people read this book. It is an incredibly engaging read. It is so much fun and yet it is incredibly intellectual. It makes you think. Every time I read it there are new things to think about and it is one of the few books that I think combines these aspects so perfectly that you can delve into it, love reading it and just enjoy the process of reading.

“It is about knowledge, language, process and ritual, but it is also just a good story. That combination of things is quite rare I think. It challenges you to think, but keeps you entertained at the same time.

“Every time I read it something new pops out. I think that is another thing. It changes with the reader. I think that it probably changed with Hrabal as he wrote it. It is something you can take with you. It is a companion.”

Peters delves into why Hrabal is so difficult to translate, and the article talks about the three versions of this book, how it was semi-autobiographical, and more. Check it out, along with the other "must read" books they have highlighted.

My post on Too Loud a Solitude can be found here.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Upcoming (re-)releases: William Gaddis' first two novels by NYRB

I'm sure most people have seen the news that New York Review Books will release William Gaddis' first two novels, The Recognitions and J R, this fall. From the Publishers Weekly article:
NYRB editor Edwin Frank, asked why the press planned to republish what he called Gaddis's "two showstopper doorstoppers," said that the answer was simple: "really good books, great books, don't represent things so much as they represent themselves: they change things, change the way we see language, change the way we see the novel, change the way we see the world around us, and The Recognitions and JR do all of that to this day."

If you're planning on tackling either or both of these novels, I'd like to recommend getting a copy of the audiobooks with Nick Sullivan reading them to go along with reading them yourself. I know, I know. That sounds strange, but trust me it will help you make sense of what is going on, especially in J R. The Neglected Book Page posted on these audiobooks when they were released and he was right: they are phenomenal accomplishments by Sullivan. (Wow, that was ten years ago.)

Also of help for first-time readers (and maybe repeat readers, too) will be The Gaddis Annotations (although I saved that for after I was through with sections of the book), and Gaddis' 1986 interview with The Paris Review.

These are two of my favorite books, so I'm looking forward to the responses of those who decide to tackle these difficult-but-rewarding books.

Update: Chris Via reviews Gaddis' J R at Splice. Reinforcing why listening to the book might be a good idea:

Indeed, with the early scene depicting the rehearsal of the Ring cycle, and repeated invocations of Mozart and Wagner, Gaddis effectively signals that he is conducting an operatic epic so that we, as readers, will not only need to scan his words but also listen to him (as Bast implores J R to do). And, as we listen, attuning our ears to his dialogue, we become acquainted with his characters solely through their voices, which in turn become the book’s leitmotifs.

Another recent post/review of J R is in The Paris Review blog, written by Joy Williams: William Gaddis’s Disorderly Inferno.

Dustin Illingworth has an article at The Point that addresses the two books: Unrecognizable, William Gaddis’s American pessimism.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Yekaterina Vasilievna Korotkova-Grossman

Vasily Grossman, with mother and daughter Katya
Picture source

From Robert Chandler's Facebook page earlier today:

A few minutes ago I received the sad news of the death of Yekaterina Vasilievna Korotkova-Grossman, the daughter of Vasily Grossman. She was someone unusually sensitive, perceptive and witty. We got on well from our very first meeting and I always greatly enjoyed our conversations. At one time in her life she worked as a translator from English. She read through our translation of The Armenian Sketchbook and made many helpful suggestions, not only correcting my misunderstandings of the Russian but also, here and there, coming up with stylistic improvements.
Yekaterina Vasilievna was ninety years old when she died.

In a separate post, Robert links to "a beautiful short memoir the late Ekaterina Korotkova-Grossman wrote about the years she lived in the city Russians call Lvov and which is now becoming known as Lviv." The story is Ukraine: On the Edge of an Empire.

In a 2010 interview, Yekaterina was asked what was the favorite work of her father:

Good Wishes - his account of the two months he spent in Armenia in late 1961. This is his kindest, most good-natured work. I also especially admire "In the Big Ring", one of his very last stories. This, I believe, will last for ever.

Robert Chandler adds: "In the Big Ring" is about a child from an elite family who is rushed to an ordinary village hospital. Acute illness throws the little girl into the company of women from other social classes, broadening and deepening her sense of life. We have not included it in The Road (the selection of Grossman's stories to be published this September by MacLehose Press) because we did not feel we could reproduce the wordplay that is so crucial in this story. But I, too, love Good Wishes - and my wife and I hope to translate it next year.

An excerpt from Good Wishes can be found here.

One last link: a 2010 conversation between Yekaterina and Robert Chandler can be found at the London Review Bookshop Podcast.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

All right then... I'm a psychopath

Happy anniversary to this tweet! It couldn't have been me judging from where Mr. Gay lives and writes. Not to mention I don't like coffee and never drink it. I'm sure, though, I have engendered the same respone from others in coffeeshops that I have patronized for other caffeine delivery methods. Well, all that plus usually there's a book open on the table in front of me.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Tim Wilkinson (1947 - 2020)

I was extremely sad to see a post from on the passing of Tim Wilkinson, "One of Hungarian literature's most prominent translators, known best for his work with Imre Kertész and Miklós Szentkuthy." I've read quite a few books translated by him and have posted on some of them.
Wilkinson translated many academic books, mostly related to Hungarian history, and it was only decades later, in the early 2000's, he published his first book-length literary translations. From then until the present day, almost twenty literary fiction and non-fiction titles were published in Tim Wilkinson's name, including works by Iván Bächer, László F. Földényi, Miklós Mészöly, György Spiró and Péter Zilahy among others.

I was looking forward to Contramundum Press' fall release of Miklós Szentkuthy's Chapter on Love. Although the translator isn't named, I would assume it is Wilkinson. I love his attitude toward his translation projects (quote from one of the links on my posts):

I often translate just for my own pleasure, independent of whether I’ve been commissioned or not by a publisher. If I manage to “sell” one of these translations later on, then all the merrier, but there’s usually no guarantee that this will ever happen. Consequently, I’ve done translations of works—usually one or two—written by ten to twelve different authors, but these manuscripts are still slumbering in the depths of my desk drawer. There is also a list of authors I haven’t translated yet, but would if I only had the time. Among them are István Szilágyi, László Végel, György Spiró and Dezső Tandori, whom I’ve lately included. Ádám Bodor and Péter Lengyel are also on this list, but I know others are already translating them.

Wishing comfort and strength for his family and friends.

Additional links:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Dean's Lecture Series at St. John's College

I'm a little late in posting this, but here is the 2020 Fall Semester Dean's Lecture Series at St. John's College. There have been two lectures already, one on Hesiod and one on Montaigne. Hopefully the transcripts for these will be available soon at their archives site (link on the Lecture list page). Speaking of which, the archive site looks like it will be fun to explore.

Tomorrow's lecture for Constitution Day will be on the Grutter v. Bollinger case. The remaining lectures cover a wide variety of subjects, from pendulums to Aristotle's De Anima to photography. If you find something good in the archives, let me know!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Fairy Inn of Dry Creek

It's easy to get bogged down in negative things right now (well, at any time, really), so I thought I would share a few pictures of things that make me smile when I'm walking our dog. On a nearby trail it appears kids have painted rocks and set up a "fairy inn" to house them. They also leave rocks in places along the trail. The kids' work brightens every day we walk there.