Books

A New Translation of Clarice Lispector

A New Translation of Clarice Lispector In her mixture of nonchalance, inscrutability, wit, and knowing simplicity, in her use of tones that are whimsical and subtle, in the stories that are filled with abstractions, Clarice Lispector has perhaps more in common with some Brazilian visual artists of her generation than she does with any writers.

Clarice Lispector was born in Ukraine in 1920 and taken to Brazil as an infant. Raised in Recife, the north of the country, she married a diplomat and thus spent many years traveling before returning to Brazil to live in Rio de Janeiro. In 1966 she was badly injured in a fire in her apartment. She died in 1977.

By the time of her death, she had become, Benjamin Moser writes in his biography of her, “one of the mythical figures of Brazil, the Sphinx of Rio de Janeiro, a woman who fascinated her countrymen virtually from adolescence.”* Her looks were often commented on and there was much gushing nonsense written about her. The translator Gregory Rabassa, for example, recalled being “flabbergasted to meet that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf.” The poet Ferreira Gullar remarked that “she looked like a she-wolf, a fascinating wolf.” And the French critic Hélène Cixous declared that Lispector was what Kafka would have been had he been a woman, or “if Rilke had been a Jewish Brazilian born in the Ukraine. If Rimbaud had been a mother, if he had reached the age of fifty. If Heidegger could have ceased being German.”
Read more about Clarice Lispector here

 

An excellent interview with Clarice Lispector, possibly the greatest Jewish writer since Kafka :

Benjamin Moser speaks about his translation :

The Poetry of John Berryman

The Poetry of John Berryman

 

Helen Vendler

 

On October 25, 1914, just over one hundred years ago, the remarkable poet John Berryman was born in McAlester, Oklahoma. The anniversary invites a second look at Berryman’s life, art, and reputation. In honor of this anniversary, Farrar, Straus and Giroux offers The Heart Is StrangeNew Selected Poems and is reissuing The Dream Songs77 Dream Songs, and Berryman’s Sonnets. Both the title and cover of this peculiar Selected Poems obscure the fact that the selection includes not a single poem from Berryman’s most famous work, The Dream Songs. (The publicity notice for the Selected promises “a generous selection from across Berryman’s varied career,” and claims to celebrate “the whole Berryman.”)

Read more from the New York Review of Books: 

Why Did the Author of Doctor Zhivago Reject his Nobel Prize

Why Did the Author of Doctor Zhivago Reject his Nobel Prize

This article traces the curious history of the celebrated Russian author Boris Pasternak, who is best known for writing ‘Doctor Zhivago,’ a novel  the CIA would turn into a bestseller. Boris  was forced to reject the Nobel Prize for Literature, because of the dismay his work caused to the Russian authorities.  He even had a lover who did time in a Siberian gulag for not renouncing him. 

 

To a Western reader, the name “Boris Pasternak” seems as Russian as Alexander Pushkin or Leo Tolstoy, and certainly the author of Doctor Zhivago has earned his place among the great Russian authors. But in 1958, the country that gave Boris Pasternak his name denied him his own greatest achievement. Though he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his poetry and literature, Pasternak refused it under pressure from the Soviet Union

Read more about how the author of  Doctor Zhivago refused his Nobel Prize

Did Proust have a Buddhist Leaning?

Pico Iyer

Did Proust have a Buddhist leaning?

Many a Tibetan mystic goes on a three-year retreat and comes back with a sense of stillness and attention that suggests great understanding, but most of these monks are masters of silence more than of the written word. The beauty of Proust is that he ventures into the farthest reaches of self-investigation and reflection on subjectivity, but brings his understandings back into language and archetypal episodes that anyone can follow.

To read more about Proust being described as the ‘Accidental buddhist,’ by Pico Iyer click here:  

Rudyard Kipling As an American

Rudyard Kipling Was a Great American

 

Rudyard Kipling’s creations in verse and prose are among the most familiar in the English language. It would be difficult to shield a child in any Anglophone country from Mowgli’s exploits among the wolves, or from an explanation of how the leopard got his spots. Many teenagers are still exposed to the hammering exhortations of “If—,” recently voted the most popular poem in Great Britain:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too…

If you can fulfill all these conditions, Kipling concludes, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, / And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Read more 

Jeffrey Eugenides on Writing

Jeffrey Eugenides on Writing

Jeffrey Eugenides is an American writer who was born in 1960. He is the author of three novels: The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex ( for which he won many awards including the Pulitzer prize in 2003) and The Marriage Plot.  In this video, Jeffrey Eugenides speaks about his life as a writer, his inspiration, the role of literature and the sort of skill a writer must learn.  To put it simply, every writer must master the sentence before they may accomplish a creative work of merit. By ‘sentence,’ Eugenides refers to language and the mechanics of conveying an idea, an emotion, and a larger narrative with precision and conviction.

Gabriel García Márquez by Richard Avedon

Gabriel García Márquez  by Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon had long wanted to make a portrait of Gabriel García Márquez. He first photographed the writer on a rainy day in 1976, but he felt that the portrait was a failure. In 1999, he wrote a letter to Jon Lee Anderson, whose Profile of García Márquez had just appeared in The New Yorker, expressing his desire to try again. “I have a group of portraits which are meaningful to me—Borges, Beckett, and Francis Bacon—and of course, Marquez belongs in their company. Congratulations on a disciplined and wonderful portrait of a great man. I know how difficult that is to do.” Avedon finally had another chance to photograph García Márquez in Mexico City, in 2004. This is the portrait that emerged from that second session.

Gabriel García Márquez in Mexico City on March 29, 2004. © The Richard Avedon Foundation.

 

A New Translation of Bacchae by Robin Robertson

Robin Robertson is an award winning Scottish poet. His work regularly appears in the London Review of Books and The New York Review of Books. Bacchae is the final play written by Euripides and is considered by many to be his greatest. It was first  performed posthumously in Athens a year after the playwrights death in 405 B.C. This new edition, which was translated from the Greek by Robin Robertson will be out in November 2014.  Below is an excerpt from this work published in the New York Review of Books. 

A New Translation of Bacchae by Robin Robertson

 

Messenger

The sun had just risen and the earth was warming up
as we drove our herds
along the ridge to the high meadow,
when I saw three bands of women:
one led by Autonoe,
one by your mother, Agave, and one by Ino.
They lay exhausted,
some resting on fir branches,
others sleeping among oak leaves.
They were modest and composed, not drunk
with wine as you say,
not dancing wildly to pipe music,
or chasing Aphrodite in some ecstasy.

 

To read the rest of this excerpt of a new translation of Bacchae by Robin Robertson click here

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel

Alberto Manguel

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel

Reading has always been for me a sort of practical cartography. Like other readers, I have an absolute trust in the capability that reading has to map my world. I know that on a page somewhere on my shelves, staring down at me now, is the question I’m struggling with today, put into words long ago, perhaps, by someone who could not have known of my existence. The relationship between a reader and a book is one that eliminates the barriers of time and space and allows for what Francisco de Quevedo, in the sixteenth century, called “conversations with the dead.” In those conversations I’m revealed. They shape me and lend me a certain magical power.

To read more from this excerpt of A History of Reading, titled Conversations with the Dead  by Alberto Manguel click here:

Four Must Reads By Hunter S Thompson

Four Must Reads by Hunter S Thompson

 

Carolyn Kellog for L.A. Times recommends four essential Hunter S. Thompson reads. They include:

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 

This was the book before the amazing movie directed by Terry Gilliam.  This novel, the first to be described as Gonzo, was inspired by a journey the author made along with a lawyer to Las Vegas  to cover a motorcycle race and a narcotics officer convention. However, the plot soon dissolves into a surreal psychedelic drug infused journey.    

2.  Hell’s Angels

This was Hunter S. Thompson’s first published book and work of non-fiction.  It is a brave and personal portrayal of one of America’s most notorious gangs. The author would spend a year as a gang member at a time when Hell’s Angels was most feared because of the crimes they were accused of committing.. Thompson would receive a severe thrashing by gang members after the publication of this book. 

3. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ”72

This is a collection of articles Hunter S Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine during the 1972 presidential campaign between incumbent Richard Nixon and George McGovern. When all of his genuine reporting efforts fail, Thompson resorts to humor. After the publication of this book which becomes a hallmark for campaign journalism, he gets elevated into the role of one of America’s most popular political observers.

4. Hunter S. Thompson’s obituary of President Nixon, who in short summary is described as ‘scum.’ 

Read about why these are the four absolute must Hunter S Thompson’s reads by clicking here