Saturday, February second, 2013
Happy Birthday James Joyce! (And Happy Birthday, and thanks for the link, to Aaron as well!) You are a bestseller in China these days.
Thursday, June 16th, 2011
Happy Bloomsday! In case you're looking for something to read today, I see the Calypso episode is now complete at Ulysses, Seen. Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls...
Oh wow! Also, Robert Berry (author of Ulysses, Seen) is Twittering the events of Ulysses throughout the day today. (He is doing it on Dublin time.) Right now, Stephen is walking down the beach to Sandymount Strand.
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
On this date in 1904...
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Belle Waring (who is blogging again! Hooray!) alerts us to the ridiculous stance of Apple's iPad App Store, that Buck Mulligan's genitalia may not appear in material distributed to an iPad app -- with the upshot that Rob Berry's Ulysses "Seen" comic would not be sold in the App Store. Berry has agreed to cut the nudity, the expurgated comic will again be available on Apple products...
An interview with Berry and Levitas, at Robot 6.
...Update: Macy Halford at the New Yorker's Book Bench reports that Apple is altering its restrictions on iPad apps and has asked Berry to resubmit the unexpurgated version.
Saturday, March 27th, 2010
An imposing brick of a book arrived in the mail yesterday; it is Adolfo Bioy Casares' Borges, 1,600 pages excerpted (by Bioy Casares' literary executor Daniel Martino, in collaboration with the author at the end of his life and posthumously) from the 20,000 pages of diary left in his estate. Bioy Casares began keeping his diary in 1947; the above is from a brief foreword titled "1931 - 1946" which appears to have been written much later.
Creo que mi amistad con Borges procede de una primera conversación, ocurrida en 1931 o 32, en el trayecto entre San Isidro y Buenos Aires. Borges era entonces uno de nuestros jóvenes escritores de mayor renombre y yo un muchacho con un libro publicado en secreto y otro con seudónimo. Ante una pregunta sobre mis autores preferidos, tomé la palabra y, desafiando la timidez, que me impedía mantener la sintaxis de una frase entera, emprendí el elogio de la prosa desvaída de un poetastro que dirigía la página literaria de un diario porteño. Quizá para renovar el aire, Borges amplió la pregunta:
—De acuerdo —concedió—, pero fuera de Fulano, ¿a quién admira, en este siglo o en cualquier otro?
—A Gabriel Miró, a Azorín, a James Joyce. —contesté.
¿Qué hacer con una respuesta así? Por mi parte no era capaz de explicar qué me agradaba en los amplios frescos bíblicos y aun eclesiástios de Miró, en los cuadritos de Azorín ni en la gárrula cascada de Joyce, apenas entendida, de la que levantaba, como irisado vapor, todo el prestigio de hermético, de lo extraño y de lo moderno. Borges dijo algo en el sentido de que sólo en escritores entregados al encanto de la palabra encuentran los jóvenes literatura en cantidad suficiente. Después, hablando de la admiración por Joyce, agregó:
—Claro, es una intención, un acto de fe, una promesa. La promesa de que les gustará —se refería a los jóvenes— cuando lo lean.
I believe my friendship with Borges stems from our first conversation, which occurred in 1931 or 32, in transit between San Isidro and Buenos Aires. Borges was at that time one of our best-known young authors; I was a boy with one book published in secret and another one pseudonymously. Asked a question about my favorite authors, I took the floor and (defying the shyness which was making it difficult for me to get a coherent sentence out), set off on an unfocussed panegyric in praise of the poetaster who edited the literary supplement of a Buenos Aires newspaper. Perhaps to clear the air, Borges expanded his question:
-- Certainly -- he admitted -- but outside of Fulano, whom do you admire, in this century or some other?
-- Gabriel Miró, Azorín, James Joyce. -- I replied.
What to do with such a response? For my own part, I would not have been able to explain what appealed to me in the cool, spacious, biblical -- even ecclesiastical -- works of Miró, in the rustic tomes of Azorín, nor in the garrulous cascade of Joyce -- even given, as I was taking for granted, like a rainbow in the air, all the prestige of the hermetic, the strange and modern. Borges said something to the effect that only in authors committed to the bewitching effect of the word do young people encounter literature in sufficient quantity. Later, speaking of my admiration for Joyce, he added:
-- Clearly, it's an intention, an act of faith, a promise. The promise that they will like it -- referring here to young people -- when they read it.
I had not realized Bioy Casares was so much younger than Borges; had always assumed they were about the same age. (I have not yet read anything by Bioy Casares either by himself or in collaboration with Borges; I know him mainly from mentions in Borges' stories.) When they met in 1931, Borges would have been in his early thirties and Bioy Casares a teenager -- Borges was a mentor more than a peer -- this totally changes my picture of the dinner at the beginning of "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," where Bioy Casares recalls the teaching of a heresiarch of Uqbar, the first intrusion of Tlön into the life of the narrator.
There is a bit of meat in this brief exchange. I'm not sure what to make of Borges' statement about the "bewitching effect of words" -- sounds a bit like hand-waving to keep his young interlocutor from having to explain himself and feel embarrassed. I don't know Miró or Azorín at all; I'm wondering if the trio of authors Bioy Casares names here is meaningful or if it is just the first three names that come to mind as he is struggling to master his timidity. Totally unsure about my reading "like a rainbow in the air," I don't know what the meaning is here. The picture of Borges here is very pleasing; and it's such an exciting thing to imagine this meeting, in 1931, with the whole history of their literary collaboration as yet unborn.
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
✷ Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
It would be hugely ambitious, and almost certainly misconceived, to try to render Joyce's Ulysses as a graphic novel. The folks at Throwaway Horse, LLC have taken on a project that strikes me as (a) even more ambitious and (b) far more likely to have a useful, valuable outcome: they are creating a graphic/web companion to the novel, a set of resources for the reader which center around a beautifully composed (by artist Robert Berry) webcomic. There are mouseover translations of foreign phrases; there are context-sensitive links to a reader's guide (written by Mike Barsanti) and dramatis personæ. The 55 pages that are up so far -- covering the first 13 pages of the text, as they are numbered in my Vintage Books edition -- are outstanding. I think if I were part of Throwaway Horse I would be trembling before the size of the task; but I wish them well with it and I hope that they are able to pull it off.
—Introibo ad altare Dei.
Saturday, August first, 2009
Having a lazy morning and I thought I would pick up and look at A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.... This is a book which I read and loved when I was 14 years old, but which has over the years resisted efforts at rereading. I picked up a copy at a garage sale recently and was enchanted again by the opening paragraphs.
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo...
His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.
He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.
This morning's discovery is, this is a great, great read-aloud book. I haven't enjoyed reading anything aloud so much since The Hobbit. Try reading this aloud, in an even, relaxed tone:
They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right answer to the question? He had given two and still Wells laughed. But Wells must know the right answer for he was in third of grammar. He tried to think of Wells's mother but he did not dare to raise his eyes to Wells's face.(And in addition to thinking this sounds great, I am identifying with it -- I can feel myself getting hot and confused as I try and figure out how to make the boys stop laughing at me...)
You know what book this is reminding me of in its opening pages, is Boy by Roald Dahl.
Tuesday, May third, 2005
Okay the current Ulysses attempt is officially over -- it's just not moving me enough to be worth the effort. (Except for that "Calypso" episode, that one's really nice.)
Moving on... I'm flirting with the idea of reading The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil. I read the first 20 or so pages yesterday and found them funny and engaging. For some reason I am reluctant to commit to that book though.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2005
Talking with Nathaniel on the phone tonight I mentioned that I am in the middle of Ulysses and he replied that he is too, for a few decades now.
"Hades" -- I read half of this episode on the train last night and was having a pretty hard time following it. But this morning restarted the chapter and lo and behold, the story flowed quite smoothly.
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