Saturday, November 27, 2004

"... a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity"

Hilton Kramer reviews the Adolph Gottlieb show at Pace Wildenstein, and reminds us of the indebtedness of the Abstract Expressionists to the literary modernists who came before them. These modernists, Joyce and Eliot particularly, had themselves turned to the ancient Greeks, and it was this interest in the mythical which shows itself in the work of Gottlieb.

textbook warning labels

While I'm normally repulsed by any use of stickers on/in books, this one ain't half bad. Colin Purrington, Assoc. Professor at Swarthmore, has created a handy, printable set of warning stickers to be placed on scientific textbooks. Collect 'em all! Protect your neighbors!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

yhe view from up North

Thanks to the ArtsJournal for the link to Vinay Menon's excellent screed in the Toronto Star. Menon attacks the prudishness which is enveloping our country, and the mighty corporations we thought invincible which are now folding under the pressure of a crackpot minority.

Elaine Showalter on Wolfe

"true to form, Wolfe's latest novel is bitchy, status-seeking, and dissecting -- and this time, unfortunately, numbingly juvenile."

Elaine Showalter, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, taking to task Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons. Showalter includes some interesting comparative criticism of various forms of the "campus" novel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Holderlin once again revised

Should the world listen more to the great Romantic poets? Michael Hoffman, in his Guardian review of the new 4th edition of Michael Hamburger's translation of Friedrich Holderlin's poetry seems to think so. At least the themes seem necessary today:

"youth, love, friendship, generation conflict, sibling relationships, world- and self-intoxication (to coin a couple of rather Germanic-sounding notions), a revitalised appreciation of the classics, idealist philosophy, revolution, spirituality and the death of religion, a volatile interest in the inner and outer world (all sorts of fads and "isms"), a proclivity for associations, amalgamations, movements, new magazines, publishing ventures and experiments in social living."

Holderlin has been a favorite of mine since the early 1980's, when I discovered one of Hamburger's previous editions of Poems and Fragments. As a college student, I was drawn, of course, to the tragic life of the poet; a sad youth, failed loves, mental illness, and finally 36 years of solitude spent writing in the tower of a supporter. While my friends read Rilke, I read Holderlin, only later finding Rilke for myself. Many years hence, following a divorce and a move to relative solitude in Maine, I stumbled across a first edition of Hamburger's translation, and began rereading. Poems and Fragments, alongside Pessoa's Book of Disquiet, became a clear stream I could dip into when necessary, and has remained so since.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

more delays

More than a month has passed since my last post; an inexcusable length of time in the blogosphere, so I apologize for the delay to anyone who might care. I spent six weeks fighting an unnamed (until late in the game) ailment which was eventually diagnosed as Lyme. Now Lyme had never been something I took very seriously, having grown up around dogs and horses and the ever present threat of ticks. I also know scores of people who have contracted Lyme and only exhibited minor symptoms. Not me. The symptoms were many and disabling, at least temporarily. So I now return, a bit lost as to where I should start.

First, a thank you to Jay at Anthem Book Blog for posting a link to his book blog. I'm still struggling with the html with creating a links bar on casa malaprop, and promise to reciprocate as soon as I figure it out.

I should at least offer a small bit of thanks to the internet, which allowed me to continue to do some business while laid up in bed or on the couch for so long. I managed to sell a handful of titles, including some signed firsts of Jacques Derrida (after his passing), my inscribed copy of Hans Helm's Fa : m' Ahniesgwow, an experimental music and text piece from 1959 based in part on Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. Some lesser sales rounded off a month of just barely getting by.

My first foray back into the bookselling world was a day at Sotheby's, attending the second part part of the Maury Neville sale of Modern Literature (I skipped the late afternoon session of Modern Detective Fiction - not my thing). The highlights, in terms of money, were predictably Hemingway items, including the For Whom the Bell Tolls, inscribed by H. to his wife, and a large group of letters, both fetching over $300k each including the buyer's premiums. Not surprisingly, most of the aggressively priced Kerouacs failed to sell, and some authors saw their stars dim further, notably James Jones. Friends of mine picked up some quality sleepers, including an inscribed, limited first of Del MiƱo al Bidasoa by Nobelist Jose Camillo Cela, and an inscribed copy of Sartre's Huis Clos, both purchased for reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, a death in my extended family is keeping me from the Boston Book Fair, which I had intended to visit, hoping to do a bit of business on the side and perhaps to find some unusual items for purchase. Oh well.