Search This Blog

16 February 2013

Redonda group read 2014 rough monthly schedule

A tentative Redonda reading and viewing schedule for 2014


Primary book: Disgrace by J.M. Coatzee
Secondary book (extra credit): Amador by Fernando Savater
Film: The Godfather pt. 1


Primary: The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
Secondary: The Infinity of Lists by Umberto Eco
Film: Patience (After Sebald)


Primary: The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa
Secondary:  A Different Sea by Claudio Magris
Film: Tie Me Up, Tie me Down


Primary:  Danube by Claudio Magris
Secondary:  Inferences from a Sabre By Claudio Magris
Film: Alatriste


Primary:  Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante
Secondary: The Flight of the Monarch by Michel Braudeau
Film: Volver


Primary:  The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Secondary: The Questions of Life by Fernando Savater
Film: Apocalypse Now


Primary:  My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Secondary:  Written Lives by Javier Marías
Film: Don’t Tempt Me


Primary: Fado Alexandrino by António Lobo Antunes
Secondary: On the Natural History of Destruction by W. G. Sebald
Film: The Skin I Live In


Primary:  City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza
Secondary: Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargas Llosa
Film: Tetro
Secondary film (why not?) Biutiful


Primary:  Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear by Javier Marías
Secondary: Cervantes by P. E. Russell (the model for Sir Peter Wheeler)
Film:  The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (a favorite for Marías)


Primary:  YFT: Dance and Dream by Javier Marías
Secondary:  The Battle for Spain (first half) by Anthony Beevor
Film:  The Chimes at Midnight (another Marías favorite)


Primary:  YFT: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell by Javier Marías
Secondary: The Battle for Spain (last half) by Anthony Beevor
Film: The Godfather pt. II

14 February 2013

11 February 2013

Bolaño on short stories

Here, from the Paris Review, is Roberto Bolaño's much reprinted and too much interpreted advice on the art of writing short stories:

02 February 2013

Homer for the weekend

A little Homer (trans. mine)
Iliad 1.33 – 1.42

ς φατ, δεισεν δ γέρων κα πείθετο μύθ:
β δ κέων παρ θνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης:
πολλ δ πειτ πάνευθε κιν ρθ γεραις
πόλλωνι νακτι, τν ΰκομος τέκε Λητώ:
κλθί μευ ργυρότοξ, ς Χρύσην μφιβέβηκας
Κίλλάν τε ζαθέην Τενέδοιό τε φι νάσσεις,
Σμινθε ε ποτέ τοι χαρίεντ π νην ρεψα,
ε δή ποτέ τοι κατ πίονα μηρί κηα
ταύρων δ αγν, τ δέ μοι κρήηνον έλδωρ:
τίσειαν Δαναο μ δάκρυα σοσι βέλεσσιν.

So he (Agamemnon) said, and the old man was afraid and heeded the warning.
And he (the old man) walked in silence along the strand by the resounding sea.
Fervently then, having departed, the old man prayed
To lord Apollo, whom lovely-haired Leto bore.
Hear me, god of the silver bow, who bestrides Chryse
And holy Cilla and powerfully rules over Tenedos,
Smintheus, if ever I roofed a temple to your liking
Or if ever I roasted to you the thigh bone fat
Of bulls and goats, answer this prayer for me:
Repay to the Greeks your arrows for my tears.

This passage pretty much has it all. 

Let’s start with my favorite, the second line.  I like it because of structure.  Almost at the beginning we have the word κέων, which I have translated as ‘silently.’  Almost at the end we have the word πολυφλοίσβοιο, meaning “much sounding,” a description of the sea (the last word).  In the middle we have the word θνα, which can be translated as “strand” or “beach.”  And so, between the silence of the old man and the rumble of the sea, we have the strand, which syntactically poses an accurate picture of a physical manifestation.  Also, say the word πολυφλοίσβοιο aloud.  On a modern tongue, it would sound something like ‘poluphloisboiyo.’  I imagine the movement of water when I hear this word.

‘Smintheus’ is a hapax legomenon in Homer, or a word that appears only once in a corpus, though it does make a few appearances other places, most notably in Strabo.  Strabo states that the term, which probably means ‘mouse-killer,’ is exemplified by the fact that at the temple of Sminthian Apollo, there is a dead mouse under the statue’s feet.  I personally think Strabo is just pulling something out of his ass, but that’s just me.

Finally, there is the last line of this passage.  The first words are of vengeance and mean ‘repay to the Greeks.’  That sentiment is followed by the expression of sorrow, ‘for my tears.’  And the last two words, ‘your arrows,’ are reserved to flavor the whole passage.  A gorgeous passage, if a little cruel (and honest?).

01 February 2013

2014 tentative Redonda reading and viewing list

Redonda reading and viewing list for 2014

Xavier I and his court (Primary reading list, 12 books)

The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Disgrace by J.M. Coatzee
Fado Alexandrino by António Lobo Antunes
Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante
The City of Marvels by Eduardo Mendoza
Danube by Claudio Magris
The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas LLosa
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Your Face Tomorrow (3vol.) by Javier Marías

8 Films

Don’t Tempt Me
Alatriste      by Agustín Díaz Yanes

The Godfather
Apocalypse Now      by Francis Ford Coppola

Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down
The Skin I Live In by      Pedro Almodóvar

A Parra poem


Strolling many years ago

Down a street taken over by acacias in bloom

I found out from a friend who knows everything

That you had just gotten married.

I told him that I really

Had nothing to do with it.

I never loved you

— You know that better than I do —

Yet each time the acacias bloom

— Can you believe it? —

I get the very same feeling I had

When they hit me point-blank

With the heartbreaking news

That you had married someone else.

— translated by David Unger

Five characters for literary tea

Five characters for literary tea

The Everyman:  Maqroll.  His optimistic fatalism, his steady course through the ceaseless tides of fate, his nobility, his scoundrel heart.

The Genius:  Don Quixote.  To inhabit his world, to turn literature into a haze of absurdities, or perhaps to escape from literature, which can be a haze of absurdities, takes nothing short of genius.

The Muse:  Ophelia.  Hamlet was a fool.  His salvation was there all along. 

The Classical:  Achilles.  Honor, glory, pride, the joy of battle, all the old crap that just keeps coming back.    

The Modern:  the fleeing warrior in the shield poem of Archilocus who has no illusions about life and who, if needed and to borrow a phrase, knew how to run as only the truly wise and the truly cowardly can run.  He has his reasoning:

Ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἥν παρὰ θάμνῳ
ἔντος ἀμώμητον κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων·
αὐτὸν δ' ἔκ μ' ἐσάωσα· τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκείνη;
Ἐρρέτω· ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίω