Rannygazoo: nonsense, irrelevant, irritating activity. Green’s Dictionary of Slang (Chambers). Jeremy Noel-Tod, uno dei collaboratori di quest'opera monumentale (3 volumi, 6000 pagine), che riporta termini e espressioni slang degli ultimi 500 anni, parla del progetto: "Training began with a pile of early PG Wodehouse novels. These related the adventures of Psmith, the man about town who revelled in such phrases as 'last night's rannygazoo' several years before Bertie Wooster began to bounce them off the silver-plated English of Jeeves. telegraph.

Agli aspiranti poeti (in inglese) consigliamo questo rimario online: http://www.rhymer.com/.


Doonesbury compie 40 anni

Doonesbury compie 40 anni e per l'occasione Slate intervista l'autore, Garry Trudeau. Slate: How have you avoided burnout? Garry Trudeau: I suppose it's just curiosity. I'm still passionately interested in what my fellow humans are up to. For me, a day spent monitoring the passing parade is a day well-spent. And if someone wants to pay me to do that (plus a little drawing), what could be better? slate.


The Honor Code

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (Norton). "I soon found myself realizing that honor, especially once I started looking at the duel, is really separate from morality. It's not part of morality, but it interacts with moral demands. You know, when you then think about honor, one thought you might have - once you see that it can be independent of morality and can lead people to do things that are actively immoral - one thought you might have is, Why don’t you just give it up? Why don't you just say that people should not care about honor, they should just care about morality? ... And then finally, it turns out that once you start thinking about it, honor is profoundly connected with identity. First of all, the code, what honor requires of you, depends on your identity. Honor requires different things of men and women in many societies. It requires one thing of princes and another thing of ordinary people. Also - and this is a second and separate way in which identity matters to honor - we share in the honor and shame of groups through our identity." Da un'intervista a Appiah uscita su Bookforum.


Cruel and Benevolent

Cruel and Benevolent: è la definizione del nuovo romanzo di Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (Knopf), da parte di Cathleen Schine che ne parla sulla New York Review of Books. "Jennifer Egan's new novel is a moving humanistic saga, an enormous nineteenth-century-style epic brilliantly disguised as ironic postmodern pastiche. It has thirteen chapters, each an accomplished short story in its own right; characters who meander in and out of these chapters, brushing up against one another's lives in unexpected ways; a time frame that runs from 1979 to the near, but still sci-fi, future; jolting shifts in time and points of view - first person, second person, third person, Powerpoint person..."


Jane Austen e la punteggiatura

Di nuovo sugli errori di punteggiatura. Questa volta a usarla scorrettamente pare fosse Jane Austen. "The truth universally acknowledged, that Jane Austen was one of the most pristine literary stylists of all time, has been exploded: her punctuation was erratic, her use of capital letters eclectic and her paragraph breaks often nonexistent. ... In fact much of the credit for her elegant prose must go to publisher's reader and editor William Gifford, according to an academic who has compared the manuscripts and the published versions line by line. Gifford, a much more obscure figure who was said to be shy and awkward, polished up Austen's manuscripts, smoothing out the style, regularising the punctuation, introducing the famous exquisitely placed semicolons and eliminating her blizzards of dashes. ... 'Does it make her less of a genius?' said Professor Kathryn Sutherland of the English language and literature faculty at Oxford University. 'I don't think so,' she said, answering her own question. 'Indeed I think it makes her more interesting, and a much more modern and innovative writer than had been thought. In particular, her use of dashes to heighten the emotional impact of what she is writing is striking: you have to wait for Virginia Woolf to see anything comparable." g/o.


Woody Allen e la punteggiatura

In un articoletto molto divertente Nathan Heller nota con sgomento che un certo peggioramento nelle opere di Woody Allen va di pari passo con l'uso scorretto della punteggiatura nei titoli dei film. "At some point in the mid-1990s, though, curious things began to happen. First, Allen made a musical film called Everyone Says I Love You, using a title that shifts, with no punctuation, from third-person citation to first-person direct quotation. It also required Julia Roberts to sing. By 2000, the director had inflicted on the world something called Small Time Crooks—not, in fact, a film about dwarf ne'er-do-wells who steal time, although Copy-Editing the Culture might have found that premise more rewarding. Soon, the comic auteur had turned his Gotham-loving lens to Europe; recent years have brought such Continentally styled, bafflingly mispunctuated works as Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The golden age of Allen—for the grammar-minded moviegoer, at least—was over. slate.


Leopardi in inglese

Little old white-haired man,
weak, half naked, barefoot,
with an enorous burden on his back,
up mountain and down valley,
over sharp rocks, across deep sands and
bracken, ...

Sta per uscire presso Farrar, Straus & Giroux, una bella edizione di poesie di Leopardi, Canti: Poems / A Bilingual Edition, tradotte da Jonathan Galassi, il bravo traduttore di Montale. Della traduzione Adam Kirsh dice, "He is one of those poets who are often said to be untranslatable. Galassi ... has taken the tactful and intelligent approach of translating primarily for sense, rather than trying to re-create Leopardi's metres and rhymes. By using unaffected words and a natural movement in his English versions, Galassi loses the acoustic density of the Italian, but preserves Leopardi’s classical directness. newyorker.


Lingue in via di estinzione

Tre nuovi libri sulle lingue che stanno scomparendo: David Harrison, The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World's Most Endangered Languages (National Geographic), Leslie Dunton-Downer, The English Is Coming! How One Language is Sweeping the World (Touchstone), Guy Deutscher, Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages (Metropolitan). wp.


Hitchens in Tumortown

Continuano i coraggiosi, lucidi e anche ironici reportage di Christopher Hitchens da Tumortown. Qui ce l'ha con i consigli che piovono a raffica sui malati, "... in Tumortown you sometimes feel that you may expire from sheer advice. A lot of it comes free and unsolicited. I must, without delay, begin ingesting the granulated essence of the peach pit (or is it the apricot?), a sovereign remedy known to ancient civilizations but now covered up by greedy modern doctors. Another correspondent urges heaping doses of testosterone supplements, perhaps as a morale booster. Or I must find ways of opening certain chakras and putting myself in an appropriately receptive mental state. Macrobiotic or vegan diets will be all I require for nourishment during this experience. And don’t laugh ... somebody has written to me from a famous university to suggest that I have myself cryonically or cryogenically frozen against the day when the magic bullet, or whatever it is, has been devised". vanityfair.


Rushdie, Krauss, Rice e Talese

Salman RushdieLuka and the Fire of Life (Cape). Una meravigliosa favola. g/o.

Nicole Krauss, Great House (Norton). Una scrivania collega una serie di racconti. nytbr.

Condoleezza Rice, Extraordinary, Ordinary People. A Memoir of Family (Crown). Il memoriale del segretario di stato di Bush. nytbr.

Gay Talese, The Silent Season of a Hero (Walker). Gli articoli sullo sport di un grande giornalista. lat.



M.L.Nesbitt, Grammar-Land: Grammar in Fun for the Children of Schoolroom-shire (British Library). Pubblicato per la prima volta intorno al 1870, questo bel libretto che insegna la grammatica ai bambini viene ora ristampato in facsimile dalla British Library. Nesbitt immagina i nove componenti di una frase come signori in lotta, le cui dispute vengono risolte dalla Grammatica. "They are funny fellows, these nine Parts-of-Speech. You will find out by-and-by which you like best amongst them all. There is rich Mr. Noun, and his useful friend Pronoun; little ragged Article, and talkative Adjective; busy Dr. Verb, and Adverb; perky Preposition, convenient Conjunction, and that tiresome Interjection, the oddest of them all. Now, as some of these Parts-of-Speech are richer, that is, have more words than others, and as they all like to have as many as they can get, it follows, I am sorry to say, that they are rather given to quarrelling."


Marilyn Monroe, Fragments

On the stage—I will not be punished for it
or be whipped
or be threatened
or not be loved
or sent to hell to burn with bad people
feeling that I am also bad.
or be afraid of my genitals being
exposed known and seen
or ashamed -

Marilyn Monroe, Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters (FS&G). vanityfair.


Philip Roth visto da Coetzee

L'ultimo romanzo di Philip Roth Nemesis (Houghton Mifflin) viene recensito in modo molto colto e non del tutto benevolo da Coetzee. Lo scrittore sudafricano denuncia qualche ambiguità nell'uso del narratore, qualche caduta di stile e anche una certa mancanza di respiro nell'ultimo romanzo di Roth. Ma alla fine prende il sopravvento lo scrittore e Coetzee riconosce con emozione quella magia della prosa di Roth che riesce a penetrare nel profondo del nostro essere rendendolo un grandissimo scrittore, qualsiasi cosa descriva. Anzi forse proprio quando descrive qualcosa che apparentemente è tangenziale al corpo di un romanzo. "If the intensity of the Roth of old, the 'major' Roth, has died down, has anything new come in its place? Toward the end of his life on earth, 'he,' the protagonist of Everyman, visits the graveyard where his parents lie buried and strikes up a conversation with a gravedigger, a man who takes a solid, professional pride in his work. From him 'he' elicits a full, clear, and concise account of how a good grave is dug. (Among the subsidiary pleasures Roth provides are the expert little how-to essays embedded in the novels: how to make a good glove, how to dress a butcher's display window.) This is the man, 'he' reflects, who when the time comes will dig his grave, see to it that his coffin is well seated, and, once the mourners have dispersed, fill in the earth over him. He bids farewell to the gravedigger - his gravedigger - in a curiously lightened mood: 'I want to thank you…. You couldn’t have made things more concrete. It's a good education for an older person.' This modest but beautifully composed little ten-page episode does indeed provide a good education, and not just for older persons: how to dig a grave, how to write, how to face death, all in one." nybooks.


Artisti haitiani, mura domestiche, onde e credenze africane

Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously. The Immigrant Artist at Work (Princeton University). Saggi sulla diaspora degli artisti haitiani. nytbr.

Bill Bryson, At Home. A Short History of Private Life (Doubleday). La storia di quel che le mura domestiche direbbero se potessero parlare. nytbr.

Susan Casey, The Wave. In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean (Doubleday). Mi sembra affascinante, quest'idea di andare alla ricerca delle onde più grandi che ci siano state. wp.

V. S. Naipaul, The Masque of Africa. Glimpses of African belief (Picador). Rabbia, derisione, gatti morti ed erbe per scimmie; note sull'Africa di un viaggiatore misantropo. William Boyd su timesonline.


Saul Bellow, serial marrier

Saul Bellow e sua moglie Janis nel 2002
Le lettere di Saul Bellow, a cura di Benjamin Taylor, usciranno il prossimo 4 novembre presso Penguin Classics. Rachel Cooke, dell'Observer, intervista la vedova, Janis Freedman Bellow. "When they began their relationship, Bellow had already chalked up four ex-wives: Anita Goshikin, Alexandra Tsachacbasov, Susan Glassman and Alexandra Ionescu Tulcea. He was also in possession of three grown-up sons. Wasn't she wary? 'You'd think that I ought to have been,' she says. 'But all that receded. I wasn't in any way wary. He wasn't really a bad boy. He was a serial marrier, but it had to do with a strange desire on his part to be intimate, to have love at the centre of his life. That was part of the daring I saw in him. He was audacious! What would it take to start over again [at that time in your life]? He was hungry in his soul. 'I'm going to have that,' he thought."


Chi c'è dietro una grande copertina

Intervista a Rodrigo Corral, del Rodrigo Corral Design, l'artista che ha disegnato le copertine di libri di Nabokov, Sartre, Borges, Bolaño, e, recentemente, dell'ultimo spassoso romanzo di Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story.  Q. After you’ve agreed to work on a project, how do you begin the design process? A. Reading is always part of the process when we’re working on a book jacket or cover for fiction. I read, I take notes, I take breaks. I’ll stop on the title, re-read it, and think about how it plays into the book and its overall message and intent. It’s rare to be able to illustrate the tone of the entire story by only depicting one moment from the book, so I prefer using a new image or design that I feel represents the story accurately. newyorker.


Leggere Lolita a 12 anni

"At least Nabokov was teaching me fresh vocabulary. I had to look up nates, of course, but another new word, nymphet, was helpfully defined throughout the book. Suddenly I saw the world through wiser eyes. Who among my seventh-grade classmates, I wondered with a frisson, was such a creature? What girl had that “soul-shattering, insidious charm” that, while invisible to me, made the antennae of certain adult males tremble?" Nick Antosca parisreview


Lezioni di traduzione

Istruttivo il blog che Lydia Davis ha tenuto sulla Paris Review mentre traduceva Madame Bovary (a proposito, la sua traduzione è appena uscita presso Viking). Particolarmente interessante il rapporto con le precedenti traduzioni: "Each version will be quite distinct from all of the others. How many ways, for instance, has even a single phrase (bouffées d’affadissement) from Madame Bovary been translated: gusts of revulsion/ a kind of rancid staleness/ stale gusts of dreariness/ waves of nausea/ fumes of nausea/ flavorless, sickening gusts/ stagnant dreariness/ whiffs of sickliness/ waves of nauseous disgust.
One truism I would argue with, however. Wise people like to say, wisely: Every generation needs a new translation. It sounds good, but I believe it isn’t necessarily so: If a translation is as fine as it can be, it may match the original in timelessness, too—it may deserve to endure". parisreview.


Royal We

Qualche aneddoto sull'uso del pluralis maiestatis: "Only three types of individual were entitled to such usage: ‘The head of a sovereign state, a schizophrenic and a pregnant woman", "there are three classes of people who always say 'we' instead of 'I.' They are emperors, editors and men with a tapeworm" (questo forse di Mark Twain) e, forse di Thoreau, "We is used by royalty, editors, pregnant women and people who eat worms". Ben Zimmer, On Language, nytmag.


Tóibín, Cunningham e Nelson

Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibín, The Empty Family: Stories (Viking). "The nine stories in Tóibín's new collection, The Empty Family, explore similar themes: of exile and return, death and loss, irreconcilable love affairs and conflicting loyalties, the differences between the families we're born into and those we choose for ourselves, or would if we could". Thomas Jones, g/o.

Michael Cunningham, By Nightfall (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). L'arrivo del bellissimo fratellino della moglie sconvolge gli equilibri familiari di una coppia di newyorkesi. nytbr.

Antonya Nelson, Bound (Bloomsbury). La morte di un'amica dei tempi dell'adolescenza fa riflettere Catherine, la protagonista del romanzo, sulle follie compiute negli anni giovanili. nytbr.


The Accidentalist

Michale Greenberg, autore di Il giorno in cui mia figlia impazzì (Rizzoli), ha iniziato recentemente a tenere una sorta di diario su Bookforum. Questa sua rubrica si chiama The Accidentalist. Il primo articolo parla di una strana infezione che lo ha colpito e di come l'abbia indotto a fare insolite riflessioni su se stesso; il secondo di un viaggio a Tbilisi, in Georgia, e delle insolite riflessioni evocate dalla fatiscenza della città: "Far from being grim, the decay seemed an expression of Tbilisi's singular vulnerability. They were natural dadaists, the Tbilisians, I thought, with an instinctive way of making the accidental seem preordained. There were sculptures everywhere amid the rubble, skewed human figures that reminded me in turn of Giacometti, Botero, Picasso, Henry Moore, yet that were unlike the work of any of these artists. They most resembled the living beggars on the main shopping drag who wore suits like characters from a De Sica movie, gripping your attention while avoiding your eyes". bookforum.