Pettegolezzi di qualità

E' uscita una raccolta di saggi critici di John Updike, con il titolo di Higher Gossip, a cura di Christopher Carduff (Knopf). Michiko Kakutani dice: "Updike was that rare creature: an all-around man of letters, a literary decathlete who brought to his criticism an insider’s understanding of craft and technique; a first-class appreciator of talent, capable of describing other artists’ work with nimble, pictorial brilliance; an ebullient observer, who could bring to essays about dinosaurs or golf or even the theory of relativity a contagious, boyish sense of wonder". nyt.


Neil Gaiman va dai Simpsons

Lo scrittore e fumettista inglese Neil Gaiman è entrato a far parte dell'episodio dei Simpsons in onda domenica su Fox. "So Neil Gaiman's gone yellow. After winning the Newbery medal, the Carnegie award, as many Hugos as you can shake a stick at and – of course – the Nax Und Moritz Award for Best Foreign Writer, on Sunday he'll finally win the only literary award that really matters: an appearance on The Simpsons". guardian.


Squeezed Middle

Compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary have declared 2011's Word of the Year to be "squeezed middle".
The term was originally coined by Ed Miliband when speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme presenter John Humphrys.
The full OED definition reads: "Squeezed Middle: the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those on low or middle incomes". independent.



Il luogo migliore di passare il Thanksgiving sarebbe un qualsiasi paesino del New England, in mezzo a boschi colorati. Ma anche a Milano si stanno cucinando tacchini, con succulenti ripieni, patate dolci e pies. Qui berremo vini delle Langhe.


Ancora sulla noia

Pare che negli anni Settanta negli Stati Uniti ci fosse una battaglia per combattere la noia su vari fronti, tra cui quello del lavoro. Ma la noia non è solo noiosa, sostiene Jordan Grant, graduate student all'American University,  in un paper intitolato  "Meaning in the Malaise: Boredom and the Remaking of the American Mind in the Seventies",  presentato a un convegno di Intellectual History al Graduate Center of the City University di New York. "Boredom is also a window into important shifts in American intellectual life — not to mention a new research frontier for the sometimes-embattled scholars who study it". A proposito di noia, e di "intellectual history": negli USA questa disciplina sta tornando in auge. nyt.


The Prague Cemetery

Il cimitero di Praga di Umberto Eco è stato tradotto in inglese da Richard Dixon, pubblicato da Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, recensito su Haaretz da Benjamin Balint, che poco lo apprezza: "But The Prague Cemetery is ungainly and disjointed as fiction and sometimes pedantic as history. It doesn't stay on a single course long enough for a narrative wind to fill its sails. It is strong on atmospherics but weak on character.
Simonini, the Forrest Gump of anti-Semitism, intersects with a dizzying array of historical episodes ‏(Eco even has him forge the memo that got Captain Dreyfus convicted of treason in 1894‏), but he never quite comes alive. In other words, if the 'Protocols' is a fiction that could not resist being taken as fact, The Prague Cemetery, a different sort of collage, is fact that resists rising to fiction". haaretz.


Verdi e Shakespeare

Interessante il lungo articolo di Garry Wills, professore di storia alla Northwestern University, sulla passione che Verdi nutriva per Shakespeare. "Verdi could not read English—though his wife, who helped him, could—but he carefully compared the latest and best recent translations (some made by his friends or acquaintances). He had not been to England when he composed Macbeth, but he had acquired, from friends like Andrea Maffei, solid information on the way Macbeth was staged in the country of its origin. For Macbeth, he cut the play down to opera size himself, creating a prose synopsis for his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, to versify. He was dissatisfied with Piave's work, correcting it, adding suggestions, above all trimming it. He wanted no wasted words. He insisted to Piave, Poche parole! Poche parole! Poche parole! (Few words! Few words! Few words!) Finally, in his exasperation with Piave, he had his scholar friend Andrea Maffei, an expert translator, correct portions of the libretto". nyrb. Nella foto: Željko Lučić nella parte di Macbeth nella produzione del Macbeth di Verdi di Peter Stein, Salisburgo, 2011.


Dimmi cosa leggi...

Sta per uscire un libro intrigante di Leah Price, docente di letteratura inglese a Harvard, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (Yale UP). "Because books can be owned without being read and read without being owned, bookshelves reveal at once our most private selves and our most public personas. They can serve as a utilitarian tool or a theatrical prop. For a coffee-table book of my own, I recently toured a dozen writers’ book collections. Gazing at the shelves of a novelist whose writings lie dog-eared on my own bookcase, I felt as lucky as a restaurantgoer granted a peek at the chef’s refrigerator. The Duke of Devonshire’s library, in contrast, with its trompe l’oeil bookshelves, bore more resemblance to a Viking range littered with takeout cartons". nyt.


The Angel Esmeralda

Michiko Kakutani parla molto bene di questo racconto di Don DeLillo, che dà il titolo a una raccolta ora in uscita presso Scribner. "The Angel Esmeralda, the title story in Don DeLillo's first ever collection of short fiction, is a dazzlingly told tale of despair and ruination, the dream of redemption and the testing of faith. Set in the Bronx and featuring a nun on the lookout for a miracle, this 1994 story prefigures portions of Mr. DeLillo's 1997 masterwork, Underworld, but it also stands on its own as a beautifully realized and singular work of fiction". NYT.


Hitchens su Jackie Kennedy

Sono uscite le registrazioni delle conversazioni tra Jacqueline Kennedy e lo storico Arthur Schlesinger Jr. che si svolsero poco dopo l'assassinio di Jack Kennedy. Christopher Hitchens le commenta con il suo solito perfido acume. " But when examined carefully and in context, the pouting refusal to have any ideas except those supplied by her lord and master turns out not to be evidence of winsome innocence but a soft cover for a specific sort of knowingness and calculation." vanityfair.


Calvin Trillin sull'umorismo, ebraico

Would you say yours is a Jewish sense of humor?

All of me is Jewish. You get a lot of theories about Jews deflecting pain through humor. I don’t know about that. I think there is sort of an irony built into the faith. Even in the Talmud where they argue “maybe” and “but on the other hand,” that I always found funny. forward.



E' il titolo dell'ultimo libro di fotografie di Annie Leibovitz (Random House). Contiene foto di oggetti e stanze che hanno un significato per lei - lo studio di Sigmund Freud a Londra, la camera da letto di Virginia Woolf, un vestito di Emily Dickinson. E anche di panorami. Qui a sinistra, la porta della casa di Georgia O'Keefe ad Abiquiu, New Mexico. brainpickings.


Una lezione di traduzione

Ce la dà Daniel Mendelsohn, paragonando varie traduzioni dell'Iliade, in particolare sei versi - 795-800 - del canto 13. Alla fine sembra che chi vinca sia ancora la traduzione di Pope: "I've done a translation myself (of a modern Greek poet), and my guess is that you could spend an entire working day solving the problems presented in this six-line passage - nailing down the meaning in a first draft, perhaps, and then spending several hours working out how to get the sound effects, to say nothing of the rhythm. At this rate, it would take about seven years to translate the Iliad - assuming you worked on weekends. That's just about how long it took Alexander Pope to produce his Iliad; it was announced in 1713 and the final volume was published in 1720. Many consider it the greatest English Iliad, and one of the greatest translations of any work into English. It manages to convey not only the stateliness and grandeur of Homer's lines, but their speed and wit and vividness". newyorker.


Why Read Moby Dick?

E' il titolo di un libro di Nathaniel Philbrick, pubblicato da Viking. In effetti, chi legge più Moby Dick? Anche nelle università, c'è ancora un qualche corso in cui si legge per intero? Philbrick è un esperto di balene, un esperto marinaio e vive a Nantucket. Chi meglio di lui può quindi rispondere alla domanda? Di Moby Dick dice: "But Moby Dick is not a novel. It's barely a book at all. It's more an act of transference, of ideas and evocations hung around the vast and unknowable shape of the whale, an extended musing on the strange meeting of human history and natural history. It is, above all, a sui-generis creation, one that came into the world as an unnatural, immaculate conception". newyorker.
Per uno slide show delle copertine di Moby Dick, cliccare qui.


Relatively Speaking

Foto di Annie Leibovitz
This fall, the distinctive voices of three giant American authors can be heard under the same roof when a collection of their one-act plays, Relatively Speaking, opens on Broadway. The voices belong to Woody Allen, Elaine May, and Ethan Coen, the roof to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. ... The plays are being directed by John Turturro. vanityfair.


Sul New York Review of Books è uscita una bella intervista, in due parti, ad Art Spiegelman sulla genesi del suo Maus. Nella prima parte Spiegelman risponde a domande tipo, Why Maus? Nella seconda parla dei documenti che lo hanno ispirato. "Before embarking on Maus I consciously set about looking for material that could help me visualize what I needed to draw. The few collections of survivors’ drawings and reproductions of surviving art that I could get my hands on were essential for me. Those drawings were a return to drawing not for its possibilities of imposing the self, of finding a new role for art and drawing after the invention of the camera, but rather a return to the earlier function that drawing served before the camera - a kind of commemorating, witnessing, and recording of information-what Goya referred to when he says, 'This I saw.' The artists, like the memoirists and diarists of the time, are giving urgent information in the pictures, information that could be transmitted no other way, and often at great risk to their lives". Per leggere la prima parte dell'intervista, cliccare qui. Per la seconda qui.