I got up late, slept through my classes

I got up late, slept through my classes …
The little crone cleaned my clothes –
the buttons knocked beneath her brush.
I dressed, and had a little smoke,
yawned to the Unicorn for lunch.

Una lunga poesia inedita di Nabokov su quando frequentava Cambridge University. LRB.



Come leggere i blurbs, i commenti sulla quarta di copertina di un libro. Un divertente articoletto rivela il significato dei vari modi in cui "debutto" viene articolato.
a promising debut”: “This author already signed a two-book deal.”
a timely debut”: “A book about racism.”
a clever debut”: “This book has a twist ending.”
a solid debut”: “I have an irrational dislike of this technically unimpeachable book.” 
a touching/heartbreaking debut”: “Someone dies.” ecc. ploughshares.


Edith Wharton e le case

La casa di Wharton a Lenox, Mass.
Un bell'articolo di Alexandra Lange sulla passione che Edith Wharton aveva per le case, l'arredamento, i giardini. Passione che si rivela nelle case che ha arredato e nei romanzi. "Those rooms show the difference between the lot of the single man and the single woman in New York society as vividly as the dialogue. The societal rituals Wharton satirizes and elegizes always have specific sets. In “The Age of Innocence,” she nods to the future development of Manhattan real estate with a sidelong reference to the pioneering spirit of Mrs. Manson Mingott, who “put the crowning touch to her audacities by building a large house of cream-colored stone … in an inaccessible wilderness near the Central Park.” Location, architectural style, and decoration make a language—one Wharton could read and write fluently". newyorker.


The Facebook Illusion

Provocatorio e interessante l'editoriale di Ross Douthat sul flop di Facebook in borsa. "There were two grand illusions about the American economy in the first decade of the 21st century. One was the idea that housing prices were no longer tethered to normal economic trends, and instead would just keep going up and up. The second was the idea that in the age of Web 2.0, we were well on our way to figuring out how to make lots and lots of money on the Internet. ... As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy pointed out in one of the more perceptive prelaunch pieces, the problem is not that Facebook doesn’t make money. It’s that it doesn’t make that much money, and doesn’t have an obvious way to make that much more of it, because (like so many online concerns) it hasn’t figured out how to effectively monetize its million upon millions of users. nyt.


The Essantialness of Emotions

"... poems should have fear, wonder, grief, desperation, triumph, some element of these emotions in them", è quel che dice Henri Cole della sua poesia. Se volete ascoltarlo mentre parla di sé e della poesia, cliccate qui.


Sulla traduzione letteraria

Sam Taylor, scrittore e traduttore, offre degli spunti interessanti sulla traduzione letteraria. Dice, per es., che le cose più difficili da tradurre sono il sesso e lo humor. Oppure che è importante il paese in cui il traduttore risiede, "The translator’s country of residence has its effects, too. While it is undoubtedly an advantage to spend time in the country of your “source” language (France, in my case), living there full-time can have a deleterious effect on your “target” language (English), because French expressions and ways of phrasing can come to sound natural when they are, in fact, slightly strange in English". E poi affronta la questione di quanto letterale debba essere una traduzione letteraria. ft.


The Wild West Is in Chicago

E' quel che dice Hemingway in un articolo per il Toronto Star del 6 novembre 1920. "But the Wild West hasn’t disappeared. It has only moved. Just at present it is located at the southwestern end of Lake Michigan, and the range that the bad men ride is that enormous smoky jungle of buildings they call Chicago". 
Ora gli articoli e i racconti scritti da Hemingway per il Toronto Star dal 1920 al '24 sono sul web. thestar.

A sinistra la foto di Hemingway sul suo passaporto, rilasciato nel 1923.


Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder, ex poeta beat, è intervistato da Iain Sinclair: "Snyder talks about the ‘long view’. The vision of Pacific America from the high peaks. He was, from the start, a skier, climber, trail walker. These activities took precedence, when he was a schoolboy and young student, over academic work. At the age of 15, in 1945, he completed the ascent of Mount St Helens: ‘Step by step, breath by breath – no rush, no pain.’ The newspaper he read when he came down from the hike, on 13 August, was a day-old copy of the Portland Oregonian. It carried a photo spread of the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki". LRB.


I Shot the Serif

But I did not shoot the sans-serif. Se volete fare un gioco tipografico, cliccate qui.

Dalle 25 parole che dovrebbero esistere in inglese (e decisamente anche in italiano) segnalo age-otori, che in giapponese significa uscire dal parrucchiere con un aspetto peggiore di quando ci si va. sobadsogood.


Dead Words

La graphic designer Karen To riporta in vita parole morte con una grafica creativa. Nell'immagine: Quod (kwad), n. 1690-1700; Prison, the state of imprisonment, Also prison. deadwords.


The Thorn

Questa settimana è dominata da Page-Turner. In effetti è una fonte ricca di notizie e informazioni interessanti. Qui parla del Thorn che è "an obsolete letter from the Anglo-Saxon alphabet representing the sound we now write as “th”: it looks like the letter “p” with the vertical stroke extending above as well as below the protuberance. In fact, a thorn looks pretty much like a thorn, as in one of those prickly things on the stem of a rose. You will not find it on your keyboard unless you are J. R. R. Tolkien". pageturner.


Salman Rushdie sulla censura

Uno dei primi articoli usciti su Page-Turner è una conferenza sulla censura tenuta da Salman Rushdie il 6 maggio al PEN World Voices Festival. In essa Rushdie parla, ovviamente, della censura e dei suoi disastrosi effetti sulla creatività. Inizia dicendo che di censura gli scrittori non amano parlare. Poi elenca gli argomenti di cui gli piace parlare. Ed è questo che mi ha interessato: "And writers want to talk about how much they get paid, and they want to gossip about other writers and how much they get paid, and they want to complain about critics and publishers, and gripe about politicians, and they want to talk about what they love, the writers they love, the stories and even sentences that have meant something to them, and, finally, they want to talk about their own ideas and their own stories. Their things". pageturner.



Page-Turner è una nuova rubrica del blog dedicato ai libri del New Yorker. "We’ll debate about books under-noticed or too much noticed, and celebrate writers we’ve returned to again and again. We’ll look to works in translation and at the politics of literary scenes beyond the English-speaking world. We’ll think about technology and the reading life. We’ll recommend and we’ll theorize. Daily essays will be the blog’s mainstay, with books as an anchor for wide-ranging cultural comment". pageturner.
Dovrebbe essere molto interessante.


What Money Can't Buy

Michael Sandel, l'autore di What Money Can't Buy (Allen Lane), pare sia il professore più popolare di Harvard. "There’s a reason for the popularity—Sandel uses concrete situations, Socratic-style, to explore knotty philosophical questions. Was it fair for the rich to be allowed to buy their way out of military service during the Civil War? ... What if all the money went to extra scholarships for the poor?
Questions like these have led to Sandel’s latest book, What Money Can’t Buy. Yes, he notes, we all agree that money shouldn’t buy some things, such as human beings. But, strangely, a spirit of “market triumphalism” has survived the financial crisis. Surrogate wombs, prison-cell upgrades, citizenship, police protection, imported kidneys, the right to kill endangered species, the right to pollute, the right to drive in the car-pool lane—all are available on terms dictated by markets, and by markets alone. “Do we want a society where everything is up for sale?,” Sandel asks. “Or are there certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?” In America, the answer too often is: Forgot to ask". vanityfair.


100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design

100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design è il titolo di un libro di Steven Heller e Veronique Vienne (Lawrence King Publishers), "a thoughtfully curated inventory of abstract concepts that defined and shaped the art and craft of graphic design, each illustrated with exemplary images and historical context". thealtlantic.

Nell'immagine, Gun Crime (2010), di Noma Bar.


Per gli studiosi di Joyce

The Irish National Library has digitized rare James Joyce manuscripts and put them online for the first time. The papers, which were closed guarded by Joyce’s son, James, entered the public domain last January, and consist of three main parts: The Circe episode of Ulysses, drafts of Finnegans Wake from 1923, and a collection known as the Joyce Papers which span 1903 to 1928. And the Irish Times has already provided footnotes: “A reader may well be relieved to learn that the Finnegans Wake documents can be safely ignored, or at least left for much later attention; they are mostly page proofs with some pretty modest corrections... It is in the other two categories, the “early notes” and the Ulysses notes and drafts, that the real meat of the collection is to be found.” lat.


New York City Life: Rooftops

There are few lines in New York City more powerful than “Come check out my roof.” The promise of a rooftop viewing prolongs mediocre dates, ensures attendance at impromptu parties, and solidifies connections among neighbors who would otherwise prefer to have nothing to do with one another. (“Shall we have a beer on the roof?” “Why not!”)
Even an unfinished, borderline dangerous rooftop can dramatically alter one’s life in positive ways, connecting a claustrophobic ( “cozy!”) studio apartment to a sphere of possibilities accessible only to richer neighbors: gardening, sunbathing, hosting dinner parties, smoking-without-suffocation, flirting with a view, adequate AT&T reception. slate.
Alex MacLean , Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces (Princeton Architectural Press).


A passeggio per Central Park

Una bella iniziativa, quella di John Cotner, artista e poeta newyorkese: passeggiare e chiacchierare. L'appuntamento di oggi è a Central Park e John Cotner parlerà di Frederick Law Olmsted, architetto dei paesaggi e uno degli artefici di Central Park. "Recreation is a new interactive walk designed by Jon Cotner. To celebrate National Landscape Architecture Month, as well as the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, Cotner will lead dialogues with participants as they stroll through Central Park. Olmsted’s architectural philosophy will be put into play, bringing everyone closer to the Park’s physical and social landscapes".


Che tristezza!

Il Chelsea Hotel è stato venduto ed ecco come appare ora. "And now that it’s been bought by Joseph Chetrit, “the most mysterious big shot in New York real estate,” it seems the hotel and residence is slowly losing its history. flavorwire.


A Difficult Woman

A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman, di Alice Kessler-Harris (Bloomsbury). Perché Lillian Hellman desta ancora tanto interesse? "Ambitious, acerbic and direct to the point of rudeness, Hellman was a woman of voracious appetites, the kind of “tough broad” who “can take the tops off bottles with her teeth”, according to a 1941 New Yorker profile. She knew she wasn’t a beauty (her first boyfriend said she looked like “a prow head on a whaling ship”), but she bristled with a sexual charisma designed to distract husbands from their wives. Lonely and insecure about her desirability, she found affirmation in affairs and friendships with men.
The most significant of these was with Dashiell Hammett, a famous and flamboyantly alcoholic writer of detective novels, with whom she enjoyed an unconventional romance for 30 years until he died in 1961. Hellman always credited him with teaching her how to write, showing her how to craft distinctive characters with just a few lines of raffish dialogue. In turn Hellman bailed Hammett out of the occasional fix, and tended to his reputation and estate for the rest of her life". economist.


Italy's Dysfunctional University System

Che tristezza! Anche all'estero ormai si parla dello stato deprimente delle nostre università.
"What constitutes challenging changes in the Italian university system are made even more difficult by a hierarchy, which the latest reforms leave untouched, that places decision making in the hands of largely unaccountable full-time professors and smaller administrative councils while stifling opportunity for those wanting to enter or rise in academe.
Italy's universities have long been rife with what Italians refer as i baroni­"barons"—­powerful professors and department heads who create academic fiefdoms, blocking young, talented researchers; promoting yes-men and relatives; and fixing job competitions". Megan Williams, chronicleofhighereducation.