Tradurre l'Iliade

"But the magically appearing bathtubs at the end of Book 10 are a marker of a very deep-seated feature of Homeric poetry. Objects can be conjured out of the air by a set of rules for narrative plausibility which are not ours. Diomedes and Odysseus are rich and powerful. They are exhausted and they have been successful. Rich and powerful warriors have baths, so the bathtubs have to be there and must be ‘polished’. The way Homeric narrative deals with objects is determined not by probability or the laws of physics, but by social ambience, and by what a poet thinks an audience is likely to expect". Colin Burrow, LRB.

Homer: ‘The Iliad’ translated by Peter Green (University of California Press).


Nabokov in Utah

The slender Russian man is on vacation. He has an arrogantly beautiful face and is accompanied by an oddly tall little boy, as he stalks up and down a trout stream in the Wasatch Range, a few miles east of Sandy, Utah. They deploy butterfly nets. “I walk from 12 to 18 miles a day,” he writes in a letter mailed in July of 1943, “wearing only shorts and tennis shoes … always a cold wind blowing in this particular cañon.” Da Robert Roper, Nabokov in America (Bloomsbury USA), theamericanscholar.


Our Universities: The Outrageous Reality

by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
University of Chicago Press, 246 pp., $18.00 (paper)

Segue un interessante articolo sullo stato delle università americane di Andrew Delbanco, nybooks.


Sulla traduzione, ancora e ancora

Il titolo di questo articolo è particolarmente attraente, "Is Translation an Art or a Math Problem?"
"Translation is possible, and yet we are still bedeviled by conflict. This fallen state of affairs is often attributed to the translators, who must not be doing a properly faithful job. The most succinct expression of this suspicion is “traduttore, traditore,” a common Italian saying that’s really an argument masked as a proverb. It means, literally, “translator, traitor,” but even though that is semantically on target, it doesn’t match the syllabic harmoniousness of the original, and thus proves the impossibility it asserts". Gideon Lewis-Kraus, nytmagazine.


The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project è un interessante progetto della Brooklyn Art Library. "Zucker and Peterman started the Sketchbook Project out of frustration with a gallery culture that seemed exploitative and exclusive. “We wanted to create a community anti-gallery space that was inclusive of everyone that wanted to be a part of it,” Peterman told me. They were working on a few crowdsourced art projects at the time (they also tried soliciting photos, and mailing out canvases for people to paint on), but the sketchbook collection attracted a surprising amount of enthusiasm and quickly took over their business: now roughly thirty-four thousand sketchbooks line the walls of the Brooklyn Art Library, and about half of those are scanned in the online archive. In the project’s busiest years, the number of people requesting blank books has neared fourteen thousand". Jordan Kisner, newyorker.


Lavorare a casa

There is something embarrassing about working from home. You wonder what the UPS man thinks of you when he delivers advance copies of new books. So this guy just reads all day? You worry that the prominent figure you are interviewing by phone can hear the refrigerator door or the neighbors’ kids upstairs. (Skype video interviews are even worse; the trick is finding a camera angle that doesn’t reveal anything blatantly domestic.) Evan Hughes, newyorker.


Joshua Cohen, Book of Numbers

Book of Numbers (Random House), the new book by Joshua Cohen, is the first novel I can think of that manages to be both auto-fictional and hysterically realistic at the same time. This feat of genre-straddling ambition speaks both to Cohen’s enormous talent and to his continuing faith in the possibilities of the novel. As in an auto-fiction, this is a book by a writer called Joshua Cohen about a writer called Joshua Cohen, though how close the fictional Cohen is to his creator remains impossible to know. Both grew up on the Jersey Shore in the 1980s, and each is the author of a big book about a Jewish subject: The real Cohen wrote Witz, a 1,000-page fantasia about the end of American Jewry; while the fictional Cohen wrote a family memoir about his mother, a Holocaust survivor. These similarities are enough to pique the kind of interest that—as David Shields has written in Reality Hunger—only arises when the reader is unsure how much of what he is reading is truth and how much fiction. Adam Kirsch, tablet.


Il Whitney Museum di Renzo Piano

Il Whitney Museum di Renzo Piano non piace a James Panero. 
"The new Whitney Museum, designed by Renzo Piano and Renzo Piano Building Workshop, along with Cooper Robertson, at a cost of $422 million, opened to much fanfare on May 1. From the outside, it is a jumble of pipes, stairs, HVAC units, portholes, bending planes of enameled steel, and what look like a few stone corners hauled off as spoils from the old Whitney building, that crystalline fortress of solitude on Madison Avenue designed by Marcel Breuer in 1966, which the new Whitney now metaphorically explodes, reprocesses, and repackages. Beyond the mere display of art, this new cultural factory serves double duty as an incinerator of the museum’s own unwanted past. And unlike the waste-transfer facility next door, with its idling trucks and utilitarian sheds parked along the water, which will soon be renewed as parkland, the Whitney’s new exterior is not a holdover of industrial blight but the aggressive, purpose-built pastiche of blight. newcriterion.


Tutto su Hitchcock

Even the biographers, watching the life ‘start at zero’, have struggled to establish where the motivation for the inventiveness came from. The most popular hypothesis, not least because Hitchcock himself promoted it so vigorously, concerns timidity. ‘The man who excels at filming fear is himself a very fearful person,’ Truffaut observed, ‘and I suspect that this trait of his personality has a direct bearing on his success.’ The most substantial biography to date, by Patrick McGilligan, includes plenty of anecdotes about fear ... David Trotter, lrb.

Ecco le nuove biografie su Hitchcock:
  • Peter Ackroyd, Alfred Hitchcock (Chatto)
  • Michael Wood, Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much (New Harvest)
  • Jan Olsson, Hitchcock à la carte (Duke)
  • Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II, a cura di Sidney Gottlieb


William Zinsser

William Zinsser, a New York City newspaperman turned freelance magazine writer who had reinvented himself as a teacher of writing. ...
What Bill Zinsser had to offer was unlike anything else in the Yale course catalogue. He had arrived in 1970 ...
Officially, “Nonfiction Workshop” was a residential-college seminar, independent of the English department or any other department. Before long, word got around about this cheerful fellow Zinsser, not another eyebrow-arching pipe smoker in an elbow-patched tweed jacket but a real professional craftsman who had sneaked in the side entrance of the academy from the real world. Actually, Bill did own a tweed jacket (or maybe it was polished twill), and he favored button-down shirts, narrow neckties, unfancy shoes, and unironic hats (felt Borsalino or straw Panama). He wore glasses and was slightly built, a pleasant-looking, engaging, well-mannered optimist steeped in the tribal codes of privileged Wasp self-effacement.
We met for two hours every Thursday afternoon in a comfortably furnished lounge in Calhoun College. In that room, we mostly listened, as Bill read, along with examples from his own work, passages from writers I’d read but hadn’t properly considered (Thoreau, Orwell, Twain, E. B. White, Red Smith), or knew of but hadn’t much read (Mencken, Perelman, Wills, Didion, Talese). Some I already revered for their supreme coolness (Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe). Others, previously unknown to me (Alan Moorehead, Michael Arlen, Joseph Mitchell), proved to be more enduring influences. Mark Singer, newyorker.



Bell'articolo sull'immigrazione di David Brooks, che sfata molti luoghi comuni, "The nature of global migration is slowly evolving, too. We have an image of immigrants as the poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. According to this stereotype, immigrants are driven from their homes by poverty and move elsewhere to compete against the lowest-skilled workers.
But immigrants do not come from the poorest countries. Nations like Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger — some of the poorest countries in the world — have some of the lowest outmigration rates. Less than 3 percent of their populations live outside their borders. Their citizens don’t have the resources to move.
Instead, immigrants tend to come from middle-class countries, and they migrate to rich, open ones.  ... Meanwhile, globalization, with all its stresses and strains, has created a large international class of middle-class dreamers: university graduates who can’t fulfill their aspirations at home and who would enrich whatever nation is lucky enough to have them". nyt.


Su Philip Roth

The phenomenon of Philip Roth’s “retirement”—and that seems to be what it is now, a phenomenon—is not about a writer’s vanity, an ego grown so massive it’s like a publicity black hole sucking up limelight that might have shined warmly on other equally deserving authors. Nor is it about an inability to shut up, even though Roth admitted that his decision to quit writing, announced abruptly in 2012, had triggered in him an impulse to “chatter.” ...
No, Roth’s announcement that he would leave the literary stage, followed by his conspicuous failure to do so in favor of a series of curtain calls, is about us—Roth’s audience, a community of readers. We’re the ones endlessly fascinated by Roth’s penchant to pontificate about himself in public, from an interview with the BBC aired last spring (titled “Philip Roth Unleashed”) to a promised appearance on The Colbert Report (reportedly scheduled for last summer, but apparently scrapped). Through it all, Roth continues to insist that he’s retreating into full Garbo mode. “You can write it down,” he told a reporter last May after a star turn at the 92nd Street Y. “This was absolutely the last public appearance I will make on any public stage, anywhere”—this just a week before collecting an award from the Yaddo writer’s retreat and two weeks before accepting an honorary doctorate at the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary. J.C. Hallman, thebaffler.