Posts tagged WS
No one reads Stifter’s 60-page novella Indian Summer:
In chapter four, we read about how Adalbert Stifter’s highly digressive, and as Frederick writes, ‘diffuse’ novel Indian Summer, so disturbed its readers that successive editions of the work radically reduced its three volumes of over 1,300 pages – one 1940 edition butchering it to less than 60 pages – as they were concerned to remove everything that did not pertain to the supposedly real story which, as Frederick demonstrates, is an insignificant aspect of the work: the entire novel having been focused on the time after this story and its very texture dependent on the feel of the resulting narrative dispersal.
From Ed Park’s piece for the Harry Mathews symposium (he’s describing a 1975 Harper’s edition of Mathew’s early novels called The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium and Other Novels):
The heft of the book, its strange title in stolid green caps—the abundance implicit in the casual “other novels”!—and its enigmatic cover all attracted me, as did this statement on the back:For several years Harry Mathews has enjoyed a growing following among college students, artists, other poets and writers, and fans of the obscure who have never been able to buy his books.
It seemed a contradiction, an impossibility. Being a fan of the obscure was one thing—but being the follower of an author whose books you couldn’t even get? That was another level of perversity. And I was ready to go there.
Don’t miss the footnotes either.
Random sighting of a writer no one reads (Frederic W. H. Myers):
If Breton tired of Hélène Smith, he could always turn to the writings of Frederic W. H. Myers. The son of the perpetual curate of Saint John’s, Keswick, Myers was renowned for swimming the river beneath Niagara Falls, for his study of hallucinations, and for his crusade for women’s rights in his native England.
Found in The Surrealist Parade by Wayne Andrews aka Montagu O’Reilly, author of the first book published by New Directions: Pianos of Sympathy (1936). Now I’ll start working on posts on O’Reilly and Hélène Smith.
I can’t locate even a simple bio for poor Hal Garrott, author of the children’s fantasies Snythergen (1923) and Squiffer (1924), both illustrated by the somewhat better-known Dugald Stewart Walker. (See illustrations for Snythergen here.)
Never was there a jollier little fellow - although little is scarcely the word - than this Snythergen, and never were there adventures better calculated to delight a child than the tale of how he grew first so very round and later so very tall that he could not remain at home any longer, but was obliged to live in the forest and to become a tree. In the forest lived Squeaky, the pig, and Sancho, the goldfinch, and the three became the best of friends. (publisher’s copy, via)
A tale for young people which is every bit as charming as Mrs. Garrott’s story of the boy-tree, Snythergen. Squiffer is a squirrel whose desire to become a boy sends him upon strange adventures. The characters of the tale include a Bear, a Candy Princess, the wicked Red-Fairy-Hot (with his three quick changes) and ever so many other delightful persons. (publisher’s copy, via)
[update: In the Heather Bright directed me to a PDF article with a mention of Hal Garrott in a list of patrons of Kilmarnock Books in St. Paul (along with Fitzgerald). The article focuses on writer-no-one-reads Thomas Alexander Boyd.]
Robert Recorde introduced the equals sign (=) in 1557. From wikipedia:
Zenzizenzizenzic is an obsolete form of mathematical notation representing the eighth power of a number (that is, the zenzizenzizenzic of a number x is the power x8), dating from a time when powers were written out in words rather than as superscript numbers. This term was suggested by Robert Recorde, a 16th century Welsh writer of popular mathematics textbooks, in his 1557 work The Whetstone of Witte (although his spelling was zenzizenzizenzike); he wrote that it “doeth represent the square of squares squaredly”.
if I should go outside the wolves would come to eat out of my hand just as my room would seem to be outside of me my other earnings would go off around the world smashed into smithereens but what is there to do today it’s thursday everything is closed it’s cold the sun is whipping anybody I could be and there’s no helping it so many things come up so that they throw the roots down by their hairs out in the bull ring stenciled into portraits not to make a big deal of the day’s allotments but today has been a winner and the hunter back with his accounts askew how great this year has been for putting in preserves like these and thus and so and always things are being left behind some tears are laughing without telling tales again except around the picture frame the news arrived that this time we would only see the spring at night and that a spider crawls across the paper where I’m writing that the gift is here
image: El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
This is Santiago Caruso’s illustration for a new Spanish edition of “The Bloody Countess,” a 1971 prose work by Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik (1936–1972), a writer I have not read (illustrator’s page / publisher’s page).
Pizarnik’s parents were Russian Jewish and she was raised in Buenos Aires. She published many volumes of poetry in the 50s and 60s (with titles like The Extraction of the Stone of Madness), studied painting, spent some time in France, translated Michaux and Artaud, and finally “died in Buenos Aires of a self-induced overdose of seconal.” (Check out some photos of the writer.)
Jason Weiss devotes a few pages to her in his book The Lights of Home: A Century of Latin American Writers in Paris. César Aira wrote a book on her.
An English translation of “The Bloody Countess” can be found in Manguel’s anthology Other Voices. The book Exchanging Lives: Poems and Translations contains translations of Pizarnik’s poems mixed with biographical details.
update: Chris at Dreamers Rise commented:
She was a good friend of Julio Cortázar and his wife. There’s some material about her in Jesús Marchamalo’s “Cortázar y los libros.” She inscribed a number of her books to him but towards the end you could see from the inscriptions that she was coming undone.
From the notes to Zoo, or Letters Not About Love by Victor Shklovsky:
Aleksei Mikhailovich Remizov (1877–1957), a brilliant and influential writer who attempted in his prose to strip the Russian literary language of its foreign derivatives and restore to it the natural raciness of the vernacular. He emigrated from Russia at the end of 1921 and settled in Berlin until 1923, when he moved to Paris, where he remained until his death. Remizov founded his monkey society as a lampoon on the official organizations and committees that proliferated after the revolution. Charter memberships were conferred by elegantly designed scrolls, signed by Asyka, tsar of the monkeys.
My favorite bit from his wikipedia entry:
Another striking work of this period is ‘The Sacrifice,’ a Gothic horror story in which “a ghostly double of a father comes to kill his innocent daughter in the mistaken belief that she is a chicken”.
I hope to explore his work more in the book Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism: Alexei Remizov’s Synthetic Art.
The great modernist eccentric Alexei Remizov was a “writers’ writer” whose innovative poetic prose has long since entered the Russian literary canon. Gradually expanding his working methods to make drawing an integral part of the writing process, during the 1930s and 1940s, Remizov created hundreds of albums that combined texts with collages and india ink and watercolor illustrations. In Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism, Julia Friedman provides the first extensive examination of the dynamic interplay between text and image in Remizov’s albums, revealing their coequal roles in his oneiric and synaesthetic brand of storytelling.
From another note in the Shklovsky book:
“Kukkha” is a word defined by Remizov as meaning “moisture” in monkey language.
“ He showed me his kabbalistic collection, and I admired the manuscripts. In my enthusiasm I said, quite naively: ‘How wonderful, Herr Professor, that you have studied all this!’ Whereupon the old gentleman replied: ‘What, am I supposed to *read* this rubbish, too?’ That was a great moment in my life.”
No one reads Carlo Sgorlon (1930-2009).
From Jessie Bright’s introduction to The Wooden Throne:
Carlo Sgorlon was born in 1930 in Cassacco, a tiny village near Udine, capital of Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy near the Austrian and Yugoslav borders. He spent much of his childhood in the countryside, where he attended primary school only rarely but came into daily contact with Friulian peasant life. The influence of his grandfather, a retired schoolmaster with a strong literary bent, and his grandmother, a practicing midwife steeped in local folklore, formed the basis of his love of literature and his reverence for ancient peasant traditions.
[…]He has written a number of novels in the dialect of Friuli, as well as twelve novels and numerous short stories in Italian. His fiction has been translated into French, Spanish, Finnish, German and certain Slavic languages. His literary scholarship, aside from translations from the German, includes two major critical works, one on Kafka and the other on Elsa Morante.
[…] The Wooden Throne, his most famous book, was a best seller in Italy and since it was first published in 1973 has gone through fifteen printings. In fact its publisher, Mondadori, has recently brought it out in a new edition as part of a special series entitled “Twentieth Century Masterpieces.”
I started reading this book today and it is very charming.
Also in English: Army of the Lost Rivers
Cover art by Alexandra Eldridge
This is another welcome submission from Nathaniel at Ausmalen. See his post Friedrich Achleitner as Beer-Drinker.
Friedrich Achleitner (born 23 May 1930 in Schalchen, Upper Austria) is an Austrian poet and architecture critic. Achleitner studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from 1950–1953. He joined the Wiener Gruppe in 1955, participated in their literary cabarets, and wrote dialect poems, montages, and concrete poems. In 1983 he became Professor of the history and theory of architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
From the 1947 edition of the Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature (purchased yesterday for $3 and opened at random):
Nikolai Maksimovich Minski [often Minsky] (pseud. of Nikolai Maksimovich Vilenkin, 1855-1937, Russian poet and philosopher), was born of poor Jewish parents at Glubokoye in the former Government of Vilna and took his degree in law at St. Petersburg. Minski began his literary career as a follower of Nekrasov [no one reads Nekrasov], but soon abandoned “civic” themes for an “art for art’s sake” attitude; he became the first of the Russian decadents, among whom he shared leadership with [Akim] Volynski and Merezhkovski, particularly as a philosopher. He was one of the organizers of the Religious-Philosophical Society (1902), which attracted the intellectuals among the believers. His ideas are set forth in the Nietzschean Pri svete sovesti (1890; By the Light of Conscience) and in Religiya budushchevo (1905; The Religion of the Future), which develops his concept of “meonism,” the religion of nonbeing, based on a mystic faith in conscience, sacrifice, and love, compounded with elements borrowed from Nietzsche and oriental mystics. His poetry is often a vehicle for his ideas, though in his later work he occasionally achieved a true synthesis of form and content. Minski was unfortunate in becoming a poet during a period of transition, and his chief importance lies in his preparing the ground for the later symbolists. Curiously enough, 1905 found Minski among the revolutionaries; he became the nominal head of Novaya zhizn (The New Life), Russia’s first legal Social Democratic newspaper, for which he wrote “A Hymn of the Workers.” His arrest terminated that period, and he left Russia for Paris. In exile, he wrote, among other things, a dramatic trilogy and a volume of criticism (1922, From Dante to Blok) and then lapsed into silence.
“A revolution to emancipate the individual must necessarily regard tradition, the control of the present by the past, as its enemy; if the human individual is to be really free, then time must also be individualized into a succession of immediate moments. The kind of society, therefore, which it tends to create, is an atomized society of individuals, with neither a common myth nor a common cult, but united moment by moment by what they are reading.”—W. H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson, 1950, introduction to The Portable Romantic Poets
I love that the “career” section for Norman Holmes Pearson on wikipedia seems to have been back-translated into English.
A submission from fereshteh (blackflamedsun [at] gmail [dot] com), though I’ve wanted to feature him too: Ladislav Klima (1878 - 1928), an influential Czech writer brought into English by Twisted Spoon Press (who are also on tumblr!) in two books:
TS list three additional books as forthcoming: The Blind Snake’s Wanderings for Truth, I Am Absolute Will, Tales of Weirdness. Bio from the TS website:
Ladislav Klíma was born August 22, 1878, in the western Bohemian town of Domazlice. His father was a fairly well-to-do lawyer. At first a top student, he became steadily more rambunctious (he lost two brothers, both sisters, his mother and grandmother during his youth), and in 1895 he was expelled from gymnasium, and all the schools in the Austrian monarchy, for insulting the ruling Habsburg dynasty. He attended school in Zagreb at his father’s behest, but came home after only half a year resolved never to subject himself to formal education again. Adamantly refusing to engage in any sort of “normal” life as well, he lived alternately in the Tyrol, Zelezná Ruda in the Sumava Mountains, Zurich, and Prague, never seeking permanent employment, burning through any money he had inherited and living off the occasional royalty or the sporadic largesse of his friends. He settled in Prague’s Smíchov district where he wrote his first work in 1904, The World as Consciousness and Nothing (published anonymously and at his own expense), in which he makes the case that “the world” is nothing but a fiction. His major inspirations were Berkeley, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the Czech symbolist poet Otokar Brezina. Klíma’s philosophy has been called radical subjective idealism, where all reality culminates in an absolute subject, and he developed this into the metaphysical systems of egosolism and deoessence (one fully understanding his substance and becoming the creator of his own divinity). These themes are also explored in his fictions, chief among which are The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch and Glorious Nemesis. His other major philosophical works are compilations of shorter texts: Tractates and Dictations (1922) and A Second and Eternity (1927). While only part of Klíma’s oeuvre was published during his lifetime, numerous manuscripts were edited and collected posthumously — stories, novels, plays, and a copious correspondence (it is estimated that Klíma, in a fit of disgust, destroyed some 90% of his unpublished manuscripts). And though his writing was marginalized and suppressed by the communist regime for many years it still managed to inspire a generation of underground artists and dissident intellectuals with its vision of one’s innate ability to achieve inner freedom, to pursue spiritual sovereignty through deoessence. As Jan Patocka put it : “He was our first, untimely absurdist thinker.” Klíma died of tuberculosis on April 19, 1928, and is buried in Prague.