The Daily

This Week's Reading

Staff Picks: ‘The Duel,’ An Annotated ‘Peter Pan’

November 4, 2011 | by

“I must find an explanation and a justification for my ridiculous life in the theories of others, in literary types ... Last night, for instance, I comforted myself by thinking repeatedly: Oh, how right Tolstoy was, how unmercifully right! And this made me feel better.” Does everybody else know that Chekhov wrote a novel? I had no idea—until I came across Margarita Shalina’s new translation of The Duel, all about a “superfluous” man who has moved with his mistress to the Caucasus to start a new life, which, you can guess how well that goes ... —Lorin Stein

I’ve always been fascinated by Peter Pan, from the Mary Martin musical to the frankly somewhat twisted details of Barrie’s biography (says Anthony Lane: “the actual making of love lay outside his interests, or beyond his grasp”). What a pleasure, then, to happen upon The Annotated Peter Pan, released last month. Here I learned that Barrie saw a “touch of the feminine in Hook, as in all the greatest pirates”; that Tinkerbell, far from a fetching blond, was once “a fairy-tinker, a creature who mended pots and pans”; and that Barrie was obliged to add a warning to the play, cautioning children against leaping out of their windows thinking “lovely wonderful thoughts,” after hearing that some children had in fact given it a try. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

I’ve been reading translations of the Turkish poets Cevdet Anday and Yahya Kemal, the Pakistani Faiz Ahmed, and the Polish poet Tadeusz Rozewicz, all published on the blog of that exemplary little journal, Little Star. The first two print issues were a delight, and I’m told a third issue is due any day. —Robyn Creswell

If you are trying to build your own art collection, but your pockets are a bit too shallow for the Chelsea gallery scene, be sure to check out the collage show at The Ugly Art Room in Williamsburg, curated by skilled collagist Charles Wilkin. —Charlotte Strick

Charles Simic’s Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell illustrates the patchwork beauty of Cornell’s artwork and, like his famous shadow boxes, the book is structured using surreal yet precise vignettes. There’s nothing quite as exciting as reading a poet’s prose.  —Jessica Calderon

3 COMMENTS

3 Comments

  1. C. Bottomley | November 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    The only novel Chekhov ever tried to write was eventually destroyed by the author. If “The Duel” qualifies as a novel, then surely “My Life” “The Shooting Party” “The Steppe” and maybe even “Ward No. 6″ should, too.

  2. Neil Griffin | November 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Lorin, have you read the other “Duel” novellas in the Melville series? I’m curious as to whether the set is worth buying.

  3. Lorin Stein | November 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Ah, C. Bottomley: guess what else I’ve never read. I would call The Duel a short novel — but this is likely a matter of conditioning. (Book publishers get spooked by the word “novella.”) Mr Griffin, I haven’t read the others. If you do get the set, I’ll be curious to hear …

Leave a Comment