Posts Tagged ‘Anton Chekhov’
March 11, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
- When writers tweet from beyond the grave, they are strangely prolific.
- Chekhov, the (free) e-book.
- Douglas Adams gets a Google Doodle on what would have been his sixty-first birthday, in other posthumous lit-tech news.
- Neil Gaiman remembers the comic sci-fi legend.
- Presented without comment: a Lego Hogwarts.
July 27, 2012 | by The Paris Review
Last Thursday, finding myself with an hour to kill in London, I stopped into Lutyens & Rubinstein bookstore in Notting Hill. No Paris Review (sigh), but I did pick up the Summer issue of Slightly Foxed, a quarterly devoted to little essays about people’s favorite books. The clerk claimed it’s the most popular lit mag they stock. And it’s easy to see why. Crome Yellow, The Lost Oases, The Elegies of Quintilius, and a guide to British sea birds give some idea of the miscellany. Read one issue back to back and you could cross every conceivable reader off your Christmas list. —Lorin Stein
How, exactly, do a human and a god have sex? For Elizabeth Costello, the eponymous protagonist of J. M. Coetzee’s novel, it is less a question of metaphysics than of mechanics. “Bad enough to have a full-grown male swan jabbing webbed feet into your backside while he has his way, or a one-ton bull leaning his moaning weight on you,” she thinks. But when the god does not change form, how does the human body accommodate itself to “the blast of his desire”? What makes the passage so interesting is not only Costello’s amusing speculations on the impracticality of cosmic coupling but the way such a question allows Coetzee to reflect on the whole messy business of the god-human relationship. The gods may never die, he suggests, but that doesn’t mean they know how to live. —Anna Hadfield
May 2, 2012 | by Leanne Shapton and Ben Schott
|Havisham’s Complexion1||Anti-Sex Scarlet2||Plum Purple3||Closed Eyelid4|
|Green Paste5||Rain Stone6||Nothing7||Esther’s Sauce8|
|Anthracite Brazier9||Dove10||Encrimsoned11||Foul Mood12|
|Snot13||Eyes14||Aschenbach’s Youth15||Saffron Silk16|
|Elm Shadow17||Paris18||Paper Smell19||England20|
|Rat Brown21||20,00022||Dorian Scarlet23||Lilac Ocean24|
|Basking Pear25||March Morning26||Sour Apple27||Gulag28|
- “ ‘Dear Miss Havisham,’ said Miss Sarah Pocket. ‘How well you look!’ ‘I do not,’ returned Miss Havisham.‘I am yellow skin and bone.’” ‘Great Expectations,’ Charles Dickens.
- “A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.” ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ George Orwell.
- “ ‘Not those socks, Jeeves,’ I said,gulping a bit but having a dash at the careless, off-hand tone. ‘Give me the purple ones.’ ‘I beg your pardon, sir?’ ‘Those jolly purple ones.’ ‘Very good, sir.’ ” ‘The Inimitable Jeeves,’ P. G. Wode- house.
- “I pulled up my feet, bent my knees, and rested my chin on my hand. Then I closed my eyes. Still no sounds. The darkness behind my closed eyelids was like the cloud-covered sky, but the gray was somewhat deeper.” ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle,’ Haruki Murakami.
- “I bought makeup in tubes off a rack, and in the cold and dirty toilet of the gas station, I attempted a transformation, slapping buff-colored liquid over my face and rubbing green paste on my eyelids.” “Dulse,” Alice Munro.
- “A rainstorm would last hours, soaking the ruined outbuilding nearby, darkening its stones.” “St. Martin,” Lydia Davis.
- “Taken to his uncle’s house once, he had stumbled on her in the soft pink bedroom. Ida had just emerged from her bath and she sat in a powder blue nothing before a mirror at a little table crammed with jars.” ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,’ Mordecai Richler.
- “He taught me how to eat avocados by melting grape jelly and french dress- ing together in a saucepan and filling the cup of the pear with the garnet sauce.” ‘The Bell Jar,’ Sylvia Plath.
- “At the street corner there was a brazier alight, the red cones of anthracite beautifully glowing, and a whiff of heat shedding from it.” ‘Girls in Their Married Bliss,’ Edna O’Brien.
- “Passersby, who, of course, stopped and stared, had just time to see a face of the very greatest importance against the dove-gray upholstery, before a male hand drew the blind and there was nothing to be seen except a square of dove gray.” ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’ Virginia Woolf.
- “Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around.” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allan Poe.
- “At home I’d slept for several hours then woke to a blue light and in a foul mood.” ‘Ticknor,’ Sheila Heti.
- “Tom was crying. He put his knuckles in his eyes the way little girls do on biscuit tin lids. A large tube of green snot hung out of one nostril, and when he sniffed it bobbed out of sight.” ‘The Cement Garden,’ Ian McEwan.
- “Pretty eyes. Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes. Run, Jip, run. Jip runs, Alice runs. Alice has blue eyes. Jerry has blue eyes. Jerry runs. Alice runs. They run with their blue eyes. Four blue eyes. Four pretty blue eyes. Blue-sky eyes. Blue-like Mrs. Forrest’s blue blouse eyes. Morning-glory-blue-eyes. Alice-and-Jerry-blue-storybook-eyes.” ‘The Bluest Eye,’ Toni Morrison.
- “ ‘Surely you will permit me to restore what belongs to you?’ ‘How?’ asked Aschenbach. For answer the oily one washed his client’s hair in two waters, one clear and one dark, and lo, it was as black as in the days of his youth.” ‘Death in Venice,’ Thomas Mann.
- “But still at home, ignoring him, I’ll stay . . . Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day.” ‘Lysistrata,’ Aristophanes.
- “On a sheep-cropped knoll under a clump of elms we ate the strawberries and drank the wine—as Sebastian promised, they were delicious together—and we lit fat, Turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastian’s eyes on the leaves above him, mine on his profile, while the blue-gray smoke rose, untroubled by any wind.” ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ Evelyn Waugh.
- “In Paris, Cyril had a room away from his mother. I could already imagine the window open to the pink and blue sky, the wonderful sky of Paris, with the pigeons cooing on the windowsill, and with Cyril beside me on the narrow bed.” ‘Bonjour Tristesse,’ Françoise Sagan.
- “It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house—to reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.” “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
- “At Gatwick they found a taxi without difficulty. It was raining, as it always seemed to be when you returned to England. Graham gazed through the speckled window. Why did every- thing green seem to have so much brown in it here? And how was it possible for things to be both damp and dusty at the same time?” ‘Before She Met Me,’ Julian Barnes.
- “It was a rough and ugly thing, an overall length of twenty-eight feet, a five-foot draft and just that one junk sail, but with a respectable three hundred and fifty square feet. A trim tab rudder hung on the stern. She was heavy and slow. And very ugly. I made her more ugly by painting her rat brown.” ‘The Shipping News,’ Annie Proulx.
- “The solar rays shone through the watery mass easily, and dissipated all color, and I clearly distinguished objects at a distance of a hundred and fifty yards. Beyond that the tints darkened into fine gradations of ultramarine, and faded into vague obscurity.” ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,’ Jules Verne.
- “His finely chiseled nostrils quivered, and some hidden nerve shook the scarlet of his lips and left them trembling.” ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ Oscar Wilde.
- “The sky turns a soft lilac. Seeing this magnificent, enchanting sky, the ocean frowns at first, but soon itself takes on such tender, joyful, passionate colors as human tongue can hardly name.” “Gusev,” Anton Chekhov.
- “Grapes for the asking, / Pears red with basking / Out in the sun, / Plums on their twigs; / Pluck them and suck them, / Pomegranates, figs.” “Goblin Market,” Christina Rossetti.
- “It was a typical March morning when we got up to drive them to the train: blowy, dark, with spits of rain now and then.” ‘The Country Wife,’ Dorothy Van Doren.
- “White halogen off the green of the composite surface, the light out on the indoor courts at the Port Washington Tennis Academy is the color of sour apples.” ‘Infinite Jest,’ David Foster Wallace.
- Both of us were weak, dried out; our skin was grayish-yellow on our bones.” ‘The Gulag Archipelago,’ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
February 28, 2012 | by Jonathan Gharraie
I met Helen Simpson for a genial pub lunch near Dartmouth Park in North London on the day she received the American edition of In-Flight Entertainment: Stories. She was evidently quite pleased by the book’s spare but elegant design, which looks through an airplane window onto a locket of cerulean sky. I’m tempted to draw comparisons to her stories, many of which peek at other people’s blitheness, or cruelty, or dreams of escape. But nothing in Simpson’s fiction is quite as peaceful as that glimpse of blue. She is perhaps best known for the characterization of contemporary motherhood in her collections, but many of the stories in In-Flight Entertainment confront the prospect of climate change.
Your collections are never quite themed, but they do feel very painstakingly designed. Was that true for In-Flight Entertainment?
In-Flight Entertainment is my little climate-change suite, I suppose. But there are fifteen stories in it, and only five are about climate change. My only rule is to write about what’s interesting to me at the time. It’s a great subject, but it’s very hard to dramatize or to make particular, and not to hector, not to moralize.
There are plenty of experts in these stories. There’s Jeremy in the title story as well as amateur researchers like Angelika in “The Tipping Point” and G in “Diary of an Interesting Year.” They don’t seem to benefit from their knowledge.
Well, it alienates people from them. That’s the trouble. Did you ever watch that episode of The Simpsons shortly after Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth came out? It is spoofed as An Irritating Truth. It is an irritating truth and no one wants to hear someone sounding off about it, and particularly not when they’re about to go on holiday.
Stories are good for uncomfortable things, for uncomfortable subjects. They’re not generally relaxing. Novels are more relaxing. You just give up to the novel, you go into its bath, you submit to it. You don’t with a story. You’re more alert as a reader, and more critical. If it doesn’t grab you by the second sentence, it’s done. Whereas with a novel, people will give it a couple of chapters before they abandon it. Read More »
January 25, 2012 | by Barry Yourgrau
A., my girlfriend, is originally from Moscow. Her mother lives around the corner from us in Queens and throws dinner parties. It’s mainly an older, cultured ex-Soviet crowd. Lots of vodka, lots of overeating zakuski (appetizers to accompany vodka)—hours of nostalgic guffawing (Soviet jokes) and choral crooning (dissident songs and Stalinist patriotic rousers, with equal pleasure). Not speaking the lingo, I grin a lot—a genial, inebriated, slightly patronized potted plant.
The air of these evenings is thick with Russian irony and cultural chauvinism. Pushkin is beyond all criticism. “How dare you even pronounce his name with your filthy mouth,” A. will flare up, not altogether faking her indignance.
Or an old photographer-pal of Brodsky’s from Leningrad (inevitably old pals of Brodsky’s are present) will assert that Russian translations of Hemingway far surpass the originals.
This latter bit of flag-waving causes me to reflect that much of the literature that deeply influenced me as a writer I read in English translation. Foremost stands Isaac Babel, whose compressed, lyric violence overwhelmed me in my twenties. Then there was Bulgakov; even P—n’s fate-haunted tales. Later, in my early days with A., while she was away and I mooched disconsolately in her apartment, I read in translation Shalamov’s horrifying, degraded, flickering Kolyma Tales about his frozen years in the Siberian Gulag. I kept dropping the book and pacing away, moaning and clutching my head at the savagery, the unspeakable pathos. Then there were Cendrars and Simenon, Borges and César Aira (another alchemical Argentinean, rendered brilliantly by Chris Andrews) .
But, however good the English versions, there’s always in these books a slight straining—a hovering sense of idioms being just off. Read More »
November 4, 2011 | by The Paris Review
“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