Posts Tagged ‘Don Quixote’
July 8, 2016 | by Matthew St. Ville Hunte
Some of the writers and books I hold in the highest esteem were discovered en passant: buried in the archives of a little-read blog; mentioned in a thirty-year-old essay devoted to more prominent writers; planted near the end of a long list on Wikipedia. (Idleness and obsession are the impetus for most of my discoveries.) Most of these books are rare tastes, not even well known for not being well known. They are not likely to come up at dinner parties, and they are not part of any canon or curriculum. I don’t get any credit for having read them. They are what some people call minor.
What does it mean to be minor? It’s not the same thing as being obscure. Leon Forrest’s oeuvre is a megalith, but there seem to be about six of us who have read him. Nor is a minor writer a bad writer. Guy Davenport proposed that Thomas Love Peacock, Colette, Simenon, and Michael Gilbert were all “impeccable stylists” but also, next to Tolstoy, Cervantes, Balzac, and Proust, incontrovertibly minor. Davenport, a self-described minor prose stylist who was great enough to be genuinely self-effacing, said that “the theme of a major work must be universal and time-defying.” When judged by this standard, he suggested, even Borges and Poe were minor, since “a Martian could not learn about human nature from either of them.” Read More »
April 22, 2016 | by Jeffery Gleaves
- Prince died yesterday, at age fifty-seven, at his home, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The nation mourns: Minnesota Public Radio has dedicated its waves exclusively to the artist; purple rain adorns next week’s New Yorker cover; San Francisco lit its City Hall with the royal hue; and MTV, which hasn’t played a music video in years, aired nothing but the late musician’s work and the movie Purple Rain yesterday. Said the New York Times of the musician, “His music was a cornucopia of ideas: triumphantly, brilliantly kaleidoscopic.”
- As it turns out, Soviet production novels—that humorless subgenre of yore—followed a pretty basic pattern: “an outsider arrives at a factory or construction site and has to figure out how to solve a morale problem or increase productivity: Ivan Alexandrovich has to supervise the building of a hydroelectric plant or Sofia Alexandrovna has to increase production at the textile mill. They are, along with Elizabethan masques and vice-presidential autobiographies, one of the most arid literary genres ever devised.”
- Any young person working in publishing today ought to know a little about the history of fonts. If you, like me, feel your knowledge is lacking, I offer you a not-so-brief history of roman fonts. “The Carolingian or Caroline minuscule joined forces with antique Roman square capitals at the very beginning of the fifteenth century—a conjunction willed by the great Florentine humanists; their forms first wrought in metal by two German immigrants at Subiaco and Rome, honed by a Frenchman, and consummated at the hands of Griffo of Bologna and Aldus the Venetian. A thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, the romans returned and reconquered.”
- Today is the four-hundredth anniversary of Cervantes’s death. Before he wrote Don Quixote, Cervantes was kidnapped by pirates and imprisoned in the Algiers for five years, a life-defining moment that influenced his writing: “I would argue that Cervantes’s explicit interest in the question of madness emerges from the borderline situations he endured as a captive, from the encounter with death that transformed him into a survivor. [It] converts him into a pioneer in the exploration of the psyche three centuries before Freud.”
- You know who else passed away this week four hundred years ago? Shakespeare, that’s who. To celebrate the Bard, NPR spoke with Shakespeare scholars, dramaturges, and Victorian food experts and produced a series of delightful essays on his relation to food. Linguistic and gastronomical insights abound: As Anne Bramley writes, “When Hamlet huffs about the ‘funeral baked meats’ served at his mother’s wedding banquet, he is chastising her for her quick remarriage, implying that she was serving leftovers from his father’s recent funeral. But funeral baked meats were in fact a real food, and they weren’t as macabre as their name implied—though they were cooked in a ‘coffin.’ The same word was used for ‘a coffer to keep dead people or to keep meat in,’ explains Ken Albala, director of food studies at the University of the Pacific.”
January 26, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Flush your antidepressants, fire your therapist, and deaccession your self-help library: Cervantes is the only mood elevator you need. “Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico’s prisons system, told Radio Imagen that when El Chapo was recaptured earlier this month after escaping six months ago, ‘he arrived depressed, and more than depressed, tired—tired of being on the run.’ In the last few days, said Guerrero, the prisoner had been given a copy of Don Quixote to read, ‘because we believe it is an excellent book, and we have to start giving him such notions.’ ”
- In the late eighties, Lex Kaplen launched Wigwag, an ambitious magazine that lasted for only fifteen issues, perhaps because of its unlikely name or its strange agenda: “The Wigwag office was in SoHo, on Spring Street, downstairs from a place where a man dealt in geological survey maps, two blocks from the Spring Street Natural. Lex set the tone for the office. His favorite outfit was Bermuda shorts and a cardigan sweater … Wigwag was a general-interest magazine that included some of the same kinds of things that The New Yorker ran—reporting, fiction, columns on the arts—along with quirkier features: a bedtime story, a map contributed by a reader (‘Dogs of Westhampton, Mass.’), a Family Tree of, say, TV sitcom writers or celebrity hairdressers. Its heart was a section called Letters from Home, in which writers from towns big and small (Baltimore; Dripping Springs, Texas) kept readers abreast of the local goings on.” The theme for one issue was polka dots.
- The best way to remember Clarence Reid, the R & B rabble-rouser better known as Blowfly, is to read a few of his song titles: “My Baby Keeps Farting in My Face,” “Electronic Pussy Sucker,” “Shitting on the Dock of the Bay,” “Spermy Night in Georgia” … you get the picture. Reid died last week at seventy-six. “In both his parodies and his original compositions, Mr. Reid was lascivious but good-natured. Even at his most extreme, there was nothing harsh about him. While his songs painted him as a libertine and rascal, in real life he was religious—he had memorized the Bible, Mr. Bowker said—and rarely drank or did drugs … As Blowfly, Mr. Reid created an implicitly radical counternarrative to the more polite strains of soul that were popular at the time.”
- If you want your very own National Magazine Award, it’s time to start being systematic. Just follow a few simple steps and that handsome copper elephant statuette can be yours, all yours! You’ll want to go long (no fewer than 6,500 words) and stick to the past tense. Write in the second person and try not to cuss too much …
- Or you can liquidate some of that capital you’ve got tied up in Andy Warhol. Most of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of Warhol artworks just lying around the house, quietly skyrocketing in value. The time to sell is now, and the man to see is Geoff Hargadon, who operates a storefront in Boston called Cash for Your Warhol. “Hargadon, a financial planner by day, has been pretending to buy Warhols since 2009, when the recession spawned an influx of bandit signs promising ‘Cash for Your Home’ and ‘Cash for Your Gold.’ Fascinated by the sheer bluntness of the signs, Hargadon started collecting them. At some point, while thinking about markets left untapped, ‘the phrase [Cash for Your Warhol] just popped into my head,’ he says. He set up a hotline (617-553-1103), designed his own line of signs, stickers and billboards, and stuck them all over major cities from Kentucky to Pennsylvania.”
August 17, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
- In New York, most of the iconic bookstores make certain distasteful concessions to consumers. Their books are in alphabetical order, for example, on neat, clearly marked shelves. Not so in John Scioli’s Community Bookstore, which has been a fixture in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill for more than thirty years. Now it’s closing, and Scioli, having collected five and a half million dollars, wants you to know a few things: “A lot of young people can’t handle this type of store. They want everything to look like a supermarket, like Barnes & Noble. Very neat. Some young people come in and they say, ‘Do you have a computer?’ I’m like, ‘No, do you want to buy a computer?’ and then they start to walk out. They don’t know how they’re supposed to find anything without a computer—like, they want Hemingway, and I tell him that their book is under the ‘Hemingway’ section … they never saw a messy bookstore.”
- From 1918 to 1924, Martin Gusinde, a priest, traveled to Tierra del Fuego, where he began to the photograph the Selk’nam, Yamana, and Kawésqar peoples, whose cultures were even then facing extinction. His pictures are collected in The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego: “Several photos show naked male figures standing barefoot in the snow, their bodies painted in bold white stripes on dark ochre and wearing eerie, phallic headdresses. An image of a snowy field strewn with corpse-like forms—according to the caption, initiates enacting a passage through the underworld—evokes uncanny echoes of the actual Selk’nam genocide. White bone-dust covering the skin and conical masks of Kawésqar initiates gives them a spectral, hallucinatory quality.”
- Today in brouhahas with the classics: Spanish academics have derided a new, more accessible translation of the famously difficult Don Quixote as “a crime against literature.” “You cannot twist the flavor of the words of the greatest writer in our language,” one professor said, though I had thought you couldn’t twist any flavor, period.
- Dance criticism was once a regular part of magazines and newspapers—but in recent years, the New York Post, Time Out New York, The New Republic, the Village Voice, New York, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle have all let go of their dance critics, thus reinforcing the fact that “dance is the least respected of the fine arts … That’s been the case ever since the fourth century when the church took over the arts and banished dance from public religious ceremonies.”
- Clancy Martin on Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel Eileen: “We expect this pathology of dissatisfaction, ennui, and frustrated need in a certain brand of narcissistic male hero, but in a female narrator it is more disturbing, more interesting, and more exciting. Her hunger lends her a perceptiveness you won’t find in a more content character. Her observations are always a bit too disturbing, too repellent—but they are never blithe, silly, or conventional. She has that scalpel-like, cynical intelligence and insight that one gets with a blistering hangover.”
May 11, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
This is the final week to see Charles Coypel’s extensive Don Quixote tapestries, paintings, prints, and books, on display at the Frick through May 17. Coypel, Louis XV’s painter, was commissioned by Paris’s Gobelins Manufactory to produce the series, which he worked on for a good portion of his life, from 1714 to 1734; it comprises twenty-eight episodes from the novel, in full-scale preparatory paintings that the manufactory later wove into tapestries. Coypel, himself a playwright, took a theatrical approach to the images, as evidenced by the gestures and poses of his characters; the curator Esther Bell writes, “His playful visual innuendos were targeted at both a rowdy parterre and aristocratic circles who equally embraced puns and dirty jokes, while the depiction of ballet and costume mirror both the repertoire of the Opéra and private performances for the privileged members of the King’s household.”
Coypel’s became the most influential eighteenth-century illustrations of Quixote; tapestries like the one above were indebted to his work. Read More »
March 27, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
It made headlines last year when word got out that Terry Gilliam would finally resume work on his windmill-tilting Don Quixote—and cineastes speak with awe of Orson Welles’s unfinished 1955 Quixote. But there’s one Quixote adaptation that no one talks about much, that few people seem even to know about: the Spanish pornographic cartoon from the seventies.
I’m not going to link to it. If you want to track it down, you can. The caption on one Web site reads, “Just too cool … Must see … ” I’m not a professional film critic, but I respectfully disagree—the erotic Don Quijote cartoon is tedious in the extreme. Read More »