Go Set a Watchman

Așa începe nuvela scrisă de Harper Lee înainte de “To Kill a Mockingbird” dar nepublicată până acum:

Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical. Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia’s hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires. She grinned when she saw her first TV antenna atop an unpainted Negro house; as they multiplied, her joy rose.

The Inklings

What did the Inklings, as this group of friends called themselves, believe? How did their beliefs affect their writing and thinking? What did they hope to achieve with their novels, stories and nonfiction? These are the sort of questions that most interest the Zaleskis. Overall, they argue that the Inklings aimed at nothing less than “a revitalization of Christian intellectual and imaginative life.”

Michael Dirda – ‘The Fellowship’ explores the spiritual roots of Tolkien and the Inklings

Atrocitatea războiului

Here, men on both sides developed extraordinarily creative ways of killing one another. They fired bursts of artillery at the tree tops so that splinters would tear through the people below. They learnt to play on the instincts of their enemies, placing landmines wherever they might seek shelter, such as in hollows or shell holes. Soldiers were often afraid to look about them, because they were too busy scanning the forest floor for trip wires. The Germans, in particular, developed a habit of placing explosive charges beneath American wounded or dead, knowing that as soon as a rescue team or burial party tried to move them, they, too, would be killed by the explosion.

Keith Lowe – Antony Beevor: ‘There are things that are too horrific to put in a book’

O zi din viața lui Macchiavelli

Machiavelli, rupt de viața politică florentină, îi scrie o scrisoare prietenului Francesco Vettori, în care îi povestește în detaliu cum își petrece zilele în exil:

I rise in the morning with the sun, and go into a wood that I am having cut, where I remain two hours in order to check the work done the day before and to pass the time with the woodcutters, who always have some argument at hand among themselves or with their neighbors.

Leaving the wood, I go to a spring and from there to my birdsnare. I have a book with me, Dante or Petrarch or one of the lesser poets like Tibullus, Ovid or the like. I read about their amorous passions and their loves, I remember my own, and I revel in these thoughts for a while. I then move on up the road to the inn. I speak with those who pass, and I ask for news of their area; I learn many things and note the different and diverse tastes and ways of thinking of men. Lunchtime comes, when my family and I eat that food which this poor farm and my meager patrimony permit.

After eating, I return to the inn; there I usually find the innkeeper, a butcher, a miller and two bakers. With these men I waste my time playing cards all day, and from these games a thousand disagreements and countless offensive words arise, and most of the time our arguments are over a few cents; nevertheless, we can be heard yelling from as far away as San Casciano. Caught this way among these lice, I wipe the mold from my brain and release my feeling of being ill-treated by Fate; I am happy to be driven along this road by her, as I wait to see if she will be ashamed of doing so.

When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, which are covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them kindly, I feed on the food that alone is mine, and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak to them and to ask them the reasons for their actions; and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I no longer fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.

În apărarea cărților tipărite

William Giraldi scrie despre felul în care bibliotecile personale reflectă sensibilitatea și identitatea colecționarului:

What does it mean when what you own is essential to who you are? In our everyday grasp of owning things, we tag it materialism, consumerism, consumption. But I trust you’ll agree that the possession of books is not identical to the possession of shoes: Someone with a thousand books is someone you want to talk to; someone with a thousand shoes is someone you suspect of belonging to the Kardashian clan. Books are not objects in the same way that shoes are objects.

Genul ăsta de pledoarii, pentru farmecul cărților tipărite, apar o dată la câteva luni, dar a lui Giraldi e una dintre cele mai convingătoare:

Like the bicycle, the book is a perfect invention, and perfection dies very, very hard. The car hasn’t murdered the bike, and the Web won’t murder the book. There are innumerable readers for whom the collecting of physical books will remain forever essential to our selfhoods, to our savoring of pleasure and attempted acquisition of wisdom, to our emotional links with our past and our psychological apprehension of others—essential not just as extensions of our identities but as embodiments of those identities. Books, like love, make life worth living.


Autorul menționează în trecere cărțile “delectabile” publicate de The Folio Society, o mică editură londoneză. De când am descoperit-o, acum câteva luni, tot pierd vremea căutând chilipiruri la anticariate online. Dacă vă plac cărțile ca obiecte meșteșugite, nu doar ca suporturi pentru scris, o să vă placă Folio.

Ce a vrut sa spună poetul

Nu știu dacă orele de română depind la fel de mult de culegerile de comentarii ca pe vremea mea, dar comentariile literare predate în scoală trebuie să fie una dintre cele mai eficiente metode de a crea lehamite față de literatură.

Flannery O’Connor, într-o scrisoare către un profesor care ținea să afle mesajul celei mai cunoscute povești a ei:

The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.

1984

Lista celor mai bune o sută de cărți de ficțiune, editată de Guardian, a ajuns la Nineteen Eighy-Four. O carte bine-cunoscută care ascunde travaliul mai puțin cunoscut al autorului. După moartea neașteptată a soției, Orwell s-a mutat într-o cabană de pe o insulă izolată din Scoția unde a dus o viață spartană și a scris una dintre capodoperele secoului 20.

Life at Barnhill was simple, even primitive. There was no electricity. Orwell used Calor gas to cook and to heat water. Storm lanterns burned paraffin. In the evenings he also burned peat. He was still chain-smoking black shag tobacco in roll-up cigarettes: the fug in the house was cosy but not healthy. A battery radio was the only connection with the outside world. Once his new regime was settled, Orwell could finally make a start.