Thomas Pynchon, Edmund Wilson, Gary Snyder, Romain Gary, Roddy Doyle, Pat Barker, Gertrud Fussenegger, Sloan Wilson, Sophus Schandorph
Uit: The Crying of Lot 49
“One summer afternoon Mrs Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. Oedipa stood in the living room, stared at by the greenish dead eye of the TV tube, spoke the name of God, tried to feel as drunk as possible. But this did not work. She thought of a hotel room in Mazatlan whose door had just been slammed, it seemed forever, waking up two hundred birds down in the lobby; a sunrise over the library slope at Cornell University that nobody out on it had seen because the slope faces west; a dry, disconsolate tune from the fourth movement of the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra; a whitewashed bust of Jay Gould that Pierce kept over the bed on a shelf so narrow for it she'd always had the hovering fear it would someday topple on them. Was that how he'd died, she wondered, among dreams, crushed by the only ikon in the house? That only made her laugh, out loud and helpless: You're so sick, Oedipa, she told herself, or the room, which knew.
The letter was from the law firm of Warpe, Wistfull, Kubitschek and McMingus, of Los Angeles, and signed by somebody named Metzger. It said Pierce had died back in the spring, and they'd only just now found the will. Metzger was to act as co-executor and special counsel in the event of any involved litigation. Oedipa had been named also to execute the will in a codicil dated a year ago. She tried to think back to whether anything unusual had happened around then. Through the rest of the afternoon, through her trip to the market in downtown Kinneret-Among-The-Pines to buy ricotta and listen to the Muzak (today she came through the bead-curtained entrance around bar 4 of the Fort Wayne Settecento Ensemble's variorum recording of the Vivaldi Kazoo Concerto, Boyd Beaver, soloist); then through the sunned gathering of her marjoram and sweet basil from the herb garden, reading of book reviews in the latest Scientific American, into the layering of a lasagna, garlicking of a bread, tearing up of romaine leaves, eventually, oven on, into the mixing of the twilight's whiskey sours against the arrival of her husband, Wendell ("Mucho") Maas from work, she wondered, wondered, shuffling back through a fat deckful of days which seemed (wouldn't she be first to admit it?) more or less identical, or all pointing the same way subtly like a conjurer's deck, any odd one readily clear to a trained eye.”
Uit: The Historical Interpretation of Literature
"To begin with, it will be worth while to say something about the kind of criticism which seems to be furthest removed from this. There is a comparative criticism which tends to be non-historical. The essays of T. S. Eliot, which have had such an immense influence in our time, are, for example, fundamentally non-historical. Eliot sees, or tries to see, the whole of literature, so far as he is acquaninted with it, spread out before him under the aspect of eternity. He then compares the work of different periods and countries, and tries to draw from it general conclusions about what literature out to be. He understands, of course, that our point of view in connection with literature changes, and he has what seems to me a very sound conception of the whole body of writing of the past as something to which new works are continually added, and which is not thereby merely increased in bulk but modified as a whole—so that Sophocles is no longer precisely what he was for Aristotle, or Shakespeare what he was for Ben Jonson or for Dryden or for Dr. Johnson, on account of all the later literature that has intervened between them and us. Yet at every point of this continual accretion, the whole field may be surveyed, as it were, spread out before the critic. The critic tries to see it as God might; he calls the books to a Day of Judgement. And, looking at things in this way, he may arrive at interesting and valuable conclusions which could hardly be reached by approaching them in any other way. Eliot was able to see, for example—what I believe had never been noticed before—that the French Symbolist poetry of the nineteenth century had certain fundamental resemblances to the English poetry of the age of Donne. Another kind of critic would draw certain historical conclusions from these purely esthetic findings, as the Russian D. S. Minsky did; but Eliot does not draw them.
"Another example of this kind of non-historical criticism, in a somewhat different way and on a somewhat different plane, is the work of the late George Saintsbury. Saintsbury was a connoisseur of wines; he wrote an entertaining book on the subject. And his attitude toward literature, too, was that of the connoisseur. He tastes the authors and tells you about the vintages; he distinguishes the qualities of the various wines. His palate was as fine as could be, and he possessed the great qualification that he knew how to take each book on its own terms without expecting it to be some other book and was thus in a positions to appreciate a great variety of kinds of writing. He was a man of strong social prejudices and peculiarly intransigent political views, but, so far as it is humanly possible, he kept them out of his literary criticism. The result is on of the most agreeable and most comprehensive commentaries on literature that have ever been written in English. Most scholars who have read as much as Saintsbury do not have Saintsbury's discriminating taste. Here is a critic who has covered the whole ground like any academic historian, yet whose account of it is not merely a chronology but a record of fastidious enjoyment. Since enjoyment is the only thing he is looking for, he does not need to know the causes of things, and the historical background of literature does not interest him very much.”
Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles --
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.
The shack and a few trees
float in the blowing fog
I pull out your blouse,
warm my cold hands
on your breasts.
you laugh and shudder
peeling garlic by the
hot iron stove.
bring in the axe, the rake,
we'll lean on the wall
against each other
stew simmering on the fire
as it grows dark
Beating asphalt into highway potholes
pickup truck we'd loaded
road repair stock shed & yard
a day so hot the asphalt went in soft.
pipe and steel plate tamper
took turns at by hand
then drive the truck rear wheel
a few times back and forth across the fill--
finish it off with bitchmo around the edge.
the foreman said let's get a drink
& drove through the woods and flower fields
shovels clattering in back
into a black grove by a cliff
a rocked in pool
feeding a fern ravine
tin can to drink
numbing the hand and cramping in the gut
surging through the fingers from below
& dark here--
let's get back to the truck
get back on the job.
Uit: Frühes Versprechen (La Promesse de l'aube, nieuwe Duitse vertaling door Giò Waeckerlin Induni)
Mit dreizehn, glaube ich, habe ich zum ersten Mal meine Berufung geahnt.
Ich besuchte damals die dritte Klasse am Gymnasium von Nizza, und meine Mutter hatte im Hotel Négresco eine der »Vitrinen« auf den Korridoren gemietet, wo sie modische Accessoires ausstellte, die die Luxusgeschäfte ihr in Kommission gaben; sie bekam für jede verkaufte Bluse, für jeden verkauften Gürtel oder Schal zehn Prozent Vermittlungsprovision. Ab und zu nahm sie eine kleine unerlaubte Preiserhöhung vor und steckte die Differenz in die eigene Tasche. Sie lauerte den ganzen Tag auf mögliche Kunden und rauchte nervös unzählige Gauloises, denn unser täglich Brot hing damals von diesem unsicheren Geschäft ab.
Allein, ohne Ehemann, ohne Liebhaber, kämpfte sie schon seit dreißig Jahren mutig, um jeden Monat unser Auskommen zu sichern, um die Butter zu bezahlen, die Schuhe, die Miete, die Kleider, das Steak zum Mittagessen – dieses Steak, das sie jeden Tag fast feierlich auf dem Teller vor mich hinstellte, als sei es der Beweis ihres Sieges über das widrige Geschick. Ich kam aus der Schule und setzte mich zu Tisch. Meine Mutter stand daneben und sah mir beim Essen mit dem zufriedenen Blick einer ihre Jungen säugenden Hündin zu.
Sie weigerte sich, das Steak anzurühren, beteuerte, sie möge nur Gemüse, und Fleisch und Fette seien ihr strikt untersagt. Eines Tages stand ich vom Tisch auf und ging in die Küche ein Glas Wasser trinken. Meine Mutter saß auf einem Schemel; sie hielt die Pfanne auf den Knien, in der mein Steak gebraten worden war. Sie wischte den Pfannenboden sorgfältig mit Brotstücken auf, die sie dann gierig verschlang, und obwohl sie die Pfanne rasch unter der Serviette versteckte, erfasste ich blitzartig die ganze Wahrheit über den wirklichen Grund ihrer vegetarischen Diät.
Ich stand einen Moment versteinert da, betrachtete fassungslos die halb unter der Serviette versteckte Pfanne und das schuldbewusste Lächeln meiner Mutter, dann brach ich in Schluchzen aus und rannte davon. Am Ende der Avenue Shakespeare, wo wir damals wohnten, verlief ein hoher, fast senkrechter Damm die Eisenbahnlinie entlang, und dorthin rannte ich mich verstecken. Ich dachte kurz daran, mich vor den Zug zu werfen und mich so meiner Beschämung und meiner Hilflosigkeit zu entziehen, doch gleich darauf flammte wilde Entschlossenheit in mir auf: Ja, ich würde die Welt wieder in Ordnung bringen und sie eines Tages, gerecht, glücklich und ihrer würdig, meiner Mutter zu Füßen legen. Das Gesicht in den Armen vergraben, überließ ich mich ganz meinem Kummer, doch die Tränen, die so oft meinen Schmerz gestillt hatten, brachten mir diesmal keinen Trost. Ein unerträgliches Gefühl von Entbehrung, Entmännlichung, von Lähmung nahm von mir Besitz; je älter ich wurde, desto mehr wuchs meine Frustration, und mein verschwommenes kindliches Bestreben verblasste nicht etwa, sondern verwandelte sich nach und nach in ein Verlangen, das weder Frau noch Kunst je würden stillen können.“
Uit: The Deportees
“In April 2000, two Nigerian journalists living in Dublin, Abel Ugba and Chinedu Onyejelem, started publishing a multicultural paper called Metro Eireann. I read an article about these men in the Irish Times, and decided that I’d like to meet them. Three or four years into our new national prosperity, I was already reading and hearing elegies to the simpler times, before we became so materialistic — the happy days when more people left Ireland than were born here; when we were afraid to ask anyone what they did for a living, because the answer might be ‘Nothing’; when we sent our pennies and our second-hand clothes to Africa but never saw a flesh-and-blood African. The words ‘racist’ and ‘racism’ were being flung around the place, and the stories were doing the rounds. An African woman got a brand new buggy from the Social Welfare and left it at the bus stop because she couldn’t be bothered carrying it onto the bus, and she knew she could get a new one. A man looked over his garden wall and found a gang of Muslims next door on the patio, slaughtering an Irish sheep. A Polish woman rented a flat and, before the landlord had time to bank the deposit, she’d turned it into a brothel, herself and her seven sisters and their cousin, the pimp. I heard those three, and more, from taxi drivers. I thought I’d like to make up a few of my own.”
Uit: Life Class
„They’d been drawing for over half an hour. There was no sound except for the slurring of pencils on Michelet paper or the barely perceptible squeak of charcoal. At the center of the circle of students, close to the dais, a stove cast a barred red light onto the floor. The smell of burning coke mingled with other smells: sweat, hot cloth, cigar and tobacco smoke. Now and again you could hear the soft pop of lips inhaling and another plume of blue smoke would rise to join the pall that hung over the whole room.
Nobody spoke. You were not allowed to talk in the life class. In the Antiques Room, where they spent the mornings copying from casts of Classical and Renaissance sculpture, talking was permitted, and the students—a few of the women, in particular—chattered nonstop. Here, apart from the naked woman on the dais, the atmosphere was not unlike a men’s club. The women students had their own separate life class somewhere on the lower floor. Even the Slade, scandalously modern in most respects, segregated the sexes when the naked human body was on display.
Paul Tarrant, sitting on the back row, as far away from the stove as he could get, coughed discreetly into his handkerchief. He was still struggling to throw off the bronchitis that had plagued him all winter and the fumes irritated his lungs. He’d finished his drawing, or at least he’d reached the point where he knew that further work would only make matters worse. He leaned back and contemplated the page. Not one of his better efforts.”
Uit: Ein Spiegelbild mit Feuersäule
„Ich fluchte dem Krieg, der da als silberfunkelnder, hundertfach geflügelter und geschwänzter Drache schräg über mir im sonnigen Blau dahinzog, satanisch schön. Aber ich fluchte auch dem Frieden, der uns mit verlogenen Parolen und schmeichlerischen Entwürfen in einen verderblichen Traum gewiegt hatte. Ich fluchte der Glasglocke, in die mich die Liebe der Meinen gesetzt und in der sie mich verpäppelt und mit verzuckerten Illusionen genährt hatte. Diese Glasglocke war jetzt endgültig unter dem Schlag einer entsetzlichen Belehrung zerborsten. Ich sah unter den immer steigenden Erdfontänen, unter den Detonationsflammen und wirbelnden Trümmern die eigene Jugend mit allen ihren verwegenen Glückserwartungen und Ansprüchen in einem Malstrom von Dreck und Feuer vergehen. In mir war Haß, aber Haß nicht nur auf die Mächte der Vernichtung und die verbrecherische Narrheit, die diese Vernichtung auf uns losgelassen, sondern auch auf den Traum von bürgerlicher Sicherheit, in dem ich erzogen worden war, auf diesen Traum voll Hochmut und Selbstgewißheit, der jetzt unter dem Keulenschlag einer brutalen Erniedrigung endgültig in die Brüche ging.”
Zie voor onderstaande schrijvers ook mijn blog van 8 mei 2007.