COLLECTING MANDELSTAM.

It’s very strange: I’ve been reading and memorizing great swatches of Mandelstam (I’m working on “Tristia” now), and just last night I was thinking that perhaps he was the greatest poet of the twentieth century; today I ran across an essay “Collecting Mandelstam” (pdf, Google cache) by R. Eden Martin (in the Caxtonian, November 2006) that makes the same suggestion:

Who was the greatest poet writing in any western language during the 20th Century? Many would answer: Osip Mandelstam…
Russia produced many excellent poets during the past century. Cab drivers in Petersburg regularly quote Pushkin at length. The very best Russian poets of the 20th Century would certainly include Akhmatova, Blok, Mandelstam, Pasternak, and Tsvetaeva—and one could make a case for dozens of others. I believe that many of these Russian poets were greater artists than any poet writing in America at the time, including Frost and Stevens. And some experts in a position to make such judgments believe that Mandelstam was the greatest of them all.

You needn’t agree with such an extravagant claim, however, to enjoy Martin’s essay, which provides a handy summary of the poet’s life and—since he is a book collector—includes photographs of some rare editions and (perhaps my favorite) an enticing one of a complete run of Apollon magazine (“the greatest Russian literary and arts journal of the pre-War era”), 1909-1917, as well as the title page of the August 1910 issue that included Mandelstam’s first published poems. I’ve just sent off for Clarence Brown’s 1978 biography Mandelstam; I’ll have to take Omry Ronen’s widely praised An Аpproach to Mandelstam (Jerusalem, 1983) out of the library, since it doesn’t seem to be available for love or money.
Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of Russian literature, I also ran across a blog I’m surprised I haven’t seen before, Lizok’s Bookshelf, written by Lisa Hayden Espenschade, who says “I’m a writer and Russian tutor/teacher who loves reading fiction, particularly Russian novels,” and has very informative notes on Russian books she’s read or that have won prizes. Definitely worth a bookmark.
Oh, and happy new year! May 2009 be better for all of us.

Comments

  1. May 2009 be better for all of us.
    Hear, hear!
    Happy new year, everybody!

  2. I have no Russian, but I’ve long been dazzled by Mandelstam’s prose in English translation. Is there anything you would recommend to get an idea of the poetry? (Short of learning Russian — I really ought to learn Mandarin first.)

  3. for me it’s TBAMP, i translated two MT’s poems yesterday and today but won’t send it anywhere i guess
    happy new year!

  4. philistine
    smug
    These made such an impression I have added them to my blog.
    All the best to everyone for 2009.

  5. Gleðilegt nýtt ár!
    While I’m posting… am I the only one who’s noticed the travel writing cliché of mentioning cab drivers quoting the classic literature of the place traveled to. I’ve come across it a few times through the years but it first struck me now. Icelandic travel writing used to mention cab drivers quoting the sagas and eddas like all the freaking time. I hope that somewhere out there a brave reporter claims that cab drivers in Providence quote H. P. Lovecraft. Now that would be a treat.

  6. Happy New Year. I’ve never noticed, but then I tend to use Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide. The only place I’ve noticed anyone quoting literature was in Ethiopia where everyone has read The Sign and the Seal and it’s a common topic for small talk.

  7. The very best Russian poets of the 20th Century would certainly include Akhmatova, Blok, Mandelstam, Pasternak, and Tsvetaeva—and one could make a case for dozens of others.
    Pasternak is certainly included, but Hodasevič, for example, needs a case making?

  8. AJP Crown says:

    If it’s a boy Espen Espenschade would be a great name for her next child (just a suggestion).
    Even though you’ve qualified it, I’m shocked, shocked to see you, Language, of all people, stooping to this ‘best poet of the 20th Century’ rubbish. ‘I believe that many of these Russian poets were greater artists than any poet writing in America at the time, including Frost and Stevens. ‘ That’s just the worst kind of chauvinistic nonsense fit only for a sports stadium. Nothing drives me crazier than someone making the simultaneously pompous and ill-informed judgment that X is ‘the best building of the twentieth century’.

  9. i’ve tried to translate of course
    i reacted to the ”, and Tsvetaeva” i guess, and i would include Esenin, Mayakovski that they are of the same caliber
    sure, poetry can’t be graded or compared, especially between the languages, but they are really the best in the Russian poetry along with Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev imo
    if you know the language; if you don’t, then, of course, it’s all ‘mimo’, which is a pity, in a sense
    i would feel the same pity for myself if i haven’t learned English and missed out reading prose or blogs or translations from French :) in English

  10. Hodasevič, for example, needs a case making?
    Khodasevich is a wonderful poet, but I don’t think he’s on the level of the others. Everybody quotes Nabokov calling him “the greatest Russian poet of our time,” but they rarely point out that 1) he was Nabokov’s friend, and 2) the quote comes from an elegiac speech on Khodasevich’s death, which is hardly the occasion for a cold, unbiased assessment. Speaking of which:
    I’m shocked, shocked to see you, Language, of all people, stooping to this ‘best poet of the 20th Century’ rubbish
    Come, come. In the first place, I didn’t call him that, I said “I was thinking that perhaps he was.” In the second place, I’m not capable of cold, unbiased assessment when I’m in love with a poet any more than when I’m in love with a woman. You’re free to disagree about M’s stature, but it’s uncharitable to equate my remark with, say, an ad for a new detergent. And I genuinely can’t think of an English-language poet of the last century that I’d place on the same level as M. or Brodsky (who belongs on that list).

  11. To reply to your comments of 2007-01-16 on my view that Mandelshtam is superior to Mandelstam:
    I don’t think using Chaikovskii, still less Petr the Great, at this late date would be at all a good idea. The point of a transcription, as you and I agreed when talking of Kipling’s and Lawrence’s, is to help the reader. The extra T in Tchaikovsky may help and certainly doesn’t hurt; the missing h in Mandelstam does hurt, though it may be unfortunately true that it’s too late to fix it now.
    As for “traditions of rendering Russian names”, I think it’s easy to see they are a mess. Wikipedia and Elsie agree on Tchaikovsky, but the former gives his given-name and patronymic as Pyotr Ilich, whereas the latter lists Peter Ilich as the preferred form, with no less than 44 Latin-script alternatives for his full name (plus of course the original, plus a Hebrew transcription, an Arabic one, and a Chinese one.)
    On to dynamic translation: I can’t see how, given a word used in two different senses in the same poem (dremuchii in your example), where there is no word or phrase straddling both senses in the target language, can possibly be translated the same way in both instances. This case is only different because one of the senses was apparently invented (on the basis of etymology, or at least etymological suggestion) by the poet.

  12. (Firefox’s form filling botched my name somehow, but the above comment is mine.)

  13. AJP Crown says:

    When I say I’m shocked, shocked I am only joking. I’m not aiming this at you Language, I’ve coincidently come across several best ofs recently and I’m beginning to froth at the mouth about it because I think it is so misplaced.
    Also, it’s not a question of whether Mandelstam or someone else is the one who is the best; it’s the premise that anyone or any one work is the best in any art form (over any extended length of time) that strikes me as shockingly misleading about the nature of art. These things are not goal oriented in that sense. And if X is the greatest poet who is the second-greatest? And what distinguishes her from Z, the third-greatest? As well as being an absurd proposition, it is also so deeply insulting to all the great poets who are thereby put down, ‘Pretty good, Ezra, you just didn’t quite have that extra je ne sais quoi. Sorry, I know you tried your best. Better luck in “Best American Poet Living in a Loony Bin in Italy”, next Thursday week. We think you’ve got a real good shot at that one.’

  14. John Emerson says:

    Musorgsky wrote Tchaikovsky “Czajkowski”, after the anti-Czarist Polish renegade who converted to Islam. But he called Tchaikowsky “Sadik Pasha”, the name Czajkowski adopted in Turkey. Anything good enough for Musorgsky is good enough for me.
    I intensely regret not reading Russian, Mandelstam being among the first of about twenty reasons. As a chauvinist I have been terribly disappointed by English-language poetry in the first half of the Twentieth Century, and am willing to concede that someone I can’t read might be better than any of them. My other nominees for champ would be Rilke and Montale.
    French poetry has always seemed terribly split between wonderful lesser poets and boring and impossible ambitious major poets. “Victor Hugo, alas!” The most major poet I like is Rimbaud, but he’s not exactly a Dante. I like Valery when he’s being less major.

  15. John Emerson says:

    Musorgsky wrote Tchaikovsky “Czajkowski”, after the anti-Czarist Polish renegade who converted to Islam. But he called Tchaikowsky “Sadik Pasha”, the name Czajkowski adopted in Turkey. Anything good enough for Musorgsky is good enough for me.
    I intensely regret not reading Russian, Mandelstam being among the first of about twenty reasons. As a chauvinist I have been terribly disappointed by English-language poetry in the first half of the Twentieth Century, and am willing to concede that someone I can’t read might be better than any of them. My other nominees for champ would be Rilke and Montale.
    French poetry has always seemed terribly split between wonderful lesser poets and boring and impossible ambitious major poets. “Victor Hugo, alas!” The most major poet I like is Rimbaud, but he’s not exactly a Dante. I like Valery when he’s being less major.

  16. John Emerson says:

    Czajkowski remains the standard Polish and German spelling of the Russian composer’s name, or so Google tells me.

  17. John Emerson says:

    Czajkowski remains the standard Polish and German spelling of the Russian composer’s name, or so Google tells me.

  18. John Emerson says:

    Recently English language scholars have switched from Mussorgsky to Musorgsky. When Googling it’s alwasya good idea to try Moussorgski and Moussorgsky too, and maybe Musorgski and Mussorgski.
    Perhaps we should do as the did at Ellis Island, and give all the Russians properly American names and not worry about transliterating their barbarous dialect.

  19. John Emerson says:

    Recently English language scholars have switched from Mussorgsky to Musorgsky. When Googling it’s alwasya good idea to try Moussorgski and Moussorgsky too, and maybe Musorgski and Mussorgski.
    Perhaps we should do as the did at Ellis Island, and give all the Russians properly American names and not worry about transliterating their barbarous dialect.

  20. AJP Crown says:

    I know you, Emerson Pasha, with your chauvinist Minnesotan smooth talk. I’m not saying all poets are created equal and who are we to judge, but if you want to tell me who the champion poet of the 20th Century is, you are going to have to prove it with a points system, criteria and subtotals. Me, I’m going over to the 37th best building in Oslo to read the 37th best book of the 20th century while I sip a glass of the 37th best California red of 2007. Next week I’m up to the thirty-sixes — what a privilege.

  21. AJP Crown says:

    Mouse-orgy.

  22. AJP Crown says:

    Look, maybe I have to use an architecture example. i recently read on the BBC website that the Sydney Opera House is ‘clearly’ the greatest building of the twentieth Century. There was no explanation of the criteria used to make that judgment and no explanation of how they who wrote it managed to avoid the pitfalls like obviously if you take a vote most people are going to vote for Disneyland — especially over a foreign fucking opera house built by a Dane, but anyway — only is Disneyland actually a building? And why should you compare an opera house with a house, plenty of architects would vote for the Villa Savoie or the Villa Mairea. What’s wrong with just saying it’s a great building? Why does it have to BEAT all the other buildings?

  23. AJP Crown says:

    Damn. Sorry to ask, Language, but can you use your Hattic magic? I pressed the wrong button.

  24. Siganus Sutor says:

    Look, maybe I have to use an architecture example. I recently read on the BBC website that the Sydney Opera House is ‘clearly’ the greatest building of the twentieth Century. There was no explanation of the criteria used to make that judgment
    It’s simply due to the engineer who built it.

  25. AJP Crown says:

    Yeah, he was a Dane too as far as I remember…Now, what was his name?

  26. John Emerson says:

    So if I say that Scarlett Johansson is the hottest babe in film, you’re going to get all pissy on me about that too, and ask for objective proof?
    Sorry, dude, you’re not going to get it. That is an intuitive truth. I refute you thus.

  27. John Emerson says:

    So if I say that Scarlett Johansson is the hottest babe in film, you’re going to get all pissy on me about that too, and ask for objective proof?
    Sorry, dude, you’re not going to get it. That is an intuitive truth. I refute you thus.

  28. Siganus Sutor says:

    Something like Œuf, wasn’t it? (Probably just another one of these eggheads.)

  29. AJP Crown says:

    Oeuff.Arab, something like that.
    If you have proof, Emerson, I think you should let us all in on it. Otherwise, I don’t regard Scarlett Johansson as an artwork.

  30. AJP Crown says:

    Oops, that sounds a bit pc. Let’s just say she’s more of a gimmick than an artwork.

  31. John Emerson says:

    Kron, intuitions cannot be communicated, especially not to those of a coarse nature.

  32. John Emerson says:

    Kron, intuitions cannot be communicated, especially not to those of a coarse nature.

  33. AJP Crown says:

    I wouldn’t ask you to communicate your coarser intuitions, but if Scarlett were the hottest babe it implies that either there was a competition for the hottest babe in which Scarlett took part and won, or you have intimate knowledge of every hot babe in film and made a judgment based on that. Evidence will make your claim at least credible. I’m going to need evidence. The same goes for Mandelstam, Rilke and this Walter Mondale guy.

  34. AJP Crown says:

    Interesting that Italo Svevo, Mondale and Primo Levi were all in chemicals.

  35. AJP Crown says:

    By the way, is it true that Reed College has a nuclear reactor that is run by the students? Fun.

  36. John Emerson says:

    Yes, Kron, and when we make our bomb, we will direct it at the coarser-natured persons who do not appreciate sublime faery creatures like Scarlett.
    I suspect that there actually has been a contest naming Scarlett the hottest babe in film, but that’s irrelevant because I already had a direct perception of than. Hotter than Scarlett no other could be imagined. QED.

  37. John Emerson says:

    Yes, Kron, and when we make our bomb, we will direct it at the coarser-natured persons who do not appreciate sublime faery creatures like Scarlett.
    I suspect that there actually has been a contest naming Scarlett the hottest babe in film, but that’s irrelevant because I already had a direct perception of than. Hotter than Scarlett no other could be imagined. QED.

  38. Hattic magic has been worked.
    OK, OK, I spent the morning doing the calculations, and here’s how they came out: Mandelstam, to my satisfaction, did indeed come out on top, with 967 points total. Montale, surprisingly (to me), came in second, with 943; clearly, I need to spend more time reading him. Brodsky, Cavafy, and Pasternak came in at an exciting three-way tie for third with 915 points each (I suppose I could have carried it out to more decimal places to break the tie, but come on, it’s New Year’s Day and I’m lazy).
    Walter Mondale came in 123rd, with 598 points. Not bad for a vice president! Of course, when you remember that Charles G. Dawes wrote “It’s ll in the Game,” maybe it’s not so surprising.

  39. Er, that’s “It’s All in the Game.” I have no idea how the A dropped off. I blame Scarlett Johansson.

  40. Khodasevich is a wonderful poet, but I don’t think he’s on the level of the others. Everybody quotes Nabokov calling him “the greatest Russian poet of our time,” but they rarely point out that 1) he was Nabokov’s friend, and 2) the quote comes from an elegiac speech on Khodasevich’s death, which is hardly the occasion for a cold, unbiased assessment.
    It’s true that that particular quote does come from О Ходасевиче, first published in Современные записки by way of tribute on the poet’s death. On the other hand, Nabokov (Sirin) had already had claimed that in Баллада Hodasevič had attained ‘the limits of poetic skill’ (see here), which, friend or no friend, is a pretty clear comment on the quality of the verse itself – the verse, admittedly, of a single poem.

  41. So if I say that Scarlett Johansson is the hottest babe in film … That is an intuitive truth. I refute you thus.
    Since I understood this post better than I did Hat’s poet-scoring, I’ll applaud you for saying what I was thinking, John. Not about Scarlett of course, who could never hold a candle to Audrey Hepburn or the divine Waheeda Rehman, but about the intuitive nature of subjective judgements. Douglas Adam s wrote a nice bit about the relationship between Truth and Beauty in HHGTTG that seems appropriate here.

  42. “greatest” “best of”
    This reminds me of an adjective writing exercise for English 101 students. The example is “a nice car”. The text points out that “nice” is not a very exact adjective and does not permit the reader to actually understand anything about the car or visualize the car in question. The exercise is to replace the word “nice” with adjectives that communicate more information. Example: “a red four-door car with green leather upholstery”. Now you can see the car.
    If you buy a “Best of the Grateful Dead” album (or any other “best of” musical recording), you will get their most commercially successful or studio music, but not the improvisational or experimental work, and not the live concert recordings that hard-core fans prefer. The “best of” categorization is most useful for introducing new listeners to the sound. Probably also serves as nostalgia for confirmed deadheads.
    Calling something “the greatest” also doesn’t take taste or genre into account. If you name a country western artist as “the greatest” what about the folks who just don’t *like* country? There must be people who don’t like poetry or nonfiction or who have squandered their youths collecting sagas.

  43. Since I understood this post better than I did Hat’s poet-scoring
    I used the generally accepted criteria: sublimity, range, speed, accuracy, performance, choreography, and interpretation, with unusual rhymes as the tie-breaker.

  44. John Emerson says:

    I have read dozens of Rolling Stone’s 50 Bests and 100 Bests and perfectly understand that it’s a low-intensity parlor game. You get to say things like “How could Alice Cooper be ranked ahead of Styx”, for example. It’s like arguing about which of two players who played 25 years apart was the better: Jim Brown or Eric Dickerson?
    The correct response to intuitive truths is an intuitive counter truth: “Natalie Portmann is the hottest babe in film! I refute you thus
    Both are born atheists, by the way. Uma Thurman is a born Buddhist, by contrast, and thus less hott.

  45. John Emerson says:

    I have read dozens of Rolling Stone’s 50 Bests and 100 Bests and perfectly understand that it’s a low-intensity parlor game. You get to say things like “How could Alice Cooper be ranked ahead of Styx”, for example. It’s like arguing about which of two players who played 25 years apart was the better: Jim Brown or Eric Dickerson?
    The correct response to intuitive truths is an intuitive counter truth: “Natalie Portmann is the hottest babe in film! I refute you thus
    Both are born atheists, by the way. Uma Thurman is a born Buddhist, by contrast, and thus less hott.

  46. I like Valery when he’s being less major.
    Some of the smaller rather Mallarméan pieces are indeed superb. “La dormeuse”, “La fileuse”, “L’abeille”, “La naissance de Vénus”… he is perhaps closest to immortality when he strives for it least. Aren’t we all?
    Scarlett Johansson the “hottest babe” in film? I have no opinion because I cannot recall which one she is. I had thought Meg Ryan, as she appears in In the Cut. But the hottest babe in poesy is the Parque.
    Happy new year to everyone.

  47. John Emerson says:

    I disagree with hat’s criteria. You have to have kick. NA poets lite for recovering literati must be disqualified.

  48. John Emerson says:

    I disagree with hat’s criteria. You have to have kick. NA poets lite for recovering literati must be disqualified.

  49. reading and memorizing
    I was thinking I don’t know anyone who actually memorizes poetry, then I recalled an old interview with embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich they played on NPR last night where he is reciting huge swaths of Kipling’s If.

  50. AJP Crown says:

    I cannot recall which one she is
    She’s the one with blonde hair.

  51. AJP Crown says:

    Oh no wait, sorry. That’s Renée Zellwegger.

  52. Richard Gere is easily the hottest thing in film. Before he became Buddhist he was just another pretty face, an irresponsible Bad Boy. Becoming Buddhist gave him depth of character.

  53. I was thinking I don’t know anyone who actually memorizes poetry
    I once committed roughly 2/3 of The Ancient Mariner to memory simply as a memory exercise, but got bored with the project and didn’t bother memorising the rest. These days, it’s struggle to memorise a couplet.

  54. She’s the one with blonde hair.
    Third from the left? Yeah, now I remember.
    Richard Gere is easily the hottest thing in film.
    Bah. No way. Call that a Buddhist?

  55. John Emerson says:

    Gere is a pig with a gerbil up his butt.
    See how easy it is? It’s self-evident, intuitive truths all the way down.
    Vachel Lindsay was the greatest English-language poet of the twentieth century.
    I could do this for hours.

  56. John Emerson says:

    Gere is a pig with a gerbil up his butt.
    See how easy it is? It’s self-evident, intuitive truths all the way down.
    Vachel Lindsay was the greatest English-language poet of the twentieth century.
    I could do this for hours.

  57. “Gere is a pig with a gerbil up his butt.”
    Thanks, John. I’ve been looking for the most comprehensively accurate summation of that twit for years, and now I have it. What a fantastic New Year’s present.

  58. Uma Thurman couldn’t be hot even if she wasn’t a born Buddhist. She looks like a horse.

  59. John Emerson says:

    Horses aren’t hot?

  60. John Emerson says:

    Horses aren’t hot?

  61. You guys are just jealous of Gere. And yes I did take Harrison Ford into account. But your hotties look so young and so vacuous. Are those the qualities LH readers consider necessary for hotness? I would have expected something with, well, a little more nuance.

  62. John Emerson says:

    We can’t argue with our direct intuitions of truth, Nijma.

  63. John Emerson says:

    We can’t argue with our direct intuitions of truth, Nijma.

  64. There are those who consider Mel Gibson to be God’s Gift To Women, but I just can’t see it.

  65. What about someone like Fay Dunaway? I always thought she was attractive but I’m not a good judge of women.

  66. John Emerson says:

    Faye Dunaway would be a good candidate in some other category, but she’s older than me.

  67. John Emerson says:

    Faye Dunaway would be a good candidate in some other category, but she’s older than me.

  68. I was thinking more of Chinatown, she would have been 32, but I thought you were even older than Hat. Maybe my intuition truth detector is stuck in an older age group. Clark Gable would do just fine, and the last time I checked he was quite dead.

  69. John Emerson says:

    At her best Faye certainly surpassed Johansson.
    I am older than Hat, but Faye was born in 1942.

  70. John Emerson says:

    At her best Faye certainly surpassed Johansson.
    I am older than Hat, but Faye was born in 1942.

  71. Candice Bergen–my friend of the Thai stavkirke photos said (in her Murphy Brown days)she’s attractive not because of her appearance but because of who she is.
    Back in my 30′s I was once compared to Lauren Bacall, but wasn’t sure if that was a compliment. I’m Kron’s age, which would be, um, 39. Roughly.

  72. John Emerson says:

    Another Scandinavian, by the way, and the sister of Charie McCarthy. I mix her up with Jane Fonda.

  73. John Emerson says:

    Another Scandinavian, by the way, and the sister of Charie McCarthy. I mix her up with Jane Fonda.

  74. Still amazing in Boston Legal. And Alan Shore, another hottie, but James Spader who plays him, not so much. Must be the camera.

  75. John Emerson says:

    Jessica Lange, not only Scandinavian but Finnish.

  76. John Emerson says:

    Jessica Lange, not only Scandinavian but Finnish.

  77. John Emerson says:

    The litterateurs have fled in horror, I see.

  78. John Emerson says:

    The litterateurs have fled in horror, I see.

  79. Back in my 30′s I was once compared to Lauren Bacall, but wasn’t sure if that was a compliment.
    I cannot imagine how it could possibly not have been a compliment.

  80. Fled, but maybe not in horror. Could be their own intuitive truth detectors went off and they discovered they had something better to do for the moment.
    How did we get this far into the weeds this time? Oh, yes, the intuitive criteria for the greatness of a Russian author. I don’t usually like poetry, but someone, I think bulbul, posted the name of poet from the eastern block (Hungary?)in passing, I don’t remember her name, but I googled it and found a bunch of excerpts in translation that just blew me away. There was also a reference to someone she apparently translated that didn’t come through the machine translation coherently.

  81. I cannot imagine how it could possibly not have been a compliment.
    If it referred to attractiveness, probably, but a shallow compliment. It was a pickup line and I considered the person delivering to be rather unsavory. Most people don’t have anything to do with whether or not they’re born attractive. Also there’s the story that her thing with Sinatra was not *after* Bogie’s death–I was married at the time and found the parallel uncomfortable.

  82. John Emerson says:

    Bacall was also smart and independent, right? I’d say compliment.
    Sacraments are valid even if the priest is sinful, you know.

  83. John Emerson says:

    Bacall was also smart and independent, right? I’d say compliment.
    Sacraments are valid even if the priest is sinful, you know.

  84. John Emerson says:

    I was just illustrating my theory of intuitive knowledge of truth with a self-evidently true example. But Kruunu is a perverse contrarian.

  85. John Emerson says:

    I was just illustrating my theory of intuitive knowledge of truth with a self-evidently true example. But Kruunu is a perverse contrarian.

  86. I do indeed memorize poetry, or at least verse, though it’s not a breeze as it was 30 years ago. My live performances of “The Rhyme of the Nancy Belle” and “Casey At The Bat” (modified through the oral tradition) have been commended by the discerning and applauded by the multitude.

  87. sacraments…priests…
    If you belong to a tradition that follows that… marriage and a marriage license are probably not the same thing. If someone tries to pick you up without even bothering to find out enough about you to know whether you’re married..well, it creeped me out at the time. I was sitting in the restaurant section away from the bar, and here that’s pretty much a signal you want privacy, not conversation. These days I’m probably more tolerant both of unsavory strangers and perverse contrarians.

  88. AJP Crown says:

    This is hardly a controversial view, but my admiration of film stars goes in inverse proportion to the quantity of facial surgery — except for Dustin Hoffman’s eye job that I noticed last night (he will always be perfect) — but poor Robert Redford, Fay Dunaway, the now hideous Bacall, what were they hoping would come out of such a radical transformation? I once sat at the next table to Robert Redford at a restaurant in the East Sixties, he was all tweed and bushy-eyebrows, and now look at him. Clint Eastwood is my ideal man; he keeps lots of animals, including a parrot.

  89. AJP Crown says:

    Emerson, I’ve nothing against intuitive enjoyment, but I can’t see what that’s got to do with Language’s list of who’s got the best natural rhythm and parking, or whatever it is that makes the world’s best poet.

  90. AJP Crown says:

    Here, if you want to make an art-related best-of list, how about best firework displays of the New Year?

  91. AJP Crown says:

    he keeps lots of animals, including a parrot
    He seems a nice man, with green-leather upholstery, so I’m sure he keeps at least two.

  92. John Emerson says:

    Possibly Johansson rejected Kruunu is a beastly fashion at some point. Possibly the beastliest rejection of all time.

  93. John Emerson says:

    Possibly Johansson rejected Kruunu is a beastly fashion at some point. Possibly the beastliest rejection of all time.

  94. AJP Crown says:

    I’m not even that sure what she looks like, except she may well be the blonde one. But, as you say, she may well have have rejected me, it’s a long list — although my being-rejected days were probably over when she was about five-years-old (that’s if she is the blonde one).

  95. Parking! I knew I forgot something! Mandelstam was a lousy parker. It’s true he rarely got a chance to drive, being a disfavored Soviet citizen during hard times, but rules are rules. I’ll have to dock him a few points. And this will definitely move Wallace Stevens up a few notches.

  96. AJP Crown says:

    No, sorry, I forgot. The blonde one is of course Renée Wellzigger.
    Renée has a parent who’s flight was once diverted to Tromsø, consequently she is always in the news here as, with Thor Heyerdahl, the Famous Norwegian.

  97. AJP Crown says:

    Great parallel parker, Wallace Stevens. I’ve heard Auden was good at tight spots, too.

  98. AJP Poetry-Critic says:

    If you think about it, parking is a dead giveaway. Eliot, despite the Latin and the phony British accent could only ever manage to park diagonally because of his small-town Missourian roots. whereas Auden, despite living in the East Village and wearing bedroom slippers on the subway was, by virtue of his English birth, a superb parallel parker.

  99. AJP Self-Critic says:

    And by ‘who’s’ I meant, of course, ‘hooze’.

  100. John Emerson says:

    Well, Johansson is apparently a touchy issue around here. In the future I will use a different illustration of the direct perception of intuitive truth. But frankly, I’ve always though that Moore’s “This is my hand…. and this is my other hand” was a little boring.

  101. John Emerson says:

    Well, Johansson is apparently a touchy issue around here. In the future I will use a different illustration of the direct perception of intuitive truth. But frankly, I’ve always though that Moore’s “This is my hand…. and this is my other hand” was a little boring.

  102. AJP Crown says:

    Ah, the Ealing comedies. You are, of course, referring to Michael Moore’s ‘Proof of an External World’, in which the fat scamp tries to get an interview with Wittgenstein, only to be thwarted by his gentleman’s gentleman, played by Bertrand Russell. Hilarious!

  103. John Emerson says:

    I believe that it was Hitler’s classmate Ludwig Wittgenstein threatening Karl Popper with a poker, but otherwise your version is correct.

  104. John Emerson says:

    I believe that it was Hitler’s classmate Ludwig Wittgenstein threatening Karl Popper with a poker, but otherwise your version is correct.

  105. Poetry Actuary says:

    St. Louis isn’t really a small town.
    If Wallace Stevens were a poor parker, would his insurance premiums have gone up?

  106. AJP Crown says:

    The other famous Moore from my childhood is Dr Barbara Moore, a lady vegetarian and reputed breatharian, who walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End (in the much easier downhill direction from Scotland to Cornwall) in 1960-ish.

  107. AJP Crown says:

    Quite right. I think his mother owned a department store, or something like that. Nothing that would help you learn to park, at any rate. Whereas my Australian cousins could drive trucks when they were eight.

  108. my current faves are Emma Thompson and Kate Blanchett, very grand ladies
    i don’t have male film idols for now it seems, how strange

  109. Excellent fireworks, Kron. I had no idea that could be done with fire–the colors especially. I’ve been told the Brits always go to the top of a hill on New Year’s Eve, but it looks like there are a few of them that don’t.
    Why don’t guys ever compliment parking skills as a pickup line?

  110. Moore’s “This is my hand…. and this is my other hand” was a little boring.
    No, from the context this is clearly not about Michael Moore. It’s Demi Moore. And I can’t see why showing her hands like that should be the least bit boring. What will she ”do” with them, for heaven’s sake?
    Boxing, yes; boring, no.

  111. John Emerson says:

    Demi Moore has gone from jailbait to cougar in my lifetime, without my ever having seen her in a film.
    I get all my film info from my sister’s movie mags.

  112. John Emerson says:

    Demi Moore has gone from jailbait to cougar in my lifetime, without my ever having seen her in a film.
    I get all my film info from my sister’s movie mags.

  113. i don’t have male film idols for now
    It’s because the guys don’t have hair anymore. They have these military buzz cuts. It’s one thing to say war is a necessary evil, which not everyone would agree with, but the buzz cut and camo thing just glamorizes war. How can you cuddle a porcupine.

  114. AJP Crown says:

    the colors especially
    Yes, I liked the way they only used red and white, no yellow or blue. And nice green-leather upholstery effects off the wheel.

  115. marie-lucie says:

    It’s because the guys don’t have hair anymore. They have these military buzz cuts.
    Not only that, but they don’t have hair anywhere. A big macho guy like the one playing Beowulf, no hair at all on him!

  116. John Emerson says:

    The real Beowulf was pretty smelly too, though that’s hard to convey in film.

  117. John Emerson says:

    The real Beowulf was pretty smelly too, though that’s hard to convey in film.

  118. AJP Crown says:

    At one time during my childhood I remember hearing about a technological advance in filmmaking called Aromarama, but I don’t see it on google.

  119. AJP Crown says:

    And I think Monty Python could have conveyed it quite successfully.

  120. AJP Crown says:

    Wow, well done, thanks. Have you smelt it, MMcM?

  121. …a technological advance in filmmaking called Aromarama
    You may be thinking of the Italian minimalist linguistic film noir Amara Mora.

  122. AJP Crown says:

    Thanks, of course, Amara Mora, that was it. I was really into minimalist linguistic films of all nationalities, but then along came The Flintstones.

  123. Have you smelt it?
    No, I’m too young. I actually just walked over and looked it up in Katz, which also gives some history, most of which I see is in the Wikipedia page for its contemporary Smell-O-Vision.
    The idea was revived with the cheapo Odorama for Polyester, for which I’m the right age. Since this is the “greatest” thread, I’ll mention that John Waters once said that the greatest film of all time is Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.
    The greatest artistic review of all time was by Abraham Lincoln.

  124. The real Beowulf was pretty smelly

    What??!? The Vikings were well known for their grooming. Foreign women were always eager to meet them, as they carried little combs around with them–they sold a lot of combs in Ireland. And they were roundly denounced by European clergy for having enough hair to cover their necks.

    The Jorvik Viking Center in York pipes “medieval” smells into their exhibition.

  125. AJP Crown says:

    MMcM:The greatest artistic review of all time was by Abraham Lincoln.
    If I click your link and then search for Abraham Lincoln I get one hit, and although that seems to be in the index I can’t find anything more. Please help, (may I call you M?).

  126. AJP Crown says:

    MMcM, are you related to IMDb?
    I like the title and the list of IMDb’s kewords associated with Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!:
    Stabbed In Stomach
    Strong Man
    Train
    Hit By Car
    Knife In Back
    Karate
    Chicken Race
    Broken Back
    Swimming
    Car Race
    Shotgun
    Knife Throwing
    Violence
    Buxom
    Desert
    Erotica
    Kidnapping
    Wheelchair
    Murder
    Black Comedy
    Catfight
    Gigantic Breasts
    Go Go Dancer
    Large Breasts
    Lesbian Gang
    Lesbian
    Cult Favorite
    B Movie
    Grindhouse
    Psychotronic
    Female Killer
    Independent Film

  127. David Marjanović says:

    Czajkowski remains the standard Polish and German spelling of the Russian composer’s name, or so Google tells me.

    Polish, yes. German? Never. Tschaikowsky is the by far most common (…and ugliest…) version.

  128. A re-Google tells me that the Czajkowskis I found on the German pages were all Poles, not Russian composers.

  129. A re-Google tells me that the Czajkowskis I found on the German pages were all Poles, not Russian composers.

  130. German wikipedia calls him Tschaikowski
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pjotr_Iljitsch_Tschaikowski

  131. So it does (here‘s the direct link), but if you look at the “Literatur (Auswahl)” section at the bottom, you’ll find that almost all the books mentioned spell his name with -y (e.g. Constantin Floros: Peter Tschaikowsky, Iwan Knorr: Peter Tschaikowsky), and a caption in the article itself says “Portrait von 1888 für Wilhelmine Jauch, verheiratet mit Theodor Avé-Lallemant, dem Tschaikowsky die 5. Sinfonie e-Moll widmete.” Furthermore, if you do a Google Advanced Search limiting the results to German, there are five times as many for -y as for -i.
    And looking at the Wikipedia discussion page I see this bothers many German Wikipedia users (“Alle Quellen schreiben den Namen mit y am Ende, warum kann man das nicht beibehalten”; “bei Google ist er nur in der y-Schreibweise zu finden”). Apparently some German Wikipedian with clout likes the -i spelling.

  132. Just to say, thanks for the enthusiasm re Russian poets right at the top. Just beginning to xeplore them in the original. In fact have a Tsvetaeva query. I am not too fond of controversy about minutiae and mistaking the frame for the picture, but your are all great guys and it was your cocktail party I wandered into, anyway, so thanks, and far be it from me to…

    PS someone even gave me a drink on the way out!

  133. O dear, I did not reckon with moderation. Am I not moderate enough on my own! I’m not giving that drink back!

  134. So now that you’ve been moderated (it wasn’t that painful, was it?), what was your query?

  135. Crown: At the moment, the best building of the 19th and 20th centuries, in my view, is this one, for it is keeping the weather off me. (It was built in 1873 and renovated in 1996; the black facade is not original, but it is period.)

  136. Hey, you’re right around the corner from the Marble Cemetery! I wish I’d been able to live somewhere in the Village/Chinatown nexus, aka the beating heart of the city; it was always Washington Heights or Jamaica or Astoria or someplace like that where nobody wanted to visit.

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