MORE PRESENTS.

A quick rundown of the LH-related presents unwrapped today:
Travels in Siberia, by Ian Frazier
Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman
The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
Proper English: Myths and Misunderstandings about Language, by Ronald Wardhaugh
The Slang Dictionary; or, The Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and Fast Expressions of High and Low Society by John Camden Hotten (London: John Camden Hotten, 1869) (Google eBook)
My daughter-in-law found the last at a library sale and knew at once I had to have it; it’s worth it just for the list of Very Important New Books at the back. (The blurb for one of them: “One of the cheapest and most amusing books ever published. There are so many curious matters discussed in this volume, that any person who takes it up will not readily lay it down. The introduction is almost entirely devoted to a consideration of Pig-Faced Ladies, and the various stories concerning them.” Italics in the original.)
And my excessively generous younger brother gave me four movies: Wild Grass (Alain Resnais), The Flower of Evil (Claude Chabrol), The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer), and Alexandra (Alexander Sokurov). Not to mention some Tabu Ley Rochereau. I’ll be absorbing all this for a long time… after I finish the blasted editing job I’m in the middle of.

Comments

  1. Life and Fate is excellent. Merry Christmas!

  2. Bob Gillham says:

    Thanks to work, weather, and computer mismatch (Faves did not copy to Chrome on Vista Machine)
    I’ve been away from the ‘hat for a while..What a wonderful Blog, a thing of beauty and a joy forever,
    or “Alright, innit.” as a 15yr old would say. Keep Going and “Happy Holidays” whichever species you celebrate.Bob

  3. Stefan Lewicki says:

    Yes, Life & Fate is magnificent – the equivalent of Tolstoy’s War & Peace for the 20th Century.
    I also got Travels in Siberia – & it’s shaping up well… lots of interesting historical & geographical details I hadn’t picked up from my other reading.
    Enjoy your reading & thanks for the only blog I check everyday!

  4. Yes, Life & Fate is magnificent – the equivalent of Tolstoy’s War & Peace for the 20th Century – or so I hear.
    Merry Christmas!

  5. j. del col says:

    Grossman’s work as a war correspondent is very good, too. See –A Writer at War–. It contains selections and commentary.
    I read Life and Fate when it first came out in the US. Very powerful.

  6. I’m astonished Life & Fate hasn’t been in the legendary LH library for 30 years or so. But, surely, when it comes right down to it, you’ll actually read Жизнь и судьба, not the translation?
    I haven’t read the English version, but I did skim Chandler’s introduction once in a bookstore, and he irked me to no end by boldly admitting that he’d shortened some of the(allegedly) prolix passages in novel, offering the completely insupportable rationalization that if the book had actually gone to press during Grossman’s lifetime, the author would have agreed to such a redaction.

  7. I’m astonished Life & Fate hasn’t been in the legendary LH library for 30 years or so. But, surely, when it comes right down to it, you’ll actually read Жизнь и судьба, not the translation?
    Five thousand books, and there are still major lacunae to be filled. But no, I’m afraid for the moment I’ll read the translation and check it against the original; if I like the novel enough, I may buy a copy in Russian and read it, but at almost 900 pages, I’m going to do it the easy way at first.

  8. “I’m going to do it the easy way at first.”
    Grossman’s not that difficult – if you can read Platonov or Bely in the original, Life and Fate should be a breeze for you.

  9. Yeah, but it’s always a matter of balancing time/energy against the value of the original. Grossman may not be that difficult, but he’s also not the master of prose that Platonov and Bely are; I don’t feel I’m losing as much. And it’s a long, long novel.

  10. Bob Violence says:

    Some may already be aware of this, but a very good one-woman performance of chapter 18 (in French) was filmed by Frederick Wiseman (normally a documentarian) and released on DVD a few years back.

  11. but he’s also not the master of prose that Platonov and Bely are
    Well, at any rate, he’s a very different sort of master of prose–one far removed from modernist linguistic acrobatics and stylistic derring-do.
    Easy to read Grossman may be, but, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to think that writing convincingly in a minimally adorned style is at least as difficult a trick to pull off as the rococo word games of a Bely. What’s striking about Grossman, too, is how effortlessly his style adapts itself to differing tones, from gut-wrenching tragedy to mordant humor (an example of the latter being Zhenya’s attempts early in the novel to secure a прописка in Kuybyshev.) Hopefully at least some of this comes through in translation.

  12. Well, as I say, if I like it enough I’ll read it in Russian afterward; I read War and Peace twice in English before reading it in the original.

  13. The top Google hit for “pig-faced ladies” is an interesting NYT article from 11/29/1874: What are we to say of pig-faced ladies?

  14. Modesto: Even more interestingly, that NY Times filler was reprinted from All The Year Round, Charles Dickens’s weekly literary magazine. Dickens died in 1870, but he left the magazine to his son Charles Jr., who with his sister Mary kept it running until 1895. ATYR serialized novels by Dickens himself, Trollope, Bulwer-Lytton, Mrs. Gaskell, and others.

  15. Right you are — from volume 33, p. 115. From a piece titled “Odd Women” with no author given, that I can find.

  16. Sorry — I’ll try that link again: volume 33, p. 115

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