Entries from February 2011

Great Moments in Publishing

The Girls in Publishing


Categories: Books · Publishing    Tags:

Babe Ruth, 1919

Babe Ruth

Via Shorpy

Categories: Sports    Tags: · · ·

Kundera: Lightness of form

My lifetime ambition has been to unite the utmost seriousness of question with the utmost lightness of form.

Milan Kundera (via theparisreview)

Categories: Writing    Tags: ·

“Madame Bovary” translated by Lydia Davis

Postcards showing Ry, France

Lydia Davis’s new translation of Madame Bovary is terrific. With my klutzy high-school French, I am not qualified to judge the accuracy of the translation (Julian Barnes does that here). All I can say is I enjoyed the book on this rereading much more than I have in the past, when reading it felt like swimming upstream. It may be that I was simply too young for the book on my first, joyless read. This time I loved it.

Davis’s version of the novel feels quite contemporary in style. Of course, part of the credit for that goes to Davis, herself a graceful fiction writer. But the larger point is that, in September 1851 when he sat down to begin writing Madame Bovary, in his second-floor study using a quill pen, Flaubert envisioned something radically new — what we recognize now as the modern realist novel. Like the old joke about the fish who cannot see the water all around him (“What water?”), it is hard for contemporary readers to see what Flaubert is doing in Madame Bovary that is so innovative. As Davis explains in her foreword to the new translation, the novel “is now viewed as the first masterpiece of realist fiction. Yet its radical nature is paradoxically difficult for us to see; its approach is familiar to us for the very reason that Madame Bovary permanently changed the way novels were written thereafter.” Realism — the mimetic, naturalistic depiction of human experience — is the water that all of us, writers and readers, now swim in.

It is too much to say that Flaubert invented realism with Madame Bovary, but he has a pretty good claim as the author who envisioned it most clearly and actually captured it. His intent in writing Bovary, in the words of biographer Frederick Brown, was to “[make] the world materially present through language — [to abolish] the space between words and what they represent.” He wanted to capture life as it is actually experienced, without commentary or embellishment. “No lyricism, no reflections,” Flaubert declared in a letter, “the personality of the author absent.”

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Categories: Book Reviews    Tags: · ·

Back Bay, 1904

Back Bay 1904

Commonwealth Avenue, Back Bay, Boston, ca. 1904. (via)

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Polo Grounds, 1916


Army-Navy game, Polo Grounds, New York, 1916. (via)

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What to Write

“Write about the thing that frightens you most.”

Marsha Norman

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Book Cover of the Day

Benjamin - Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Brilliant cover art for Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Designed by David Pearson for Penguin’s Great Ideas series, vol. 3 (2008). (Via Flickr.) Perfect.

Categories: Books · Design    Tags: ·

JFK, 1960


New York City. October 19, 1960. (via)

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: · ·

1937 All-Stars

1937 AL All-Stars

All-Star Game, July 7, 1937, Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C. Left to right: Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg. (Via. Colorized version here.)

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Hemingway in Paris, 1923

Hemingway by Man Ray 1923

Photo by Man Ray. (Centre Pompidou.)

Categories: Writers    Tags: ·

A painter’s card

Painter's business cards

Letterpress business cards for a painter. Designed by the painter’s brother, James Prunean. Great design. (via)

Categories: Design    Tags: