I read The History of the Bible this weekend and enjoyed it a lot. I have a little collection of books about theology now, not because of any interest in faith but because I think it’s an interesting vein of history and culture. The bible is so often quoted, wittingly or unwittingly, in popular culture and everyday speech. Here are some good excerpts from the book.
The first I’ve included because I like the readings of the Old Testament that give God a personality.
We’ve all seen sporadically employed heroes go home to expensive digs. Jessica Jones lives in Manhattan and, like any noir PI, struggles to get paid. Yet somehow she has an apartment that would cost several thousand a month all to herself. Angel does his unpaid rescue work in Los Angeles and gets an entire hotel for his operation. In the recent Picard show, Raffi complains about being poor but lives in an appealing future rustic home in a scenic park.
What I was seeking by writing first in English and then “translating” into Japanese was no less than the creation of an unadorned “neutral” style that would allow me freer movement. My interest was not in creating a watered-down form of Japanese. I wanted to deploy a type of Japanese as far removed as possible from so-called literary language in order to write in my own natural voice.
— On Translationese, Masatsugu Ono in The Paris Review
Vowels are separated into low, rising, and high categories, which are presumably the only tonal delineations in Igbo. The notable absence of a corresponding “falling” tone, I first thought, creates problems for adapting the script to a language like Yorùbá, where, for example, the ọ̀ in Báyọ̀ carries a “falling” rather than a “low” tone when the sound is properly rendered. But on a second look, I find that what is meant as “rising” here is actually the same as a “mid” tone in Yorùbá.
MK: That brings me to another question about the women in your novels. Something that comes up rather often when talking about your work. I’m thinking of the way that women are depicted, the roles they’re assigned.
It’s common for my female friends to say to me, ‘If you love Haruki Murakami’s work so much, how do you justify his portrayal of women?’ The notion being that there’s something disconcerting about the depiction of women in your stories.
Du Coudray knew many of her students were illiterate, so she created her book in a way that could be understood whether or not you could read. The colorful images depict the mother’s pelvis and some associated soft tissues and the descending infant, presented as if you were looking through the skin and fat and seeing only the necessary bones and reproductive parts. Also illustrated are the midwife’s hands and how they should be positioned.
With the properly cinematic resources of space, time, and mise-en-sc�ne, Gerwig approaches these contradictions as Alcott could not. Intercut with the meeting with Dashwood is a generically romantic resolution to the story - Jo’s dull professor-ex-machina, Friedrich Bhaer (Louis Garrel), is retrieved from the train station on the brink of departure by a whole troop of Marches and March hangers-on in a rom-com race to unite the hetero-couple. However, the images of this resolution do not actually depict a proposal or a wedding.
But, in an odd way, Stephen Joyce is probably one of the last of his kind we’ll see. D.T. Max, the journalist who profiled him, also happens to be David Foster Wallace’s biographer, and in the notes to his biography he writes that “David may have been the last great letter writer in American literature (with the advent of email his correspondence grows terser, less ambitious).” This is a claim that will probably be plausibly made about other writers in that generation or just before.
The experience of reading poetry aloud when you don’t fully understand it is a curious and complicated one. It’s like suddenly discovering that you can play the organ. Rolling swells and peals of sound, powerful rhythms and rich harmonies are at your command; and as you utter them you begin to realise that the sound you’re releasing from the words as you speak is part of the reason they’re there.
I read the Penguin Classics translation of Wasps by Aristophanes the other day. It’s a satirical play about how an older generation of Athenians who fought in the Peloponnesian War were taken in by a pandering demagogue called Cleon. To grasp what’s happening and get the jokes, you have to know a little bit about the context of Athenian politics at the time and how the jury system worked. But all of that is explained in a very quick note at the beginning of the edition.