2015年1月23日 星期五

Oscar Wilde and the Age of the Modern Celebrity in Washington

Oscar Wilde and the Age of the Modern Celebrity in Washington
It turns out Oscar Wilde and Kim Kardashian could have something in common.By Bethanne Patrick
Oscar Wilde, left, in a portrait taken on his US tour. The Arlington Hotel, right, where Oscar Wilde had an awkward encounter with novelist Henry James. Photograph of Wilde courtesy of the Library of Congress; Arlington Hotel courtesy of John Deferrari.
Comments (2) | Published January 23, 2015
Did being famous for being famous—credited to reality stars like Kim Kardashian—actually start in Washington?
On January 24, 1882, at the Arlington Hotel on DC’s Vermont Avenue, an uncomfortable meeting took place between British aesthete Oscar Wilde and novelist Henry James.At the time, Wilde—who had yet to write anything of note—was drawing huge crowds to his lectures on art, and in society he was cutting a lascivious figure in tight velvet coats and lavender gloves. Author David Friedman, who tells the tale in his new book, Wilde in America, says James and his friends disapproved of Wilde. Clover Adams, a Washington socialite, referred to Wilde as a “noodle”—a sly knock on his masculinity. Friedman suspects James went to the Arlington Hotel anyway because “he knew this was a dividing line between the past, when you became famous for what you did, and the new age, in which you could be famous just for existing.” James’s visit, Friedman speculates, was a genuflection to this new mode of celebrity.
It seems a kind of historical revisionism to link Wilde with the likes of the Kardashians, but the hallmarks of his approach are certainly still visible. Wilde cozied up to the right sort of people, only to create a commotion—Friedman compares Wilde’s lectures to comedianRussell Brand’s 2013 appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when he ripped his interviewers for their shallow questions. Lady Gaga or Ellen DeGeneres would recognize in Adams’s nervousness about Wilde the power of forcing people to face their prejudices.
What Oscar Wilde had that today’s “famous for nothing” may lack is an endgame. After his successful US launch, Wilde leveraged the attention into an enduring literary career as the author of The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the funniest plays in English. Kim Kardashian’s endgame, by contrast, is already—so to speak—behind her.

拜倫; True Romance by Sadie Stein

《含淚的微笑》與《遠方》是許達然前期散文的代表作,抒情意味濃厚,在玄想中帶有 ...
Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear.
Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto IV (1818), Stanza 109.
以前讀 Hayek on Hayek 一書,
很羨慕他夫妻申請到獎助金,沿著Childe Harold 的路線壯遊!

True Romance

January 22, 2015 | by 
Byron, meditating on mortality, no doubt.
’Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
     Since others it has ceased to move:
Yet, though I cannot be beloved,
               Still let me love!
My days are in the yellow leaf;
     The flowers and fruits of Love are gone;
The worm—the canker, and the grief
               Are mine alone!
So begins one of Byron’s last poems. Is it an ode to the Greek youth he loved? A general meditation on mortality? Choose your theory. The date, at least, we can estimate with a fair degree of accuracy. In the 1825 Narrative of Lord Byron’s Last Journey to Greece, his friend, Count Gamba, related of the occasion:
This morning Lord Byron came from his bedroom into the apartment where Colonel Stanhope and some friends were assembled, and said with a smile—“You were complaining, the other day, that I never write any poetry now:—this is my birthday, and I have just finished something, which, I think, is better than what I usually write.” He then produced these noble and affecting verses, which were afterwards found written in his journals, with only the following introduction: “Jan. 22; on this day I complete my 36th year.”
The notorious poet would die in April of the same year, 1824, in Missolonghi. The prophetic nature of the poem may have been because of a new awareness of death; Byron’s friend Shelley had died in 1822, his daughter Allegra a year later. After years of hedonism, Byron was facing the realities of violence. Then, too, the baron lived hard, consuming alcohol with legendary intemperance. Although he would ultimately die of a fever, he’s believed to have suffered a small stroke shortly beforehand. 
Yesterday, a friend and I were discussing how inured we—the global “we”—are to shock. Is there anything that could shock you today? We wondered. Has there been anything? More often than not revelations provoke a sense of sadness, or maybe disappointment, but even then it doesn’t feel wholly unexpected. On those few occasions I’ve felt a momentary pang, I chided myself for my naïveté. (The end of my own innocence was marked by the charges against my beloved Frugal Gourmet. I’d always dreamed of going on his children’s Christmas specials.) Can you imagine enjoying shock? 
To this day, people speak with relish of Byron’s scandals, his sexual liaisons and illegitimate children, his beauty, and his debauchery. I’ve heard him described as one of the first modern celebrities—at least, in terms of calculated image control. Of course, Byron was a nobleman, and so well-placed to scandalize polite society. But at the end of the day, it truly was his verse that caused such a sensation. Even in our jaded times, a rich man being accused of incest and driving a society matron to a suicide attempt would make Page Six. But say that guy were a poet—would his work then start selling? Would it be read with scandalized glee and prompt a thousand admirers and imitators? That, at least, might be genuinely shocking.
Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review and the Daily’s correspondent.

2015年1月22日 星期四

The top 10 novels about lost friendships


The top 10 novels about lost friendships

From JD Salinger to Jonathan Coe, novelist Chris Killen lists the favourite books he’s stuck by while failing to keep up with his real-life connections

Read the Guardian’s review of In Real Life by Chris Killen
 Heading in different directions … friends on a cloudy beach Photograph: Cindy Prins/Getty Images/Flickr RM
Ian, one of the protagonists of my novel In Real Life, is just as useless a friend as I always seem to end up being. Depressed, unemployed and attempting to avoid the internet, he carries around a large brown envelope, stuffed full of unanswered letters from his friend Andrew in Japan, intending to reply just “as soon as something good happens” to him.
And in the meantime, he merely transports these letters from rented room to rented room, re-reading them for comfort, in exactly the same way I might carry around and re-read any one of the following 10 novels, instead of catching up with my own neglected friendships.

1. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

Berie and Sils meet first as teenagers in the 70s. They become fast, intense friends while working at a tacky amusement park called Storyland, and then again, years later, at a high school reunion. Like all Lorrie Moore’s work, this novel is elegant, sad and, best of all, incredibly, dazzlingly, pirouetting-ly witty.

2. An Unfortunate Woman by Richard Brautigan

This posthumously published novel-autobiographical-notebook-thing defies straightforward categorisation, but it is gentle, bittersweet, bleakly humorous, and very moving. It reads as a meandering conversation between author, reader, and – somewhat obliquely – two female friends of Brautigan’s, one who committed suicide and the other who died of cancer; both of whom he misses deeply.

3. A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

Beautifully written and quietly playful in its mixture of lies, truth and shifting, dreamlike perspectives, the unnamed narrator of A Sport and a Pastime chronicles, among other things, his short and intense friendship with a young American expat during an endless summer in France.

4. The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe

House of Sleep spans a number of years in the lives of a set of friends-cum-acquaintances who meet first at university, and then reappear unexpectedly in each others’ lives, years down the line. And running through it all, Sarah and Robert’s almost-romance is especially touching and bittersweet. Intricately constructed and gently funny, it’s written with a real compassion for its characters.

5. Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie

Charles spends his days drifting and moping and remembering small moments of tenderness he once shared with Laura. Filled with tiny exciting details, and all the while effortlessly funny, this novel brings Charles and Laura’s lost friendship back to life with infectious warmth and humour.

6. Naïve. Super by Erlend Loe

The narrator of Erlend Loe’s novel is, like my character Ian, a directionless, displaced child-man who doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with himself. And one of the few things he does do is keep a fragile, long-distance relationship with a meteorologist friend alive via fax machine.

7. Travelling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker

Poor old Paul Chowder. Over the course of The Anthologist and this, its sequel, I’ve kind of come to regard the gentle, hapless poet-narrator of these novels as a personal friend due to the sheer warmth and confessional intimacy with which he addresses me. And in this novel, Paul spends the majority of his time missing and yearning for his friend (and ex) Roz.

8. How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

Sheila and Margaux’s friendship becomes so intense it begins to buckle beneath the strain, turning the two BFFs (for a while at least) into enemies in this funny, wry and searingly honest portrait of a young woman making mistakes – and writing excellent, witty emails.

9. Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates

This is a ruthless, kaleidoscopic examination of failed dreams, brimming with excruciating moments of unflinching honesty. (Sounds like fun, right? Honestly, it actually is, in a really uncomfortable comedy-of-embarrassment way.) And in Michael and Tom’s friendship especially, what begins as good-natured rivalry ends up as something far more sour and uncomfortable .

10. Seymour: An Introduction by JD Salinger

I’m sure I read somewhere that Salinger stopped publishing because he didn’t want to put his most-loved characters, the Glass family, under the scrutiny of readers any more. And even if it turns out that that isn’t quite true, its still abundantly clear from this strange, lovely, touching and weird novel (OK, technically it’s a novella, but come on) that Salinger loves, misses and mourns for his friend Seymour every bit as much as Buddy, the book’s narrator and Seymour’s younger brother.
 In Real Life is published by Canongate priced £12.99. Buy it from the Guardian bookshop for £10.39

2015年1月19日 星期一

The Sleeper BY EDGAR ALLAN POE/an illustration by Rossetti

The Sleeper

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!—and lo! where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

Oh, lady bright! can it be right—
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop—
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully—so fearfully—
Above the closed and fringéd lid
’Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold—
Some vault that oft hath flung its black
And wingéd pannels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o’er the crested palls
Of her grand family funerals—

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portals she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone—
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within.

Source: The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (1946)

Edgar Allan Poe was born ‪#‎onthisday‬ in 1809. Here's an illustration by Rossetti of his poem The Sleeper http://ow.ly/HbprG
The Sleeper, illustration to the poem by Edgar Alan Poe; young girl with long, unloosened hair sleeps in the right corner of a window-seat, leaning her head against the wall, the window is open behind her, with shadowy figures peering in at her and behind them a city. c.1846-7 Pen and black ink, with pink wash

Jeanette Winterson on the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy – of course it's political

Jeanette Winterson on the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy – of course it's political

Duffy’s 1999 collection The World’s Wife gives the women behind the scenes – from Mrs Midas to Queen Kong – a glorious and powerful voice. She is a poet of vast imagination
Carol Ann Duffy
 Rhyme-rich … Carol Ann Duffy Photograph: Alan Mccredie/Writer Pictures
Poetry is pleasure.
Sometimes people say to me, “why should I read a poem?” There are plenty of answers, from the profound – a poem is such an ancient means of communication that it feels like an evolutionary necessity – to the practical; a poem is like a shot of espresso – the fastest way to get a hit of mental and spiritual energy.
We could talk about poetry as a rope in a storm. Poetry as one continuous mantra of mental health. Poetry as the world’s biggest, longest-running workshop on how to love. Poetry as a conversation across time. Poetry as the acid-scrub of cliche.
We could say that the poem is a lie detector. That the poem is a way of thinking without losing the feeling. That a poem is a way of feeling without being too overwhelmed by feeling to think straight. That the poem is “the best words in the best order” (Coleridge). That the poem “keeps the heart awake to truth and beauty” (Coleridge again – who can resist those Romantics?). That the poem is an intervention: “The capacity to make change in existing conditions” (Muriel Rukeyser). That poetry, said Seamus Heaney, is “strong enough to help”.
And pleasure.
Carol Ann Duffy has often spoken about poetry as an everyday event and not as a special occasion. She wants us to enjoy poetry, to have as much as we like, to be able to help ourselves to a good, fresh supply, to let poetry be as daily as talking – because poetry is talking. Words begin in the mouth before they hit the page. Speech is older than writing, and poetry is as old as speech. Poems are best spoken to get the full weight and taste of the words and the run of the lines. Difficult poems become easier when spoken.
Just as the body is shaped for movement, the mind is shaped for poetry.
Rhythm and rhyme aid recall. Poems are always rhythmic but not always rhyming. In the same way that melody became rather suspect in 20th-century classical music – atonal fractures being the mark of seriousness – so modernism rebranded rhyme as pastoral, lovesick, feminine, superficial. Fine for kids and tea towels; not fine for the muscular combative voice of the urban poet.
It has taken a long time for rhyme to return to favour. Rap and the rise of performance poetry have played a part in that return.
As a powerful modern voice, Duffy has been unafraid to use rhyme from the beginning. In her TS Eliot prizewinning collection, Rapture, poem after poem deployed rhyme with accurate beauty.
Her poetry is a practical proof of rhyme as expressive, flexible, purposefully baited. Dangle a rhyme at the end of a line and the mind-fish bites. Not only end-rhymes, but off-rhymes, hidden rhymes, half-rhymes, ghost rhymes, deliberate near-misses that hit the mark:
I was wind, I was gas
I was all hot air, trailed
Clouds for hair.
I scrawled my name with a hurricane, When out of the blue
Roared a fighter plane. (“Thetis”)
The poems in The World’s Wife – about women behind the scenes, women behind the throne, women behind history – are rhyme-rich, though not always obviously so:
I flew in my chains over the wood where
we’d buried
the doll. I know it was me who was there.
I know I carried the spade. I know I was
covered in mud.
But I cannot remember how or when or
precisely where.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis
The complacent end-rhymes of lines two and four are taunted by the askew “buried” and “carried”, and made sinister by the pagan sacrifice embedded in “wood” and “mud” with the ancient “wude” and “daub” sitting behind the rhyme. Repetition of “I know”, three times in four lines, works as a locked rhyme – lethally right for a mind that can never escape itself or be set free by others; a mind that belongs to Myra Hindley.
Other poems rhyme with cheeky exuberance. In “Mrs Sisyphus” the repetitive idiocy of the rock and its roll suits the uphill build of the poem (towards its inevitable collapse). The punishment of the gods turns out to be a 24/7 meaningless managerial job, where no matter how many emails you answer, your inbox will be full again the next day.
Then there’s the glorious “Mrs Darwin” with itsEdward Lear nonsensical sense: “7 April 1852. // Went to the Zoo. / I said to Him – / Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.” Hidden behind this ditty in diary form is the shadow of Dorothy Wordsworth, endlessly walking, endlessly writing her Lake District journal so that William could use it for that “emotion recollected in tranquillity” he liked a poem to be. The famous daffodils, we remember, were Dorothy’s.
The title of The World’s Wife is both a tacit understanding that it’s (still) a man’s world, and a joke on the world’s most popular dedication: To My Wife.
Ask who was at a party and the answer is often, “Oh, the world and his wife.” Our language pictures are inherently patriarchal – unless challenged. But the fact that three simple title-words can be the challenger affirms the power of language to disclose the unthought norm.
William Wordsworth
 William Wordsworth. Photograph: Alamy
And the unthought known. Men and women alike know that more than half the world is female but men and women alike forget it every day. It takes a poet to jog our memory.
The characters in The World’s Wife come from fairytales, Bible stories, legends, modern horrors (Hindley, here recast as the devil’s wife) and ancient myths. Their common link is that the poems themselves are told by the spouse-voice of the famous male.
This headstand, the world turned upside down, gives us another look at history through her-story. The “other”; the angry and the ignored, as well as the sure-footed and sexy. Of course there’s a political agenda – there always is: poets write poems because they have something urgent to say.
First-world-war poet and soldier, Wilfred Owen claimed of his work that “the poetry is in the pity”. In The World’s Wife, the politics is in the poetry. The politics is feminism.
But there’s nothing po-faced about these poems. They are written with such humour or poignancy, or insight or recognition, that we get the point, the many points, the points of view and the points of light. Like every good atom, these poems are composed out of empty space and points of light – the dazzle of the poet’s vision, the space for the reader to reimagine matter, the matter, what matters, what is the matter?
Here is Frau Freud, in mad lexical delight, listing every word she can think of for Penis – and at last, in a bout of new theory-making that would have given us a very different psychoanalysis, she drops Penis Envy and opts instead for Penis Pity. It’s a short poem – a loose sonnet – but it says as much as bookshelves of debate. The fact is that women don’t suffer from penis envy. (Actually or symbolically, practically or poetically). Only a man would think anyone could.
Here’s Red Riding Hood gutting the wolf-poet to get at his words. She has no objection to sleeping with him first, or bringing him breakfast in bed. When she gets on with the axe-work and slits him “scrotum to throat”, she discovers it’s her grandmother’s bones inside. The skeleton of language is female. Deeper, it seems, than our mother tongue.
There’s Mrs Midas, who has to lock the cat in the cellar and jam a chair against the bedroom door, while her husband turns their life into gold. What you risk reveals what you value. This thoughtful, funny poem questions the masculine obsession with money – far from the stereotype of woman as a gold digger. What Mrs Midas misses most about her husband is the one thing she can never have: his touch. “Mrs Faust” conjures up a much more money-minded female. It’s Faust who has amassed world-pools of cash but she’s happy enough to spend it:
“I grew to love the lifestyle / not the life. / He grew to love the kudos / not the wife.”
The ballad-form rhyming here is tidy and deadly. Duffy, throughout her work, has made good use of both the English ballad and its 19th-century development, the dramatic monologue.
The ballad form is made for narrative stretch. It’s an old form – the Robin Hood ballads date from the mid-to-late 15th century. It’s a form for storytelling, for late-night firesides, for pub entertainment, for the popular chapbooks (cheap books) that were just folded printed papers sold at fairs. It’s street corner, it’s troubadour, it’s busking.
Ballads had a lucrative disruptive sideline as political agitprop, in broadside ballads, as they became known. In 1798, Wordsworth and Coleridge, the Lennon and McCartney of the 18th-century poetry scene, published their Lyrical Ballads, a moody, up-close, melodic extension of the ballad form, making it both personal and political – about ordinary people, not legends or hate figures, and using natural speech and the sights and sounds of what was around them. They were modernising poetry.
The ballad is usually a third-person narrative, and it can run on forever – it was designed to have verses added – while its later development, the dramatic monologue, throws the reader into a highly charged first-person narrative, closer to the urgencies of the stage than the shaggy dog of a story.
But both forms have a story to tell. The poems in The World’s Wife are hybrids: first person, dramatic situations, at once intimate and theatrical, as you’d expect from a monologue, but with the authority of a ballad – a legend being told, a larger-than-life figure that belongs in myth as well as history. And there’s something of the broadside here, too, in their high-stepping protest at the truth that the story unfolds. Some of these poems are laments for women in captivity.
The dramatic Mrs Beast pictures a world where smart women with their own money ditch the prince and choose the beast. Better sex. Keys to the wine cellar. The women run a weekly poker game.
Marilyn Monroe. Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt
 Marilyn Monroe. Photograph: Alfred Eisenstaedt
But behind each player stood a line of
Unable to win. Eve, Ashputtel. Marilyn
Rapunzel slashing wildly at her hair.
Bessie Smith unloved and down and out.
Bluebeard’s wives, Henry VIII’s, Snow White
Cursing the day she left the seven
dwarfs, Diana,
Princess of Wales.
The startling last line? A paraphrase of Auden: “Let the less-loving one be me.”
From women who need a lesson in loving less to a creature who could not love more, “Queen Kong” is the story of a female gorilla who falls in love with the documentary film-maker who turns up in her remote part of the world. They have an affair. He leaves for home, much like Aeneas leaves Dido, but this gorilla doesn’t kill herself: she goes after him to New York city, squeezing herself between the skyscrapers, “pressing my passionate eye / to a thousand windows, each with its modest peep-show / Of boredom or pain, of drama, consolation, remorse.” Until … “I picked him, like a chocolate from the top layer / Of the box, one Friday night, out of his room”.
It’s a wonderful image, and as she dangles him there, high over the Manhattan grid, we get a new sense of what is meant by arm candy.
The range of Duffy’s imagination is vast. She moves easily from gorilla-scale to the interiority of the sonnet. Duffy loves the sonnet form – she says: “They remind me of prayers.” “Anne Hathaway” is also a sonnet – a gentle vindication of the love between the famously neglected wife and the most famous writer in history. For those who fear that feminism doesn’t include men, except at the level of anger or contempt, read this one.
The final poem in the collection, “Demeter”, is also a sonnet, as mysterious and complete as the moon. It is about nobody’s wife. That choice is an audacious signal. A message that something else is happening now. We are leaving for elsewhere. A new beginning.
“Demeter” celebrates mother and daughter in their ancient form as the two-that-is-three of the Great Goddess – mother, daughter, wise woman. I guess the invisible third is writing the poem – or perhaps she’s renewed, as she always is, in the new moon of the last line. “Demeter” is a love poem. A poem of spring and the coming future – its symbol, fresh flowers. A future, perhaps, where there will be no need to voice history with the words we never heard.
A future that starts with a prayer.
 The World’s Wife is published as a Picador Classic. Carol Ann Duffy will be reading from The World’s Wife at the Picador Classic Day at Foyles bookshop, London WC2, on 7 February. foyles.co.uk