Wednesday, October 19, 2005

reread

Guy Davenport says somewhere that one of the pleasures of being an academic is getting to reread good books lots of times. Just finished The Sound and the Fury for maybe the half-dozenth or eighth time. A book so good it makes me feel dirty just to talk about it sometimes.
I could hear Queenie’s feet and the bright shapes went smooth and steady on both sides, the shadows of them flowing across Queenie’s back. They went on like the bright tops of wheels. Then those on one side stopped at the tall white post where the soldier was. But on the other side they went on smooth and steady, but a little slower.
***
The broken flower drooped over Ben’s fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and fa├žade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place.

But Faulkner (that’s Fawk-nuh, not Faullk-nurr, you damned carpetbaggers!) maybe tries too hard with that ending, wants to pull his whole chaos of idiocy, incest, despair, cruelty and freedom into too neat & shapely a well-wrought urn. Or is it the order of entropy, the nothingness into which all of the pain of the Compsons has finally settled?
***
I assigned the same Vintage edition I’ve taught from for 10 years now – perhaps too lazy to transfer my notes and markings – and then felt guilty that I hadn’t given them the Norton Critical Edition. But by golly, the Norton for all its interpretive essays and background documents has almost no notes to the actual text. Doesn’t even tell you what a Bluegum is, or who “Agnes Mabel Becky” are. (“Bluegum” = a black conjurer with a fatal bite; “Agnes Mabel Becky” = the “merry widows” pictured on the containers for Merry Widow brand condoms.)
***
Yul Brynner (with hair) played brother Jason in the movie, which I remember only vaguely from a single late-night tv viewing long ago.
***
A week in the sun and my gills are still faintly bluish.
***
Appendix to the Pinter poem, which sparked some spirited discussion on Say Something Wonderful: “But Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering, though models are easy to find. Much the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds good.” –Tolkien, Appendix F to Lord of the Rings

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