Friday, March 29, 2013

Review of Phillip Lopate's To Show and to Tell

Phillip Lopate is an American film critic, essayist, fiction writer, poet, and teacher. 
Born: 1943, Brooklyn
What a delight is to read American prose as it should be written: fresh, crisp, elegant--yet caustic and irreverent. I am referring to Phillip Lopate's essays in To Show and to Tell.

Mr. Lopate's essays are simple and entertaining, on the surface, but serious in their depth of observation and criticism. To single out one observation: Mr. Lopate has made a connection that for many years I've been trying to make myself. That is, that from Hemingway to Carver and on to Twitter we have achieved the inflection point of minimalism. Indeed, the insanity of communicating with 140 words or less.

Thank God that minimalism is not only broiled but overdone. Let writers expand and use the American English language in total freedom. Why constrain writers to a minimum number of words? 

Read Mr. Lopate's essays and confirm that his written language is today the glory of expression of American English.

Stendhal's Memoirs of an Egotist

Marie-Henri Beyle (1783-1842), better known by his pen name Stendhal, was a 19th-century French writer. Known for his deep analysis of his characters' psychology, he is considered France’s foremost realist writer as is evident in his novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839).

Stendhal’s prose is always as fresh as an evergreen, puzzling and motivating scholars and even contemporary critics to attempt to find the source of such freshness.

In his Journals (Vol. III: 1928-1939) Andre Gide's has this to say about Stendhal’s prose:
The great secret of Stendhal, his great shrewdness, lay in writing spontaneously. His thought charged with emotion remains as lively, as fresh in color as the newly developed butterfly that the collector has surprised as it was coming out of the cocoon. There we find that element of alertness and spontaneity, of incongruity, of suddenness and nakedness that always delights us anew in his style. It would seem that his thought does not take time to put on its shoes before beginning to run.
In the 20th century, Harvard scholar Matthew Josephson credited Stendhal with anticipating the force of the unconscious mind in human behavior:
He [Stendhal] was aware of the “irrational” or unconscious elements of the mind long before the later nineteenth century psychologists and the men of the Freudian school arrive on the scene.

About the Memoirs

Caustic and acerbic of just about every one of his acquaintances, Stendhal never pulled any punches. But the bitterest targets of his bluntest commentaries were nations: in England the divisions between classes are as distinct as they are in India, the country of pariahs,” and “The English are, I think, the most obtuse and barbaric people in the world.” About Germans: “… apart from their enthusiasm, the Germans are too stupid.” And Italians: The Italians would have held forth, each of them occupying the floor for twenty minutes and remaining the mortal enemy of his antagonist in the discussion. At the third meeting they would have composed satirical sonnets against one another.About Russia: “In a half-civilized country like Russia he’d pass as a hero…”

The value of Stendhal’s memoirs lies in the man’s sincerity as demonstrated by his plain —often offensive— language. Yet, one has to heed his opinions, for they are laden with deep insights; especially, his opinions about art and literature. His assessment of Walter Scott has been prophetic in a negative way, as has been his recognition of Shakespeare, Diderot, Goldsmith, Voltaire, and Mozart in a positive way.

Besides the lighthearted prose he employed, Stendhal managed to inject humor, oblivious to whether his brand of humor was appropriate or perhaps even risqué. His main preoccupation was to be read, to be quite sober and yet entertaining—never boring.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chateaubriand's Atala - Review

Here is an unsolicited review of my translation of Chateuabriand's novel Atala, available in English and Spanish.

This is a delightful book. When I first came across it in graduate school, I thought it over the top escapism about noble savages engaged in overly purple prose.

 Now, many years later, I reevaluate the still valid perceptions. The book is a short and easy to take novel about heroic beings out of Beowolf, except these characters are much more eloquent however much the same Beowolf device of having the story framed again and again in its retelling is used to create the same distance and so raise the story into legend.

The book makes you understand why people at the turn into the Nineteenth Century liked warrior heroism: it was very satisfying to contemplate in countries first experiencing industrial smoke. You get a good read as well as a sense of the sophisticated Nineteenth Century consciousness trying, in its way, to get back to basics.

Atala provides a much more pleasant afternoon than a murder mystery and yet also mobilizes suspense, vivid characters, and interesting settings. You will like this novella if you like "The Last of the Mohicans".

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New reviews for East of Tiffany's

An Amazing Book East of Tiffany's is one of the most amazing book I read in my life. All the short stories are full of long meaningful messages. Read more

5.0 out of 5 stars HUGELY UNDERRATED BOOK!! This book is great it is funny, sad, heart-warming and a great collection of stories placed together. I was given this book to read for a homework assignment but it was much more. The short story about Pucci (the doggie) melted my heart because I also have anxiety attacks--See Pucci's picture here.

by Alyisha 5.0 out of 5 stars East of Tiffany's, where touching stories come together to enlighten...

Dog Heaven Dog Heaven is not only one of the best short stories I have ever read in my life but also it is an emotional story that truly touches my heart. Read more

by Christopher Colon 5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly touching!!! I particularly like the story "My Anglo Friend." I learned that we get old and we need someone to look after us to be taken care of, nurtured and loved w/ proper attention. Read more

by Roderick Verzo 5.0 out of 5 stars East of Tiffany's "East of Tiffany's" is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. While I was reading this book, I felt, saw, and listened to the atmosphere of the East of Tiffany's... Read more

by Olga H 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful I like the story "Waiting Over Blue Babies". I learned to appreciate life and good health. "East of Tiffany's" is a book that I would recommend to everyone, it shows the values of... Read more

Pjetrovic, Haris 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended! I just read "Dog Heaven" and "Marriage Vows and Genesis" and those short stories were fantastic!
The language, the grammar and the description level on these short... Read more

by Walter Rocha 5.0 out of 5 stars A Great collection Of Short Stories East of Tiffany's a collection of short stories that emphasizes love, lost, morality and success. "Mary Patricia and I become lifetime sojourners" is indeed a great story. Read more

by Mauricio Argudo 5.0 out of 5 stars New York east side "East of Tiffany " is a great book to read, especially if one is in love . This book had made me feel that every guy should treat the person with love and care. Read more

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mariana, Una novela de la autora francesa George Sand

Mariana, una novela de George Sand
Introducción de Marciano Guerrero

Biografía breve

Aurore Dupin—más conocida por su seudónimo: George Sand— fue la escritora más famosa del siglo XIX en Francia.
No sólo fue una prolífica escritora, sino también una mujer de fuerte carácter, admirada tanto por su obra como por su estilo de vida: una fogosa feminista.
Su primera novela, Indiana, es la historia de una mujer infeliz que lucha por liberarse de la prisión del matrimonio. La obra obtuvo un éxito fenomenal inmediato. Otras novelas como Valentine y Lélia sorprendieron a los lectores por su apasionado clamor a la acción para liberar a las mujeres de su esclavizada condición.
La vida de George Sand fue completamente abierta al público, colmándose pronto de rumores y escándalos sobre sus relaciones con hombres famosos (artistas, escritores, músicos) que conoció en París: Eugène Delacroix, Liszt Franz, Jules Sandeau, Alfred de Musset, y Frédéric Chopin, entre otros. Otros admiradores fueron: Turgenev, Balzac, Flaubert, Henry James, and Oscar Wilde.

Por supuesto, su complicada liaison con Chopin fue tan notoria que hasta hoy día, mas se conoce a George Sand como la amante del compositor que como novelista.   

Acerca de la novela Mariana

La novela se desarrolla en el campo francés, y trata de la emancipación de Mariana, una joven huérfana, dejada a la tutela de su padrino: Pierre André. Mariana hereda las tierras, casa, y propiedades que sus padres le dejaron. Y a pesar de sus limitaciones —como mujer en una época de sumisión y dependencia en el hombre— ella administra su hacienda con mucho tino, embelleciendo, e incrementado el valor de su granja. A nuestros estándares de hoy, la prosa es poética, sentimental, pero muy adecuada a su época. Flaubert declara que al leer la novela varias veces se encontró sollozando de emoción. El amor —entre Mariana y Pierre, azuzado por el pretendiente parisino Felipe Gaucher— se desenvuelve en frente del lector; o más apto sería decir que el lector construye ese amor al reconocer indicios y pistas a los que los protagonistas mismos están ciegos. Además del triángulo amoroso, vemos la parcialidad de una madre —Madame André— que ve con ojos prácticos por la felicidad de su hijo, simbolizando la paciencia, honestidad, y moralidad de su generación.

Como si las emociones rutinarias no fueran campo fértil suficiente para la ficción, la autora se las arregla para incrustar deleitantes pasajes sobre la estética de la ciudad y la estética de apreciación del campo. Quien predomina es cuestión de gusto personal, aunque Mariana parece sacar el mejor partido ya que sus opiniones son forjadas en la naturaleza y en lo más profundo del alma aliadas con su Dios.
Al final, es emocionante y cargado de titubeos que mantiene al lector en suspenso, y con muchas ganas de saltar a la última página para saber quién gana la mano de Mariana.