Tag Archives: Italian Literature

The Dispute Between Mind and Speech

Relations between Mind and Speech were always difficult and fraught. They sometimes clashed like two warriors-or two lovers. Each wished to do better than the other. Mind said: ‘I am surely better than you, for you say nothing that I … Continue reading

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The Flayed Man

The Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Hebrew bible, instructs the priesthood on the sacrifice that must precede the slaughter of animals for food. Roberto Calasso writes in Ardor of Yājñavalkya’s comparable philosophy in the Vedic Shatapatha Brahmana, but … Continue reading

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Futuristic Howling

If the halls of the Hermitage would suddenly go mad, if the paintings of all schools and masters should suddenly break loose from the nails, should fuse, intermingle, and fill the air of the rooms with futuristic howling and colours … Continue reading

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Comradeship and Silence

Words exist but the pump to bring those words from the bottom of the well to the surface is malfunctioning. Buried in the sand at the bottom of the well is a torrent of words, but if by chance the … Continue reading

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Adventure with The Last Night

This extended passage is from one of those books that elicits a personal response, an engagement, an adventure. It may not resonate so strongly with everyone (of course). In particular, Campagna’s citation of the importance of friendship and daydreaming acted like … Continue reading

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Pale Notes on Friendship

Agamben: “Friendship is inscribed in the most intimate experience, the one that is most one’s own, the very sensation that one exists. But this also means that in the consent and consensus of friendship, the very identity of friends is … Continue reading

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Dante’s Shoe Soles

It’s difficult reading poetry in translation. I’ve read all the usual Russian poets: Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, Brodsky, and the elusive Mandelstam, but I can’t imagine that much of the poetry comes through. English translators usually avoid trying to reproduce the … Continue reading

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The Selfish Individual

Throughout this week I’ve binged on Susan Sontag’s essays and interviews. The last pieces Sontag wrote are collected in At the Same Time, which include two of my favourite Sontag reviews. Sontag’s A Double Destiny: On Anne Banti’s Artemisia in which … Continue reading

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The Journey of Words

In this thin transparent air I feel able to perceive in her unmoving form the signs of that invisible movement that reading is, the flow of gaze and breath, but, even more, the journey of words through the person . … Continue reading

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Gifts of Befana

I’m intrigued to read Elena Ferrante. Readers that I respect are enthusiastic, and this recent piece by James Wood has added another twist to my intrigue. I love this paragraph from a letter to her publishers that accompanied her first … Continue reading

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