Archive for November, 2009

A day at the beach.

November 11, 2009

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Spirit Animals

November 11, 2009

Recent Harper’s “Reading”:

SARTRE: Yeah, after I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time. They followed me in the streets, into class. I got used to them. I would wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, my little ones, how did you sleep?” I would talk to them all the time. I would say, “Okay, guys, we’re going into class now, so we have to be still and quiet,” and they would be there, around my desk, absolutely still, until the bell rang.

GERASSI: A lot of them?

SARTRE: Actually, no, just three or four.

Reminded me of this anecdote about Nabokov’s The Original of Laura, the existing fragments of which are being published this week:

In October 1976, asked to nominate three books he had recently been reading, Nabokov chose a new translation of Dante’s Inferno, an illustrated guide to North American butterflies and a book of his own, “the not-quite-finished manuscript of a novel”. He had recently been ill, and, in his delirium, kept reading the novel aloud to a small dream audience consisting of “peacocks, pigeons, my long dead parents, two cypresses, several young nurses crouching around, and a family doctor so old as to be almost invisible”.


Also, I love this aside near the end of the Sartre interview excerpt:

GERASSI: From the end of the war until de Gaulle’s coup d’état in 1958, you were haunted by neither crabs nor depression?

SARTRE: We keep calling them crabs because of my play The Condemned of Altona, but they were really lobsters.

P.P.S. From The Wall Street Journal, referring to The Original of Laura:

For decades, Dmitri Nabokov kept the manuscript locked in a Swiss bank vault, allowing only a select group of Nabokov scholars to read it, and occasionally suggesting in interviews that he would destroy the novel. In 2008, more than 30 years after his father’s death, he announced to a German magazine his decision to publish the work, saying that his father had appeared to him in a vision and told him to “go ahead and publish.”

Unfettered by Optimism

November 2, 2009