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Thread: Literature Ramble

  1. #256
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Where the Bible is concerned, I would say the literary critic should understand the source criticism (he can't be clueless about it in any case) in the way a driver using a manual transmission at least needs to know which gear he's in. Wellhausen identifies four gears--four sources--although there may have been others. Some certainly had oral antecedents, and most probably had multiple written sources that were redacted and rewritten according to a particular perspective. It is impossible to say whether this was the perspective of an individual or a group sharing a common outlook at a given time and place. So the idea of a gear (even though I just made it up) is more useful than an author as we would understand the term.
    Yes, a source as a cultural background and the historical contexts that allowed the construction of such texts. It is more important to know why they started to be registered than know the blood type of however started doing it. I mean, I am not going to open the windows and scream "the author is dead", but even with modern authors this background is more important than x or y. The difference between individuals may be even minor than the product of their work.

    But that doesn't mean differences in gears aren't essential to the drive. J is not just just the source that calls God YHWH. J may have been redacted as early as the 9th or 10th century BCE, when the Davidic dynasty was trying to centralize and control religious power through the Temple cultus in Jerusalem. P was produced centuries later, probably in the Babylonian Exile after Jerusalem had been destroyed. Not to belabor the point, but D's provenance is also exceptional. It was produced during the militant revival of Yahwism during Josiah's failed attempt to reestablish the Davidic monarchy as a regional power. It's intolerance of religious experience outside the Jerusalem Temple contrasts strongly with E, in which God communicates through personal revelation such as dreams and visions. E probably represents traditions from the northern kingdom of Israel (as opposed to the southern kingdom of Judah) that came south after the Assyrian destruction of Samaria in 722 BCE. It is really from a different religious world than that of J or D (or P for that matter).
    Yeah, I personaly like the idea the "name" of God is a clue about the authorship. It is so logical that is hard to imagine nobody guessed this before (i suppose if someone did, they didnt matter or were ignored). A good poet would have to try hard to come with something like this, considering how important the name of God is and all mistery behind it.

    Now a literary critic doesn't have to be source critic or an ancient historian, but neither can he go off half cocked about things he don't understand. To switch metaphors, it is as if there were four or more connect-the-dots puzzles placed side by side. Go ahead and do each and then compare and contrast them. You can figure what you learn into your literary analysis. But no fair connecting dots from one puzzle sheet to the next. You may be able to create a picture that way, but it will be an illusion of your own making. And there has been enough of that where the Bible is concerned.
    That is what I suspect Bloom did... a illusion for , as you say, his ego.

    The name of the author or redactor of the Matthew material matters less than understanding how the source material fits together, parallels and differences between Gospels and other writings, and the hazards of harmonizing. Without these, the literary critic is only applying theory to an illusion--a kind of Frankenstein's monster who will be glad to waste your time before throwing you into the pond. You really have to understand the Bible before you can analyze it. At least you have to understand that it can't be approached monolithicly.
    Yeah, I know, Mathew name is funny because at least John is a "character" with some personality in the gospels, Mathew is one of the disciples you remember the name and his profession. His gospel is way more relevant and memorable.



    The problem with Bloom is that he can't deal with the ambiguity of the source criticism and the flexibility it requires. As I said, he wants everything carved in stone with his name on it. You can't do that with ancient texts. Those of us who love antiquity are hardened to remaining open where we would prefer to be sure. Bloom knows you have to do that as well as I do. He should get over himself and admit there are things he doesn't know. He has nothing to lose but his ego.
    I think he lost a bit of his ego early, I really, one day, expect him to write a text claiming Shakespeare wrote Iliad and Odissey. It would be great if Bloom could provide a few lines of a better Iliad and Odissey that Shakespeare wrote, but even that would be not original, and just a copy of Borges.



    Oh, I meant to mention Lilith to you in a different context. I was listening to a podcast about fairy lore in which one of the speakers was drawing a connection between the European child-stealing fairies and Lilith. European fairies, she claimed, couldn't have babies that lived long, so they dumped them on mortals and took their babies. Lilith's problem was that her milk was poisonous and would kill her babies when she tried to nurse them. This left her with painful breasts that still needed to be emptied, so she would relieve herself by nursing human babies in the cradle--killing them and freeing herself to conceive again. It seems to me both traditions are responses to the horrors of crib death, and especially the misogynistic social tendency to blame mothers. If everyone can agree that a supernatural agency was responsible then the poor woman will at least be spared censure. And in the case of changeling belief, grieving parents can tell themselves the baby who died wasn't really theirs--theirs is off with the fairies somewhere. It's grim, but that is probably how it worked.
    Yes, albeit it is hard to imagine Lilith exactly being the main source, as her past relevance have been rewrote in the last decades, she is pretty much an archetype demon/divinity that was probally behind such stories. Astarte or Ishtar was her original source, if I recall the main theories, from a sexual temptress she became a night hag of sorts. Not the only one, Lamia was smilar too. As we talked, the child importance was huge, those stories may pinpoint for the bad nourishment of mother, unable to keep the baby save, or maybe even that syndrome of rejection (was probally high, considering how more dangerous labour could be and how some of those marriages are far from ideal). Lilith and other hags may be also "evil eye" from other mothers that were "childless".

    Now, I remember some years ago an oral storyteller told me a tale she collected in a travel to africa, a polygamic society: the husband had 2 wives, they lived in different houses, but both got pregnant at same time. THe elder wife didn't like her baby (a girl) while the younger had a boy. The elder wife demanded to have the boy traded, but she couldn't feed him because she was dry, so she killed the boy and took the girl back. The boy came from his grave and killed the elder wife and the baby girl revenging himself and his mother.

    The story was more or less like this (and better in the words of the storyteller) with this dry and nasty stuff typical of old oral tales, but I think we can find source for those night hags such Lilith and also the fear of newborn "faery changes" (albeit, the changeling thing also ocurred with older boys, which may be related to the incapacity to understand well the changes children pass during childhood instead).




    MOVIE VERSION:
    Ludwig Wittgenstein: William Shatner
    Karl Popper: Ricardo Montalban
    Bertrand Russell: Leonard Nimoy
    Sundely, Capitan Wittegenstein rips his shirts and kisses Simone de Bevouir (performed by Nichelle Nicholls) and his poke...
    #foratemer

  2. #257
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yes, a source as a cultural background and the historical contexts that allowed the construction of such texts. It is more important to know why they started to be registered than know the blood type of however started doing it.
    Right, including chromosomes. Bloom knew this perfectly well. So did everyone who tried to cash in on the "Did a woman write [anonymous text whatever]?" rubbish. In addition to being lousy scholarship, it's a patronizing way to treat women. The human legacy is for and from all of us. We don't need to fib to make it sound more diverse.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I mean, I am not going to open the windows and scream "the author is dead", but even with modern authors this background is more important than x or y. The difference between individuals may be even minor than the product of their work.
    No, no, I'm not going there with you. It is absurd to ascribe authorship to an anonymous or hypothetical text without evidence, but that does not detract from the psychological and moral complexity of a real individual (as opposed, for example, to generalizations based on national, cultural, or--God forbid--sexist, racist, or intersectional considerations). We tried class Marxism and all it gave us was lies and corpses. The individual--glorious and flawed--still trumps the collective. Vive la difference!

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yeah, I personaly like the idea the "name" of God is a clue about the authorship. It is so logical that is hard to imagine nobody guessed this before (i suppose if someone did, they didnt matter or were ignored). A good poet would have to try hard to come with something like this, considering how important the name of God is and all mistery behind it.
    You see, the problem is that Hebrew Bible was cobbled together as needed for the stories it was telling. A bit of J here, a little P there, a dash of E, and big chunks of D. That's why you get these running genealogies, sometimes with ancestors who lived for centuries--the editors themselves were trying to figure out how the material all went together. So no, unless you were looking for it, the Documentary Hypothesis is not all that intuitive. Wellhausen was a bit of a genius. But at this point, he is considered rather old hat, and (understandably in academia) careers are made by showing where he got things wrong not right.

    Also, in a larger sense, critical study of the Bible is a perpetual orphan. Many Christians (especially Barthians) see it as superfluous to the simple message of Salvation. I agree with them (I mean about the simplicity of Salvation), but many millions of people also use the Bible as an ethical guide, and many of them have historically sought an artificial concordance with its separate texts to produce meanings that could never have been intended by the authors. Those internet atheists--some are just jacked up freshman basking in the first flush of their intellectual arrogance; but some are folks who have genuine grievances about the misapplication of Biblical text to their lives. And that is not such a simple matter. Resolving it requires a level of Biblical literacy (I mean as opposed to Biblical illiteracy) beyond the education of most modern clergy. So (in my opinion) "sufficient unto Salvation" gets to be an excuse after a while. It means: Don't bother us with things we'd rather not acknowledge. Which is, of course, the very thing Jesus was doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I really, one day, expect him to write a text claiming Shakespeare wrote Iliad and Odissey.
    You mean The Odyssey wasn't written by a woman? With all those empowered female characters? Oh wait, Shakespeare turned out to have been a woman, too, didn't she? So maybe it was her after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yes, albeit it is hard to imagine Lilith exactly being the main source, as her past relevance have been rewrote in the last decades, she is pretty much an archetype demon/divinity that was probally behind such stories.Astarte or Ishtar was her original source, if I recall the main theories, from a sexual temptress she became a night hag of sorts. Not the only one, Lamia was smilar too. As we talked, the child importance was huge, those stories may pinpoint for the bad nourishment of mother, unable to keep the baby save, or maybe even that syndrome of rejection (was probally high, considering how more dangerous labour could be and how some of those marriages are far from ideal). Lilith and other hags may be also "evil eye" from other mothers that were "childless".
    I'm not sure there was much transmission between Lilith and the fairy tradition, although it's not impossible. What's interesting to me are the social/anthropological/psychological implications--that the traditions may be similar because they operated in a crisis as real in Ireland as Assyria--the profound grief of the parents of a dead infant, the dangerous implications of their blaming one another or themselves, and the unbearable injustice their being censured. The idea of a universal symbol seems superfluous when that is the situation on the ground. And as far the archetypes go, I'm not as Jung as I once was.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Now, I remember some years ago an oral storyteller told me a tale she collected in a travel to africa, a polygamic society: the husband had 2 wives, they lived in different houses, but both got pregnant at same time. THe elder wife didn't like her baby (a girl) while the younger had a boy. The elder wife demanded to have the boy traded, but she couldn't feed him because she was dry, so she killed the boy and took the girl back. The boy came from his grave and killed the elder wife and the baby girl revenging himself and his mother.
    Oh, the poor girl! What a rotten brother! It's an interesting story, though, since the mother actually turns out to be guilty. A lot of African traditions are pretty sexist. The teller of that tale was probably the father.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    the changeling thing also ocurred with older boys, which may be related to the incapacity to understand well the changes children pass during childhood instead).
    Yeah, my parents thought the fairies got me for a few years, too.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  3. #258
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    No, no, I'm not going there with you. It is absurd to ascribe authorship to an anonymous or hypothetical text without evidence, but that does not detract from the psychological and moral complexity of a real individual (as opposed, for example, to generalizations based on national, cultural, or--God forbid--sexist, racist, or intersectional considerations). We tried class Marxism and all it gave us was lies and corpses. The individual--glorious and flawed--still trumps the collective. Vive la difference!
    Ah, but I am not against the individual (much less as historical factor), neither I want to see the individual vanished in form of another author (the imaginary paragorn of some ideal representative of the class). My point is that all that matters from the author will be in the work itself, his pyschological complexity, his moral, his aestethical preferences will be the there and will probally more alive than the biographies of the author (unless it happens to be a great author telling those biographies instead). I do not want to see the historical process taking the credit for a work, but it is like... what history did with Dante. Every painting he is grump, bug eyes condemening all to hell, and they forget how sensible his poetry was. To most poeple Dante is the guy that went to hell, not the guy that traveled to Heaven. Mostly because some notion of his personality was build that replaced even his work.

    You see, the problem is that Hebrew Bible was cobbled together as needed for the stories it was telling. A bit of J here, a little P there, a dash of E, and big chunks of D. That's why you get these running genealogies, sometimes with ancestors who lived for centuries--the editors themselves were trying to figure out how the material all went together. So no, unless you were looking for it, the Documentary Hypothesis is not all that intuitive. Wellhausen was a bit of a genius. But at this point, he is considered rather old hat, and (understandably in academia) careers are made by showing where he got things wrong not right.
    It is not atypical in works produced in within the fronteir between orality and writen cultures, with several authors and organized by people already a few years (or centuries) apart from the original formation of the ideas. Many are a bit of Frankenstein (maybe Mary was a genius and was taking about this process... hey the bible head is from J, arms from D...). That is probally what explains Homer nodding once or while. Different Homers (one of them a blind Girl, of course). Of course, the OT covers more cultures and time length, so it is more complex and stiched. Of course, with Homer and such, somehting obvious like "hey, that was entirely born way before it was written by people singing it around" also took centuries to be accepted and now seems obvious.

    Also, in a larger sense, critical study of the Bible is a perpetual orphan. Many Christians (especially Barthians) see it as superfluous to the simple message of Salvation. I agree with them (I mean about the simplicity of Salvation), but many millions of people also use the Bible as an ethical guide, and many of them have historically sought an artificial concordance with its separate texts to produce meanings that could never have been intended by the authors. Those internet atheists--some are just jacked up freshman basking in the first flush of their intellectual arrogance; but some are folks who have genuine grievances about the misapplication of Biblical text to their lives. And that is not such a simple matter. Resolving it requires a level of Biblical literacy (I mean as opposed to Biblical illiteracy) beyond the education of most modern clergy. So (in my opinion) "sufficient unto Salvation" gets to be an excuse after a while. It means: Don't bother us with things we'd rather not acknowledge. Which is, of course, the very thing Jesus was doing.
    Yeah, I know what you mean. The greater the book, the bigger the problems. In my case, reading the bible when I was a teen (a not abriged or for children version) was what make me step away from any religiousity because it was a similar experience to reading Dante and the Odissey. Well, to each their own book.



    You mean The Odyssey wasn't written by a woman? With all those empowered female characters? Oh wait, Shakespeare turned out to have been a woman, too, didn't she? So maybe it was her after all.
    I actually heard a theory like this one before (which is silly for many motives, included the fact it was actually two books split between Telemachus quest and Odysseus travels), because the obvious difference (well there is some, ok, we admit) between Iliad and Odissey style and also the threatment of the women in book works. (Dunno how Penelope can work as empowered woman at all, perpahs they are fans of Circe, let's admit, she is quite the powerful devil) compared to the women in Iliad (and I am the first to admit, greek drama already dealt with, because Cassiopeia and Hecuba have a lot of central stage afterwards). Of course, Helen is just a bimbo anyways. So, Iliad would be written by a man and odysseia by a woman or at least to be read for some queen or powerful woman courteasan. It is not a bad idea to play around, but if that is true, the author was mocking women a lot with the figure of Ulysses because he is quite a womanizer sometimes.

    It reminds me of a retelling of An Arthur story, perhaps you know, Dame Ragnell story (it is some sort of ballad, Chaucer used it), of course starts with the chivalirty theme (What is the woman biggest desire question) that ended in a version that is rather comic, but I saw women telling the comic version as a feminist message. It works, because the comic version was past medieval and was using the exageratade description of the cursed Ragnelle to mock the medieval chivalirity code, so today it sounds like a woman was taking power in a male world. It is, but for comic purposes, not for a moral speech on women right, etc. Of course, nothing stops them to use the text in a new way, cheers for that, keep the text alive, but I think it would need a lot of effort to see a woman writting Odyssey just because there is a woman there unlike the Iliad.


    I'm not sure there was much transmission between Lilith and the fairy tradition, although it's not impossible. What's interesting to me are the social/anthropological/psychological implications--that the traditions may be similar because they operated in a crisis as real in Ireland as Assyria--the profound grief of the parents of a dead infant, the dangerous implications of their blaming one another or themselves, and the unbearable injustice their being censured. The idea of a universal symbol seems superfluous when that is the situation on the ground. And as far the archetypes go, I'm not as Jung as I once was.
    Yes, Lilith itself, very unlikely. She was not that popular to travel all way to ireland and there is many other cullprits with this "profile", even Medea (a clearly inspiration behind the good witch/bad witch tropes) that is also a baby killer. All with the mixed nature (sexual deity turned in a night monster), but yeah, quite likely a popular archetype for this kind of "fear".

    Oh, the poor girl! What a rotten brother! It's an interesting story, though, since the mother actually turns out to be guilty. A lot of African traditions are pretty sexist. The teller of that tale was probably the father.
    Well, the storyteller telling me this one was a woman, the feeling was more like "treat well your woman or"... But go figure how complicated the relationship in polygamic families should be and how this fit well with the theme of dead babies (the competition this must have caused) and "other woman" is the evil one to blame.
    #foratemer

  4. #259
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Ah, but I am not against the individual (much less as historical factor), neither I want to see the individual vanished in form of another author (the imaginary paragorn of some ideal representative of the class). My point is that all that matters from the author will be in the work itself, his pyschological complexity, his moral, his aestethical preferences will be the there and will probally more alive than the biographies of the author (unless it happens to be a great author telling those biographies instead).
    I see. Okay, sorry if I sounded defensive. Individuality is my other religion, right? Thinking about your comments, I am struck by how recent the About the Author phenomenon is. Shakespeare? Who knows? But his psychology, morality, and aesthetics (as you say)--even his personality--seem clear enough from his works. Swift and Fielding are much better documented, but who would have dreamed up their quirky humor if all we had were their official careers? Thackeray talks about himself sometimes, but it seems a bit apologetic to me. His gentile family had lost its money, and he managed to restore it in a less than gentile fashion. I get a strong idea of the contradictions that must have governed him (pride/shame, humor/anxiety, prudishness/libido) from Vanity Fair. People used to talk about him in his lifetime, but again, the connection to what comes across in his writing isn't that obvious. But I don't much see that character in the later works. Perhaps he changed.

    What I really wonder is when biographical author information became PR. Possibly with Dickens, who was something of a pop phenomenon and who seems to have had things to hide. Thackeray found the pluck to come out of the closet about his family's economic bust (everyone probably knew anyway); but Dickens (perhaps because his parents were always shabby middle class) used to sweep his dirt under the rug. The business with debtors' prison and the blacking factory, now part of his authenticity and mystique, was a humiliating scandal for him when it was exposed. And of course there was the gal pal--whether she was his mistress or not--who didn't exactly appear with him on his dust jackets. So my question is whether a business agent (or even Chucky D himself) constructed his image as a paradigm of the Victorian family--which he surely was not--and whether it was done for a then new marketing purpose. This also raises the question of which is more authentic: the teller or the tale? But in fact these things have a sort of dialectic relation--social reputation, personal account, and what we can glean from the works. The truth is somewhere between these.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I do not want to see the historical process taking the credit for a work, but it is like... what history did with Dante. Every painting he is grump, bug eyes condemening all to hell, and they forget how sensible his poetry was. To most poeple Dante is the guy that went to hell, not the guy that traveled to Heaven. Mostly because some notion of his personality was build that replaced even his work.
    I understand what you mean about his reception over time, but it seems to me that Dante, who produced Renaissance-like work in the 13th century, is an example of the individual artist's ability to supersede or at least to maneuver within historical context. Granted Italy had a somewhat different Medieval experience than the rest of Europe.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yeah, I know what you mean. The greater the book, the bigger the problems. In my case, reading the bible when I was a teen (a not abriged or for children version) was what make me step away from any religiousity because it was a similar experience to reading Dante and the Odissey. Well, to each their own book.
    Yes, and everyone makes his own canon. Many adults are permanently turned off from authors like Dostoyevsky and Dickens because they were compelled to read them in High School and found the experience unpleasant. The Bible can be even more of a problem because some are compelled to read it in childhood. Some learn to love it in time, but others are alienated. In adulthood, both groups often reduce its complexity to childish terms (behave so Santa Claus will bring you presents). Some feel they've grown out of it when what they have really grown out of is Sunday School. And of course Internet nihilism is the new Sunday School. It seems to have a longer shelf life.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I actually heard a theory like this one before
    Me, too. I don't make this crap up.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Dunno how Penelope can work as empowered woman at all
    She was crafty enough to endure her many #me too moments long enough for the sexual predators to get "called out," but uppity enough (and uppity's important) to keep her options open till the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    perpahs they are fans of Circe, let's admit, she is quite the powerful devil) compared to the women in Iliad (and I am the first to admit, greek drama already dealt with, because Cassiopeia and Hecuba have a lot of central stage afterwards).
    Oh, that reminds me, I'm continuing to hear great things about Madeline Miller's Circe, which I mentioned to you a few weeks ago. Miller turns out to be a High School classics teacher and an American who is not actively writing about what a bad place America is, so naturally Booker snubbed her. Her earlier book, The Song of Achilles, emphasized the Achilles-Patroclus bromance/love thing, no big deal to a classicist, but apparently shocking/interesting/"diverse" to a generation that learned about the Iliad from Brad Pitt. Miller takes a feminist approach to Circe, which is of course perfect for the character. She also fleshes out Circe's connections to Medea, Scylla, the Minotaur, et al., so that her famous brush with Odysseus' "rape culture" pigs becomes just one tale of many. I'm not sure whether I'd like the novel or find it insipid, but I'll probably give it a chance once its price falls a little.

    You may also like to know about Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls, which is a feminist take on the Iliad--or at least a novel about Briseis and the thousands of women (according to the author) in the Greek camp. According to the dust jacket, these included "the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead". The same sentence claims, in a moment of particularly ridiculous pearl-clutching, that these women were "erased by history." It's a silly claim, of course, because almost everything we have about the Trojan war is ahistorical (not that the ancient Greeks even had nurses--female or otherwise). So not mentioned by the ancient poets is more like it. I've heard this novel is otherwise well written though.

    Oh, and speaking of the Booker, I'm now hearing from credible sources that Everything Under isn't worth the read. That reduces the 2018 Booker novels I will go out of my way to read to--zippo! I'm feeling good about this though: happy to be distancing myself from such a morally bankrupt project. There are other ways to learn about new literary fiction, and there is plenty of past literary fiction I haven't read yet. Do better next year, you smarmy dumbbells.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yes, Lilith itself, very unlikely. She was not that popular to travel all way to ireland
    Well, I wouldn't have wanted to travel to Ireland with her. She would have scared off the stewardesses and probably made me get up a million times so she could get by to pee. And God help the baby crying in the seat behind us.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Well, the storyteller telling me this one was a woman, the feeling was more like "treat well your woman or"...
    Interesting. We have traditional folk songs here that end like that ("Never speak harsh words to your true lovin' husband" and that sort of thing). Where I was in Africa, there was quite a lot of infant mortality. It was caused by contaminated drinking water and infectious disease, but many people thought it was caused by witches--male witches--who lived off in the woods. They were supposed to send a vampire-like spirit to suck the baby's (or anyone else's) life away. The vampire spirits didn't really exist, of course, but the witches did. People would go find them and pay or give them things to curse the people and families they hated. They were dangerous people and sometimes (though rarely) came into town to commit atrocities in person. It was strange living in a place where witches were real. But they were only real in a certain way. They were real like the mentally ill are real. Their occult crap was just smoke and mirrors.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-23-2018 at 02:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I see. Okay, sorry if I sounded defensive. Individuality is my other religion, right? Thinking about your comments, I am struck by how recent the About the Author phenomenon is. Shakespeare? Who knows? But his psychology, morality, and aesthetics (as you say)--even his personality--seem clear enough from his works. Swift and Fielding are much better documented, but who would have dreamed up their quirky humor if all we had were their official careers? Thackeray talks about himself sometimes, but it seems a bit apologetic to me. His gentile family had lost its money, and he managed to restore it in a less than gentile fashion. I get a strong idea of the contradictions that must have governed him (pride/shame, humor/anxiety, prudishness/libido) from Vanity Fair. People used to talk about him in his lifetime, but again, the connection to what comes across in his writing isn't that obvious. But I don't much see that character in the later works. Perhaps he changed.
    Yeah, the thing more or less started with Cervantes and his answer to the apocriphic Quixote's sequel. Of course, you have authors who were famous biographies already, but mostly because their public affairs. Novelists and playwriters were irrelevant, poets had more luck if they managed to live around the court, deal with politics or be a philosopher. Even Voltaire, a pop star, denied his authorship to avoid the bonfire. Shelley could have easily said "poets are the rascals of society".

    What I really wonder is when biographical author information became PR. Possibly with Dickens, who was something of a pop phenomenon and who seems to have had things to hide. Thackeray found the pluck to come out of the closet about his family's economic bust (everyone probably knew anyway); but Dickens (perhaps because his parents were always shabby middle class) used to sweep his dirt under the rug. The business with debtors' prison and the blacking factory, now part of his authenticity and mystique, was a humiliating scandal for him when it was exposed. And of course there was the gal pal--whether she was his mistress or not--who didn't exactly appear with him on his dust jackets. So my question is whether a business agent (or even Chucky D himself) constructed his image as a paradigm of the Victorian family--which he surely was not--and whether it was done for a then new marketing purpose. This also raises the question of which is more authentic: the teller or the tale? But in fact these things have a sort of dialectic relation--social reputation, personal account, and what we can glean from the works. The truth is somewhere between these.
    I suppose the image of Dickens after sucess as a victorian family was a combination of both his real life desire to be such family and have some grounding and security and a persona to deal with the fame. But overall, this PR thing predates him a little. Goethe managed to be quite good with his public image, always had something cleaver to say that others could repeat, the french had Voltaire and his fabicrated persona, so his "children" like Diderot always had a lot of work to be in good grace with public and the monarchs (i guess, a bit to do with the fact they were not real nobility, but craved for seat there after some influence). You had Johnson lifes that made quite relevant the biography of authors and Carlyle cult of heroes, well, romantic age had Walter Scott and of course, walking PR sucess, Byron. I suppose you could map out a path from italian humanism (they gave us a lot of biographies and I suppose Dante finger is around there, which author you will send to where?) to the romantic individualism with the human in the center, less God, etc. making the author a possible icon helped by the income of new writers.

    But heck, those who didn't had a Boswell, had to do it by themselves. If we see the most notorious cases, Byron and Voltaire, it is hard to tell when the fictional persona or even poetic ideal started to be more than fiction for themselves. How much of the byronic hero is Byron or how much of Byron became the byronic hero? Did he work one day unsure if he was Byron that dreamt to be Don Juan or Don Juan that dreamt he was Byron? Or like Borges once said to a reporter "wait, I haven't decided which one is better yet", when asked about his writtings becoming more real and less fantastic.

    Talking about Borges and the process of building a biography (he is great for this, because he is a master of mixing reality with fiction using himself as character, while in real life, his public persona is timid and isolated), I think most authors are good at what they are good: manipulating the context and using facts to imply something else. Those are things maybe are true, but are them like that? For example, Borges love to tell how an accident gave him the insight for his main short stories and literary sucess. He was already old enough (about 40), with some career (a few poorly sold books of poems, working in a magazine with reviews), when he tells he fell down the stair (and he make sure he did because he went to answer the door, because he was waiting the mailman with new books - the new book he identifies as Out of Silent planet by C.S.Lewis) and hit his head. In the hospital he was in panic, thinking he lost his writting capacity and such and there, to test himself, he came up with a story (Pierre Menard) which proved he was fine and from there he started his more sucessful career. If you think Paul should sue Borges for plagiarism, wait a bit. Borges was getting more and more blind (hence why he tripped in the stairs) and all this didn't restore his sight. All those things did happen (albeit, Borges in his mythography seems always to add details to prove reality is wrong, because Out of Silent Planet publishing date does not match, but well), he was probally tense and all, because he was indeed getting more blind, but he already had short stories that were leading to the way Pierre Menard would lead. Of course, Borges likes to show how thin the line between life and poetry is and blurr the concepts of fiction and reality, that is what he is doing mostly as a poet telling this story (and of course, Borges was a Poe reader. This is a bit of his take on philosophy of composition that he feels is just an attempt of a romantic writer trying to come up with a classical explanation for a poem, just like borges is trying to come up with a musing momment with this story), but all this is real, true or whatever name you may have that are not going to be ever proved as false.

    The funny thing is that Borges best friend and partner, Adolfo Bioy Casares (another great author), published after Borges death a huge book named Borges. It was like a Diary of the meetings between Both, were they mostly discuss literature, they colaboration, some politics and gossip with other authors and of course, Bioy makes sure to mention Boswell a handful of times (some to show a nod from Borges, as if Borges knew Bioy was keeping the diary like Boswell did and some to make sure to claim he was no Boswell - as he would never humiliated himself to make Borges figure greater) and there is enough "controversial" material (like borges dissing Faulkner, Keats or some of other argentine authors or being portraied as a radical politic in private) but all seem genuine enough... Unless you belong to their inner circle, like Borges widown that claim it was false, an attempt to climb up fame, exagerations, etc. In the end, it is a good book (Bioy is really not Boswell, so the dialogues between both are more rich in the sense there is actually a dialogue and not just Borges spreeding quotable ironies), but it can be a farse and a farse for those two can be real... Go figure.


    I understand what you mean about his reception over time, but it seems to me that Dante, who produced Renaissance-like work in the 13th century, is an example of the individual artist's ability to supersede or at least to maneuver within historical context. Granted Italy had a somewhat different Medieval experience than the rest of Europe.
    Well, i think in those old history books, that pinpoint an event to mark the end of ages, Middle age should end with "Dante was Born". Despite opening and paving the path for renaissence he is ultimately a medieval man. Not only in the Comedy, but his other works (Don't believe however says he only did one good work, his lyrical work, specially La Vita Nuova is remarkable, when he starts talking in a essay about his composing methology he somehow fantastic, because nobody can accuse him of writing literary criticism - which is what his essays are in the end - because he was unable to write a poem. Even his political treated Monarchy is a good read and one of the best justifications about the "divine right" out of there.) and of course, anedoctes say that he walked in the streets with people pointing at him "that man came out of hell for sure". Which is bollocks, but here I have heard a handful of Dante anedoctes to think there must be an italian literary tradition and hows how much your question is old: Dante managed to make his life be confuded with the character Dante just by saying he was in the half path of life, using the same name and meeting one or another person that he really knew (which are often the less interesting people in the comedy but I suppose the most interesting people for those living at that time).

    Yes, and everyone makes his own canon. Many adults are permanently turned off from authors like Dostoyevsky and Dickens because they were compelled to read them in High School and found the experience unpleasant. The Bible can be even more of a problem because some are compelled to read it in childhood. Some learn to love it in time, but others are alienated. In adulthood, both groups often reduce its complexity to childish terms (behave so Santa Claus will bring you presents). Some feel they've grown out of it when what they have really grown out of is Sunday School. And of course Internet nihilism is the new Sunday School. It seems to have a longer shelf life.
    Yes, of course, personal experience is everything in literature, and it is even more relevant when we consider re-reading a work, because it is always another experience (apparently, kids know about it, since they often ask for the same bedtime story, somehow in the way, we lost that knowledge).

    She was crafty enough to endure her many #me too moments long enough for the sexual predators to get "called out," but uppity enough (and uppity's important) to keep her options open till the end.
    Yeah, but she still the girl that just is ok with her stranned husband... I guess the war of troy real timeline was but a weekend. "Telemachus my son, your father said he went to buy cigars, can you find him for me?". Jokes aside, of course she is a great character and has great momments that can be used to bring up the feminine point of view (i suppose there are thousands versions of the story from her point of view, i mean, ovid heroides starts with her letter to Ulysses and it is quite touching. Ovid a trully feminist champion. I guess that is why Augusts banned him), but one would be naive to see her as feminist icon of sorts. She is a model wife, I may be wrong, but the main point of feminism is that it is not always the only role woman should have and heck, they have Sappho around. She is from Lesbos! She is victim of fake news. Negative PR campaings! The appeal there is so big, how to miss it?



    Oh, that reminds me, I'm continuing to hear great things about Madeline Miller's Circe, which I mentioned to you a few weeks ago. Miller turns out to be a High School classics teacher and an American who is not actively writing about what a bad place America is, so naturally Booker snubbed her. Her earlier book, The Song of Achilles, emphasized the Achilles-Patroclus bromance/love thing, no big deal to a classicist, but apparently shocking/interesting/"diverse" to a generation that learned about the Iliad from Brad Pitt. Miller takes a feminist approach to Circe, which is of course perfect for the character. She also fleshes out Circe's connections to Medea, Scylla, the Minotaur, et al., so that her famous brush with Odysseus' "rape culture" pigs becomes just one tale of many. I'm not sure whether I'd like the novel or find it insipid, but I'll probably give it a chance once its price falls a little.
    Miller's book are starting to float in the river, but price still prohibitive unless it is an e-book (and even so, not that tasty yet). I saw also she has a book about Galatea (and considering it is myth i enjoy, I just suspect Miller is using an aim to target that maybe quite interesting for me), but that is how the hunt starts. Medea is one of my favorite old plays and character (I feel a pity that i never saw and interesting Argonauts version to read), so, a link with her wedding, Circe and all are interesting to me.

    You may also like to know about Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls, which is a feminist take on the Iliad--or at least a novel about Briseis and the thousands of women (according to the author) in the Greek camp. According to the dust jacket, these included "the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead". The same sentence claims, in a moment of particularly ridiculous pearl-clutching, that these women were "erased by history." It's a silly claim, of course, because almost everything we have about the Trojan war is ahistorical (not that the ancient Greeks even had nurses--female or otherwise). So not mentioned by the ancient poets is more like it. I've heard this novel is otherwise well written though.
    Homero is history

    Anyways, this reminds me of Tolkien defense to cricism about the treatment (or lack of, since the only woman is the dwarf) of woman in Lord of The Rings. He claimed this was a war story (not, so more a wandering story) and in war there is no much space for women. Honestly that is BS. Tolkien just didn't knew (or didn't wanted to try) how to write female characters (not that he knew that well how to write any character, but well, he knew less how to write females). The kind of mythology he knew and used in his works (nordic, celtic) is filled with shield maidens, i mean, Khremild and Brunhild are the main characters of Volsunga/Nibelugen/Eddas, they are the real dramatic power in Siegfried story, and in some versions Brunhild is some sort of invencible warrior (either Tolkien adapted from there or not). And even if you admit that there should be no woman warrior, heck, wars are terrible exactly because everyone is damaged by it.

    So, ok, there must be other women in the camps, certainly plenty in Troy (and Homer only sentimental momment is exactly about this, Hector farewell to his wife and kids), but Iliad is not a war poem, is poem about Achilles being a pain in the *** and Diomeds being cool. You do not need to mention prostitutes or even have Briseis talk to show it. Ok, fair, the poem because popular because the target audience was male (and lets face it, it is a boy thing. If we think in something similar to the poem, it would be hollywood action flicks with substance, not the brad pitt movie, but something like stallone mercenaries - the most badasses warriors assemble and fight - Homer was great with action), sure, the woes of women in the war gone (if there was ever one), but it is not like the greeks, century after, with their grief and guilty trip for the war, didn't tried to look the women in the conflict. Most of the surviving and best trojan plays are about the woman in the war, with Helen being judged, Cassiopeia fate and all. Ok,too, Pat Baker (or however wrote the dust jacket) are doing some promotion, targeting their public with that claim. It is historical as the poem. I am a sucker for Trojan stories, a feminist vision won't hurt me at all (if well written, I mean, when I was a teen, Mists of Avalon didn't hurt me, but heck, if Tennyson poems are not way better and already trying to work with the point of view of the women in the myth or the poems about Lot's Wife by Akhamatova and Szymborska) I even tried the BBC Troy series (which became controversial because Zeus, Achiles and afew others are black but to me the real problem was how bad the actors were, Paris even, so I gave up even if they were at least working with the idea the Gods were there and not the Hollywood version that made every ancient person a modern skeptical citzen).

    Well, I wouldn't have wanted to travel to Ireland with her. She would have scared off the stewardesses and probably made me get up a million times so she could get by to pee. And God help the baby crying in the seat behind us.
    She could turn in a owl, no? The travel would be cheaper and faster.


    Interesting. We have traditional folk songs here that end like that ("Never speak harsh words to your true lovin' husband" and that sort of thing). Where I was in Africa, there was quite a lot of infant mortality. It was caused by contaminated drinking water and infectious disease, but many people thought it was caused by witches--male witches--who lived off in the woods. They were supposed to send a vampire-like spirit to suck the baby's (or anyone else's) life away. The vampire spirits didn't really exist, of course, but the witches did. People would go find them and pay or give them things to curse the people and families they hated. They were dangerous people and sometimes (though rarely) came into town to commit atrocities in person. It was strange living in a place where witches were real. But they were only real in a certain way. They were real like the mentally ill are real. Their occult crap was just smoke and mirrors.
    Well, in Romania they taxes the activity of witchcraft. I just remember smoke can make you caugh and between mirrors and a mobile, with vanity do you prefer?
    #foratemer

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    I wrote an extensive response to your last post, which I have just managed to permanently delete. I am leaving to spend some time at my father's now. I'll be gone at least a week, maybe more depending on his health. I'll try again when I return.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    That’s quite interesting topic.

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    I'm sorry to say I'll have to be away indefinitely--maybe until next year. Svejorange, welcome and if you like the thread leave an opinion. JC's a pretty erudite guy. JCamilio, sorry man, I've got three major family things happening at once. I'll be back when I can. I wouldn't look for me in 2018, though. Talk to you when I can.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    3 things are quite mystical. Take your time. Maybe without our rambling people will start posting here
    #foratemer

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