Saturday, March 14, 2015

New Yorker notes, March 16th, 2015 issue

The article on Sappho in this week's New Yorker is worthy of its subject. Daniel Mendelsohn builds masterfully toward some incredible moments. The last lines of the essay: "Where, exactly, does the "Old Age Poem" end? Was it a melancholy testament to the mortifying effects of age or a triumphant assertion of the power of beauty, of the "finer things" -of poetry itself- to redeem the ravages of time? Even as we strain to hear this remarkable woman's sweet speech, the thrumming in our ears grows louder."

I was reading Werner Herzog's incredible book of reflections on the making of Fitzcarraldo, CONQUEST OF THE USELESS, and came across a mention of Vargas Llosa. Where had I just seen that name? Oh yeah, in this week's New Yorker. So I went back to read that article and stopped in my tracks when I read, "Mad Peru hurt Vargas Llosa into fiction long before it pushed him toward politics. In fact, his pursuit of the first probably assured his failure at the second, since, as he himself has argued, "good literature always ends up showing those who read it...the inevitable limitation of all power to fulfill human aspirations and desires."

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