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Saint Ursula, Francesco Ruschi, 1st half of 17th century
On Salvador Dalis wife Gala
When Salvador Dals wife Gala died in 1982, the first person outside of his household to hear the news was Juan Carlos, the King of Spain. Dal telephoned the reigning monarch himself, and for once, this was not an act of posturing or presumption on his behalf. By then, the once destitute artist had become a surrealist superstar, a multi-millionaire, a man whose supreme genius landed him the nickname el maestro, the title of a Marquess, endless fawning fans and an equally endless litany of clingers-on, copycats and sycophants. Dal had met Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, when he was at the tender age of twenty-four (and, the story goes, still virginal). She was ten years his senior and they lived together for the next fifty-three years, until her death. How would he fare without her?
Not well. Following her funeral Dal locked himself away in his surrealist tower, in Pbol, Spain, drew the curtains and refused to eat or drink. He denied entry to his friends and aides and forbade anyone to speak Galas name. As he wrote in Confessions Inconfessables in 1973, the castle itself was a testament to his love:
Everything celebrates the cult of Gala, even the round room, with its perfect echo that crowns the building as a whole and which is like a dome of this Galactic cathedral. When I walk around this house I look at myself and I see my concentricity. I like its moorish rigour. I needed to offer Gala a case more solemnly worthy of our love. That is why I gave her a mansion built on the remains of a 12th century castle: the old castle of Pbol in La Bisbal, where she would reign like an absolute sovereign, right up to the point that I could visit her only by hand-written invitation from her. I limited myself to the pleasure of decorating her ceilings so that when she raised her eyes, she would always find me in her sky.
In 1984, two years after her death, a fire broke out in his bedroom under suspicious circumstances and Dal was horribly burnt. In the hospital they discovered he was suffering from severe malnutrition and his staff was accused of negligence. But th...
In our series Writers Fridges, we bring you snapshots of the abyss that writers stare into most frequently: their refrigerators.
Do you see that half-eaten can of tuna on the top shelf? That was a mistake. Most of the food in my fridge is inedible. It would be inedible even if the stink of tuna hadnt penetrated through it all, because its old. Im almost never at home in Los Angeles, where this fridge lives. I travel a lot, and when Im in California, I go to Lukes house, two hours away. Lukes fridge is a lot like Luke: exploding with deliciousness. Who could be luckier than me? Luke opens his mouth and whole chocolate cakes fall out. He snaps his fingers and voilchicken cacciatore. One time he rolled over in bed and left in his wake an entire patch of strawberries. I dont know how to explain it. Hes the most wonderful man in the world. Im always well-fed when Luke is around.
Then I come home, alone, to thisrotten lettuce. I just tried pouring that Soleil carbonated water over ice, and even the ice smelled like fish.
Actually, the lettuce isnt completely rotten.
Its a boring story, how I ended up being someone who hates to go to the grocery store. I used to love it. But then I found an apartment in East Hollywood with such limited street parking, I very rarely drive anywhereI dont want to risk losing my parking spot. And I have spinal stenosis, among other back problems, which makes carrying heavy things, like groceries, difficult. But the Vons supermarket near my place is kind of gr...
Priestess of Bacchus, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1894
Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2012), by M. V. Tlostanova and Walter Mignolo (PDF at Ohio State)
Literature and Identity in The Golden Ass of Apuleius (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2012), by Luca Graverini, trans. by Benjamin Todd Lee (PDF at Ohio State)
Literary Identification from Charlotte Bront to Tsitsi Dangarembga (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2012), by Laura Morgan Green (PDF at Ohio State)
Antinous: A Poem (Lisbon: Monteiro and Co., 1918), by Fernando Pessoa (stable link)
A Funny Book About the Ashantees (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1880), by Ernest Henry Griset (page images at Florida)
What We Now Know About Race and Ethnicity (open access library edition; New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2018), by Michael Banton (PDF files with commentary at berghahnbooks.com)
Dissertation on the Gipsies: Being an Historical Enquiry, Concerning the Manner of Life, conomy, Customs and Conditions of These People in Europe, and Their Origin (London: Printed for the editor by G. Bigg, 1787), by Heinrich Moritz Gottlieb Grellmann, trans. by Matthew Raper (stable link)
The Inequality of Human Races (London: W. Heinemann, 1915), by Arthur Gobineau, trans. by Adrian Collins, contrib. by Oscar Levy (multiple formats at archive.org)
Instructions and Forms to be Observed in Applying for Navy Pensions Under the Act of July 14, 1862 (Washington: GPO, 1862), by United States Pension Bureau (stable link)
Kwan-Yin (San Francisco: Printed by E. Grabhorn, 1922), by Stella Benson (stable link)
More Tales by Polish Authors (Oxford: B. H. Blackwell, 1916), ed. by Else C. M. Benecke and Marie Busch, contrib. by Adam Szymaski, Wadyslaw Stanisaw Reymont, Stefan eromski, Wacaw Sieroszewski, and Bolesaw Prus (stable link)
Regulations for the Government of the United States Navy, 1865 (Washington, U.S. Govt. Prin. Off., 1865), by United States Navy Department (stable link)
Shakespeare's Garland: Being a Collection of New Songs, Ballads, Roundelays, Catches, Glees, Comic-Serenatas, &c., Performed at the Jubilee at Sratford Upon Avon ("Sratford" spelling from the title page; lyrics only; London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. de Hondt, 1769), ed. by David Garrick (stable link)
Shakespeare's Legal Acquirements Considered (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1859), by Baron John Campbell (stable link)
Songs, Chorusses, &c., Which Are Introduced in the New Entertainment of the Jubilee, at the Theatre Royal, in Drury-Lane (lyrics only; London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, 1769), ed. by David Garrick (stable link)
I Pose (London: Macmillan and Co., 1915), by Stella Benson (page images at HathiTrust)
Naval Retiring Board: Speech of Hon. Sam Houston, of Texas, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, March 18, 1856. (Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1856), by Sam Houston (page images at HathiTrust)
Holders of Doctorates Among American Negroes: An Educational and Social Study of Negroes Who Have Earned Doctoral Degrees in Course, 1876-1943 (Boston: Meador Pub. Co., c1946), by Harry W. Greene (page images at HathiTrust)
A Brief Genealogy of the Loughry Family of Pennsylvania (1923), by Julia A. Jewett (page images at HathiTrust)
History of Bridgewater, Maine (Manchester, ME: Falmouth Pub. House, 1953), by Annie E. Rideout (page images at HathiTrust)
The Dark Blue (London-based literary magazine, 1871-1873), ed. by John C. Freund (full serial archives)
The Atlas of New Librarianship (originally published 2011), by R. David Lankes (PDF with commentary at davidlankes.org)
Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today's Complex World (second edition, c2016), by R. David Lankes (PDF with commentary at davidlankes.org)
The Mississippi Encyclopedia (online edition, 2018) (searchable illustrated HTML at mississippiencyclopedia.org)
The Alphabet; And, Easy Words of One, Two, and Three Syllables (Cobb Toys third series #1; Newark, NJ: B. Olds, 1835), by Lyman Cobb (multiple formats at archive.org)
Zineb el Rhazoui is a Moroccan-born French human rights activist and a former columnist for the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo. She published several articles on religious minorities in the journal Le Journal Hebdomadaire, an independent publication banned by the Moroccan government in 2010. After being arrested three times by the Moroccan government, El Rhazoui was eventually forced into exile in Slovenia. She co-founded the pro-democracy, pro-secularism movement MALI before joining Charlie Hebdo in 2011. In 2013, she co-authored the comic book The Life of Mohamed with then Charlie Hebdo editor Stphane Charbonnier. El Rhazoui was on holiday on January 7, 2015, when two gunmen opened fire in the Charlie Habdo offices in Paris, killing twelve people, including Charbonnier. She and other surviving members of the staff returned immediately to work, publishing an issue of the magazine just days later which featured a global cry of solidarity: Je Suis Charlie.
El Rhazoui visited City of Asylum Pittsburgh in September 2017 as an honored guest to give the annual Freedom to Write Lecture. She spoke with Sampsonia Way about her experience growing up as a woman in an Islamic theocracy, her life of resistance and advocacy, and the hope that she sees for the future, in the Arab world and beyond.
One of the most striking things for me in reading your work is that your ideas are so strongly rooted in your experience growing up in Morocco. Can you start there and talk about growing up, and being young under Hassan II? How that was for you as a young woman?
I was born a young woman in a dictatorship where the others used to say when I was a child, Shh the walls have ears, they can hear you so never talk about the king, it can be very dangerous for all of us. So a dictatorship and an Islamic theocracy at the same time. You are ruled by very strong religious and political rules. There is no freedom of speech. No freedom of criticizing the regime. I grew up with terrible stories of people who disappeared, who have been tortured, entire families who have been arrested, etcetera. At the same time, there was the fear o...
East Greek perfume flask in the shape of a monkey. Artist unknown; ca. 580-550 BCE. Now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
As a teenager, my view of the world was bleak. I was the only one of my small group of misfit friends to leave home and go away to college. Not long before I did, I saw Agns Vardas film Vagabond. I cant remember if I saw it at the local art-house cinema (which went out of business the same year) or if I pulled it off the rack at the neighborhood video-rental store or if I happened upon it on Cinemax, which in the late eighties was known for showing the HBO leftovers: foreign films and soft porn. Im fairly certain I saw Vagabond alone.
There were few female heroines that made sense to me growing up in the eighties, an era whose filmic representations were overwhelmed by John Hughes and his bubblegum suburbia, where misunderstood girls were eventually sexualized and therefore welcomed to the ranks of fitting in. That kind of conformist resolution was unsettling to me. Agns Varda finally gave me a female protagonist who didnt compromise.
Vagabond interweaves its story in a hybrid documentary style. It opens with a young woman named Mona dead in a ditch. The police investigate the scene, take pictures, and wrap her up in plastic as if she is being put out with the trash. Varda offers a short voice-over: No one claimed the body I know little about her myself, but it seems to me she came from the sea. Varda then fades into the role of a silent offscreen filmmaker interviewing the people who encountered Mona in the weeks leading up to her death. With the exception of Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire) and a few other key roles, most of the characters are played by nonprofessionals, locals from the area. They speak directly to the camera, recalling how they met Mona. To them she is, alternately, a blank slate, a whore, a romantic, a symbol of freedom, a nuisance, a protg, or easy pickings.
But when I first watched Mona, she captivated me, her unapologetic independence a beacon of what I yearned for. In the scenes that follow these initial interviews, Mona, still alive, drifts through the wintry South of France, her stringy un...
On revisiting Dubuss female characters.
The man, who I will not name, had started his fifties but looked older, paunchy, with thinning curls. We overlapped for two weeks at a writing residency in another country. He was the head of the department of creative writing at a large university and was the type of clich that was amusing at firstthe defeated, world-weary writing professor, the sad, self-involved blowhard, mourning his youth and his lost early promise. He was a faded, aging never-quite-was who name-dropped the famous poets at his wedding, and he both did and did not want you to know about his unfolding divorce. (Lets just say theres been a disturbance in the marriage. Lets just say Im not feeling particularly fond of Geminis these days. Lets just say I dont have a lot of sympathy for adulterous poets right now.) The type of clich who is amusing at first but, in short time, devolves into despicable. He was loathsome.
He lectured about writersnot in a formal sense but in the sense that to engage in conversation with him was to feel oneself being lecturedand at one point landed on the work of Andre Dubus, the short-story writer who was born in Louisiana in 1936 and died in 1999, who spent much of his life writing and teaching in Massachusetts, had three wives, and was the father of the writer Andre Dubus III (as well as five other children).
Im not supposed to talk about Dubus, he said.
Why not? I asked.
Ive been told hes not PC. Thats what my students have said. My female students. That the way he writes women Here, he made a vague gesture with his hand and pursed his lips. I cant really comment, he said.
This was two months before the ignition of #MeToo. I wanted to tell him he was wrong or that the female students who told him were. I am better able than you to say how well he writes women, I thought. And at that point, I wouldve argued Dubus writes women very well.
I was basing this on a period eleven years ago when I read Dubuss short stories, novellas, and essays with a fervency near unmatched in my reading life. Age twenty-eight, I fell hardfor the depth and humanity of his characters, for his exploration of the limits and limitlessness of love, for the rhythm of his sentences, for describing...
Like its elusive hero, The Life and Adventures of Joaqun Murieta (1854) is difficult to pin down. It has the distinction of being the first novel published in California, the first novel published by a Native American, and the first American novel to feature a Mexican protagonist. Its story draws together transformational events in the history of three nations, connecting the California gold rush with the Cherokee Trail of Tears and the Mexican-American War. It blends elements of epic, folktale, revenge tragedy, and romanceyet historians have often treated it as a factual record. It has been repurposed, and sometimes plagiarized, throughout the U.S., Mexico, Europe, and Latin America; in publications ranging from the California Police Gazette to the popular Fulgor y muerte de Joaqun Murieta (Splendor and Death of Joaqun Murieta), a play by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda; and the 1998 Hollywood film The Mask of Zorro (in which Joaquns brother, played by Antonio Banderas, takes up the mask of Zorro). While few Americans today would recognize the name of Joaqun Murieta, most are familiar with figures such as Zorro and Batman, whose creators were inspired by this sensational account of vigilante justice and righteous violence. Paradoxically, John Rollin Ridges book (published under his Cherokee name, Yellow Bird) has become both one of the most influential and one of the most invisible novels in the history of American literature.
In addition to its profound and wide-ranging cultural influence, Joaqun Murieta is distinguished by Ridges formal and thematic ambitions. Formally, Ridge stretches the conventions of sensational crime fiction to plot not just the rapid and mysterious movements of his protagonist across Californias sparsely settled landscapes but also Murietas conflicted character and the ideological tensions between individual and collective motives. The novels formal idiosyncrasiesinterpolating a landscape poem; jumping around in space and time; and shifting among t...
Statuette of the deity Anubis (plastered and painted wood). Artist unknown; 332-30 BCE (Ptolemaic period). Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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