1. 
Summer. Friends pose for a photograph on a beach. They are tanned and at ease in their outfits of white linen and cotton. The men cover their heads against the bright sun, the women wear their hair bobbed or tied back. They look in the prime of life, mostly in their late twenties or early thirties: young professionals (lawyers, publishers, teachers, a couple of artists) on a group holiday at the Mediterranean coast. They smile or gaze at the view; a small child in its mother’s lap waves to the camera. The photographer—no doubt a local, working the beach during the season—has carefully inscribed the plate with his reference number and the date: 25/vii/1914. The beach is at Novi Vinodolski, on the Adriatic.
The confident man of twenty-nine sitting at the bottom of the photograph is my grandfather Béla Zombory-Moldován, a young artist oblivious to the fact that his carefree holiday is about to be cut short. In three days his country, Austria-Hungary, will be at war. A week from now he will be in uniform, and in just over a month he will be a thousand kilometers away, watching in horror as his comrades are torn apart by Russian artillery in the forests of Galicia.
—Peter Zombory-Moldovan, from the introduction to the First World War memoir The Burning of the World by Béla Zombory-Moldován

The Burning of the World, which Booklist, in a starred review, called “haunting, heartbreaking, and beautifully written,” will be available, for the first time anywhere, on August 5, 2014.

    Summer. Friends pose for a photograph on a beach. They are tanned and at ease in their outfits of white linen and cotton. The men cover their heads against the bright sun, the women wear their hair bobbed or tied back. They look in the prime of life, mostly in their late twenties or early thirties: young professionals (lawyers, publishers, teachers, a couple of artists) on a group holiday at the Mediterranean coast. They smile or gaze at the view; a small child in its mother’s lap waves to the camera. The photographer—no doubt a local, working the beach during the season—has carefully inscribed the plate with his reference number and the date: 25/vii/1914. The beach is at Novi Vinodolski, on the Adriatic.

    The confident man of twenty-nine sitting at the bottom of the photograph is my grandfather Béla Zombory-Moldován, a young artist oblivious to the fact that his carefree holiday is about to be cut short. In three days his country, Austria-Hungary, will be at war. A week from now he will be in uniform, and in just over a month he will be a thousand kilometers away, watching in horror as his comrades are torn apart by Russian artillery in the forests of Galicia.

    —Peter Zombory-Moldovan, from the introduction to the First World War memoir The Burning of the World by Béla Zombory-Moldován

    The Burning of the World, which Booklist, in a starred review, called “haunting, heartbreaking, and beautifully written,” will be available, for the first time anywhere, on August 5, 2014.

  2. 
What in my view brings home the extent of our ignorance is not so much the facts which really are facts, but which we cannot explain, as the explanations we produce of the facts which are not facts at all; which is as much as to say that while we have no principles that should lead us to the truth, we have plenty of others well calculated to lead us away from it.
—Fontenelle, quoted in Paul Hazard’s Crisis of the European Mind

This entry into the Classics and Coffee Club comes with a recommendation from the proprietor of Something by Virtue of Nothing, who says: 

I think that anyone who lives abroad or travels extensively should read at least chapter one of this book. Even where one might disagree, the light-handed style of this heavily informative book is easy to argue with.

As always: If you have a photo of an NYRB Classic posed with a cup of coffee or tea, send it to this address and we’ll add it to the Classics and Coffee Club series. And let us know where you bought or borrowed the book from—we’d be glad to shout out places that stock NYRB Classics.

    What in my view brings home the extent of our ignorance is not so much the facts which really are facts, but which we cannot explain, as the explanations we produce of the facts which are not facts at all; which is as much as to say that while we have no principles that should lead us to the truth, we have plenty of others well calculated to lead us away from it.

    —Fontenelle, quoted in Paul Hazard’s Crisis of the European Mind

    This entry into the Classics and Coffee Club comes with a recommendation from the proprietor of Something by Virtue of Nothing, who says: 

    I think that anyone who lives abroad or travels extensively should read at least chapter one of this book. Even where one might disagree, the light-handed style of this heavily informative book is easy to argue with.

    As always: If you have a photo of an NYRB Classic posed with a cup of coffee or tea, send it to this address and we’ll add it to the Classics and Coffee Club series. And let us know where you bought or borrowed the book from—we’d be glad to shout out places that stock NYRB Classics.

  3. On Literary Traveling Companions: Rebecca West and Patrick Leigh Fermor →

    For the first time in years I’m actually taking a substantial vacation, one that involves airplanes and oceans and everything. Which also means that for the first time in years I can read travel books without experiencing crippling jealousy … Continued

    At Book Riot, James Crossley of Island Books in Mercer Island, Washington pays tribute to two complementary masters of the travelogue, Rebecca West (her novel The Fountain Overflows is an NYRB Classic) and Patrick Leigh Fermor.

  4. “Agostino recommends itself as an ideal literary beach read that can be soaked up in one or two sittings, so adroit is Moravia’s use of a seaside setting as a charm for psychological discovery and sand-encrusted epiphanies.”

    — At the BN Review, Christopher Byrd takes a look at Alberto Moravia’s Agostino newly translated by Michael F. Moore.

    (Source: bnreview.barnesandnoble.com)

  5. image

    —the last entries in the “Golden Notebook” from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s The Waste Books, for your Thursday.

  6. Summer Sale Happening Now

    Books new! Books old! Books for you! Books for your kids!

    Lampedusa • Pavese • Manchette • Gallant • Balzac • Stafford • Baker • Wedgwood • Renoir • Wescott • Kundhardt • Chatterjee • Amis • Horne & more…

  7. "Why is it more fun to translate poetry?"

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    You can be a bit freer—no, why is it more fun to translate? I feel like with poetry you can … I spend longer on each word. I spend a lot more time per word on poetry than in a novel. You can’t pore over a novel in quite the same way you can with a book of poetry. And I do feel that translating poetry, there’s a little bit more room for “freedom” in the translation process. The emphasis is at least as much on sound and rhythm as it is on meaning. It’s not that that isn’t there in novels, but the balance of power is a little bit more on meaning in a novel. Very concrete and specific things are happening and those things need to be conveyed, relatively accurately, so that the reader isn’t confused, or else the novel is no longer effective. It’s more just about that balance of where the energy is going.

    —Kareem James Abu-Zeid in an interview with Three Percent, on translating Najwan Darwish’s Nothing More To Lose

    To read the rest of the interview, visit Three Percent's website.

  8. explore-blog:

Best news ever: Beloved Finnish artist Tove Jansson, creator of the iconic Moomin series, will be gracing a new Euro coin.
To celebrate, here are Jansson’s enchanting vintage illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit.

Our new collection of Jansson’s short stories (none before available in the US), The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, with an introduction by Lauren Groff, comes out this fall.

    explore-blog:

    Best news ever: Beloved Finnish artist Tove Jansson, creator of the iconic Moomin series, will be gracing a new Euro coin.

    To celebrate, here are Jansson’s enchanting vintage illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit.

    Our new collection of Jansson’s short stories (none before available in the US), The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, with an introduction by Lauren Groff, comes out this fall.

  9. Neil Gaiman answered readers’ questions about James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks for the Wall Street Journal's Book Club. Here is his response to the submission: “Was James Thurber thinking of pleasing the reader when he wrote this story, or was he writing for pure joy, to please himself?.”  In the answer, Gaiman describes his Stardust as being the most similar to The 13 Clocks of all his books, touches on issues of genre, and shouts out Sylvia Townsend Warner.

    You can watch the full conversation here.

  10. 10 Crime Writers to Read Now →

    Jane Ciabattari’s picks, including Leonardo Sciascia, “one of the first writers who dared to reveal how the mafia controlled small towns in his native Sicily.”

  11. “The author’s charming and useful tendency to lose track of his destination became a serious real-life problem in the case of the books about the walk across Europe—the most beloved of his works, which have achieved the status of cult classics particularly among adventure-bent youth…. However many the detours, Leigh Fermor’s youthful journey did have a destination, which the author finally reached: he got to ‘Constantinople’ on New Year’s Eve, 1935, a little shy of his twenty-first birthday.”

    — In case you missed it: Daniel Mendelsohn wrote about the concluding volume of Patrick Leigh Fermor's legendary trilogy, as well as PLF's “helpless penchant for digressions literal and figurative” in the June 19, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books

  12. NYRB Classics that will take you to the sea—or at least to the pool—this weekend:

    A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes

    In the words of one reviewer, this is a “tiny, crazy” novel about kids on a pirate ship.

    Afloat, by Guy de Maupassant

    A logbook kept by Guy de Maupassant while cruising the French Mediterranean coast that’s also a passionate argument against war.

    The Wine-Dark Sea, by Leonardo Sciascia

    Spend a little time on the Sicilian coast with Sciascia’s tormented wives, romantic commuters, and accidentally murdered Cardinals.

    The Professor and the Siren, by Giuseppe di Tomasi Lampedusa

    In this slim story collection, Lampedusa sends a young professor on a swim in the Mediterranean that changes his life—mainly his love life—forever.

    The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bengtsson

    Vikings! Specifically, Red Orm the Viking—the best Viking that never was.

    Agostino, by Alberto Moravia

    Get your Oedipal complex and your tan on with Moravia’s confused young hero, his mother, and some tough Tuscan seasiders.

    A Way of Life, Like Any Other, by Darcy O’Brien

    By the son of movie stars George O’Brien and Marguerite Churchill, this novel will bring you to the palatial Hollywood Hills estate, Casa Fiesta, where relaxation and manipulation go hand in hand.

    The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson

    In the summer, Finns take to tiny islands in the Gulf of Finland to enjoy the season—and now you can, too, with Jansson’s dreamy novel.

    In Hazard, by Richard Hughes

    If chilling out isn’t your thing, board the overloaded merchant ship, the Archimedes: it’s most definitely heading off course and into danger.

  13. Valerie Miles (who wrote about Josep Pla for The Paris Review blog)  recently visited Palafrugell, Spain. There she saw some stunning views of the Mediterranean and spent time with Pla’s original manuscript pages of the Gray Notebook at the Fundació Josep Pla.

    18 July 1918

    In the late afternoon I went to our farmhouse. They were threshing with the mares. The sun has scorched everyone. The mix of dust, chaff, and sweat adds a claylike crust to eyes, already a ghostly white, that now turn the hue of a fly’s wing at twilight. The animals shine with sweat and froth white at the mouth. The laborers unyoke them and sit on the ground, exhausted.

    I walk home in a luminously white, pale pink twilight under the arching sky’s deep, sterile blue.

    A young woman walks past the café terrace, that disturbing, constrained, opaque allure of adolescence, her short skirt ballooning out over taut flesh, rear, thighs, and full legs. A man at the next table winks at me.

    If I remember correctly, his hair fell messily over his forehead and his eyes were large, blank, and deep-set—adrift in a haze—his pink cheek tinged with crimson.

    The girl has gone and what remains hanging in the air is my neighbor’s sinister wink.

    If our souls represent our capacity for hope—our hopes—that has to be why so many of us are such empty vessels.

    I wouldn’t know how to choose between those who never say no and those who never say yes. They are the two most frequent stances adopted by our country’s extremists.

    —Josep Pla, The Gray Notebook, translated by Peter Bush

  14. 
I asked one of the monks how he could sum up, in a couple of words, his way of life. He paused a moment and said, “Have you ever been in love?” I said, “Yes.” A large Fernandel smile spread across his face. “Eh bien,” he said, “c’est exactement pareil …”
—Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time to Keep Silence

As always: If you have a photo of an NYRB Classic posed with a cup of coffee or tea, send it to this address and we’ll add it to the Classics and Coffee Club series. And let us know where you bought or borrowed the book from—we’d be glad to shout out places that stock and lend NYRB Classics.

    I asked one of the monks how he could sum up, in a couple of words, his way of life. He paused a moment and said, “Have you ever been in love?” I said, “Yes.” A large Fernandel smile spread across his face. “Eh bien,” he said, “c’est exactement pareil …”

    —Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time to Keep Silence

    As always: If you have a photo of an NYRB Classic posed with a cup of coffee or tea, send it to this address and we’ll add it to the Classics and Coffee Club series. And let us know where you bought or borrowed the book from—we’d be glad to shout out places that stock and lend NYRB Classics.

  15. The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette

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    Mothers were shielding their children by covering them with their bodies. The whole mass was shrieking. Thompson was doubled over with laughter.

    —Jean-Patrick Manchette, The Mad and the Bad, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith

    The Mad and the Bad goes on sale today.