Click to read Reddit users spreading love for: Oakley Hall, Platonov, Sorokin, Amis—and getting ready for the forthcoming Ocampo books.
Notes from NYRB Classics
Click to read Reddit users spreading love for: Oakley Hall, Platonov, Sorokin, Amis—and getting ready for the forthcoming Ocampo books.
FALL PREVIEW—PART II
Here’s the second half of NYRB’s fall list, with books from our Classics, Children’s Collection, Poets, and non-Classics imprints, and our newest series, Calligrams, with writings on and about China.
Midnight in the Century by Victor Serge, translated from the French and with an introduction by Richard Greeman
A searching novel about a group of revolutionaries—true believers in a cause that no longer exists—living in unlikely exile among Russian Orthodox Old Believers, also suffering for their faith. “Like Koestler in ‘Darkness at Noon,’ Serge seems to be saying that man, the particular, is more important than mankind, the abstraction.”—John Leonard, The New York Times
The Door by Magda Szabó, a new translation from the Hungarian by Len Rix
In a prizewinning translation by Len Rix, Magda Szabó’s unsettling and beautiful novel about friendship and tragedy marks Szabó as a major modern European author and formidable writer of female characters. “Clever, moving, frightening, [The Door] deserves to be a bestseller.” —The Telegraph
Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Stories by Silvina Ocampo, introduction by Helen Oyeyemi, a new translation from the Spanish by Daniel Balderston, preface by Jorge Luis Borges
Dark, gothic, fantastic, and grotesque, Ocampo’s stories stand alongside those of her collaborators and countrymen Borges, Cortázar, and Bioy Casares. “Few writers have an eye for the small horrors of everyday life; fewer still see the everyday marvelous. Other than Ocampo, I cannot think of a single writer who … has chronicled both with such wise and elegant humor.” —Alberto Manguel
Zama by Antonio di Benedetto, translated from the Spanish and with an introduction by Esther Allen
First published in 1956, this novel set in colonial Paraguay is now universally recognized as one of the masterpieces of modern Argentinean and Spanish-language literature. “Scattered in various corners of Latin America and Spain, [Zama] had a few, fervent readers, almost all of them friends or unwarranted enemies…. [It is written with] the steady pulse of a neurosurgeon.”—Roberto Bolaño, from his story “Sensini”
Primitive Man As Philosopher by Paul Radin, introduction by Neni Panourgiá
Considered “a minor masterpiece of the Americanist tradition,” Paul Radin’s landmark anthropological study examines thought and religion in an array of aboriginal cultures through first hand accounts and a veritable anthology of poems and songs from the varied traditions. Readers both in and outside of the field will appreciate the rich and varied insights of this classic of anthropology.
Ending Up by Kingsley Amis
“I finished Kingsley Amis’s Ending Up with…a conviction, confirmed in work after work, that he is one of the few living novelists totally incapable of boring me. Ending Up is a sardonic little masterpiece which, with incredible economy and stylistic restraint, shows what old age is really like, and also—far, far better than any other writer I know—what contemporary England is like.” —Anthony Burgess
Take a Girl Like You by Kingsley Amis
Kingsley Amis’s most ambitious reckoning with his central theme—the degradation of modern life—Take a Girl Like You introduces one of the rare unqualified good guys in Amis’s rogue-ridden world: Jenny Bunn, a girl from the North English country has come south to teach school in a small smug town where she hopes to find love and fortune.
Cat Town: Selected Poems by Sakutarō Hagiwara, translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato
“Sakutarō Hagiwara is the ultimate modern Japanese poet. He first perfected the use of the colloquial language as a medium for modern poetic expression. Using that language, he reveals a sensibility that can be tough, neurotic, ironic, touching, and profound, sometimes all in the same poem. Always rhythmic and occasionally obscure, poem after poem can represent a scintillating verbal and spiritual adventure, particularly in the lucid and elegant translations created by Hiroaki Sato.”—J. Thomas Rimer
Silvina Ocampo, selected poems in a new translation from the Spanish by Jason Weiss
Ocampo studied with de Chirico and collaborated with Borges and Bioy Casares. Her poems were celebrated in Argentina but, until now, have been nearly unavailable in English. This selection spans her full career—from early nature sonnets to a late metaphysical turn—and shows her to be adept at “captur[ing] the magic inside everyday rituals” (Italo Calvino).
Lives of the New York Intellectuals: A Group Portrait by Edward Mendelson
One of contemporary America’s leading critics and scholars offers a provocative reassessment of the lives and work of eight influential twentieth-century American writers: Lionel Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, W.H. Auden, William Maxwell, Saul Bellow, Alfred Kazin, Norman Mailer, and Frank O’Hara.
The Three Leaps of Wang Lun: A Chinese Novel by Alfred Döblin, translated from the German by C.D. Godwin
Alfred Döblin’s debut work of fiction, the first in western literature to depict Chinese history in great detail and considered by many the first modern German novel, is a dazzling expressionist epic about imperial court life, outcasts, martial arts, religion, and revolution. “I consider Döblin’s 1915 novel, The Three Leaps of Wang Lun, the best contemporary novel by far. It exhibits an entirely superior, most rare, talent. It is true art.” —Max Horkheimer
Chinese Rhyme-Prose translated from the Chinese by Burton Watson
Burton Watson’s monumental compilation of fu—or, rhyme-prose poetry—is considered one of the most important anthologies of Chinese literature available in English and, until now, has been out of print for decades. The poems, full of abandoned cities, mountainscapes, owls and goddesses, are rendered here in Watson’s masterful English translation for a new generation of readers to enjoy.
The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons by Liu Hsieh, translated from the Chinese and annotated by Vincent Yu-chung Shih
The first comprehensive work of literary criticism in Chinese, The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons was written some 1,500 years ago by critic Liu Hsieh whose encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese literature is organized here according to the I Ching. A dazzling, elegant compendium of literary concepts both alien and familiar, Hsieh’s book is indispensable for anyone interested in Chinese literature or in the art of writing itself.
The Complete Bostock and Harris by Leon Garfield
The Complete Bostock and Harris combines two delightful, suspenseful, and madly funny tales of Harris and the not-so-bright Bostock, a rollicking best-friend duo who’ve been through thick and thin together in eighteenth-century Brighton. “A delicious literary concoction bubbling along with the author’s perfect sense of dramatic timing and with his mixture of earthy humor and effervescent wit.”—The Horn Book Magazine
It’s what he would want.
With reasonable care and a hell of a lot of luck you might last another ten years, or five years, or two years, or six months, but then of course again on the other hand as I’m sure you’ll appreciate trying to be completely objective about the matter you might not. So in future, if there is any, every birthday is going to have a lot of things about it that make it feel like your last one, and the same with every evening out, and after four of your five years or five of your six months the same with most things, up to and including getting into bed and waking up and the rest of it. So whichever way it turns out…it’s going to be difficult to feel you’ve won, and I don’t know which is worse, but I do know there’s enough about either of them to make you wish you could switch to the other for a bit. And it’s knowing that every day it’s more and more likely that one or the other of them will start tomorrow morning that makes the whole business so riveting.
—Kingsley Amis, The Green Man
Let’s see, what have we got from 1963?
One Fat Englishman by Kingsley Amis
The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy (copyright 1963, 1964—but apparently published in ’64)
The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant
The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia*
Chaos and Night by Henry de Montherlant
Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge*
Miserable Miracle: Mescaline by Henri Michaux*
Born Under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists by Rudolph and Margot Wittkover
Three Ladies Beside the Sea Rhoda Levine, illustrated by Edward Gorey
*First translated into English in 1963
In honor of Dump Your Significant Jerk Day (today!), we offer you this picture of Kingsley Amis, asleep by the shore and ably punked by
a clever beach-goer/very disgruntled lover his wife, Hilly—in lipstick, no less.
There is almost an eternity of epic break-ups across the NYRB Classics series, but Amis penned some of the most dumpable jerks ever—jerks like Maurice Allington of The Green Man (cheating on his adoring wife Joyce with Diana; angling for a threesome with Diana and Joyce; left by both women for each other) and vain Sir Roy Vandervane of Girl, 20 (who to his latest youthful infatuation poetically intones, “What makes you such a howling bitch?”). And those are just two of the major dumpable jerks in Amis’ novels…don’t even get us started about Roger Micheldene from One Fat Englishman.
“You’ll find that marriage is a good short cut to the truth. No, not quite that. A way of doubling back to the truth. Another thing you’ll find is that the years of illusion aren’t those of adolescence, as the grown-ups try to tell us; they’re the ones immediately after it, say the middle twenties, the false maturity if you like, when you first get thoroughly embroiled in things and lose your head. Your age, by the way, Jim. That’s when you first realize that sex is important to other people besides yourself. A discovery like that can’t help knocking you off balance for a time.”
After you’ve sated yourself on the literary richness that is the Brooklyn Book Festival, you should really top of your day by attending the launch celebration for Kingsley Amis’ Girl, 20 and One Fat Englishman at NYC’s McNally Jackson Books. Discussing Amis and these books will be NYRB Classics editor, Edwin Frank, Katie Roiphe, author of In Praise of Messy Lives, Lucas Wittman, literary editor of The Daily Beast, Christian Lorentzen, editor at the London Review of Books, and Michael Moynihan, reporter at Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
Need we mention that alcohol will be served? No. We didn’t think so.
The party and discussion begins at 6PM. Visit the event page here for more info.
[Dixon] didn’t like having to breakfast so early. There was something about Miss Cutler’s cornflakes, her pallid fried eggs or bright red bacon, her explosive toast, her diuretic coffee which, much better than bearable at nine o’clock, his usual breakfast-time, seemed at eight-fifteen to summon from all the recesses of his frame every lingering vestige of crapulent headache, every relic of past nauseas, every echo of noises in the head.
—Kingsely Amis, Lucky Jim
A reader in Tuscon, Arizona, sent in this photo along with his favorite line from Lucky Jim:
He disliked this girl and her boy-friend so much that he couldn’t understand why they didn’t dislike each other.
"What’s it like in your country? We hear so many strange things of it which can’t be true. Not all of them."
"It’s beautiful, Hubert, which nobody believes who hasn’t seen it. And various, because it’s so extensive. Seven hundred miles from north to south, four hundred miles across in places, three times France. In the north-east in winter, everything freezes solid for three months; in the south, there are palm trees and lions and swamps and alligators…"
Sound familiar? The place described is New England, but not the one you know. Ready for a world where the Reformation never happened, electricity is considered “appallingly dangerous” in 1976, and a young choir boy is facing a hair-raising surgery? Kingsley Amis’ alternate history The Alteration is out now, a vivid take on a repressive religious society that Phillip K. Dick called “ One of the best- possibly the best- alternate-worlds novels in existence.”
Kingsley Amis's very funny and very scary ghost story, The Green Man, has just been released. The cover features an excellent depiction of the Green Man by Eric Hanson, following in the footsteps of many wild cover variations, including the above, and this one too.
Striking a different tone altogether is the soft-core 1970s Panther edition. Thanks to Ryan Britt’s Tor.com review (“like Fawlty Towers Plus Sex and Ghosts”) of the book for bringing this one to our attention.
On Monday, May 6th at 7 PM, writers Lev Grossman, Nathaniel Adams, and Jen Vafidis will discuss Kingsley Amis’ newly reissued novels, the alternate history The Alteration and the ghost story The Green Man at the Half King. Co-sponsored with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
Full details here.
“Victor was a blue-point Siamese, a neutered tom-cat now in the third year of his age. He entered, as usual, in vague semi-flight, as from something that was probably not a menace, but which it was as well to be on the safe side about. Becoming aware of me, he approached, again as usual, with an air of uncertainty not so much about who I was as about what I was, and of keeping a very open mind on the range of possible answers. Was I potassium nitrate, or next October twelvemonth, or Christianity, or a chess problem—perhaps involving a variation on the Falkbeer counter-gambit? When he reached me, he gave up the problem and toppled on to my feet like an elephant pierced by a bullet in some vital spot. Victor was, among other things, the reason why no dogs were allowed at the Green Man. The effort of categorizing them might have proved too much for him.”
Kingsley Amis knew his cats.
This is from his ghost-story The Green Man (which is also the name of the narrator’s inn, from which dogs are banned in deference to the feline Victor Hugo).
and here’s Amis’s poem “Cat English.”
Are you a rereader? What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
I don’t do much rereading anymore because I’ve been ill and feel that I’m running out of time. But recently I did reread all of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, and was pleased to find that he was almost as thoughtful as, say, Olivia Manning, although his snobbery sometimes grates. Also, I enjoyed Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis, all over again: the funniest novel I have ever read. Is there some Bulgarian equivalent, languishing untranslated? Probably not.
—Clive James, novelist, critic, poet and recent translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy, was in the The New York Times Book Review answering questions in their "By the Book" column. We’re thrilled he enjoyed rereading Lucky Jim, and will make it easier to return to Olivia Manning as we are publishing the second trilogy in the Fortunes of War series, The Levant Trilogy, in Spring 2014 (we published The Balkan Trilogy in 2010).
(illustration by Jillian Tamaki)
OH YES OH YES
And, for Anglophile eyes only, a bonus sentence from The Green Man that uses the terms “birds” (to mean women) and “steak-and-kidney pie.”
'Now then, I want you to stand up to Underhill and, uh…Put paid to him.'
'I can't tell you that, I'm afraid. Sorry to be a bore, but I'll have to leave the whole thing to you. I hope you make it.'
'Surely you know? Whether I will or not?'
The young man sighed, swallowed audibly and smoothed his fair hair. ‘No. I don’t. I only wish I did. People think I have foreknowledge, which is a useful thing for them to think in a way, but the whole idea’s nonsense logically unless you rule out free will, and I can’t do that. They were just trying to make me out to be grander than I could possibly be, for very nice motives a lot of the time.’
'No doubt. Anyway, I don't care for doing what you want. Your record doesn't impress me.'
'I dare say it doesn't, in your sense of impress. But all sorts of chaps have noticed that I can be very hard on those who don't behave as I feel they should. That ought to weigh with you.'
'It doesn't much, when I think of how hard you can be on people who couldn't possibly have done anything to offend you.'
'I know, children and such. But do stop talking like a sort of anti-parson, old man. It's nothing to do with offending or punishing or any of that father-figure stuff; it's purely and simply the run of the play. No malice in the world. Well, I think you'll take notice of what I've said when you turn it over in your mind afterwards.'
—A conversation between Maurice Allington, “drunk and seeing ghosts and half of my head”, and a young man, “about twenty-eight years old, with a squarish, clean-shaven, humorous, not very trustworthy face, unabundant eyebrows and eyelashes, and very good teeth,” aka the devil, from Kingsely Amis’s ghost story, The Green Man.