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Leopard

Leopard

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Taiga?s True Views: The Language of Landscape Painting in Eighteenth-Century Japan by Melinda Takeuchi (1994-06-01)
Melinda Takeuchi
The History of England, Vol 2
David Hume
The History of Scepticism: From Savonarola to Bayle
Richard H. Popkin
Cicero: On Moral Ends (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Raphael Woolf, Julia Annas
Das Goldene Vlies: Dramatisches Gedicht in Drei Abteilungen
Franz Grillparzer
Euripides IV: Rhesus / The Suppliant Women / Orestes / Iphigenia in Aulis
Charles R. Walker, Frank William Jones, William Arrowsmith, David Grene, Euripides, Richmond Lattimore
Notes from Underground & The Double
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jesse Coulson
The World of Thought in Ancient China
Benjamin I. Schwartz
The Last Generation of the Roman Republic
Erich S. Gruen
The Legend of Gold and Other Stories
William J. Tyler, Jun Ishikawa, Ishikawa Jun
The Issa Valley - Czesław Miłosz, Louis Iribarne Although I have made no systematic study of the matter, I must ask myself once again why it is that poetry written by novelists invariably triggers my gag reflex, whereas novels written by poets are well worth reading? With no particular effort the names Dickey, Kinnell, Carlos Williams, Cummings, Bobrowski, Rilke, Daumal, Soupault and now Miłosz come to mind - poets who have written novels that were at least enjoyable and, in some cases, much more than that. I don't know (though I has me suspicions). The Issa River There are corners of Europe I find particularly fascinating, regions where people of many cultures live together, producing tensions, of course, but also very fruitful cultural cross-pollination. One such region constituted the heart of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and had the ill fortune to be fought over for centuries by Germans, Slavs, Balts, Tartars and Scandinavians, and, more recently, to be a region the two largest and most powerful armies in history, filled with mutual loathing, rolled over again and again in their struggle to the death. In this region were born about the same time the Polish-speaking lad of Lithuanian descent, Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004), and the German-speaking lad of Lithuanian descent, Johannes Bobrowski (1917-1965). Both have written very beautifully about the life that vanished there during the Second World War and its aftermath. Miłosz' Dolina Issy (published in 1955) resurrects the life shared by Lithuanians, Poles, Jews and Germans around the Issa River, now in the political entity called Belorus. When the novel opens shortly before World War I, the Issa Valley is in the Russian Empire and changes hands a number of times before the novel closes. However, these large scale events are noted only faintly at the edges of Miłosz' prose, for his primary interest is to preserve the individuals he lovingly and wryly describes and their way of life in an eternal, nostalgic amber, despite, indeed against, what these large scale events eventually did to them. As a consequence, only the small, local events appropriate to a boy's childhood in a rural community take place in the book. The book is episodic, relating these small incidents and many colorful characters who pop up and then disappear again. Only the boy, the grandparents with whom he lives and their household maintain Miłosz' longterm attention. But it can hardly be called a coming of age story, since the boy is only 14 when it ends, even if the boy grows and learns. The book is not plot-driven, nor character-driven and certainly not metafictionally driven. It is a resurrection and a preservation recounted in a beautiful, precise, poetic prose which also willingly and nonjudgmentally engages with the many superstitions common to such rural folk. Particularly piquant are the pre-Christian "devils" - little men dressed "like Immanuel Kant" (!) who can disappear, adopt other forms, and are generally more annoying than at all dangerous. Somehow they are associated in the people's minds with Germans and progress. Miłosz releases his imagination and gives us the following passage, among others (just to give you a taste):One can easily imagine a parliamentary session being convened in caverns deep inside the earth, so deep that it is warmed by the fires of the earth's molten center. The session is attended by hundreds of thousands of tiny devils in frock coats, who listen solemnly to speakers representing the Central Committee of Infernos. The speakers announce that, in the interest of the cause, all dancing in the forests and meadows will have to cease; that from now on, highly qualified specialists will have to operate in such a way that the minds of mortals will never suspect their presence. There is applause but it is strained, for those present realize that they were necessary only during the preparatory stage, that progress has consigned them to gloomy chasms, and that they will never again witness the setting of the sun, the flight of kingfishers, the glitter of stars, and all the other wonders of the uncircumscribable earth. Even devils experience the nostalgia of lives never to be lived again...