Friday, November 19, 2010

it's been a while

         I thought i ought to check in with everyone here on the blog-o-sphere-o-world-ee-verse.
i'm reading this book today. gogol is so weird. one of his stories, Ivan Fyodorovich begins with the narrator being a very old man who forgets things and he tells us how he likes to write them in his notebook but his wife is also very old and one day she is baking pasties (you won't find better pasties anywhere, I warrant you) and he picks up the pasties she has been baking on some paper and there is writing on the paper and it was just as he suspected she was using the paper from his notebook! and he can't have a fight with her, can he, because his wife is also very old. and then he tells us about a year ago he was driving through Gadyach
and he has tied some knots in his hankerchief to remind himself to ask Stephan Ivanovich about the end of a story, and reminds himself that if he sneezes when he is town he must remember to ask Stephan but he sneezes plenty and forgets so he suggests that the reader go to Gadyach himself and ask Stephan Ivanovich the end of the story and gives us great details hw to find the gentleman himself.  Then the story begins and we met Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka and his Aunt.  We watch young Ivan grow up, join the military, have great success in his career. 
Next he gets a letter from his Aunt who is in charge of his farm, asking him to come to the country and take over the farm and he does and he likes it.  But his aunt tellshim there is this paddock of land that will soon be very valuable  and that the land actually belongs to him as this other man had ceded it to him in his will.  He goes to see the man's nephew who ought to have the deed to give him but the man, Grigory Grigoryvech Storenko, tells him there is no such deed and to bad and feeds him a magnificent feast and makes him drink vodka.  Then Ivan goes home to his aunt who tells him that Storenko is a fat swindling bastard of many chins and they resolve to go together next time.  While they are there and Storenko is out the aunt devises to leave Ivan alone with a maiden who is Storenko's daughter as she has designs that the two should be wedded.  Ivan is terrified and they sit together for half an hour and do not speak except once, to comment on the fact that there are many flies in the summer. 
Then Ivan and his aunt go home and Ivan is very nervous and has mad dream about wives with the heads of geese and tiny wives in his hat and in his pocket and then dreams that a "Wife" is a new type of material that the dry goods man is trying to sell him, saying that it is very fashionable and everyone is having frock-coats made of this material so he buys some and takes it to his Jewish tailor who tells him that it is very poor material indeed and that no one with any sense of fashion is having frock-coats made of wife anymore.  and then he wakes up and is troubled and meanwhile his aunt is coming up with a scheme in her head, which we are told we will learn of in the next chapter, and then the story ends.  Have you ever read such an absurd story as this?  I have not.  And Gogol is considered great Ukrainian literature, is he not?
So the moral of that story is that I ought to write whatever weird and wonderful fancies come to my head and in whatever bizarre way I desire because perhaps I will end up writing great Ukrainian literature.  Tee hee.
Have you every read any of Bruno Schultz's work?  He was a Polish writer, fine artist, literary critic and art teacher, who is widely regarded as one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century. Schulz was born in Drohobycz, in the province of Galicia, to Jewish parents, and spent most of his life there. He was killed by a German Nazi officer.
His work is as ethereal and bizarre and magnificently weird as Gogol's, perhaps more so.  I want very much to own several collections of his work but they are very expensive.  I would like to recommend a film Santorum Pod Klepsydra
or the  Hour-Glass Sanitorium.  It is as surreal and brilliant as the book and is the most beautiful Polish movie I have ever seen.

It is available on Youtube, but lamentably only in Polish.  I used to have a copy of it with English subtitles, and I am sad to say I no longer do, nor do I know where could get it.  If you can solve that problem for me, I would be very grateful to you.

Thanks for reading!


here's a clip with subtitles that you might get a feel for the film:

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