Review of Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2013)

review-murakami-colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimage-2020“But it’s classical music – another Murakami love – that gives Murakami the title of his latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. The title comes from Franz Liszt’s three-suite work Anneés de pèlerinage, which translates as ‘Years of Pilgrimage.’

“The eighth part of the first suite – ‘Le mal du pays’ (translation: ‘Homesickness’) – bonds the five main characters (they all play and/or listen to the piece throughout the novel) as they voyage through the “years of pilgrimage” of their mid-30s.

“Murakami’s literary antecedent in writing about one’s mid-30s as a time of a despondent and confusing quest for meaning is, of course, Dante and his Divine Comedy. And the quest of Dante’s protagonist ends happily, as does the quest of Murakami’s protagonist, Tsukuru Tazaki.” [. . .]    –Paul Gleason, Stereo Embers

Charles Sykes, “The Agony of the Anti-Anti-Trumpers” (2020)

vision-of-hell-charles-sykes-agony-anti-anti-trumpers-2020“They are destined to be forgotten. ‘The world will let no fame of theirs endure,’ Virgil explains. ‘Let us not talk of them, but look and pass.’ Dante describes the vast horde who chase after the elusive banner that “raced on so quick that any respite seemed unsuited to it.” Behind the banner, he writes, ‘trailed so long a file/ of people—I should never have believed/ that death could have unmade so many souls.’

“This, of course, got me thinking about the anti-anti-Trumpers and their season of agita.

“A cry went up this week from the precinct of the anti-anti-Trumpers suggesting that the selection of Kamala Harris was the moment for their decisive break into formal indecisiveness. As much as they loathed Donald Trump, they insisted, there was no way that they could support a Biden-Harris ticket.

“But the choice of Harris wasn’t really a tipping point, because the anti-antis were never going to support a viable opponent to Trump. The essence of anti-anti-Trumpism is the full recognition of the awfulness of Trump and all of his works, but a firm resolve not to actually do anything to confront them.” [. . .]    —Charles Sykes, The Bulwark, August 14, 2020

Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules”

Photo by Gage Skidmore (Wikimedia Commons)

“‘The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,’ Trump told supporters at a rally in Wisconsin last month. He has repeatedly made versions of that claim, at one point exhorting North Carolinians to monitor polling sites and ‘watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing’ by Democrats, who will work to lift Biden to victory by ‘doing very bad things.’

“And it’s a perfect example of Trump’s tendency to assign his own motives and methods to others. He worries that they’ll cheat because he has always cheated — on his taxes, on his wives, in his business dealings, in his philanthropy. He imagines them cheating because he actually is cheating.

[. . .]

“But Trump’s cheating is its own virus, infecting everyone around him. Trump’s cheating is its own ecosystem. Abandon all scruple, ye who enter here.”   — Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules,” New York Times (September 19, 2020)

Contributed by Dan Christian

“On the Road with Dante”

“While The Divine Comedy most clearly reflects the Catholic faith of the poet and his medieval world, it hints at some principles the Reformation would bring to bear on the church two centuries later. Dante purposely wrote in a low style that would have popular appeal despite its highly spiritual subject matter. While the church produced works in Latin, Dante wrote in the vernacular. His choice was revolutionary, ensuring the work could and would be read by common men as well as by women and children (who still study the work extensively in Italian schools today).

“Despite its loftiness, The Divine Comedy is firmly grounded in the gritty and the mundane. In fact, Dante didn’t use the word divine in his title. He simply titled it Commedia, which at the time meant a work with a happy ending as opposed to a tragic one. (The word ‘divine’ was added by a later editor and has stuck through the years.) In casting a fictional version of himself as the central figure, The Divine Comedy is prophetically personal, confessional, and autobiographical. In this way it emphasizes a surprisingly modern sense of self-determination, one that foreshadows the famous ‘Protestant work ethic.’ Moreover, in its accent on the salvation and purification of the individual soul, this work of the Catholic Dante anticipates the spiritual autobiographies of Puritans such as John Bunyan. The Divine Comedy is a story of someone seeking salvation. In Dante’s own words, the poem’s purpose is to lead readers from ‘a state of wretchedness to a state of happiness.’ And while depicting salvation in the afterlife, it’s clear Dante intends readers to find abundant life in the here and now.” [. . .]    –Karen Swallow Prior, The Gospel Coalition, October 21, 2015.

“Visions of Hell: Dark Souls cultural heritage”

“It’s hard to place a finger on the most recognizable reference to Gustave Doré’s incredible illustrations in the Dark Souls series. The artist, who in a short 50 year life span produced over 100,000 pieces, and illustrated many of the great works of world literature, haunts many a crooked corner of Lordran, Drangleic, and Lothric. Flicking through his illustrations for Dante Alighieri’s great masterwork The Divine Comedy (1320), it is impossible not to be reminded of the landscapes and demons of Dark Souls. On top of a sheer rock wall we see a clutch of figures, huddled like the Deacons of the Dark. In a shallow pool lie piles of corpses, twisted into an inseparable mess, like the horrible sights that await in the drained ruins of New Londo. The great king Nimrod chained, now a giant and no longer a man, echoes the lost ruler of Drangleic. It is no surprise that it is the first book of The Divine Comedy, Inferno, depicting Dante’s journey through hell, that brings us these images. Doré’s bleak, stony, and understated depictions of Satan’s kingdom so strongly contrasted with decades of medieval hellfire that had gone before. They are powerfully mythic images, ones that have been reached for again and again by artists in search of the power of the dark.

“Though iconic now, the success of Inferno was never assured. Many of Doré’s supporters called it too ambitious and too expensive a project, and so, in 1861, driven by his passion for the source material he funded its publication himself. His risk paid off, and the volume and its subsequent sister volumes Purgatorio and Paradiso, depicting purgatory and Heaven respectively, became his most notable works. A critic at the time of its publication wrote that the illustrations were so powerful that both Dante and Doré must have been ‘communicating by occult and solemn conversations the secret of this Hell plowed by their souls, traveled, explored by them in every sense.’ This plumbing of the depths of despair in search of beauty is the true thematic link between these illustrations and Dark Souls art. Like the monsters of Kuniyoshi, in Doré we don’t just see the aesthetic roots of Dark Souls, we see its themes—the concepts of loss, despair, and the allure of the occult sketched out in chiaroscuro black-and-white.” [. . .]    –Gareth Damian Martin, Kill Screen, May 11, 2016.

“La Divina Commedia trova nuova vita nei cinguettii di Twitter”

“La copertina sfondata, le pagine squarciate. Du-rante la Seconda Guer-ra Mondiale una copia della Divina Commedia frenò un proiettile vagante, evitando lamorte al proprietario che la custodiva in tasca. «È la provache Dante può salvarti la vi-ta», scherza Pablo Maurette,raccontando l’episodio. Questo 38enne argentino, professore di letteratura comparataa Chicago, è il protagonista di una rivoluzione culturale checorre su Twitter: la lettura, partecipata, del capolavoro di Dante ai tempi dei social.

“La formula è semplice: un canto al giorno, per centogiorni. Si legge, ognuno per conto proprio, poi si inizia a twittare per commentare leterzine e cercare spunti di analisi: i cinguettii si trasformano in note a piè di pagina. Il risultato? Un successo planetario. Dal Messico al Cile, dalla Francia all’Australia, migliaia di utenti di lingua spagnola (una bolgia, verrebbe da dire) hanno lasciato ogni speranza per unirsi al viaggio 3.0 guidato da Virgilio.” [. . .]    –Filippo Femia, La Stampa, February 2, 2018.

You can read the full article on La Stampa.

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)

“#Dante2018: llega a su fin la lectura masiva de la Divina Comedia

“Llega el final de uno de los grandes eventos culturales del año: la lectura -masiva- y compartida a través de las redes sociales de La Divina Comedia, la obra de Dante Alighieri.

“La iniciativa, a cargo del ensayista Pablo Maurette, comenzó con el primer día del 2018 y, bajo el hashtag #Dante2018, se leyó un canto por día, a partir del cual se compartieron impresiones e inquietudes de manera colectiva en Twitter.

“Horas antes del cierre, de la lectura de La última sonrisa de Beatriz, canto final de Paraíso, con la que se concluirá la lectura colectiva, Maurette explicó a Infobae Cultura: ‘Fue una experiencia muy buena. Me impresiona que tanta gente se haya sumado y haya leído hasta el final. Hubo discusiones muy interesantes. Incluso algunas bastante acaloradas. Bastante humor, también. Se generó una verdadera comunidad virtual’ [. . .]

“Durante este día de cierre, participarán de la lectura personas de casi todos los países de habla hispana, Brasil, Italia y Estados Unidos. Esto también sucedió cuando se realizó la lectura del último canto del Infierno y el Purgatorio.” [. . .]    —Infobae, April 10, 2018.

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)

“#Dante2018: La Divina Comedia conquista Twitter”

“Obra maestra de la literatura universal, La Divina Comedia atravesó épocas y contextos con una potestad única. Desde ayer, por idea de un ensayista y profesor argentino, se desarrolla en Twitter una lectura masiva del poema que Dante Alighieri dividió en tres partes: Infierno, Purgatorio y Paraíso. Cada una de las partes consta de 33 cantos y cada canto, a su vez, está compuesto de estrofas de tres versos. Con el canto introductorio, el poema comprende exactamente cien cantos. Hasta el 10 de abril #Dante2018 impondrá en Twitter un soplo de aire fresco en la caliente agenda cotidiana.

“La iniciativa de Pablo Maurette ya convocó a especialistas de la obra cumbre de Dante, a escritores y a lectores entusiasmados. Se leerá un canto por día. En su primer día, #Dante2018 picó en punta en el listado de trending topics del inicio del año.

“‘Voy a usar mi edición de bolsillo en italiano’ -cuenta Maurette a LA NACION-. ‘En español recomendamos ediciones bilingües como la de Ángel Battistessa, la de Ángel Crespo y la de Jorge Aulicino. También es muy recomendable la traducción en prosa de Ángel Chiclana.’

Al seguir el hashtag #Dante2018, los lectores podrán encontrar varias sugerencias útiles, además de imágenes de portadas, pinturas e infaltables memes. No obstante, cabe destacar que cualquier edición sirve para participar e iluminarse en la selva oscura de Twitter.” [. . .]    –Daniel Gigena, La Nacion, January 2, 2018.

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)

“#Dante2018: la selva oscura que supimos conseguir”

“En mayo de 2014, un célebre usuario de Twitter realizaba un encomio de la red social en el blog TP, propuso interpretarla como un género literario sui generis, por cumplir con los componentes de tradición e innovación que debe exigírsele a cualquier tipificación del discurso que se precie de tal. Twitter tiene sus raíces en un género tan antiguo como el aforismo y, al mismo tiempo, barre con todas las categorías literarias modernas:

“Su naturaleza colectiva, masiva, interactiva, compuesta de usuarios que son a un tiempo escritores, lectores, personajes y críticos, y su rígida ley de los 140 caracteres bastan para consolidarlo como género literario autosuficiente. Pero Twitter no es un simple género más. Su excepcionalidad radica en ser a la vez género y obra, medio y mensaje, texto y contexto: aterradora máquina autopoiética, work-in-progress infinito que se autorregenera, se reformula, y se renueva segundo a segundo.

“Como si hubiera querido poner a prueba su propia teoría, Pablo Maurette, el responsable de esas palabras, lanzó en noviembre de 2017 una consigna: empezar el 2018 leyendo La divina comedia, a razón de un canto por día, y compartir opiniones, más o menos eruditas, a través de Twitter con el hashtag #Dante2018. La aterradora máquina autopoiética se echó a andar: miles de usuarios de distintas partes del mundo adhirieron a la propuesta, colocando a #Dante2018 entre los hashtags más mencionados en varios países de habla hispana los primeros días de enero. Es imposible diagnosticar hoy cuál pueda ser su alcance final. Maurette, entusiasmado, ya lo describe como el club de lectura más grande de la historia.” [. . .]    –Alejandro Virué, El Espectador, January 7, 2018.

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)

“#Dante2018 o la utopía de las redes sociales”

“Los caminos de las redes sociales son inescrutables. El 1 de enero un investigador argentino llamado Pablo Maurette, afincado en Chicago y experto en el sentido del tacto en la literatura renacentista, publicó un tuit. Un tuit que invitaba a leer los cien cantos de la Divina comedia en los primeros cien días del nuevo año. La etiqueta era #Dante2018. Contra todo pronóstico, rápidamente se volvió viral.

“De una viralidad extraña: al mismo tiempo popular y muy especializada. Porque en Twitter encontramos fotos de la cabina de un avión con el libro abierto, mensajes de personas que se han conocido en una librería buscando la obra maestra de Dante y muchas transcripciones de versos punzantes o hermosos (como los que publican el poeta costarricense Luis Chaves, la profesora venezolana Diajanida Hernández o el periodista argentino Diego Fonseca). [. . .]

“En #Dante2018 encontramos de todo. Ilustraciones como las de Maru Ceballos o Leo Achilli, que se expanden hacia Instagram. Selfis de lectores en Florencia. Discusiones sobre las mejores traducciones (avanzo aquí que a finales de año se publicará en Acantilado la que ha ocupado al poeta y traductor José María Micó durante los últimos años). Y hasta confesiones sorprendentes, como la del crítico argentino Quintín que publicó: ‘7 de enero. Querido diario: hoy cumplo 67 años. Me desperté y leí el canto VII. Me da un poco de vergüenza leer la Divina comedia recién a esta edad. Pero más vale tarde que nunca. Gracias a #Dante2018.’

“Son muchos los debates actuales en los que se inscribe este fenómeno. La discusión sobre la obligación moral de la Academia de encontrar vías de diálogo con el resto de ámbitos de la cultura y la sociedad. La conversación sobre por qué somos incapaces de imaginar pasados, presentes o futuros que no sean versiones del infierno (la oscuridad y la distopía predominan en las teleseries, los cómics y los videojuegos, sean o no de ciencia ficción).” [. . .]    —

See other posts related to #Dante2018 here.

Contributed by Pablo Maurette (Florida State University)