Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Pandemic and Celeste"

Among other questions, Terry had asked at the previous meeting, during the discussion of Jaime Gil de Biedma's poems in Persistent Voices, what the title of "Pandemic and Celeste" referred to. Here's translator James Nolan's note about "Pandemic and Celeste" from Longing, the book of Gil de Biedma's selected poems that he translated and edited for City Lights Books in 1993:

Pandemic and Celeste: (a) The title refers to the two Aphrodites mentioned in the Symposium, symbolizing promiscuous and monogamous love. (b) Catullus, in poem VII, considers Lesbia's question: "You ask how many of your kisses, Lesbia, would be enough for me?" The answer is quoted here in the epigraph: "As numerous as the sands of Libya...or a the stars, when night is quiet, which contemplate the furtive loves of men." (c) The first stanza quotes from Baudelaire's "To the Reader": "my likeness--my brother." (d) "The poet" of the third stanza is John Donne, paraphrased from "The Ecstasy." (e) The fourth stanza quotes from Mallarme's "The Afternoon of a Fawn": "of the languor poorly savored between two people." (f) In English, it is impossible to keep the ambiguous gender of the su referring to the lover in the final stanzas. The choice should clearly be "his," although in Gil de Biedma's love poetry the homoeroticism is never explicit.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


got a wiki (in case anyone is interested)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bookmen DC Group on Facebook

After consulting with some other members, I have made the Bookmen DC Facebook group an Open Group.  Anyone can join and invite others to join. Group info and content can be viewed by anyone and may be indexed by search engines.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walking in London

The dissertation I mentioned this evening is Walking in London: The Fiction of Neil Bartlett, Sarah Waters, and Alan Hollinghurst: Writing missing voices of sexuality, class, and gender back into history through reimagining the city by Julie Cleminson, Brunel University thesis, 2009.

The chapter on "Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall" has some very pertinent comments on some of the themes we discussed, including references to the Colony Club, London, featuring someone somewhat resembling Mother.

Sarah Waters sounds interesting. An article of hers—"A Girton Girl on a Throne: Queen Christina and Versions of Lesbianism, 1906-1933"—appeared in the Spring, 1994 issue of Feminist Review. The abstract reads

The extraordinary life of Christina Vasa, the seventeenth-century cross-dressing Queen of Sweden who resigned her crown, her country and her faith, has intrigued and inspired biographers and historians for three hundred years. In the nineteenth century, and in the early part of this one, biographies of Christina, offering a vast range of interpretations of her puzzling career, proliferated.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"All of Me"

I wonder what Mother (Madame/Madam) sounded like when she sang this song. Ruth Etting was the first to record it and has a recording of her singing it (probably the original). When it comes to the song itself, I find I prefer the original. In general, as well. No matter how marvelous, otherwise, it's like seeing a pearl instead of a grain of sand.

And here, for what it's worth, are the lyrics:

You took my kisses and you took my love
You taught me how to care
Am I to be just a remnant of a one-sided love affair

All you took I gladly gave
There's nothing left for me to save

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can't you see
I'm no good without you
Take my lips
I want to lose them
Take my arms
I'll never use them
Your goodbye left me with eyes that cry
How can I go on dear without you
You took the part that once was my heart
So why not take all of me