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For Borges, poetry is essentially undefinable. It flows like Heraklit's river - the meaning of words shifts with time, and readers' appreciation changes over the years. Poetry as he understands it is a riddle because it is beyond rational understanding; it is 'true' in a higher (magical) sense. And what is true in a higher sense remains unfathomable, a riddle: "we KNOW what poetry is. We know it so well that we cannot define it in other words, even as we cannot define the taste of coffee, the color red or yellow, or the meaning of anger, of love, of hatred, of the sunrise, of the sunset, or of our love for our country. These things are so deep in us that they can be expressed only by those common symbols that we share. So why should we need other words [to define what poetry is]?"(18)
Metaphors, according to Borges, are the core of poetry, closer to the magic source of words than any other artistic means of expression. Metaphors are so powerful because for him "anything suggested is far more effective than anything laid down. Perhaps the human mind has a tendency to deny a statement. Remember what Emerson said: arguments convince nobody. They convince nobody because they are presented as arguments."(31)
My favorite lecture is the fourth, 'Word-Music and Translation.' It is a real gem. I will not quote Borges on how word-music can be rendered in translation; just a short quote to illustrate how magnificently language can be translated by an inspired translator of genius. When Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century translated 'ars longa, vita brevis,' (art is long, life is short) he chose a stunning interpretation with 'the lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.' Borges comments that here we get "not only the statement but also the very music of wistfulness. We can see that the poet is not merely thinking of the arduous art and of the brevity of life; he is also feeling it. This is given by the apparently invisible, inaudible keyword - the word 'so.' 'The lyf SO short, the craft SO long to lerne.'"(62) One small word, and it makes all the difference.
And since I prefer translations true to the spirit over translations true to the letter, I was pleased to learn from Borges that all through the Middle Ages, people thought of translation not in terms of a literal rendering but in terms of something being re-created.
I do believe that these lectures speak of the wisdom of Borges; not in spite of, but because of the contradictions in the text. Here we meet a man in full; a man who stresses the irrational in poetry and the immediacy of experiencing it, yet proves by his own example how the experience of poetry grows with the plain, rational knowledge about poetry that we gather over the years. Borges is also a man who lives in literature. He finds new beauty in poetry because he continues to change every day. And this is perhaps the most inspiring message of his lectures: people who continue to enjoy changing with the new things they learn 'turn not older with years, but newer every day,' as Emily Dickinson phrased it.
Borges was a great soul and a great mind. We were lucky to have him among us. Even though the book finally concludes that poetry is like time -- we have no problem using either concept until someone tries to make us define them! -- and that Borges can only recognize it when he sees it, he gives invaluable teaching in the art of recognition.
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Any book that gets me thinking is a good book in my view and this one certainly gets me thinking... Although I could read the book quickly, I preferred to take it a step at a time and spend some time thinking about the messages in each chapter and how to apply the ideas to what I am doing.
There are so many ideas and perspectives which are very exciting, useful and new. Thank you Dr. Aleinikov.
At this time, this book book *is* in print in the UK, and is available from Amazon.com's British sister site, Amazon.co.uk.
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# 359 en route to Lourdes. I felt like I was staying in a doll house. Everything was PERFECT! The hosts were lovely people. The evening meal was excellent.
# 334 just south of Toulouse. The owners will enchant you in this lovely farmhouse. They make sure that everyone has GOOD TIME at the evening meal! English is not necessary! The owner's have hosted guests from all over the world!!!
#386 Normandy. This a a perfectly lovely half-timbered farmhouse. The owners will make you feel like family!
We will be using this guide again for the 4th time this September. So far, I have chosen # 567, #672, #336 and #334 (listed above). I will keep you updated! I always choose B&B's where some English is spoken. I always look for comments concerning the hosts hospitality. You can spend as little as $. and take home memories that will last a lifetime!
...If we can help .... Spain or France???
...julie and gordon foster
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Makine's style is that of 19th century Russian and French novelists. This book is a delight!
Makine is without doubt a future Nobel Prize Winner!
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In some instances the text is ambiguous in relationship to the films. Gorchakov (from Nostalghia) is apparently deceased in the picture captioned "after the struggle". The still is taken before the struggle in the movie. He was only napping. The movie leaves you in doubt about the fate of Gorchakov but the book doesn't. But these puzzles only add to the mystery of the films. One should turn to mathematics for clarity and consistency. This is something else.
I especially liked the miniature landscape in Domenico's house that extends to the horizon.
The still shots that were selected from the movies have a resonant quality and recall the emotions from the films. The picture of Margharita Terekhova on page 100 is a perfect photographic composition. But look closer at the expression of the eyes and the position of the hands. The picture bears an incredible resemblance to some Russian icons of the Madonna.
My only critical comment is that I wish the book included more about the making of Solaris.
Tarkovsky was a modern film maker with the soul of a Russion icon painter from ages past. He is calling to emotions that lie dormant in humanity but should be heeded.
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This varied collection of stories was, for me, an excellent introduction to a writer of clearly major importance. Written mainly during the darkest days of Stalinism, they are a testament to the heroism involved merely in maintaining one's humanity.