Tag rilke

Episode 159 – Burton Pike

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Virtual Memories Show #159:
Burton Pike

“When you translate, you are digging into not so much the psyche of the author but the psyche of the author’s use of language.”

51EULu1tNBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Translator and emeritus literature professor Burton Pike joins the show to talk about his lifetime in the arts, the musicality and rhythm of language, the experience of translating early Proust, whether national literature departments are an outdated concept, the peculiarities of various Swiss ethnicities, how his dream project — Musil’s The Man Without Qualities — fell into his lap, and more! Give it a listen!

“The Man Without Qualities is written not from a literary but a scientific point of view. It’s predicated on the fact that everything changes and nothing stays stable. And of course that includes this novel itself.”

We also talk about the joys of hitchhiking across Europe in the ’50s, the reasons he came to New York and the reasons he stays, the disappearance of high German culture — Goethe, Schilling, et al. — from postwar Germany, the problems with Moncrieff’s fruity translation of Proust, his objection to calling Die Verwandlung The Metamorphosis, and more! Go listen!

“When a German is in sight, Swiss Germans revert to their native patois, because they’re horrified that they’ll be taken for German. The French look down on French Swiss and Belgians, of course, because they’re not French. The Swiss French, their faces are glued to the window pane of France. And the Italian Swiss? They’re perfectly happy and at home and have no problem.”

Also, if you want to find out who Burton is reading nowadays and get a list of the books we talked about in this episode, join our Patreon and become a monthly contributor to The Virtual Memories Show! At the end of March, the new episode of our patron-only podcast, Fear of a Square Planet, will go up with a bonus segment about who he’s reading and why.

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

25535972945_f40867c27e_zBurton Pike is professor emeritus of comparative literature and Germanic languages and literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. He did his undergraduate studies at Haverford College and received his PhD from Harvard University. He has taught at the University of Hamburg, Cornell University, and Queens College and Hunter College of the City University of New York. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Yale University. He is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and a Fulbright fellowship. He was awarded the Medal of Merit by the City of Klagenfurt, Austria, for his work on Robert Musil. Finalist and special citation, PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for editing and co-translating Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities. He is the winner of the 2012 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for Gerhard Meier’s Isle of the Dead.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The conversation was recorded at Professor Pike’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on the same setup. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photo of Mr. Head by me.

Podcast: Sound Before Story

Virtual Memories – season 3 episode 5
Greg Gerke – Sound Before Story

To celebrate the publication of Middle C, the new novel by literary legend William Gass, I sat down with writer Greg Gerke, who interviewed Gass for Tin House literary magazine. We talked about Gass’ position in the postmodern literary tradition (as it were), what Greg learned over the course of reading much of Gass’ writings and interviewing The Great Man, what it’s like to construct a literary monument to horror, which authors Greg discovered through Gass’ essays over the years, how you can’t judge a man by his (roommate’s) bookshelf, why Gass holds self-publishing in disdain, and how one can build a powerful literary career by putting Sound Before Story.

Greg Gerke on The Virtual Memories Show

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out our archives for more great talks! And buy the issue of Tin House with Greg’s interview with Gass, while you’re at it!

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunesFacebookTumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Greg Gerke‘s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Tin House, The Kenyon Review Online, Denver Quarterly, and Mississippi Review. He’s the author of the short story collection, There’s Something Wrong with Sven. You can read his work and find links to his criticism at greggerke.com and Big Other.

Credits: This episode’s music is Life’s a Gas by T-Rex. The conversation was recorded at Greg Gerke’s apartment in New York City, on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the other material on a Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone into Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band.

Unrequired Reading: Jewel Eye

It’s time for another month’s worth of my tweets from twitter! First the retweets (the ones that begin with RT) and then the marginally more original ones! Remember, you can get these regularly by following groth18!

In honor of July 4th, we’ll start off with a bang!

RT @felixsalmon (Felix Salmon):

 

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RT @radleybalko (Radley Balko) – Letter from Cory Maye

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RT @sharilynj – Read about @marcmaron‘s powerful keynote address, opening up this year’s #JustForLaughs #jfl

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RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk) – A bear. Made out of 20,000 zip ties. As you do.

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RT @susanorlean (Susan Orlean) – Wonderful!! “@NewYorkTheaterNiagara Falls lit with colors of rainbow on 1st day of N.Y.’s Marriage Equality

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RT @LettersOfNote – There’s so much to love about this photo of Jimi Hendrix

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RT FishbowlDC – Find out how the bridge of someone’s nose figures into The Atlantic‘s Megan McArdle’s (@asymmetricinfo) interviews.

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I don’t have kids, and that’s why I side with #GayTalese on dropping serious cash on clothes: #notthatIspendTHATmuch

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Because I don’t like kids, that’s why.

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Heartbreaking article about treating vs. screening #DownSyndrome

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Chinese govt. tries to disprove adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity: #weallcrashedthetrain

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The art of #RickyGervais.

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The #JewishAutonomousRegion sounds like the Off-World Colonies in Bladerunner: #Jewsinspace

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A Bentley SUV? But what if the NBA lockout doesn’t end soon?

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I’m disappointed the Hercules machine isn’t on this list: #pinball (Hercules is over here)

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Beetlejuice in NJ, via @nycscout

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I thought #PillowTie was the best Skymall product ever, but it’s no match for #DribbleBib

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Oh, look! It’s the scariest goddamned thing ever! #dummyland #ventmyrage

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Oliver’s Army is here to stay: #andiwouldratherbeanywhereelsethanheretoday #cromwell

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Timmy, have you even been in a Norwegian prison?

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The Midgard Serpent sleeps below Park Ave.

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Just #FranLebowitz and her awesome car

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@SimonDoonan on getting married to Jonathan Adler.

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A “thoroughly generic bookstore” (as per my 40th bday post) is closing: #bookberries

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Euroleague’s greatest hoopster is from West Memphis. #MarcusBrown

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Freelove: sister of Increase, mother of Wealthy: #nydutch

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“I’m looking for something hipster-y“: http://nyr.kr/p5opGB

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Can you tell us more often in 1 article that there was no internet in 1981, please? #shittywriting #tigerwoods

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Set taser to #KTFO: #zotz

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The #StopMakingSense fashion collection: #thisisnotmybeautifulcoat (does @davidbyrne know about this?)

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To quote #Nirvana, I think I’m dumb.

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(Hilarious) summer fashion trends, courtesy of @simondoonan.

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Leopard goes ape: #donotconfrontangryleopard

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5 major factors in the #Borders collapse: #bookswithoutborders

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Speaking of: Proving that people surrounded by books can still be total retards: #bookswithoutborders

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Bob Colacello, whose #Warhol memoir Holy Terror I enjoyed the heck out of, auctioned off his portrait by AW.

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On escaping and not escaping #Auschwitz

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Interview Your Own Damn Self!” the #Nabokov way: http://bit.ly/nrtMZQ

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Boy, #SeanBean sure does get killed a lot.

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Transocean: the “I didn’t do it” kid of the gulf oil disaster

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#WoodyAllen on Rilke, selling out Hannah & Her Sisters, and that new movie of his

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Lovely photos of writers & their dogs by #JillKrementz (no greyhounds, I notice)

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“Using .NET is like Fred Flintstone building a database”: Why #Myspace went boom

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Why is weed wacky? #potluck

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M(ormon)BA: Mormons are the new Jews? #wedressbetter

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Does the mind rule the body, or does the body rule the Ren? #renandstimpy

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Holocaust theory: #saturdaynightreading

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Busch-basching: http://buswk.co/pJrg9k

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Peter O’Toole on being awesome. #doublephallicname

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Nothing harder than getting laughs from a room full of comedy writers: http://bit.ly/poW20I

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I miss Karen Allen, but I’m still glad I skipped that last #IndianaJones flick.

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A stoic and a zen buddhist walk into a bar…

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Neat profile of @MaerRoshan that i missed till now: #offmyradar #harhar

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#Hitchens, on the Gandhi myth

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Mob scene: #mafiaTV

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Psst! It’s a secret bookstore! #brazenhead

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Pad See Yew Later, Addiction! #ThaiRehab

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Writer procrastination: (I bought a super-cheap PC laptop and deleted everything but @ommwriter) #mustdisablewifi

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Final meal . . . Cajun-style! (via @wadecortez) http://bit.ly/rukM1M

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Signal-to-noise and old-cooterism, by @binarybits: onforb.es/nRWJTq

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Crisis in Swedish Ballet Training: #WhyILoveMonocle

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The next generation of painkillers will come in small nuggets that you heat up in a pipe and inhale. #drugdelivery

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I still think that #CCTV building’s gonna tip over

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I guess it’s a good thing Brooding Persian isn’t on Twitter. #associationsanddisassociations

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Hegemony from column B: http://bit.ly/ott95H #SinoTheTimes

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Chimpanzee that! He’s a photographer! #GoApe #monkeynews

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@SimonDoonan on the Cute & the Savage: #notanewsoapopera

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Sometimes the gorilla gets the banana, and sometimes the banana gets the gorilla. #GoApe

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Nowhere, special: #NoUtopiaWithoutToddRundgren

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Orwell vs. God

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Building the perfect #KingLear: #Shakespeare

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#WinstonGroom on #TrumanCapote: #getyourmindouttathegutter

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I just want to stay ahead of my illiterate dad: http://bit.ly/kuJPUt (okay, here are all the books I’ve read)

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Chess computers are using PEDs?

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High school time capsule, courtesy of #BourgeoisSurrdender

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In this particular instance, I’ll chose NOT to #belikeMike, thank you: http://bit.ly/iYSriE

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The accordion market gets squeezed: #bwahhaha

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John Lindsay: one suave mofo: #mayorofcool

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To end this month’s installment, I offer 1 Lap of Manhattan in 26 minutes (soundtrack set to Underworld, of course):

I think in circles and circles are hard to break

After dropping Amy off at the bus stop this morning, I came home and realized I was on the precipice of nausea and that a 20- or 25-minute drive to the office likely would’ve pushed me over the edge. So I wrote in sick, went back to bed for 3+ hours, and found myself feeling better.

Then I spent the afternoon rereading Camp Concentration, which made me feel worse.

It’s a short, frightening novel about a drug that unlocks genius (at a price). With its unending state of war and secret prison camps, the book has plenty of contemporary resonance (published in 1968). I wasn’t thinking about its political issues when I picked it up; my reason for rereading it was the author’s recent suicide.

Beyond the horrifying vision of America, I was captivated by the romance of art and mortality as portrayed by narrator-poet Louis Sacchetti. I doubt I was too aware of the sheer Germanness of this worldview back when I first read it at the age 18, but 37 is a different story.

After I finished, I decided to sprawl out on a different sofa, so I went downstairs to my library and stared at the wall of books. I picked up Ahead of All Parting, a collection of poetry and prose by Rilke (tr. Stephen Mitchell), and flipped it open. The poet-narrator of the novel refers to Rilke and quotes him in the novel.

I like Mitchell’s translation of my favorite Rilke poem, Archaic Torso of Apollo, but I was disappointed to find that this collection is set in a font that’s remarkably similar to that of the Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read as a kid. I found myself looking for breaks like

If you ignore Lou Andreas-Salome’s Freudian analysis of how your mother dressed you in girls’ clothes as a child, turn to page 32

Anyway, I decided to look at the Duino Elegies, which I’ve never read. As it turns out, one of the key passages in Camp Concentration comes from the first elegy:

For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains
to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying.

It sends me back 16 years to my Attic Greek class, where I was first exposed to the word deinos, that which is both beautiful and dreadful (or wondrous and terrible, depending on what my brother offers up by way of translation).

So that’s what I do on my sick days. I’m gonna go get more rest, then embarrass myself or others at our company picnic tomorrow.

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