it’s calvino & the classics

”why read the classics?” e o colecție de eseuri răsfirate ale lui calvino, din anii ’50 până-n ’85, despre „clasicii lui”, ăia care probabil – vorba criticului bâlbâit etc. – l-au făcut om. „lista” lui calvino cuprinde: homer, ovidiu, ariosto, defoe, diderot, stendhal, balzac, dickens, flaubert, tolstoi, twain, henry james, hemingway, borges (de la care se și revendică, the discovery of borges was for me like seeing a potentiality that had always only been toyed with now being realised: seeing a world being formed in the image and shape of the spaces of the intellect, and inhabited by a constellation of signs that obey a rigorous geometry) , queneau sau pavese. + alții.

dar pentru început se învârte în jurul termenului „classics” – cine & ce sunt ei:

1. ăia pe care îi re-citim…

The iterative prefix ”re-” in front of the verb ”read” can represent a small act of hypocrisy on the part of people ashamed to admit they have not read a famous book.

apoi ne asigură că oricum mereu va rămâne un număr enorm de „texte fundamentale” pe care nu apucăm să le citim și bagă o anecdotă cu michel butor, care…

… was teaching in the U.S. a number of years ago. He became so tired of people asking him about Émile Zola, whom he had never read, that he made up his mind to read the whole cycle of Rougon-Macquart novels. He discovered that it was entirely different from how he had imagined it […].

4. A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.

5. A classic is a book which even when we read it for the first time gives the sense of rereading something we read before.

7. „istoria” clasicilor, discursul din jurul lor, interpretările, bibliografiile critice & co. care, mai ales în școală, tind să aibă prioritate în defavoarea textului primar însuși și astfel acționează ca un…

… smoke-screen to conceal what the text has to say […].

9. love, etc.:

A classic text ”works” as a classic when it establishes a personal relationship with the reader. If there is no spark, the exercise is pointless: it is no use reading classics out of a sense of duty or respect, we should only read them for love. […] School is obliged to provide you with the tools to enable you to make your own choice; but the only choices which count are those which you take after or outside any schooling.

12. veșnica (falsă?) dilemă – îi citim pe clasici sau pe contemporani?

The contemporary world may be banal and stultifying, but it is always the context in which we have to place ourselves to look either backwards of forwards. In order to read the classics, you have to establish where exactly you are reading them ”from”, otherwise both the reader and the text tend to drift in a timeless haze. […] The person who derives maximum benefit from a reading of the classics is the one who skilfully alternates classics readings with calibrated doses of contemporary material. And this does not necessarily presuppose someone with a harmonious inner calm: it could also be the result of an impatient, nervy temperament, of someone constantly irritated or dissatisfied.

în fine, până la urmă calvino zice că întotdeauna e mai bine să-i citești pe clasici decât să nu și dacă încă nu ne-a convins că merită…

… I will cite Cioran (not a classic, at least not yet, but a contemporary thinker who is only now being translated into Italian): ”While the hemlock was being prepared, Socrates was learning a melody on the flute. What use will that be to you?, he was asked. At least I will learn this melody before I die.” 


14 responses to “it’s calvino & the classics

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