Feathers / Plumoj & Esperanto (7)

Beʾer, Haim. Feathers [Notsot]; translated from the Hebrew by Hillel Halkin. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press; Hanover: University Press of New England, 2004. xiii, 235 pp.

I finally pulled this book off the shelf and read the novel (10-15 February). I found two additional references to Esperanto, quoted in my previous post. Feathers (published in the original Hebrew in 1979), like several contemporary Jewish novels, uses Esperanto as nostalgia for lost utopian possibilities. But what about the novel itself?

My initial reaction was: why the National Yiddish Book Center named this one of the 100 greatest works of modern Jewish Literature eludes me. This is deemed a classic of Israeli literature, but it just could not hold my interest or attention most of the way through. Perhaps my inattention is my own fault, but I was just not motivated to care. Stylistically, the novel is marvelous, but still . . . You might think I would be more interested in a collection of eccentrics and crackpots, but I just couldn't care about this Jewish cohort in Jerusalem. Note, however,  . . .

There are two outstanding features I should point out, the second of which is more compelling to me. In all of the scenarios covered, from the war of independence to the Yom Kippur war, not limited to actual wars, there is the constant presence of death and funerals. The title itself suggests the fragility of Jewish life and dreams.

The second feature is the Jewish gift for scorn and sarcasm. Here is one characteristic passage that also pertains to philosophy, autodidacts, utopians, and cranks:
"Now that you are a father yourself, how can you rationally explain such craziness?" How a boy who lacked nothing, whose teachers were men of such stature that some eventually became university lecturers, whose friends came from the very best of houses--how such a boy could have fallen for a shiftless low-life Leder was more than she could comprehend.

Since the conversation annoyed me, I replied that no one, not even I could know what had gone on in my mind and soul as a child. Nevertheless, I added, I believed that Leder was in his own fashion a philosopher, though an autodidact of course, and that my imagination had been fired by the world of utopian thought he had opened up to me.

My mother sarcastically repeated my big words and declared that even though she had no schooling and had never even been able to attend the Saturday night lectures at the community center, she knew enough to understand the difference between Leder and a philosopher.

"We're both adults now," she went on as we crossed the busy Jerusalem-Jericho road, "and it won't hurt you to hear the truth for once." She blamed Leder for my having dropped out of school. "You went to college thinking that a philosophy department was a lot of wise men sitting around with laurel wreathes on their heads and discussing Kant and Spinoza while solving the problems of the universe with hot air." [p. 42]
Various ideological factions in the Jewish community of the historical periods covered are mentioned: Zionists, anti-Zionists, Bolsheviks, rightists, Europe-oriented monarchists. The key figure is Mordecai Leder, disciple of Karl Popper-Lynkeus and leader of the Nutrition Army, dedicated to bringing the utopian project of minimal consumption into being.

This might be a fluke of my attentiveness, but I finally got absorbed in the novel with the death of Joseph Stalin. The anti-communist insults hurled at the Jewish Bolshies in Jerusalem are hilarious.

Leder becomes disillusioned with peaceful persuasion when Albert Schweitzer declines his invitation to become titular head of the movement, picks up a gun at the moment when Israeli right-wingers riot in protest of Israel's reparations deal with Germany, gets arrested, and goes downhill from there. The narrator's life with Leder ends in the 1950s, but the connection comes back to him in the final chapter when burying the dead from the Yom Kippur war.

So, despite my initial indifference, there appears to be something to be gleaned from this tale, the generalities if not the specifics: the craziness of dreamers, or perhaps the futility of all dreams, the discrepancy between people's self-conception and their lives, the interweaving of humor and tragedy, the evanescence of Jewish and all human life, the absorption and disappearance of the world one once lived, disorientation and memory, feathers scattered from living beings and blown all about, signalling the disruption of a fleeting existence.

Feathers / Plumoj & Esperanto (6)

Beʾer, Haim. Feathers [Notsot]; translated from the Hebrew by Hillel Halkin. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press; Hanover: University Press of New England, 2004. xiii, 235 pp.

I finally read the novel (10-15 February). I will report on it further, but here are two additional references to Esperanto I found:
Leder often reminisced to me about his years in the imperial capital. On one such occasion, we had walked as far as the train station at the beginning of the Valley of Refaim when he interrupted a formal lecture on the importance of Esperanto in the future Lynkean state to announce that he wished to rest for awhile beneath one of the shaded branches in the square outside the station. [p.36]
The heavy winter rains had ruined them. [Leder's books] Their fancy cloth and leather bindings were waterlogged and cracked, and strips of Viennese newspapers from the turn of the century had peeled loose from their backings. The pages were stuck together in clumps as hard as bricks. I poked around in the pile like a hyena scavenging a dead lion. A brown manila envelope lay buried beneath the books. Its bottom had decayed into the soft, damp, verminous earth, but the black-bound notebooks inside were unharmed, apart from a pinkening at their edges from the moisture. The "Constitution of Lynkeania" announced the title page of the topmost notebook in Leder's handwriting. Yet apart from Popper-Lynkeus' minimum social program copied out from one of his books, some attempted translations from Esperanto, and a few sketches of the Lynkean state seal, the notebooks had nothing in them. [p. 218]


Karel Čapek & Esperanto (12): Liven Dek pri "Dioj, homoj kaj robotoj"

Kiu kreis la homon? Kiucele? Liven Dek proponis plurajn pensigajn ideojn pri "Dioj, homoj kaj robotoj" en la 25a IEK okazinta en Svitay en 2012. La deirpunkto de lia prezento, kies titolo estas "Kion faris poste Rust?", rilatas al roboto rolanta en lia sciencfikcia novelo "Rust'".

Karel Čapek & Esperanto (11): R.U.R (Terura sonĝo) - Teatro

"La ensemblo "Teatro DOMA" prezentis adapton de la verko "R.U.R" de la Ĉeĥa verkisto Karel Čapek (eldonita de Kava-Pech), en la 25a Internacia Esperanto-Konferenco (OSIEK), okazinta en Svitavy (Ĉeĥio) de la 14a ĝis la 20a de julio 2012. Reĝisoris la prezenton Radka Oblouková, kaj Miroslav Malovec esperantigis la scenaron de Tereza Kopecká. Aktoris: Antonín Benc, Patrik Lukeš, Adéla Šikulová, Šárka Holasová, Eliška Hajská, Tereza Jagošová, Karin Musilová, Hana Nekvindová, Matěj Nárožný, Jan Fidel Řepa kaj Ján Bobrik. Filmis Svena Dun."


Frigyes Karinthy in the blogosphere

In addition to the references compiled on this blog and in my English and Esperanto Karinthy bibliographies on my web site, I have come across interesting references to Frigyes Karinthy that I have not yet documented in any of these places. Here are a few of them.

Seven Questions for Ottilie Mulzet on Animalinside
(Conversational Reading, Scott Esposito's blog, June 20, 2011)
"There is one pre-war Hungarian writer I would like to mention, however: Frigyes Karinthy (1887-1938). He was primarily known as a satirist and humorist and in fact, his satiric writings were absolutely brilliant. In a series of longer short stories, though, he explored the themes of extreme psychic disintegration. Clearly he was trying to see how far he could push the Hungarian language in these stories, what happens to it when subjected to a maximum level of psychic breakdown. I see some of these experimental writings as something of a precursor to Krasznahorkai’s work within Hungarian literature, although I have to add here I don’t know if Krasznahorkai himself would consider this to be the case."
JFK, Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Six Degrees of Separation and other High Weirdness (Overweening Generalist, November 23, 2013)
"11. Ever heard of Frigyes Karinthy? He was a Hungarian Jew who died in 1938 and probably invented the idea of Six Degrees of Separation...around 1929? (He may have been influenced by radio man Marconi.) In 1936 he had an operation for a brain tumor, and then wrote an autobiographical book Voyage Around My Skull, which came out a year after he died and was re-released in English in 2008 with an introduction by Oliver Sacks. Karinthy's still popular in Hungary, and his books are marked by science fiction ideas, comedy, play with Jonathan Swift's characters, pacifism, the themes of adolescence and the battle of the sexes. His humor is black and ironic. He espoused Esperanto. He also speculated about Artificial Intelligence long before it was invented.”
Kledon: The experience of altering meaning and significance in fine art by György Szász. Theses for a DLA dissertation, Hungarian University of Fine Art Doctoral School, 2008.
"In many works we see the multiplicity of the notion of the present or that of reality. Karinthy Frigyes (Five o’clock Closing Time, 1918): “I dreamed I was two cats and that I played with myself.”
This story has not been translated into English, to my knowledge.

Here are two more posts I just added to my bibliography:

Frigyes Karinthy, Grave and Gay, seraillon (Scott W.), December 13, 2010

A Journey Round Karinthy’s Skull, seraillon (Scott W.), December 28, 2010


Artefaritaj tutslavaj lingvoj

En la senpage elŝutebla numero de Balkana Verda Stelo de la 1a septembro 2016 enestas interesa artikolo:

Artefaritaj tutslavaj lingvoj ekde 1666, nun en la reto (p. 9-12).

Atentu ankaŭ ligojn al aliaj artikoloj kaj retejoj, ekz.:

Interslavic language (plurlingva)

Slovianski - Vikipedio

Interslavic language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Slavic Lesson 1
("simplified lesson of the best and simplest inter-slavic language")

Balkana Verda Stelo

Aboneblas la trimonata revuo Balkana Verda Stelo, kaj elŝuteblas senpage la numero de septembro 2016. Jen la enhavo de la senpaga numero. Mi reliefigas la artikolojn, kiuj min aparte interesas:

Unua serioza laboro de d-ro Mark Fettes, prezidanto de UEA.. 1
Balkana Esperantista Renkontiĝo EKRA, Bulgarijo. 2
La Kredito: banala, inteligenta kaj vigla. 4
Teatro: DOMA – El la vivo de insektoj 5
Komentetoj pri kelkaj movadaj aktualaĵoj 7
Artefaritaj tutslavaj lingvoj ekde 1666, nun en la reto. 9
Retaj kursoj 12
Forpasis Detlev Blanke. 13
La letero de fremda soldato de Adil Ollurit 13
Ŝercoj de Jadranka Mirić: 17
KER en Subotica/Serbijo 2016. 17
Kolokvo en Timişoara, Rumanijo, 11a-12a de novembro. 18
La disputata litero ĥ. 19
Kiel "movadiĝas" Esperanto en Ĉinijo?. 23
Helpo al Esperanto-instruantoj kaj orfaj infanoj en Afriko. 24
Simboloj de faŝismo, ekskuzebla tradicio en Kroatijo?. 25
Instruado per Duolingo en Slovenijo. 30
Historia Ortodoksa Koncilio renkontiĝas malgraŭ foresto de kvar eklezioj 31
Okcidenteŭropa indigno pro islamofobio en Francijo. 35