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Italo Calvino’s List of Reasons Why We Should Read the Classics
From Italo Calvino’s The Uses of Literature—

The classics are the books of which we usually hear people say, “I am rereading . . . ” and never “I am reading . . . “
We use the words “classics” for books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them
The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious.
Every rereading of a classic is as much a voyage of discovery as the first reading.
Every reading of a classic is in fact a rereading.
A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
The classics are the books that come down to us bearing the traces of readings previous to ours, and bringing in their wake the traces they themselves have left on the culture or cultures they have passed through (or, more simply, on language and customs).
A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives much pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity.
The classics are books which, upon reading, we find even fresher, more unexpected, and more marvelous than we had thought from hearing about them.
We use the word “classic” of a book that takes the form of an equivalent to the universe, on a level with the ancient talismans. With this definition we are approaching the idea of the “total book,” as Mallarmé conceived of it.
Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.
A classic is a book that comes before other classics; but anyone who has read the others first, and then reads this one, instantly recognizes its place in the family tree.
A classic is something that tends to relegate the concerns of the moment to the status of background noise, but at the same time this background noise is something we cannot do without.
A classic is something that persists as a background noise even when the most incompatible momentary concerns are in control of the situation.

Tagged: Art, Background noise, Book, canonical literature, Classic book, Classics, Italo Calvino, Literature, Reading
Art  Books  Literature  Writers  Background_noise  Book  canonical_literature  Classic_book  Classics  Italo_Calvino  Reading  from google
july 2012 by katieday
The Obligatory Best of 2011 List(s)
Best Books I Read in 2011 That Were Published in 2011 (Or Close Enough to 2011)

MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman

The Avian Gospels, Adam Novy

Spurious, Lars Iyer

The Third Reich, Roberto Bolaño

Humiliation, Wayne Koestenbaum

The Pale King, David Foster Wallace

Between Parentheses, Roberto Bolaño

***

Best Books I Read in 2011 That Were Published Before 2011

The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq

Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson

Expelled from Eden: A William Vollmann Reader

Ray, Barry Hannah

Trans-Atlantyk, Witold Gombrowicz

The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway

Light in August, William Faulkner

Hadji Murad, Leo Tolstoy

First Love and Other Sorrows, Harold Brodkey

Airships, Barry Hannah

Speedboat, Renata Adler

Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

Vertigo, W.G. Sebald

***

Best Rereading

Candide, Voltaire

***

Best Audiobook of 2011

The Collected Fictions of Gordon Lish, read by Gordon Lish

***

Best Film of 2011

The Tree of Life

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Most Charming Film of 2011

Midnight in Paris

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Most Overhyped Book of 2011

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

***

Best Book Cover of 2011 

***

Best Book Series Design

Melville House’s Neversink Imprint

 

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Best New TV Series of 2011

Game of Thrones

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Best Individual TV Episode of 2011

“Gimcrack & Bunkum,” Boardwalk Empire (The Memorial Day one where Jimmy and Richard scalp that old bastard)

***

Best Musical Album of 2011

I don’t think I listened to much new music in 2011. Maybe that Battles record? I don’t know. I’m getting old.

***

Speaking of Getting Old: Video That Made Me Feel Really Old and Out of Touch and Convinced That Kids These Days Are Basically Cartoon Characters, Yet Nevertheless Fascinated Me (The Video, That Is)

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Favorite (If Bewildering and Baffling) Music Video of 2011

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Schadenfreude Award

Rebecca Black

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Weirdest (Yet Nevertheless Moving) Novel of 2011

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, Chris Boucher

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Book I Read in 2011 That Still Confounds and Haunts Me

The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell

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Saddest Book I Read in 2011

Tie: Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry; The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, Breece D’J Pancake

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Best Essay (Print)

“Some Notes on Translation and on Madame Bovary,” Lydia Davis (The Paris Review)

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Best Essay (Online)

“Nude in Your Hot Tub, Facing the Abyss (A Literary Manifesto After the End of Literature and Manifestos),”  Lars Iyer (White Review)

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Worst Literary Trend of 2011

Tie: Lame “literary fiction” novels; Articles that link everything to David Foster Wallace

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Best Literary Trend of 2011

Plagiarism!

***

Most Obvious Disclaimer

I did not read or see or hear every book or essay or audiobook or film or TV show or record or video that came out in 2011. Also, there are some days left in the year. These are all, just like, opinions man.

Tagged: Best of 2011, Books, handwringing, lame lists, Lists, Writers, year end lists
Art  Books  Film  Literature  Movies  Music  Reviews  Writers  Best_of_2011  handwringing  lame_lists  Lists  year_end_lists  from google
december 2011 by katieday
U B U W E B
the definitive source for Visual, Concrete + Sound Poetry
art  literature  poetry  ideas  music  imported_from_delicious 
january 2006 by katieday

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