Lizok’s Bookshelf

The first of Eugene Vodolazkin's novels translated to English was, of course, Laurus, which ranks as one of the significant literary works of the current century. I was impressed by the translators ability to convey not just a feel for what I presume the original has, but a kind of "other-time-yet-our-timeness" that seems an essential part of the authors objective. I recently picked up Volodazkin's Aviator and thought to look up the translator as well. (more...)

Sea of Fertility

In a discussion on some of my reservations on Murakami's take on 20th century Japanese literature, a friend commented on Mishima's Sea of Fertility tetrology with some real insights I thought worth preserving and sharing, albeit anonymously (if you're not into Japanese literature, now's a good time to stop reading):

"My perspective is different: it was a perfect echo of the end of “Spring Snow” and a final liberation of the main character from his (more...)

Top 10 Albums Meme


I’ve been hit by a barrage of social media posts on people’s top 10 albums, so I thought I would take a look at what I have listened to the most in the last 5 years or so. I’m not claiming these are my favorites or “the best” albums recorded (in fact there are many better albums I enjoy). But I was somewhat surprised to find that I do return to the the same albums (more...)

Karamazov

 Chapter 3  -  Conversations and Exhortations of Father Zosima

(e) The Russian Monk and His Possible Significance.

FATHERS and teachers, what is the monk? In the cultivated world the word is nowadays pronounced by some people with a jeer, and by others it is used as a term of abuse, and this contempt for the monk is growing. It is true, alas, it is true, that there are many sluggards, gluttons, profligates, and insolent beggars (more...)

Dark Eyes

Dark Eyes
(A traditional Russian folk song translated by Greg Pavlik)
The eyes so black, passionate eyes
Fiery eyes, so beautiful!
How I love you - how I fear you!
You know I saw your eyes at the witching hour!

I cannot explain your deep, deep darkness!
I see a mourning within you for my soul,
I see the flame of triumph within you:
it consumes my sorrowing heart.
It does not make me bitter, (more...)

The river floes break in spring… take 2

Alexander Blok
The river floes break in spring...
March 1902
translation by Greg Pavlik 



The river floes break in spring,
And for the dead I feel no sorrow -
Toward new summits I am rising,
Forgetting crevasses of past striving,
I see the blue horizon of tomorrow.

What regret, in fire and smoke,
the lament of the cross,
With each hour, with each stroke -
Or instead - the heavens’ gift stoked,
from the bush (more...)

We’re All In This Thing Together

This song pretty much summarizes everything I've learned to be true about life after nearly five decades of living...

Well my friend, well I see your face so clear
Little bit tired, a little worn through the years
You sound nervous, you seem alone
I hardly recognize your voice on the telephone

In between I remember
Just before we wound up broken down
We'd drive out to the edge of the highway
Follow that lonesome (more...)

The river floes break in spring…


Alexander Blok
The river floes break in spring...
March 1902
translation by Greg Pavlik 


The river floes break in spring,
And for the dead I feel no sorrow -
Toward new summits I am rising,
Forgetting crevasses of past striving,
I see the blue horizon of tomorrow.

What regret, in fire and smoke,
What agony of Aaron’s rod,
With each hour, with each stroke -
Or instead - the heavens’ gift stoked,
From the (more...)

Why I am a Dostoevskyan Humanist

An explanation in 5 parts, by reference to the works of those who were not.*

'Lo! I show you the Last Man.

"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks.

The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

"We have (more...)

Something Amiss

Looks like this curious non-review of the novel Laurus seems to have been referring to "Brahmins" as "Brahman" - I suppose republished to correct the mistake:

​Russian Brahman by Alan Jacobs | Articles | First Things

www.firstthings.com/article/2016/04/russian-brahman
First Things
Russian Brahman. by Alan Jacobs April 2016. Laurus by eugene vodolazkin translated by lisa hayden oneworld, 384 pages, $24.99. Eugene Vodolazkin's ...

Nativity

Shadows flicker against the wall
within the cave it is perpetually night
(I find my vision gets dimmer with age
- when we are alleged to see more sharply -
in the low light of a single candle flame
it is getting much harder to read
year by year)
there is a form I barely am able to perceive.
I wonder if it is better here than the open air
where my eyes would surely (more...)

Brazil

Blown away to get my purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from 10th Planet black belt Alex Canders.


Genevieve, Protectress of Paris


Like a white stone in the depths of a well…

Like a white stone in the depths of a well...
Anna Akhmatova
working translation by Greg Pavlik

Like a white stone in the depths of a well
within me there lies one memory.
I can not - and do not - want to expel
this, my greatest joy and my agony.

I think that anyone who closely looks
can see this recollection reads
as harrowing sadness in a tragic book -
a warning, and a (more...)

Requiem Fragment

Requiem Fragment
Anna Akhmatova
translation by Greg Pavlik

10 Crucifixion

      Do not lament me, O Mother,
      seeing me in the tomb.


The angelic chorus glorified the hour of eternity,
when the heavens convulsed in a river of fire:
He cried to His Father “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
And to His Mother, he spoke: “Do not lament me”…

1938

Mary Magdalena writhed, and wept
as the beloved John froze like stone (or salt).
(more...)

Lot’s Wife

Lot's Wife
by Anna Akhmatova
an interpretive translation by Greg Pavlik
The righteous Lot heard the voice of God
As if coming from the distant and black mountains.
But his wife,
She saw what was until yesterday her blessing.
Under the beautiful spires of Sodom,
Where she sang spinning cloth -
The empty window of the room,
In which her children were born.
She looked – and her pain died with her,
For she could (more...)

Ancestor Worship

Some profound lessons in how to be human that we can learn from our Confucian friends


Fascinating Lives

There is something, I think, admirable in a quiet life: care for family, constructive participation in community, hard work. But there are times and places (perhaps all times, but not all places?) where simply attending to the simple things of life becomes a kind of impossibility: whether for psychological or moral reasons. I was reflecting on two persons recently who have struck me by not only their intellectual genius but also by the sheer (more...)

Poets of Zen Buddhism

Aporias

1.
Actually
He likes word games
   Diffident
In the way they circle about
   Starlings in flight
   Or Seraphim.

2.
With sweeping gesture
   Left to right
Hands hang with head
Under the pressing of the sun:
   Weight of doubt
   Or will.

3.
Against open air, tumultuous sea
   Turtle green
The division is nowhere more evident
Where sand meets froth
   Stark, blinding glare
Wind balmed
   Until night.

4.
Cleanliness,
   Next to godliness
The echo of countless schoolmarms
Chiding, chilling - without regret
   Yeah, rather,
   Motherhood.