Friday, October 31, 2008

Just spent a week in south-west France on a family holiday - took the cheap Ryanair flight to Carcassonne. We took a day trip by train from there to Toulouse. Cold, wet and windy, just like home, Carcassonne's 14thC fortress tremendously impressive, the town like something out of Madame Bovary - what little was there closed after 6pm, and it felt very provincial (tho welcoming and relaxed). Watching vast flocks of starlings circling the town in the dusk to roost in the trees of the main square, as shop-keepers closed their shutters and took their wares indoors, it occured to me that one of the attractions of France to certain English people - myself included - is nostalgia; partly, I think, for a time when Britain was not totally at the mercy of the free market. Carcassonne was full of small family businesses and locally owned patisseries and cafés - not a Starbucks or Cafe Nero in sight. In Toulouse I found several excellent independent bookshops of the type that have simply disappeared from the UK. One in particular had a huge stock, and I managed to pick up books by two poets I'm interested in - the Morroccan francophile poet Abellatif Laâbi, and Edmond Jabès. What with John BR's book delivery last week, I don't know when I'm going to find the time to read all this stuff.

5 comments:

Ed Baker said...

OH WOW : Edmund Jabes!!!!


He collected stones...

check out all that Romarie Waldrop has done for us re: Jabes....

The Book of Shares
The Book of Margins
The Book of Questions
Desire for a Beginning/Dread of One Single End

!!!

only a person "of the book /of the word/sentence/speech and s i l e n c e.

from The Book of Yukel:
Sarah's Journal

"I will not write of what I have seen. I write at the foot of the moment I dodge, in tow of a question which carries other questions."


am excited for you in your discovering Jabes/Waldrop...

Alan Baker said...

Hi Ed

You like Jabes! We have similar tastes. I've read some of Rosemarie Waldrop's versions, tho this is the first book of Jabes I've actually owned. It's "Le livre de l'hospitalité". He seems to write of a spirituality for unbelievers, or at least people who ask questions, rather than come up with "answers" (The Book of Questions...).

But I need to finish the Hejinian first.

Alan

Ed Baker said...

is not one of our "strong points"

there certainily is an Hasidic/study Book lean into "things..

so ROSMARIE WALDROP's

Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabes

is a book to begin-again with


I just struggled through some Bachelard now sinking my "teeth" into

Mary Midgeley's
Science and Poetry


sure is an advantage, of sorts, being outside of "university" to do this...

John B-R said...

Glad you had a great trip, Alan. I know I owe you a thank you for making our trip great, too, so here tis. Also glad you're enjoying the Hejinian. Will write properly in the next day or two ... As for Jabes, Waldrop's versions are fabulous, but I envy you the experience in French.

Brian said...

You have reminded me that I have not read a book completely through for a few years now and I always used to really enjoy reading, time for me to get interested again I think.