The former Poet Laureate Charles Simic is our great chronicler of catalogs and juxtapositions. The world he presents is indeed a MASTER OF DISGUISES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22), offering simultaneously “the smell of freshly baked bread,” “The sight of a building blackened by fire,” old men, babies, faith, apocalypse, good and evil. In trying to make a coherent picture of the discombobulating variety of everyday life, Simic confronts the great moral questions. How can someone be moved by a song after having “sent thousands to their deaths”? These spare lyrics unfold vivid detail by vivid detail, posing difficult questions but also celebrating the lighter side of American life with its boardwalks and chess games in the park. Simic is a meticulous observer, one who always “sees the world with his heart.”

Master of Disguises Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547397092
Availability: Out of Print in This Format
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - October 6th, 2010

Until he was 21, Orhan Pamuk wanted to become a painter. Thereafter, he turned to the art of “painting with words”: he became a novelist. In his six Norton lectures the Nobel laureate reflects on writing and reading fiction. THE NAÏVE AND THE SENTIMENTAL NOVELIST (Harvard Univ., $22.95) is a distinction drawn by Schiller; some writers proceed spontaneously, seemingly without forethought, others work with self-conscious attention to craft and effect. Pamuk believes all novelists are a bit of both types, as their work also appeals to both the visual and the verbal imaginations. While the writer’s search for le mot juste is famous, Pamuk concentrates on the need for l’image juste. Novels work by accretion of details, each of which is visualized by the writer and then the reader as if seen from the characters’ points of view. Novels also have a knack for giving us a world at once unique and familiar--that’s one reason we read them. Another is to find the elusive “center” where all the details merge into a coherent meaning. We search for such a center in life; we’re more apt to find it in a literary novel, such as one of Pamuk’s, or the one he considers “the greatest novel of all time,” Anna Karenina.

The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) Cover Image
By Orhan Pamuk, Nazim Dikbaş (Translator)
ISBN: 9780674050761
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Harvard University Press - November 1st, 2010

The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist: Understanding What Happens When We Write and Read Novels (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307745248
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - November 1st, 2011

To tell someone how to find your house, you can direct them to go left then right, or you can say “head east for half a mile.” These two options are available to English speakers, that is. For Australian aboriginal speakers of Guuga  Yimithirr, only the latter mode is possible, as their language lacks an “egocentric” vocabulary of “left, “right,” “in front of,” and “behind.” In his fascinating trip THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS (Metropolitan, $28), Guy Deutscher, author of The Unfolding of Language, investigates how language shapes, expands, and constrains human world views—or doesn’t. Does speaking a language that genders objects reflect a greater sensitivity to essential male and female traits than one, like English, in which all objects are “it”? Do speakers of languages that combine nouns and verbs see the world differently from those who need two words to describe an object in action? To address questions of individual languages and universal experience, Deutscher focuses on colors. “Why is the sky blue?” might seem to be a basic, formative question, but for linguists the first inquiry is “where is the ‘blue’?” Blue—or just “blue”—is absent from Homer’s epics, rich in descriptions and other colors though they are.

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312610494
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - August 30th, 2011