Author Topic: NYRB Classics  (Read 1401 times)

NYRB Classics
« on: July 11, 2019, 06:23:54 PM »
If you're not familiar with it, NYRB Classics is one of the best publishing imprints around right now that is reissuing interesting or overlooked novels while actually taking some effort to put out high quality and aesthetically pleasing books.

They're having a massive sale right now and I'm going to order a forklift full of books.

https://www.nyrb.com/collections/classics

What are some gems from the collection, if you know of any?

Twit 2

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 08:28:13 PM »
THE PEREGRINE BY JA BAKER

chveik

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 09:37:13 PM »
these editions look indeed great.

I can recommend a few novels from the collection. I don't know if these novels are properly "gems" because they're not that obscure, still I love them very much.

- Witch Grass by Raymond Queneau
- Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin
- Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
- The Skin by Curzio Malaparte
- The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese (Pavese's best short novels)

Captain Crunch

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2019, 02:02:51 PM »
Some lovely covers there, thanks for sharing.


Famous Mortimer

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2019, 05:21:36 PM »
"Basic Black With Pearls", which I'd never heard of before, sounds fascinating, so I shall drop some ££ on it.


Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2019, 01:20:12 AM »
Have read a few of these, and one that really stood out was Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter, which was wonderful. It's been a while but I recall describing it to a friend at the time as a blue collar version of Stoner. It's often sold as a crime novel, but I think that's massively misrepresentative. It's just about a low-life grifter who may or may not have a good heart.

I recently discovered that Carpenter wrote some well-regarded Hollywood novels (a genre I love), so I must seek them out.

EDIT: Goodness, reading up on him it seems he wrote a cult Rip Torn movie called Payday which sounds like a must-see. He also, sadly, committed suicide. Seems that so many writers of that generation went the same way.

Anyway, the NYRB list really is a treasure trove.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2019, 01:32:37 AM by amputeeporn »

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2019, 08:54:46 AM »
Probably a very obvious choice but I love Speedboat by Renata Adler

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2019, 08:48:06 PM »
I think Galen Strawson is the most interesting philosopher around at the moment, I'm not sure what's in that book of essays there on the NYRB list but I'd be inclined to give it a look. All his stuff on panpsychism is fascinating.

A slightly more English Lit- study recommendation than a casual read, but I've had the NRYB version of Robert Burton's 17th Century "Anatomy of Melancholy" for a few years and always find something new in it. With one thing and another I'm never alone these days and this bit reminded me of the pleasures and pains of the lazy, lonely days in my twenties.

Most pleasant it is at first, to such as are melancholy given to lie in bed whole days, and keep their chambers, to walk alone in some solitary grove, betwixt wood and water, by a brook side, to meditate upon some delightsome and pleasant subject, which shall affect them most;(...) a most incomparable delight it is so to melancholize, and build castles in the air, to go smiling to themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts, which they suppose and strongly imagine they represent, or that they see acted and done. "Blandae quidem ab initio" saith Lemnius, to conceive and mediate of such pleasant things sometimes, "present, past or to come", as Rhasis speaks. So delightsome these toys are at first, they could spend whole days and nights without sleep, even whole years alone in such contemplations, and fantastical mediations, which are like unto dreams, and they will hardly be drawn from them, or willingly interrupt, so pleasant their vain conceits are, that they hinder their ordinary tasks and necessary business, they cannot address themselves to them, or almost to any study or employment, these fantastical and bewitching thoughts so covertly, so feelingly, so urgently, so continually set upon, creep in, insinuate, possess, overcome, distract, and detain them, they cannot, I say, go about their more necessary business, stave off or extricate themselves, but are ever musing, melancholizing, and carried along, (...)they run earnestly on in this labyrinth of anxious and solicitous melancholy meditations, and cannot well or willingly refrain, or easily leave off, winding and unwinding themselves, as so many clocks, and still pleasing their humour , until at last the scene is turned upon a sudden, by some bad object, and they being now habituated to such vain meditations and solitary places can endure no company, can ruminate of nothing but harsh and distasteful subjects. Fear, sorrow, suspicion, subrusticus pudor, discontent, cares and weariness of life surprise them in a moment, and they can think of nothing else, continually suspecting, no sooner are their eyes open, but this infernal plague of melancholy seizeth on them, and terrifies their souls....


Twit 2

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2019, 05:13:32 PM »
I recommend the NYRB edition of Lichtenberg’s Waste Books. Criminally underrated aphorist.

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2019, 07:26:57 PM »
Jakov Lind - Soul of Wood
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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2019, 07:28:13 PM »
A slightly more English Lit- study recommendation than a casual read, but I've had the NRYB version of Robert Burton's 17th Century "Anatomy of Melancholy" for a few years and always find something new in it.

Had my eye on that for 10 years but I worry I'm too stupid/depressed to get understand it as a big picture.

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2019, 01:29:39 AM »
Had my eye on that for 10 years but I worry I'm too stupid/depressed to get understand it as a big picture.
It's not really one long sustained argument defending one particular theory, it's more like an encyclopaedia of little essays that, sometimes pretty tenuously, connect to the theme of melancholy. But he uses melancholy to mean lots of different things-, picking examples on random pages: the sort of unpleasant bout of indigestion you might get after eating food with too many herbs on it; the fear you might feel if you're working underground in a mine and you meet a subterranean demon who tries to stop you from pulling all the treasure from the earth; the feeling of being entranced by a beautiful, gentle voice; the annoyance of being seduced by a knight who was pretending to be a god.

Since I've had my copy, I've found this all-over-the-place-ness makes it quite a nice book to dip into on days when I'm feeling too burnt out and low to read anything long- most of the individual sections stand alone and are only about five pages long, and in case the relentless nature of the prose style means that five or six pages give you enough to think about (the bit I quoted above is fairly typical, though with way fewer quotations and refernces than he usually throws in). You don't really lose anything by reading it out of sequence, and genuine LOL RANDOM chuckles are to be had, often.

The big picture, such as it is, comes more from the quite alien nature of Burton's 17th style and worldview slowly, a bit insidiously being felt and entered into than from any particular point he's making. The sense of oddness comes in part, from the topics- this is a book where goblins and respiratory disease are both discussed seriously; and in part from the style of argumentation- this is the final high tide of the 'humanist' way of thinking where you prove a point by bundling together a load of classical and medieval quotes to support your idea- the rationalist's suspicion of argument from authority is completely absent, and bits of superstition and folklore are intermingled with proto-science and pre-modern philosophy in a way which has now gone.

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2019, 08:46:24 AM »
It's not really one long sustained argument defending one particular theory, it's more like an encyclopaedia of little essays that, sometimes pretty tenuously, connect to the theme of melancholy. But he uses melancholy to mean lots of different things-, picking examples on random pages: the sort of unpleasant bout of indigestion you might get after eating food with too many herbs on it; the fear you might feel if you're working underground in a mine and you meet a subterranean demon who tries to stop you from pulling all the treasure from the earth; the feeling of being entranced by a beautiful, gentle voice; the annoyance of being seduced by a knight who was pretending to be a god.

Since I've had my copy, I've found this all-over-the-place-ness makes it quite a nice book to dip into on days when I'm feeling too burnt out and low to read anything long- most of the individual sections stand alone and are only about five pages long, and in case the relentless nature of the prose style means that five or six pages give you enough to think about (the bit I quoted above is fairly typical, though with way fewer quotations and refernces than he usually throws in). You don't really lose anything by reading it out of sequence, and genuine LOL RANDOM chuckles are to be had, often.

The big picture, such as it is, comes more from the quite alien nature of Burton's 17th style and worldview slowly, a bit insidiously being felt and entered into than from any particular point he's making. The sense of oddness comes in part, from the topics- this is a book where goblins and respiratory disease are both discussed seriously; and in part from the style of argumentation- this is the final high tide of the 'humanist' way of thinking where you prove a point by bundling together a load of classical and medieval quotes to support your idea- the rationalist's suspicion of argument from authority is completely absent, and bits of superstition and folklore are intermingled with proto-science and pre-modern philosophy in a way which has now gone.

Thank you so much for this Astronaut Omen. I have just finished re-reading Thomas Browne's Urne Buriall which has a similar rambling encyclopaedic style to what you describe I think. I should pick up AOM sounds like, and not try to make it the only thing I have on the go.

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2019, 03:26:11 AM »
You're welcome! Would you recommend Urne Buriall? Any bits in it that stand out?

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2019, 12:55:55 PM »
You're welcome! Would you recommend Urne Buriall? Any bits in it that stand out?

I definitely would! It's full of lush sepulchural insights that might not actually be that useful in a persons life, but certainly sound profound:

Darknesse and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory,
a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and
the smartest stroaks of affliction leave but short smart upon us.


The Penguin "Great Ideas" version gets flak for not being included with 'The Garden of Cyrus' but it does also include excerpts from his 'Pseudodoxia Epidemica' including one about elephants, where he concludes by saying its not illogical to assume that we could teach them to speak in the manner of parrots, so that made me happy.


Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2019, 06:16:52 PM »
The podcast Backlisted is doing its 100th episode on Anatomy of Melancholy with guest Philip Pullman, to be released on Monday (if Pullman isn't arrested first for threatening to hang Boris Johnson)

Twit 2

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2019, 07:31:07 PM »
There’s a good Cioran aphorism about the attraction of TAoM being in its title alone, with the work not living up to it. Can’t find the quote online so will copy it up from the text when I find it.

Pingers

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2019, 12:37:57 AM »
I've only read three of these, which makes me feel terribly uncultured. Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim and Tove Janssen's The Summer Book I would recommend without any hesitation. John Wyndham's Chocky I found to be poor, yet another 1970s novel that feels brown and is obsessed with psychiatry.

Twit 2

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2019, 12:06:13 PM »
There’s a good Cioran aphorism about the attraction of TAoM being in its title alone, with the work not living up to it. Can’t find the quote online so will copy it up from the text when I find it.

Found it in Écartèlement/Drawn and Quartered:

« Last Edit: August 30, 2019, 03:56:28 PM by Twit 2 »

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2019, 10:34:08 AM »
Found it in Écartèlement/Drawn and Quartered:


The good news is you get the title free on the front of the book!!

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2019, 11:37:42 AM »
What do you think Cioran liked about the title? Something about the entwined scientific and emotional words? Burton's rambling, excessive, maximilist style is about as far away from Cioran's punchy aphorism-making as you could possibly get, he even defends this is the introduction

Besides, it was the observation of that wise Seneca, " When you see a fellow careful about his words and neat in his speech, know this for a certainty, that man's mind is busied about toys, there's no solidity in him"

One of the effects of this is that he frequently goes off on digressions which overwhelm the ostensible topic but are enjoyably intense and surprising. For example, in this bit- only the first half of the sentence!- he's trying to introduce the topic of religious melancholy- fanaticism, false beliefs, etc. He reaches for a metaphor- the sea- and goes on to write a paragraph which is more striking for its sea imagery than for what it says about faith:

Give me but a little leave, and I will set before your eyes in brief a stupend, vast infinite ocean of incredible madness and folly: a sea full of shelves and rocks, sands, gulfs, euripes and contrary tides, full of fearful monsters, uncouth shapes, roaring waves, tempests and siren calms, halyconian seas, unspeakable misery, such comedies and tragedies, such absurd and lamentable fits, that I know not whether they are more to be pitied or derided....

'Indigestible'' does come close to pointing out what's interesting about him, his style is a deliberate attempt to be TOO MUCH. At one point he tries to make fun of the Christian habit of having different patron saints for countries and professions- he can't help but 'prove' his point by listing twenty of them. The problem is that, in picking out with obvious relish the fact that St Crisipin is the patron saint of shoemakers, St Apollonia, toothache, St Gallus, geese and so on, he's pretty much demonstrated the imaginative appeal of the whole business of patron saints. This is very typical of the book really, a lot of the ruminations, especially those on heartbreak hint at a mind which took a sort of pleasure, much like a stand-up comedian might, in the things he's ostensibly against.

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2019, 11:39:22 AM »
The podcast Backlisted is doing its 100th episode on Anatomy of Melancholy with guest Philip Pullman, to be released on Monday (if Pullman isn't arrested first for threatening to hang Boris Johnson)
Thanks, will gve that a listen. There's a radio 4 In Our Time on the BBC website which is good on the more medical bits of the book

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2019, 11:43:59 AM »
I've only read three of these, which makes me feel terribly uncultured.
Maybe that is , a bit, the marketing trick in having a classics inprint- claiming that some justifiably out-of-print thing that you've got the rights for is a lost masterpiece that everyone ought to have read.

Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2019, 11:56:34 AM »
I definitely would! It's full of lush sepulchural insights that might not actually be that useful in a persons life, but certainly sound profound:

Darknesse and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory,
a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and
the smartest stroaks of affliction leave but short smart upon us.


The Penguin "Great Ideas" version gets flak for not being included with 'The Garden of Cyrus' but it does also include excerpts from his 'Pseudodoxia Epidemica' including one about elephants, where he concludes by saying its not illogical to assume that we could teach them to speak in the manner of parrots, so that made me happy.

Cheers, I'll give that a try. The quote reminds me a bit of Lucretius' The Nature of Things- someone very intelligent in the past trying to make sense of fundamental aspects of physical reality- like the fact that the sunshine will dry your clothes out, for example- in a considered, poetic way. The "Great Ideas" series' short selection from The Anatomy of Melancholy does pick out some really good bits, but is perhaps a bit excessively tasteful and even in style compared to the real thing.

Twit 2

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Re: NYRB Classics
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2019, 04:08:04 PM »
What do you think Cioran liked about the title? Something about the entwined scientific and emotional words? Burton's rambling, excessive, maximilist style is about as far away from Cioran's punchy aphorism-making as you could possibly get, he even defends this is the introduction

I wouldn’t take anything EMC said at face value (eg in private he described himself as an optimist FFS). He probably loved the book. But yeah, I think he just liked cool titles. (His own best titles are in A Short History of Decay, I reckon. I recommend reading the contents pages for that, which cumulatively practically constitute a work in itself.)

I’ve never read TAOM but I should probably give it a go. My next unwieldy old text will be Cellini’s autobiography, though, so it’ll have to wait a bit.