The Last Samurai and want to share with everyone. And a huge extra-textual question: How many of you have seen The Seven Samurai? (I watched it for the first time just this July as part of a summer-long Kurosawa festival, in which I had the chance to see a number of his films.) And if you haven't seen it yet, do you plan to watch it for this read?" />

The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from this site:


Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com
  • 20 Books at 3820 Books at 38

    I'm surprised to learn Andres Newman is so young. Also, great overview of his books in English. Andrés Neuman is... »
  • The Future ModianoThe Future Modiano

    The Complete Review has the details of the future Englishing of our most recent Nobel laureate. And also, sales figures. For... »
  • Quarterly Conversationi Issue 38Quarterly Conversationi Issue 38

    Issue 38 right here. or TOC after the jump. Features Readings, Fragments,... »
  • On KafkaOn Kafka

    Rivka Galchen on the new Kafka bio by Reiner Stach. I have come to the conclusion that anyone who thinks about Kafka for... »
  • Me on ModianoMe on Modiano

    My review of Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano. The most focused of the book’s three diffuse novellas is... »
  • Elena Ferrante InterviewedElena Ferrante Interviewed

    At the NY TImes. I'm currently reading Book 1. Q. You insist on anonymity and yet are developing a cult following,... »
  • Infinite FictionsInfinite Fictions

    Buy David Winters's book.... »
  • Tarr After the HorseTarr After the Horse

    At BOMB: A couple of months after that, in February 2011, Béla Tarr presented the world premiere of The Turin Horse at... »
  • Bolaño: A BiographyBolaño: A Biography

    This is a pretty fair assessment of Bolaño: A Biography. Denied access to papers in the Bolaño estate, the Argentine... »
  • Literary AdvocatesLiterary Advocates

    Very honored to be among the esteemed list of "Literary Advocates" named by Entropy magazine for 2014. The list of... »

You Say

Group Reads

The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

Shop though these links = Support this site


Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

New Books
Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 2

Here’s the spot for any extra-textual matter you’ve seen referenced in pages 85 – 186 of The Last Samurai and want to share with everyone.

And a huge extra-textual question: How many of you have seen Seven Samurai? (I watched it for the first time just this July as part of a summer-long Kurosawa festival, in which I had the chance to see a number of his films.) And if you haven’t seen it yet, do you plan to watch it for this read?

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 1 I'll have some initial thoughts later in the week, but I thought I'd try something new that we didn't do with the Your Face Tomorrow...
  2. The Samurai Begins Next Week Remember, the fall group read of The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt begins next week. Schedule + info on what the book is and why...
  3. The Last Samurai: The Author as Woman Inevitably, we've already had a couple of references to Helen DeWitt's gender in the comments to the first week of The Last Samurai discussion, so...
  4. Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt So what is The Last Samurai and why did I choose it? . . . continue reading, and add your comments...
  5. The Last Samurai: Chance, Blocked Geniuses, and Irregular Grammar Based on the evidence of the first section we're reading of The Last Samurai, I think it's fair to say that Helen DeWitt likes to...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

8 comments to The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 2

  • Dan

    When Sibylla imagines Keats haunting her dreams on p. 113-4, she says he’ll be holding Chapman’s Homer, a reference to his poem “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer,” a sonnet about his love for a translation. Bartleby has the text.

    I just watched up to the intermission in Seven Samurai last week, and I’m planning to finish it tonight. I hadn’t realized it was so long (although so far completely worth the time).

  • Ah, not only love for translation, but love for language!

    Which is all translation, in a way….

  • Thanks for the link to the Keats poem, Dan. I also found the part of Chapman’s Iliad translation that Sibylla quotes on p. 138 (with “dumptys” filling in blanks). I hope this Google Books link goes to the right part.

    I haven’t seen Seven Samurai, but I do intend to.

  • Pam

    I’m curious: having seen Seven Samurai, do you think those who haven’t are missing out on important resonances in The Last Samurai? I haven’t seen the film, nor do I have a working knowledge of linguistics, and so I feel that I’m not getting the whole of DeWitt’s story. Damn.

  • Hey Pam: Undoubtedly, yes, although I’m sure that we’re all missing out on something, given that this book is so laden with textual references. (My knowledge of linguistic theory–noticeably lacking.)

    Given Samurai’s placement in the novel (I think I’ve seen the film described in depth at least 3 times so far) you’d probably get more out of the book if you’ve seen it. But I’m not one of those people who insists that you need to go beyond the text–I’m sure there’s more than enough here for you to go on without ever bringing in a single extra-textual reference.

  • When Ludo begins to write his own diary, he claims that one of the reasons he likes Greek is because he like languages with dual. Though linguistics has never been something I have been particularly interested in, I realized that most modern day languages do not use a dual form. Even modern day Greek has discarded it. The only language with duals that I have learned is Sanskrit and because of its high level of distinction (Singular, Dual, Plural and Feminine, Masculine, Neutral), it was easy to pick up the grammar and form correct sentences.
    Here is the Wikipedia entry on Duals.

  • tom

    Letter to those who are reading the novel in French tranlsation:

    Like Zadie Smith, I feel inclined to change my mind. The cover of the French paper-back edition is perhaps better than anything I had imagined. It moves out of the realist framework of a bland young man looking out or into an imaginary world of awesome sumarai, to enter into the nitty-gritty realm of projection and plan where WE can imagine the case of someone who actually takes the leap into the way of the warrior.

  • tom

    I hope many of us will take time off to watch THE SEVEN SAMURAI. Not only because of its intrinsic interest, but because of its central but wierd role in THE LAST SAMURAI. According to Sibylla, it’s a movie about the cult of reason. This has to be the first time in the history of the film’s reception that someone has said that. (Maybe Richie does too?) The fact is she twists the film into a strange many-legged creature, as fascinating as it is unfair.

    Several examples. She says that THE SEVEN SAMURAI is not about the seven samurai at all. (And certainly not about a band of trained fighters!) It’s about Rikichi. (“only one farmer wants to fight: without him there would be no story. Rikichi glared from the screen with burning eyes; his pale face glowed in the cold dark room.”) At least in memory, Rikichi doesn’t come off as a rational being. But perhaps he is the person who can set the rational process into motion. “Without him there would be no story.” So that’s why he’s number eight, and we have to keep our eye on this eight-ball. He’s the cornerstone of the entire edifice of the film.

    “The master swordsman isn’t interested in killing people. He only wants to perfect his art.” Later we learn that the master swordsman is the only one of the band who has this strange goal. Does he get killed? We have to go the movie to find out. (I’m sure Sibylla brings this up someone, later on) The swords, in the meantime, come in handy in liberating the village. But everything Ludo brings away from the film concerns laying the sword aside, and parrying blows to the body and the mind. Is he is the last, and most perfected samurai? I would say yes: the reasonable thing to do is to lay down the sword, as the Emperor imposed upon the samurais to do. But here reasonable has little to do with the dark role Adorno and Horkeimer assign to reason. Ms. DeWitt’s book is a constant meditation on the best way out of situations, and best means most reasonable. I’m dubious of efforts to turn this into something post-modern.

    Last textual reference to this novel, which might be entitled: “In Praise of Reason”: First the postmodern: “Kurosawa won a prize for a film he made before this one, called Rashomon, about a woman raped by a bandit; in that one he tells the stroy 4 times, and it’s different each time someone tells it, but in this one …” Now comes the modern, with the customary authority and high hopes, along with much less patience for different voices and different opinions: “but in this one he does something more complicated, he only tells the story once but you see it from about 8 points of view, you have to pay attention the whole time to see whetehr something seems to be true or is just what somebody says is true.”
    So this is what happens to the katana once you lay it down with the eureka of having found another kind of arm. Reason is the sword that enables you to cut through appearances; the reasonable thing to do is to go and see for yourself, even if that means traveling to the ends of the earth.
    I hope we’ll have a lot to say about this film once we’ve started seeing it again and again.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>