Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Don't hate me because I brood": Now with 60 percent fewer words!!!

Someone remarked recently that Nordic crime novels tend to feature whiny male detectives. I suggested that morose might be more accurate than whiny, and someone else added that Nordic crime fiction offers whiny female detectives, too.

Yet another observer offered the off-hand but accurate observation that a Nordic crime novel is likelier than an American one to include immigration as a major theme.

It would be a shame if anyone thought they knew what they were getting with Arnaldur Indriðason, though, just because he has that odd letter in his patronymic and because his protagonist lives alone in a cold country and broods occasionally and eats lots of lamb. He is a remarkable writer.

(Read all my posts abour Arnaldur here.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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69 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

That critic would be our Italian correspondant no doubt.

The redoubtable Jonathan Meades made a series for BBC 4 called Magnetic North in which he said that Britain had made a huge mistake idealising the culture of the Med (and in particular Italy and France) when in fact the Scandanavian models in architecture, art, philosophy and literature were more appropriate for Britain's climate and culture.

It's an interesting thesis. You can watch some of it here on YouTube

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This post went on too long; I was tired when I wrote it, so I babbled a bit. The point I intended to make was simply that it would be a shame if anyone thought they knew what they were getting with Arnaldur just because his protagonist lives alone and broods occasionally and is from a cold country. He is a remarkable writer.

Hmm, so the British should have been swilling mead instead of sipping claret? That's a fascinating proposition. Thanks for the link.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I don't think the criticism came from an Italian, actually--I believe it came from one of Peter's fellow Canadian's. Not sure what Canada does to that whole North/South equation, but then, I'm not sure Canada really cares.


V word is definitely Mediterranean minded though. It proclaims "sunation"

December 17, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Seana

You're right. Your brain is less fuddled than mine. It was a Canadian and the defence was made by an Italian who apparently will be live on TV in a few hours.

Back to Jonathan Meades. Magnetic North is one of his best and its worth watching on YouTube before the BBC finds out and pulls it off. His take on northern Europe seems spot on to me.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

Your title capture it best, I think: "Brooding."

What I like best about Arnaldur's work is he seems to be able to combine a police investigation with the sensibilities of a PI story; Erlander is often concerned more with "truth" than with merely closing the case.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

My brain is fuddled enough that I apparently can't figure out how to resolve my computer's viewing problems, which means I will not be able to witness one of the first moments of the imminent Italian revolution--although I am not sure how the time zones aligned anyway. Drat.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

To think that tonight instead of coming to see us my parents will go to a dinner organized by THE ENEMY*!

* the husband of the President of the City Council

While one of us won't come because of her daughter's recital!

You really can't trust families.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Canada will take it all in stride.

I should say the only stereotypes about Canadians that I've found to be even remotely true is that we do say, "Eh," which is at least a match in eloquence and expressiveness for the American "huh," and we used to have a certain cultural cringe in the face of things American. Also ... but then, I feel a separate post coming on.

Sun Nation sounds more like a Caribbean all-inclusive resort whose slogan could be" "Where you'll worry about nothing, including the locals."

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, Adrian, I'll look for it as soon as I get done with these comments. Has he ever set these thoughts down in a book?

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, that's an astute observation about Arnaldur's work combining the sensibilities of a police procedural and a P.I. story. In Hypothermia, Erlendur goes to especial length to pursue invetigation outside police channels.

I used the word "brooding" with some trepidation and with toungue in cheek because Erlendur is farily well adjusted, and his brooding and angst never threaten even remotely to divert him from his work.

I'm aware of the stereotype of the brookding Nordic detective, of course, and I always notice when an author does interesting things with it, as Jo Nesbø does.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, would you go easy on the drats, please? This is a family blog. And if any of us miss the historic TV moment, has anyone recorded it for posterity?

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, perhaps your family is like those adroit politicians in Andrea Camilleri's novels skilled at preserving themselves no matter who is in power.

I quite naturally thought of you this week when someone hit Berlusconi in the face. I even wondered briefly if you might have done it.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

I can't think of any creepier politician in Europe than Berlusconi. If someone had stuck a cream pie in his face I would have said well done. But instead of that I felt sorry for the old bastard. An indication of the uselessness and counterproductivity of violence, I think.
Thanks to your blog I seem to be getting sucked into this v-word business. The current one is swadmil which strikes me as being particularly evocative, although of what, I'm not exactly sure. On reflection, I've decided this is a common Eastern European term for moolah.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I know that making ethnic generalizations is very un-p.c. these days but is it OK if you direct it at your own ethnic heritage...? As a person of Scandinavian descent on both sides of my family I think I can claim with some assurance that Scandinavians are indeed more likely to brood, to be dour and morose than, say, Italians. Names that spring immediately to mind are Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch – guys not exactly known for humor in their work.

Those long, cold, and especially dark winters seem to foster that kind of character.

"Whining" is not an accurate description because we don't tend to burden others, at least out loud, with our complaints, worries, etc. That’s what brooding is for! Erlendur’s colleagues periodically comment on his silence and disinclination to talk about his personal problems and concerns. He is so mute on the latter that it is only to his comatose daughter (in "Silence of the Grave") that he is able to finally talk about his greatest burden. (No spoiler.)

I learned at my father's knee to always expect the worst but hope for the best, that the glass is always half empty, not half full, etc. etc. Although it’s a German fairy tale (well, I guess the Germans can be pretty morose, too) the Brothers Grimm’s "Clever Elsie" (who nearly goes mad envisioning all the woe that could descend upon her and her family’s future after seeing an axe hanging on a wall) sort of sums it up.

Although Arnaldur's Erlendur claims to have no religion there seems to be little doubt that the Scandinavians' Lutheran heritage makes its mark on many of us, including him, even today. You’re pretty much doomed from the get-go so you might as well accept it, that way you won’t get any unpleasant surprises along life’s highway.

As for immigration being a major theme in Scandinavian crime fiction… It is only in the last 25 or so years that these once highly heterogeneous (ethnically, socially, culturally) countries have begun to experience mass immigration and increasing globalization. Scandinavians tend to be caught between their long-established liberal social attitudes and their tendency toward a desire for conformity. I don’t think it’s any wonder that this theme would have been magnified in Scandinavian fiction.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Elisabeth
If Scandanavians were really that morose and dour wouldn't it turn up in the suicide rates? But Scandanavians don't commit suicide any more often than any other ethnic group. The things you point to no doubt exist but really that modesty and reserve of Scandanavians is only a cultural artifact that doesn't run very deep. As an Irish person, I frequently hear my 'race' called 'happy go lucky' on the one hand and being subject to something called 'Irish melancholy' on the other hand. Neither is true. No matter where you go, all us human beings are the bloody same.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, I remember thinking that the man must have been fired with a fearsome rage to punch the prime minister in the face. And yes, I felt a bit sorry for Berlusconi when I saw him battered and bleeding. I think the guy broke his nose and few teeth, far more damage than the target usually suffers in such attacks. (I don't remember if you've commented on my posts about Andrea Camilleri, but I expect you'd find Camilleri congenial. He interlards his novels with political asides, occasionally aimed directly at Berlusconi.)

A swadmill is a factory, usually situated by a swiftly flowing river, where swaddling clothes are made. They dotted the American landscape at the height of the Swaddling Age, roughly between 1860 and the outbreak of the Second World War.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Thanks Peter
I have to confess I'd never heard of the Swaddling Age before, but now that George Bush is gone perhaps the term could be adapted to cover his eight years in power
Please, forgive this, but the current v-word is ressupi. Now if this isn't something delicious the Italians might dream up for you to eat I don't know what is.
I think it's your commenter Seana who has me obsessing on these v-words.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth:

Names that spring immediately to mind are Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch – guys not exactly known for humor in their work.

But then there's Peer Gynt, about a charming, amoral rake, and not exactly WIld Duck, according to an article I like about Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite

Those long, cold, and especially dark winters seem to foster that kind of character.

In one brief scene, Arnaldur has Erlendur pull down the blinds to keep the light out of his apartment.

"Whining" is not an accurate description because we don't tend to burden others, at least out loud, with our complaints, worries, etc.

At last year's Bouchercon in Baltimore, I asked Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and her husband oif they thought Iceland's financial crisis might trigger social unrest. Icelanders lacks a tradition of social protest, they said: "We don't demonstrate well."

That’s what brooding is for! Erlendur’s colleagues periodically comment on his silence and disinclination to talk about his personal problems and concerns. He is so mute on the latter that it is only to his comatose daughter (in "Silence of the Grave") that he is able to finally talk about his greatest burden. (No spoiler.)

He opens up even more with his daughter, Eva Lind, in "Hypothermia."

As for immigration being a major theme in Scandinavian crime fiction… It is only in the last 25 or so years that these once highly heterogeneous (ethnically, socially, culturally) countries have begun to experience mass immigration and increasing globalization. Scandinavians tend to be caught between their long-established liberal social attitudes and their tendency toward a desire for conformity. I don’t think it’s any wonder that this theme would have been magnified in Scandinavian fiction.

It's easy to understand why Nordic crimr writers would concern themselves with the issue, and you and I could compile a list of those who have done so. Arnaldur seems to do so with special sympathy and understanding.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

solo,

"If Scandinavians were really that morose and dour wouldn't it turn up in the suicide rates? But Scandinavians don't commit suicide any more often than any other ethnic group" -- of course not! That would be drawing unwarranted attention to ourselves. Instead we, well, brood, maybe take antidepressants a little too freely and maybe drink a bit too much to excess. Like the Irish (another stereotype) -- "happy go lucky" after a few and "Irish melancholy" after a few too many.

And if I thought "human beings are the bloody same" everywhere I don't think I'd get as much pleasure reading international crime fiction which is as likely to delineate the differences between us as well as highlight the similarities.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter,

OK, I'll grant you that maybe Edvard Grieg was a fairly happy man. Surprising, perhaps, as his family was Scottish in origin. A double whammy -- Norwegian + Scots; you'd think that'd make him doubly dour!

Also, I meant to ask you if you noticed any difference/discontinuity in style/tone between the translations of the earlier Arlandurs and the latest one? His original translator died in 2007 and I see that the latest was translated by the woman who completed "Arctic Chill." Just wondering if readers might have noticed change(s).

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I think I'll adopt Clever Elsie as my mascot. I find her outlook congenial.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, I once read that Finland ranked high for suicides. I also read that Finns had an extraordinarily high literacy rate and that they read lots of comic books. I found the latter two of more immediate interest than the data about suicide.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, resuppi, accent on the second syllable, could indeed be something delicious that those Italians dream up for us to eat, as those Italians will. With the accent on the first syllable, however, it sounds like an inebriated restaurant customer demanding the ingredients of a dish he has just consumed, be that customer a drunkenly celebrating Irishman or a morosely intoxicated Swede.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"If Scandinavians were really that morose and dour wouldn't it turn up in the suicide rates? But Scandinavians don't commit suicide any more often than any other ethnic group" -- of course not! That would be drawing unwarranted attention to ourselves. Instead we, well, brood, maybe take antidepressants a little too freely

Or, as in Arnaldur's novels, just quietly disppear, which may get rather to the heart of the matter. Whatever the accuracy of stereotypes, they provide joyous grist for travellers' mills, whether that tyravel was in Herodorus' time or Montesquieu's or our own, whether that travel is to the end of the world or the end of the bar, or whether it's real or through books. The first time I knowingly talked to someone who had been raised a Shiite Muslim was over drinks at a press club.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bernard Scudder died in the middle of translating Arctic Chill and also one of Yrsa's novels, I think. I thought I might have noticed some slight differences in sentence structure in two or three places in Hypothermia, but they were slight, and I didn't bother noting them.

I don't know whether the Danish composer Carl Nielsen was dour or not, but I have several times been surprised by high-spirited excerpts form his autobiography,

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Correction to a whopper on my part... I obviously meant ethnically "homogeneous" when I wrote "heterogeneous" in an earlier entry.

Peter, I'm glad you like Clever Elsie. I always feel like "the glad girl" Pollyanna when I compare my outlook to Elsie's.

How about another Danish Carl, Carl Theodor Dreyer, for dour? I can't think of any of his films that aren't like slow torture. But your point is taken. I was only speaking (writing) in generalities.

And people may "disappear" in different ways, whether by walking away and never coming back (Arnaldur's nod to the "Eddur" of his heritage), disappearing in a glass of alcohol (insert the names of any number of detectives), or even through simple means such as repeatedly not returning friends' phone calls.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I'm listening to the second part of Magnetic North now. The first part was outstanding, and some of the other commenters in this thread might enjoy the remark at the end of the first part about our belief in suicide and drinking to oblivion being due to misunderstanding of the North.

I have several times made the drive from the Netherlands to southern France. The stretch through Flanders into northern France was always of great interest. The slowly rising flatlands of northern France looked like lowlands turning into something else.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Elisabeth
Glad to hear not wanting to draw unwarranted attention to oneself is an effective prophylactic against suicide. Must remember that next time I'm feeling depressed.
As a humble Irish bogtrotter I'm happy to concede you know more about the Scandanavian soul than I do.
But my point was that differences between people are on the surface and not innate.
From your name I deduce you're a woman (it's the Sherlock Holmes coming out in me) and therefore not a big sports fan, a horrible stereotype, I know, but if you look at football the biggest differences and rivalries are usually between teams from the same city, Glasgow and Milan being two good examples. You can indeed find entertaining differences by travelling abroad but you can find just as many by looking at your neighbours across the street.
And, Peter, as someone who's just spent the last 40 minutes trying to figure out where his internet connection went, I can tell you that my intoxication is more morose than celebratory. If anyone wants to start a Hang the ISP group, consider me a fully paid up member
The current v-word is mulogere and that sums up how I'm feeling right now

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, that remark about Dreyer is worthy of Woody Allen. Erlendur sets out on a walk at the end of Hypothermia ...

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, man. Adrian, I recoginzed Karel Willink's work even before Meade started talking about it. This is what comes from having had Dutch girlfriend.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hisp... Hiss at your ISP, solo. Differences and similarities ... This must be a dynamic process. As proximity, familiarity and money efface differences, people may reacty by noticing, perhaps for marketing purposes, and exaggerating the differences that remain.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

solo,

I'm a big sports fan... of horse racing, just not of football. Although two of my best women friends are avid, rabid football (the US kind) fans; yes, another stereotype shot to hell. And here in LA we know something about cross-town rivalries, UCLA vs USC and Dodgers vs Angels, etc.

And if you've been diagnosed as clinically depressed, not to be confused with the I-got-the-blues, I'm-down-in-the-dumps kind of depressed, then suicide may start looking like a real good option. It's just that as Scandinavians we maybe tend to worry more about the fuss and bother of clean-up (ex. wrist slashing in the tub), the possible cost to taxpayers (ex. bridge jumpers), that sort of thing. Low on the drama angle.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter
I've been trying to come up with some chipper Swedes. All I've come up with so far are: August Strindberg, Bjorn Borg, Agnetha Faltskog(ABBA), Ingmar Bergman and Max von Sydow. Damn! Maybe Elisabeth was right. Even that Elin Nordegren is looking pretty depressed, although she's probably got more right than most.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Which may be occasion for a remark on the curious fact that L.A. has no team in the National Football League.

Arnaldur, the source of my most recent acquaintance with the Nordic world, has characters remark on lowness of drama in Icelandic crimes.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, Anita Ekberg managed to summon up a convincing version of zest in "La Dolce Vita." Wasn't she Swedish? And, among Swedish crime writers, Hakan Nesser has a fair bit of puckishness in him.

I hope Tiger Woods loses every cent of his endorsement money and has to fall back on doing what he's good at to earn a living.

Elin Nordegren is a good-looking woman; what does Eldrick want to fool around on her for? For the same reason a dog li-- Oh, never mind.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Elisabeth
I'm glad to find we have something in common. But if I may be provocative for a moment (It's the only thing I'm good at) I think Goldikova is better than Zenyatta. Signed, zenophobic European.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter
The only convincing thing about Anita Ekberg was her cleavage

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, but that cleavage was pretty convincing as cleavage goes.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

For readers -- and I know that does not include you or you or you, of course -- Goldikova and Zenyatta are horses.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Having no football team isn't stopping billionaire real estate mogul Ed Roski Jr. from trying to get one built in the business-tax-free haven of the City of Industry, just s. of LA "proper". Our gov. has even waived the environmental requirements. One of my football-loving girlfriends is a sports advertising executive and she says that the stereotype of apathetic LA sports fans who have so many other entertainment distractions/options in the area that they don't really care about a football team is actually pretty accurate. Besides, it wouldn't be "our" football team, just an existing one that would be stolen from another city to come to LA.
The City Council is prostituting itself at every opportunity because it wants the tax revenue, natch.

And solo, I love Goldikova! I look forward to her three-peat attempt in next year's BC Mile. But that stretch move by Zenyatta in the Classic was one for the ages. You have to see her to believe her. She has a presence like few others. I also love Vodka; a good horse can come from anywhere, as the old saying goes.

And don't forget chipper Britt Ekland; we used to have a few laughs with her and her old boyfriend Rod Stewart when they'd drop into the bar at Bel Air Hotel on occasion. That ham Rod would just have to sing a few songs with the accommodating piano player.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Elisabeth
It's possible that I'm biased against Zenyatta given that my money was elsewhere on the night! And Vodka! You certainly like your fillies!
And Britt Ekland. Now that's my idea of a good filly. The only good reason I can think of for watching The Man With The Golden Gun was because Britt was in it. A pleasant thought for me to head off to bed on!
Cheers. Solo

December 17, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

Marco, you might also take comfort in the Donna Leon novels, where the beleaguered Commisario Brunetti has to cope with the fact that his inlaws are Venetian nobility. Poor guy. Seriously though, I hope it went well today.

Solo, I guess we forgot to mention that the V word should be labeled as an addictive substance.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No one remembers the Rams came to L.A. from Cleveland, though I'm not sure people talked then about stealing teams.

The big stereotype about Los Angeles sports fans was that Dodger fans would leave games in the seventh inning to beat the traffic. I was predisposed to hate Dodger Stadium when I went to a game there years ago, but it was actually beautiful. It is also no surprise that your governor would relax environmental rules. States and cities bend over backward to subsidize teams and exempt them from taxes -- all in the team of the free market, of keeping their cities competitive.

I always likes the name CIty of Industry, which my newspaper insists on alling "city of Industry," lowercase c.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I like the idea of a man of the left being embarrassed by his, er, more centrist parents. Which Donna Leon novels highlight Guido's discomfort with Paola's noble lineage?

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Lower case "c" is possibly a Freudian slip, as it's not really a city, it's "almost entirely industrial with very few residences, was incorporated to prevent surrounding cities from annexing industrial land for tax revenue." (Wikipedia).

Yes, Dodgers stadium is beautiful. At twilight on a summer night there is no place I'd rather be (in LA, that is). And it is no stereotype that people start leaving in the seventh inning to beat the traffic. Which, of course, they do not do. But Angelenos leave _every_ event too early. It drives me nuts when people get up and leave during the reverence at a ballet -- it is part of the performance, damn it!

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, I'll have to let you and Elisabeth place my horse bets for me. Where should I send the money?

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No, it's no Freudian slip. "city of Industry" is how the wire services refer to it, and the editors at my paper did not correct it when it appeared in recent news stories about the effort to lure an NFL team there. I have read the the place is sometimes referred to by its lowercase name.

I didn't know that early departure was so widespread in Los Angeles. I guess expecting an Angeleno to refrain from the sort of rudeness would be like expecting people to lower their voices when talking on their cell phones.

"Les Troyens" in my earphones and jazz on the jukebox are not enough to drown out the loud, cigar-smoking stronzi at the Pen & Pencil Club. Since pulverizing their skulls with the baseball bat kept behind the bar would be more trouble than it's worth, I will pray devoutly for them to come down with acute food poisoning.

December 17, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, I think direct deposit to my bank account can be arranged for your betting needs. I can also supply handicapping tips (gratis) and pedigree analysis (fee).

Since we (were) on the topic of Nordic fiction, you could substitute the Italian "stonzi" for the Norwegian "rasshøler" if you'd like.

I think the Pen & Pencil Club sounds like a wonderful H.L. Mencken-ian kind of hangout, even with the cigar smoke.

December 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I shall look up "rasshøler" unless you want to save me the trouble and let me know what it means.

The Pen & Pencil Club is a good deal less glamorous than the name would lead you to believe. It is, in fact, the oldest press club in America. In practice, there has for years been too little press left to sustain the club, so it is a haven for loudmouth ex-frat boys, boisterous airline crews, and bartenders looking to blow off steam and spend money after their own establishments shut for the night.

The two earsplitting loudmouths from tonight are worse than that, however. They are lawyers.

December 18, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

I quite naturally thought of you this week when someone hit Berlusconi in the face. I even wondered briefly if you might have done it.

You and Adrian seem to think I'm a thug.


Names that spring immediately to mind are Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch


Instead,those happy, humourful Italians : Giacomo Leopardi, Cesare Pavese...


I like the idea of a man of the left being embarrassed by his, er, more centrist parents

While they're definitely too centrist for me, it was previous committment rather than lack of support on their part

Seriously though, I hope it went well today.

Sub-zero temperatures and at least three other coincident events notwithstanding, it did go rather well.


in these times of surveillance society, my v-word is dronall.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

It just gets better as it goes along. I loved the stuff on beer at the beginning but the beaver eating gag in the - I think - Finnish section is genius. (To think that this was broadcast on the BBC.)

I'm not sure that I really buy into his larger point but the journey itself is its own reward as my Buddhist friends would say - if I had any. Which I dont.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You and Adrian seem to think I'm a thug.

One man's thug is another's man of action.

Instead,those happy, humourful Italians : Giacomo Leopardi, Cesare Pavese...

My only familiarity with Pavese, I'm afraid, is through a mention in a book by the well-read Andrea Camilleri.

Sub-zero temperatures and at least three other coincident events notwithstanding, it did go rather well.

Does a recording of the event exist?

in these times of surveillance society, my v-word is dronall.

Dronall would be more appropriate for a society of long, monotonous blog posts, a phenomenon with which I am happily unfamiliar.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I missed the beaver-eating gag if it was in the first episode, but it did cross my mind that the broadcast was unusually breezy and racy for the BBC.

The real point, about which Meades is undoubtedly right, is that we know little about the north. I liked what he had to say about the Hanseatic League. As for the suggestion that the North erred is aping the south, I liked the suggestion in the section on "naturism" that German nudism was an attempt to delude its practitioners into believing they were in the south.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Here's the clip I was thinking of. Its from one of the later episodes.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I listened to and watched all six parts of the first episode. I shall do the same with the rest. I will look for convincing arguments for the thesis that Britain erred by adopting the south rather than the north as a model.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Brooding or morose, certainly not whiny!

vw: spigrax - the mood a Scandinavian turns into when someone accuses one of her favourite protagonists of being whiny.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Spigrax sounds like some plant a witch might use to cast a spell with. My v-word also sounds like a plant: aphysta

I'd agree that angst-ridden detectives are unlikely to be whiny for reasons Elisabeth elucidates more fully above.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I've just watched Episode 2, Part 3, complete with "Poland has Pole dancing. Lapland has Lapp dancing."

Sorry, you old American chauvinist, but in some ways, the BBC really is superior to American television.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No American network would have the balls to speak as strongly as Meades does about Putin at the beginning of Episode 2, Part 4, for example.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

His short series from this year on Scottish landforms "Off Kilter" is very good too.

December 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

YouTube has files from a number of his series. He has inspired in me a desire to visit Estonia.

He reminds me, too, of my surprise when I visited Flevoland, the Dutch province reclaimed from the forner Zuider Zee.

December 18, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Peter,

the video of the evening starts as soon as you click on the link Adrian posted upstream.

There's not much to see, though - the camera is steadily fixed on us.
Basically there's an intro by one of us which acts as moderator, then our two councillors speak, and in the end I - very briefly - speak about the reports of the Council seatings I put on our site. (I'm the rightmost one in the video)

It should have been more of a collective effort but the others in our group decided at the last minute to sit among the public.
Seems I was chosen to represent us non-elected ones, but given the structure we gave to the evening it would probably have been better to let only the councillors speak.

December 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I can't get the program on this computer. I'll try on another one later. I suppose one might expect members of a leftist grouping to want to sit among the people.

I'll report back after I view the program. In the meantime, I can recommend the other link Adrian posted, to Jonathan Meades' Magnetic North program.

December 20, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

I can't see any video on my computer either right now, which is a shame, as people keep referring me to interesting links.

Peter, I somehow completely missed your question about the Donna Leon novels. I haven't read that many yet, but there does always seem to be a reference to his wife's "noble" parents. It's not that they themselves are bad, although a lot of the aristocracy are, but Brunetti doesn't like feeling beholden to them, and yet sometimes he must use the connection to proceed with his case.

December 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, you must watch Jonathan Meades' Magnetic North when you have the chance. I don't know about Marco's video because I haven't seen it yet.

I like the idea of Brunetti feeling uncomfortable about his in-laws' bloodlines. It's a rich potential source of conflict and tension.

December 20, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Peter, the Italian "stronzi" equals the Norwegian "rasshøler". But you prolly figured that out by now...

I had no idea the Pen & Pencil Club let in the sort of riff-raff you describe. I had a vision of newsroom types I see in old Warner Bros. movies. Including the straight-from-central-casting cigar-chomping, frenetic city editor.

December 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, I figured out the meaning. Now all I need is the pronunciation.

Aside from periodic special programs, the only thing close to occasional journalistic presence at the club comes in the form or loud, obnoxious television people. The newspaper stereotype is dead and buried in Philadelphia and has been for years, except in the memories of people close to or well past retirement age.

December 21, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

So, did you manage to see the video?
Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A cold room was perhaps an appropriae setting considering the title of the book that heads this post.

Buon natale.

December 24, 2009  

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