Sunday, 31 October 2010

the history of love

I rarely rewrite somebody else's prose. Only at times when I like it so immensely that I would like to memorize each word in it. So forgive me doing it now, so openly in the public, but the topic seems to suit the occasion, anyway.

And one more thing: I have digged this book out of my vast book collection, equipped during that short time when the second hand clothes shop near my childrens' kindergarten offered books in English, and offered them at ridiculous prices. I knew it wouldn't last, so each Wednesday I made the effort to be there. After buying it, I forgot about that book and put it into the queue of volumes waitning to be read one day.

Two or three weeks ago one of my students said she was reading a book about an old man who goes out to a sport shoe shop and asks for modern sneakers only to get the chance of speaking to somebody. When she said the title, History of Love, I remembered I had it on my bookshelf. Do not let the apparent banality of the title mislead you as to the content. It goes back as Shoah and as far as Poland, from New York, where it is set.
The fragment - below.

by Nicole Krauss

Suddenly I was filled with regret that I'd bought my plot so prematurely . . . . I'd been afraid of being left to the dogs. I'd gone to Mrs. Freid's stone setting at Pinelawn [a NY cemetery], and it seemed like a nice place. A Mr. Simchik showed me around and gave me a pamphlet. I'd been imagining something under a tree, a weeping willow perhaps, maybe a little bench. But. When he told me the price my heart sank. He showed me my options, a few plots that were either too close to the road or where the grass was balding. Nothing at all with a tree? I asked. Simchik shook his head. A bush? He licked a finger and rustled through his papers. He hemmed and hawed, but finally he gave in. We may have something, he said, it's more than you were planning to spend but you can pay in instalments. It was at the far end, in the subarbs of the Jewish part. It wasn't exactly under a tree but it was near one, near enough that during the fall some of its leaves might drift down to me. I thought it over. Simchik told me to take my time and went back to the office. I stood in the sunlight. Then I got down on the grass and rolled onto my back. The ground was hard and cold under my raincoat. I watched the clouds pass above. Maybe I fell asleep. The next thing I knew, Simchik was standing above me. Nu? You'll take it?

plot - dziełka; tu: kwatera (na cmentarzu)
prematurely - przedwcześnie
a Mr. Simchik - "a" znaczy tu "niejaki"
a pamphlet - broszura
weeping willow - wierzba płacząca
was balding - przerzedzała się
hem and haw - jąkać się (przed daniem odpowiedzi)
pay in instalments - płacić w ratach

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

music's in the air

So. The 16th International Chopin Piano Competition almost finishing, today's the last day of final stage performances. It was strange, though, being submerged in listening for so many days, with all the possibilities offered by modern technology - live on-line broadcasting in HD - can you imagine that?!? When I couldn't be there watching, the cell phone radio and headset came in handy. Of course, the only place in which it was absolutely impossible to listen to the transmissions from Warsaw Philharmonic was the shopping precinct nearby; the aerial would get no signal at all. That's why I gave up shopping in October altogether, the Competition is only once in five years, many things can wait.

I hope to see favourite player, Ingolf Wunder, in the prize winners' concert. What an ethereal October it was.