Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of Letters


NYRB Classics that will take you to the sea—or at least to the pool—this weekend:

A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes

In the words of one reviewer, this is a “tiny, crazy” novel about kids on a pirate ship.

Afloat, by Guy de Maupassant

A logbook kept by Guy de Maupassant while cruising the French Mediterranean coast that’s also a passionate argument against war.

The Wine-Dark Sea, by Leonardo Sciascia

Spend a little time on the Sicilian coast with Sciascia’s tormented wives, romantic commuters, and accidentally murdered Cardinals.

The Professor and the Siren, by Giuseppe di Tomasi Lampedusa

In this slim story collection, Lampedusa sends a young professor on a swim in the Mediterranean that changes his life—mainly his love life—forever.

The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bengtsson

Vikings! Specifically, Red Orm the Viking—the best Viking that never was.

Agostino, by Alberto Moravia

Get your Oedipal complex and your tan on with Moravia’s confused young hero, his mother, and some tough Tuscan seasiders.

A Way of Life, Like Any Other, by Darcy O’Brien

By the son of movie stars George O’Brien and Marguerite Churchill, this novel will bring you to the palatial Hollywood Hills estate, Casa Fiesta, where relaxation and manipulation go hand in hand.

The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson

In the summer, Finns take to tiny islands in the Gulf of Finland to enjoy the season—and now you can, too, with Jansson’s dreamy novel.

In Hazard, by Richard Hughes

If chilling out isn’t your thing, board the overloaded merchant ship, the Archimedes: it’s most definitely heading off course and into danger.


by Arup K Chatterjee

I must come to hate what I love, in the same moment, at the instant of granting death. I must…offer them the gift of death… (The Gift of Death, Derrida)

,[2] they thought, is a costly name

in a dawn of desert dune,

and still they film the magmatic frame

where the apothecary was hewn.

I am enamoured of how they strip—

Gaza from the news channel

from google and its varsities, rip—

like a newly woven flannel,

partly from a childhood ishtehaar,[3]

where a girl wore her bigger size—

the stripping was not shown on air

lest a brand-name capsize.

I know how it feels to have smelled

moisture in promise of the monsoonal slain,

but how to mark the skull you welled

while you were just mapping terrain?

Across Mediterranean’s ploy,

where noon milks your piscean guards,

where evening has brought a third world toy

of Sahr’s leftover shards…

There was no razaa, no article

of faith, of wraith, of Aybaki

of the scarred Welayat-o-Mahkama,[4]

till Gaza powdered, too charred to flee.

I am so tempted to make olives of their lives

and transport it as oil or verse

to Sicily; it shall be tourism

or even a film, a picturesque hearse.

This is my razaa go articulate

The exact postures of their flight:

the arsenals that killed your dawn, your child—

let the dead be writhing, until I write.

[1] Razaa means desire.

[2] Sahr means dawn. It is also from the first name of  4-year old Palestinian, Sahar Salman Abu Namous, who was killed by an Israeli shell. News media is rife with photographs of his, and his hysterical father holding a toy he bought for his child.

[3] Ishtehaar means advertisement.

[4] Aybaki,Welayat and Mahkama are mosques of Gaza. Welayat means foreign land, and Mahkama, mofussil. 

Arup K Chatterjee is Asst. Prof. of English at University of Delhi. He is a
PhD scholar at the Centre for English Studies, Jawharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi. He is the founder/editor of Coldnoon: Travel Poetics
(International Journal of Travel Writing). He is recipient of Charles
Wallace fellowship, 2014-15, to UK.

Read More

Netanyahu’s Logic

by Russell Bennetts

It’s very difficult because Hamas is using them, Palestinians, as human shields. We develop anti-missile systems to protect, we use anti-missile systems to protect our civilians. They use their civilians to protect their missiles. That’s the difference. So, against such a cynical, brutal, heartless enemy, we try to minimize civilian casualties, we try to target the military targets, and unfortunately there are civilian casualties which we regret and we don’t seek. They all fall on the responsibility of Hamas. Benjamin Netanyahu

According to Netanyahu’s own logic, Israel should thus be providing Iron Dome to the Palestinians for protection from Israeli rockets.

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Primrose’s Field, 2002 (via)

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Primrose’s Field, 2002 (via)