Saturday, March 10, 2007

The bob-and-wheel

Frank Kermode has a quite delightful piece in the latest LRB on new translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage and Bernard O'Donoghue. It's illuminating on various matters (on the whole Kermode seems to fall down on the side of recommending that we all reread Tolkien's translation), and there's a rather adorable contributor's note also...

But I was caught short reading by Kermode's graceful and brief remembrance of A. D. Nuttall, "lately and sadly lost to us" (mentioned on account of "his brilliant book Dead from the Waist Down," which I have not read but have certainly been curious about--NB note to self that was an awful quotation recently about Susan Sontag saying of herself aged eighteen--just married to Philip Rieff--that not only was she Dorothea Brooke, but she went so far as actually to marry Casaubon also--I have not caught the witty and cruel pithiness of her actual phrasing--it is not a compliment about someone in any case, I think, to suggest that they're like the heroine of a George Eliot novel).

I did not realize A. D. Nuttall had died! I only met him a year or so ago when he spoke at the humanities center here, but I well remember reading A New Mimesis: Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality during the first few years of grad school and having it really blow my mind, in fact I was just thinking the other day of what he says there about the challenge of casting an actor to play Iago (and that link seems to be to a new reissue from Yale, how excellent--I must get a copy and read it again this summer). Here is a nice obituary in the Independent (the word "nice" is impossible but so useful now and again...).

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