Monday, August 4, 2008

You can no longer call him Al.

You would always find him in the kitchen at parties

In what publicists are describing as a "shrewd career move" writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died, aged 89.

I've wrestled with Solzhenitsyn on and off, lo these many years. The main thing I took away from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was "gee, these gulag things don't seem to be much fun" while August 1914 was very, very, very long - and I've survived Tolstoy.

As usual when a writer dies, the focus will be on their works rather than the less pleasant aspects of their personalities. Thus I would expect Solzhenitsyn's contempt for the modern, secular west, strong authoritarianism and anti-Semitism won't get much of a jersey.

I suppose winning the Nobel Prize often hides the fact that the winner can be a bit of a prick.

And talking of pricks, for fuck's sake Costello shit or get off the pot.

This brooding Hamlet act is getting really tiring.

51 comments:

squib said...

He certainly looks the part

Boogeyman said...

I've wrestled with Solzhenitsyn on and off, lo these many years.

As have I, most notably a) how to spell his name, and b) how to pronounce his name.

As for Costello, he's like a little child, sulking because he wasn't picked for team captain before the election. And now he wants his colleagues to grovel to him to come back.

It'd almost be worth him coming back just to get the drubbing he deserves.

Except I also really want the Mad Monk to have a crack at the opposition leader's job too.

Perseus said...

I've tried, but I just can't get into 20th Century Russian literature. They were so good at it in the 19th century, but then they blew it. 'The Master & The Margarita'? It's wearing no clothes.

"This brooding Hamlet act..."

What a magnificent observation Ramon. I'm so impressed with it I'm going to steal it from you, drop it into conversations all over the country and not attribute it to you. The glory will be mine. Thank you.

squib said...

You're not seriously dissing The Master and Margarita?!!

Perseus said...

Yes I am.

Wanna fight?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I'm with you squib.

Steal the sparkling pearls of my genius if you will Perseus, but spare Mikhail Bulgakov!

Perseus said...

"Just then the sultry air coagulated and wove itself into the shape of a man--a transparent man of the strangest appearance. On his small head was a jockey-cap and he wore a short check bum-freezer made of air. The man was
seven feet tall but narrow in the shoulders, incredibly thin and with a face made for derision. Berlioz's life was so arranged that he was not accustomed to seeing unusual phenomena. Paling even more, he stared and thought in consternation, "It can't be!" But alas it was...


Yeah, wake me when it's over.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I bet Julia Gillard likes Mikhail Bulgakov.

Perseus said...

Maybe, but Imaginary Julia Gillard doesn't, and she has the final word.

squib said...

Jesus Persey, is nothing sacred?!!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Imaginary Julia Gillard needs to man the fuck up.

Perseus said...

Every time a reputable list of the 'Greatest Albums of All Time' comes out, 'Sgt. Peppers' is invariably number one. It's number three, at worst*. It's like a law.

I'm a Beatles fan, and yet I wouldn't even put Sgt. Peppers in The Beatles' Top 5 albums. I wouldn't even put it in the Top 100 of all time. It's one song! (A Day In The Life). The rest are childish ditties and/or hippy crap.

'Master and the Margarita' is the Sgt. Peppers of literature.


*It's occasionally beaten by either Pet Sounds or Blonde On Blonde, both of which are also totally over-rated.

squib said...

That's complete rubbish. The Master and Margarita isn't on anyone's Countdown list. In fact I seem to recall it was on the least read list. It's one of the best books I've read and I've read MILLIONS of them!!!

squib said...

I have to go out now. Ramon can you man the fort

cheers

Boogeyman said...

What squib says is true.

You never saw Molly Meldrum spruik 20th Russian literature.

Something to ponder there...

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Will do, squib.

John said...

No surprises that the denizens of Stalin House are short of praise for the man who gave the west the moral imperative to fight soviet communism.

August 1914 was like all the great Russian novels. You take a month to crawl through the first half (wondering all the time why you're bothering) and then it takes off like a rocket and you race to the end wishing it never would.

Mr E Discharge said...

It's one song! (A Day In The Life). The rest are childish ditties and/or hippy crap.


YES! For a long time now, I've thought I was the only one who'd noticed!
I can die now, Thank you.

patchouligirl said...

I thought dark side of the moon always won those greatest-album- of-all-time polls.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

John, I have no problem with Solzhenitsyn exposing the moral evil of the Soviet system (although I think Darkness at Noon got there first).

What I object to is people lauding a pan-Slav chauvinist who had as much interest in working for a liberal, democratic Russia as I have in having violent anal sex with eminent Melbourne barrister Walter Jeremy Sear.

catlick said...

Ramon, just for the record, top or bottom?

Perseus said...

PG - Yes, that's another one that is always up there, and although I'm not a massive Pink Floyd fan (I like many of their songs, but I'm not a full-on fan), I reckon Dark Side of The Moon is a more worthy list-topper than Sgt. Peppers.

If I was a music journalist, I'd be inclined to put Velvet Underground & Nico, Never Mind The Bollocks, Revolver, Bringing It All Back Home or Marquee Moon at number one. These aren't necessarily my favourite albums, just ones I reckon are more important and influential.

Mr. E - it's you and me vs The World on that I reckon.

Ramon - ew.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

You disgust me, catlick.

Disgust me.

I bid you good day, madam!

catlick said...

Bottom eh?!

catlick said...

You might want to wear chaps with that.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

You're lowering the tone of the Interwebs, catlick.

And even worse, you'll have an angry S.J. Sear over here, demanding a right of reply.

catlick said...

That may well be, but I say, "where's Tom Gaylord when you need him?"

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Tom Gaylord's atavar scares me.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

And here Christopher Hitchens says it much better than I could.

As per usual.

Damn him.

catlick said...

And, Ramon, Hack's Rules. You surely should link to JWS if you're going to ring his bell.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Ah, but catlick, that would involve actually looking at his site.

I'd rather be poached in a white-wine sauce before I look at Anonymouse Lefty.

Boogeyman said...

Ramon, if you go bottom you don't actually have to look at him.

wari lasi said...

Boogey, I just got to Brisbane last night and you forgot to turn the heater on. Fuck it's cold here.

And might I add, this thread has taken a turn for the worse.

Perseus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boogeyman said...

I just got to Brisbane last night and you forgot to turn the heater on. Fuck it's cold here.

You're kidding, right?

It was so warm last night I had to turn the heater off totally. The mercury barely dropped below 20c.

Perseus said...

From Rusian literature to rock music to butt-sex. A natural flow.

Speaking of rock music, I have a date with a real-life woman with real-woman bits tonight (cheating on my imaginary Gillard girlfriend)... going to see The Breeders.

Hoping the name of the band is somehow symbolic for my first date with this chick. Wish me luck.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I now have a mental picture of Puss, wrapped in blankets, boots and a balaclava, huddled in front of a heater, muttering "cold...so cold".

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Good luck Perseus.

Hope it leads to all sorts of good things.

Perseus said...

Thanks Ramon. She's a Beaumaris girl though, so potentially out of my league. They are there own species down that way.

Puss wraps herself up in blankets at anything under 25 degrees.

Perseus said...

their, not there

wari lasi said...

The mercury barely dropped below 20c.

Bullshit. Got up at 430 to see the eldest girl off to rowing practice (don't the girl rowers do it tough?!) and there is no way it was double digits. And I've got to go to some father/daughter breakfast at the school tomorrow morning at 7am. Roger Gould is the "legendary rugby union player" guest speaker. I've never heard of him.

squib said...

Just try not to bring up the Oxford comma if you can help it

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Dunno, squib.

Nothing impresses teh chicks like a really through grasp of syntax.

Mr E Discharge said...

thoroughly correct, Ramon.

Mr E Discharge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Pravda's post-humous critique:

"He became one of the main battering rams in destroying both the state and nation"

May all heroes live long enough to become villains.

Puss In Boots said...

It was so warm last night I had to turn the heater off totally. The mercury barely dropped below 20c.

You are clearly insane and delusional.

I now have a mental picture of Puss, wrapped in blankets, boots and a balaclava, huddled in front of a heater, muttering "cold...so cold".

Hehehe. So true. Would you believe I actually have marks on my legs from sitting too close to heaters too often? I got really worried about them one day and went to the doctor, and he took one look at my legs and said, "that is almost a textbook case of what we call 'cold old lady legs'." Hehehe. Apparently in England, all the old biddies huddle around their heaters and get the same marks on their legs.

Boogeyman said...

You are clearly insane and delusional.

Well, I don't think that was ever in question.

But thermometers don't lie. Last night was the same.

Perhaps I just have really good insulation in my house. Or a high body temperature. Or something.

Or maybe it was just all those Barry White records I played on the gramophone next to the thermometer.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Best you don’t come down to Melbourne then, Puss.

It’s a toasty nine degrees at the moment.

Boogeyman said...

Melbourne - cold in winter, hot in summer, wet and overcast in between, and big strands of wool down dark alleys. What's not to love?

wari lasi said...

I must say it is actually a fairly pleasant day in Brisvegas today. And Roger Gould was quite a good speaker at school this morning.