Sunday, November 18, 2007

History of the 20th century (in 17 words)

BOOKS RECENTLY READ, and awaiting notes here:

Geert Mak: In Europe: travels through the twentieth century
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise: listening to the twentieth century
Norman Lewis: Naples '44
Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies

Hmmm: it was an eventful century, and studying it leads to insights into the present predicament, and possible ways of adjusting to it.

In the meantime, Lindsey says she heard today about a competition for novels to contain only twelve words. Schoenberg has already done it, I replied, in the form of a historical novel: but when I looked it up (H.H. Stuckenschmidt: Arnold Schoenberg: his life, world, and work (New York: Schirmer Books, 1977) I discovered it was five words over:
Life was so easy
suddenly hatred broke out
a grave situation was created
But life goes on.
Well, if fact, a little longer than that actually, for there are tempo indications after the last three lines: Presto quarter=72; Adagio; Rondo—for the notes were a sort of outline program to the Piano Concerto he was contemplating at the time (the end of 1942).

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