Tag Archives: 1964

RIP Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1964 – 2020)

Carlos Ruiz Zafón was a Spanish novelist best known for his 2001 novel The Shadow of the Wind, the most successful novel in Spanish publishing history after Don Quixote.

The Bookworm (c. 1850) by Carl Spitzweg

The novel starts with the sentence:

“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”

That first sentence is reminiscent of the first sentence of Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967):

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

Once the boy is taken to this library with his father, this is what he sees, a library which has been compared to The Library of Babel (1941) by Jorge Luis Borges:

“The man called Isaac nodded and invited us in. A blue-tinted gloom obscured the sinuous contours of a marble staircase and a gallery of frescoes peopled with angels and fabulous creatures. We followed our host through a palatial corridor and arrived at a sprawling round hall, a virtual basilica of shadows spiraling up under a high glass dome, its dimness pierced by shafts of light that stabbed from above. A labyrinth of passageways and crammed bookshelves rose from base to pinnacle like a beehive woven with tunnels, steps, platforms, and bridges that presaged an immense library of seemingly impossible geometry. I looked at my father, stunned. He smiled at me and winked.

“Welcome to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Daniel.”

When you read the obituaries of Zafón, you read a lot about frustration of being a bestseller author lacking critical acclaim.

RIP Steven Marcus (1928 – 2018)

Steven Marcus is best-known for The Other Victorians (1964) [below], a study of Victorian pornography in which he coined the term pornotopia.

The Other Victorians cover

The Other Victorians cover

The Other Victorians back cover

The Other Victorians back cover

The book is a classic in the academic study of pornography.

I’ve never been able to find out the identity of the author of the illustration on the cover. It’s in the skinny style of Raphael Kirchner (1867– 1917) and Léo Fontan (1884 – 1965) which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That’s all I know. Anyone?

World music classic #883

I sometimes jog, usually along the Antwerp quays, from the Ledeganckkaai to the D’Herbouvillekaai and back.

While running this morning “Walk On By,” a song on lovesickness by Dionne Warwick popped into my head. Do not ask me why, because I’m not particularly lovesick. Maybe running reminded me of walking.

Anyway. Lovesick. Sick of love. The first time I heard someone saying that love is a mental illness was by Thomas Szasz.

Love being a mental illness is a view on romantic love reflected in common parlance in expressions such as “I love you madly” and “I’m crazy about you.”

PS. “Walk on By” is now ‘World music classic‘ #883 and sits next to “Wake the Town” and “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”