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Subject: Re: First on ASTB

Eric Linder (Impressed!)
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Date Posted: Thu, Mar 18 2010, 0:12:54 GMT
In reply to: Cesare 's message, "First on ASTB" on Thu, Feb 25 2010, 17:32:06 GMT


I am an English teacher in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (USA),and as it is St. Patrick's Day,I have just written to Mr. O'Neill to tell him (again!) how much pleasure his splendid, stirring, UN-gay yet so gay novel of love and politics continues to give me. I first read it in 2002, and continue to return to it over and over. On so many levels, I think it one of the finest pieces of fiction I have ever read . As it happens, I am also a deep admirer of Ms. (she would HATE that title, no doubt preferring the old "Miss") Renault's CHARIOTEER. I hold that novel in such high regard that I actually used it in a classroom for two years, surrendering to defeat only because the book was too sophisticated and difficult for my students, not because it was gay-themed. Like you, I think, I was deeply formed by Renault's characters and their struggles for personal and emotional integrity.

Which takes me to my admiration for someone who reads AS,TB in a language other than English. Bravo, Cesare, bravo! My French is good enough to get me through some Proust (avec dictionnaire), so I know what it is to wrestle with the joys and difficulties of a language not my own. I cannot imagine your experience of Doyler's Dublin slang!

Should you wish to say more about your admiration for either of these authors by email, I would enjoy hearing from you.

On a final note, I was raised in Brazil, so what with Portuguese and my French, I have always enjoyed trying to read a bit in your so-beautiful language. My efforts in Dante, of course, are not much help for modern spoken Italian.

Sincerely, Eric Linder (elinder@cranbrook.edu)

>From Naples, Italy
>I finished *At Swim, Two Boys* a few days ago. I feel
>the need to write about my thoughts and feelings to
>this forum, before starting reading it a second time.
>No book since Mary Renault’s *The Charioteer* moved
>me so. I believe I will have Doyle, Jim and McMurrough
>in my heart and mind in the same way I lived years
>with Ralph and Laurie and still often think of them.
>As I translated in Italian *The Charioteer* (still
>unpublished) I had great (I should say indispensable)
>help from the community on livejournal. So I started
>reading the entries at the “fortyfoot” community,
>but decided to post first in this “official” forum.
>The lines I was unable to understand (but I was too
>entranced and I kept going) should amount at least to
>10 of the 643 pages of my Scribner HB. I obviously
>need help to reach a better understanding of the
>novel. I’ll write down my cruces and try to solve
>them with the help of those who share my love for ASTB
>and will be kind enough to answer.
>I’m not planning to translate: probably too hard a
>task and an Italian translation already exists (as
>*Due ragazzi, Dublino, il mare*; I haven’t seen it
>yet and is quite hard to find). I know though that,
>through the effort of rethinking in my own language
>what’s difficult in English, sometimes comes a
>deeper understanding.
>Of the reviews not on jamieoneill.com only two are
>known to me. The “TLS” one (September 14, 2001 -
>*A broth of a book* - Keith Jeffery) is quite shallow
>and uninspiring. On a very different level is the
>“London Review of Books” one (22 May 2003 - *Pal
>o’ Me Heart* - David Halperin). I read years ago two
>books by Mr Halperin (*Before Sexuality* and *One
>Hundred Years of Homosexuality*, both 1990 and about
>the so-called Greek love) and they shaped my thinking
>about myself. Halperin’s review is too long and
>meaty to sum up, but I was startled by: “It is a
>sign of considerable malaise that so many gay men seem
>eager to find refuge from identity in romance”. One
>of the greatest gift I received from ATSB was exactly
>that the characters are not a part of the “history
>of sexuality”, that their desire doesn’t trap them
>in an identity, that they are “straight as a rush”
>and no “deadpan play” at all with the word. Should
>one send Mr Halperin back to a revision of the meaning
>of “male friendship” or better to his own
>aptly-titled *Before Sexuality*?
>I hope to have, with my second reading, clearer ideas
>about Irish nationality as a theme in the novel. Quite
>difficult for someone who’s born in a much-conquered
>land (2400 years of foreign domination by at least
>eight different conquering nations).
>Excuse please my Italianate English!

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