Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sad

A  review in the FT Magazine (19 Mar) refers to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Memorias de mis Putas Tristes, bizarrely given in English as 'Sad  Memories of My Whores', recalls to mind a review of the book a few months ago (also in the FT Mag), when the title was translated as 'Memories of my Melancholy Whores'. Is 'sad' becoming a word that is tainted by its colloquial use of the last few years? This is where it is used to refer to something or somebody that a little earlier might have been called 'pathetic'. Come to think of it, that is another corrupted word. Both words are used with a meaning something like 'contemptible' or 'inadequate'.   

In the same issue, Jonathan Derbyshire has a review of John Berger's book, Here Is Where We Meet. Leaving aside what he rightly describes as the sermonising of references to Bush and co. 'ruining Iraq' in 2003 (as if Saddam Hussein had not spent the previous 23 years ruining Iraq), Derbyshire cites as illustration of Berger's painterly 'verbal precision' this:
a dog's tail "thumping" on the floor of a Lisbon tram.
This seems to me to be quite unexceptional. How else would you describe what a dog does with his tail to the floor? Berger's interview on Radio 3 Easter Monday wasn't too exciting either. There is a free sample of his fictional prose here and he has an essay at OpenDemocracy too, apparently.


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