Tuesday, April 1, 2014


April 1, 1787

By three in the morning,  it was blowing a gale.  Half awake, half asleep, I kept thinking about my drama.  On deck there was a great commotion as the sails were taken in.  The sea was high and the boat was tossed and rolled.  Towards dawn the sky cleared and the storm subsided.  Ustica was definitely on our left.  The sailors pointed out a large turtle swimming in the distance, and through our telescopes we could follow its living dot quite clearly.  By noon we could make out the promontories and bays of the Sicilian coast, but the ship had fallen considerably to leeward.  Now and then we tacked.  In the afternoon we came closer to the shore, where the west coast, from Cape Lilibeo to Cape Gallo, lay in the bright sunshine.  A school of dolphins accompanied our ship on both sides of the prow, always darting ahead.  It was delightful to watch them swimming through the transparent waves and often leaping clean out of the water, so that their fins and the spines along their backs made an iridescent play of green and gold.

NOTE:  I picked up another copy of Goethe's Italian Journey  (1786-1788) last week because it's such a wonderful and attractive book in the North Point Press edition and I thought someone I know might enjoy receiving it for Christmas if I don't decide to hoard it.  

I no longer read German without great difficulty and W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer's translation really makes you feel the immediacy of Goethe's road and sea trip across the two hundred-thirty year span.

I thought of it last night while watching Hollywood's rendering of On The Road, Jack Kerouac's novel, from a couple of years ago, which was simply, unbelievably, ghastly.   What on earth were they thinking?  Deader than a doornail and exceedingly unpleasant.  I could have showed them how to make the movie -- no, two movies: an initial Hollywood "beauty treatment" effort (which would get knocked but be popular) and a grittier remake (which would wow the critics and cause them to reconsider and effectively repromote the first picture) -- at acceptable budget and quality levels.  A few years later they could be packaged as a two-in-one DVD set.  

If it isn't too late, I'm available to discuss this, but unfortunately it probably is. Time waits for no-one &c.

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