"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birthdays Today

Two great writers were born today.   Christopher Logue was born in 1926.  

Logue has spent the better part of the last few decades re-imagining The Iliad in a contemporary poetic form.  I've read a number of the volumes he's produced; they're all remarkable, moving, beautiful.   Here's a snippet from 1995's The Husbands, which reimagines Books 3 and 4:
Think of those fields of light that sometimes sheet
Low tide sands, and of the panes of such a tide
When, carrying the sky, they start to flow
Everywhere, and then across themselves:
Likewise the Greek bronze streaming out at speed,
Glinting among the orchards and the groves,
And then across the plain -- dust, grass, no grass,
Its long low swells and falls -- all warwear pearl,
Blue Heaven above, Mt Ida's snow behind, Troy inbetween.
It's not as good as the original Homer, obviously, but it beats nearly anything published in the last fifty years or so by a mile. 

Also born today in 1934 was Robert Towne, the screenwriter who wrote probably the best private detective movie ever, Chinatown.   Here is a scene with the two stars, Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson as the private dick, Jake Gittes.  It's probably Nicholson's greatest role:

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