stanzas in meditation, part one

copyright arguments, 1863

“Nogent-Saint-Laurent, who is a member of the Committee on Literary Copyright, said that he favored perpetuity of rights. Sainte-Beuve protested violently: ‘You are paid by the smoke and noise you stir up. You ought to say, every writer ought to say: “Take it all: you’re welcome to it!” ’ Flaubert, going to the opposite extreme, exclaimed: ‘If I had invented the railways I shouldn’t want anybody to travel on them without my permission!’ Thoroughly roused, Sainte-Beuve retorted: ‘No more literary property than any other property! There should be no property at all. Everything should be regularly renewed, so that everybody can take his turn.’

In these few words, sprung from the most secret and sincere depths of his soul, I saw the fanatical revolutionary bachelor in Sainte-Beuve, and he seemed at that moment to have the character and almost the appearance of one of the levellers of the Convention. I saw the basic destructive urge in that man who, rubbing shoulders with society, money, and power, had conceived a secret hatred for them, a bitter jealousy which extended to everything, to youth, to the conquest of women, to the good looks of his neighbour at dinner, Nieuwerkerke, who had slept with real society women without having to pay.”

(Edmond & Jules de Goncourt, 14 February 1863, Pages from the Goncourt Journal, trans. Robert Baldick, p. 80.)

a lion owns a man


How does your interest in flying technology fit into your view of technology in general, which is fairly suspicious? You’ve written several times, and eloquently, about cars, for instance, about how they’ve changed our views of space, of the city, of our own bodies.


The point of view I take is the point of view of Diogenes, which is that when a man owns a lion, a lion owns a man. The thing about technology is that it owns us. I know several desperately poor people, practically beggars, who own cars. On the other hand, you have people who drive their cars to work, to make a living, or to have a delightful excursion in it with the wife and children. But the point is that all progress asks that we pay a kind of ransom or blackmail in order to have it.

(Guy Davenport interviewed by John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Paris Review, fall 2002.)

december 16–31, 2013


  • Gilbert Highet, Poets in a Landscape
  • Guy Davenport, Thasos and Ohio: Poems and Translations 1950–1980
  • Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies
  • Andre Furlani, Guy Davenport: Postmodern and After
  • Edmond & Jules de Goncourt, Pages from the Goncourt Journals, ed. & trans. Robert Baldick


  • The Source Family, directed by Jodi Wille & Maria Demopoulos
  • Amore e rabbia, dir. Marco Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jean-Luc Godard, Carlo Lizzani, Pier Paolo Pasolini & Elda Tattoli
  • おんなの河童 (Underwater Love), dir. Shinji Imaoka
  • American Hustle, dir. David O. Russell

december 1–15, 2013


  • Evan Dara, Flee
  • Guy Davenport, The Guy Davenport Reader, ed. Erik Reece


  • The Ugly American, directed by George Englund
  • 重庆森林 (Chungking Express), dir. Wong Kar-Wai
  • Snowpiercer, dir. Bong Joon-ho
  • Blackfish, dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite
  • Le Streghe, dir. Luchino Visconti, Franco Rossi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mauro Bolognini & Vittorio De Sica
  • Room 237, dir. Rodney Ascher
  • The Bitter Tea of General Yen, dir. Frank Capra
  • L’Amour existe, dir. Maurice Pialat
  • Le Chant du styrène, dir. Alain Resnais
  • Charlotte et son Jules, dir. Jean-Luc Godard
  • Le Coup du Berger, dir. Jacques Rivette
  • Une Histoire d’eau, dir. François Truffaut & Jean-Luc Godard
  • Le Labratoire de l’angoisse, dir. Patrice Leconte
  • Les Surmenés, dir. Jacques Doniol-Valcroze
  • 24 Heures de la vie d’un clown, dir. Jean-Pierre Melville