I'm Sorry I'll Publish That Again

I got to the crucial end of Hope Against Hope tonight, the chapters which describe the mystery surrounding poet Osip Mandelstam's last days/months/years.

Did he die of typhus in the transit camp at Vladivostoc in Dec 1938, too emaciated and weakened by the trip across Siberia to get onboard the deadly boats that ferry ill-fated prisoners to the deadly far northern Kolyma mines? Was he crazed and paranoid, too scared to eat, but able recite his poetry to appreciative criminals who protected him and kept him alive for years as their puppet "Poet"? Did he die alone in a train station, like the protagonist in the story allegedly about him in Shalamov's Kolyma Tales? (Actually, now I'm not sure which is the one about Mandelstam - I don't have my copy with me.) Or was one of the nasty rumours that Nadezhda got everyday in the 1950s from her sadistic boss true, about him still being alive but married to someone else, or having been shot, or having been beaten to death by scornful criminals?

I want to know. This is entertainment for me...

But... Something is wrong... My book goes from page 395 to 396 alright (it goes to 401), however the sentence that ends one page does not match with the sentence that continues on the following one. And the chapter heading has changed...


Two crucial pages have not been printed. The final page of the penultimate chapter and the first page of the last chapter are simply not there.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I'll have to get Amazon to send me another copy, just for those two pages...

That'll take weeks...


I also have a copy of Finnegans Wake with 12 blank pages in the middle, an error that most people might not have even noticed !


Another great pick-up. A few years ago in BKK I found a great biography/analysis of PKD.

Today in the bargain book bin I found a Michel Houellebecq biography/analyisis of HP Lovecraft the pulp horror writer of the 20s and 30s.

"From his journeys to the penumbra of the unutterable, Lovecraft did not return to bring us good news."

"Few beings have ever been so impregnated, pierced to the core, by the conviction of the absolute futility of human apsiration."

Ah, at last, something for E@L to smile about!



Posted by: expat@large on Jul 16, 08 | 1:05 am | Profile


See if you were a religious man you might even suggest that you are in fact the reincarnation of Lovecraft...but you could only do that if you got religion. :-)

Posted by: Indiana on Jul 16, 08 | 12:13 pm

Now that's a scary thought!

And it would of course have to be a religion that accepted reincarnation. So that rules out Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which is fine by me.

Posted by: expat@large on Jul 16, 08 | 12:37 pm

"Few beings have ever been so impregnated, pierced to the core, by the conviction of the absolute futility of human apsiration."

Michel probably means aspiration but no matter...the sentence oozes jealousy.

Posted by: Dick on Jul 16, 08 | 11:10 pm

Houellebeqc was a terrible typist obviously.

And no great shakes as a meticulous researcher either: At the back of the book there is a list of about 20 quotes he makes that the translators can't actually find in any of Lovecraft's stories. He even makes things up about Oppenheimer.

He certainly has found a kindred spirit.

Posted by: expat@large on Jul 17, 08 | 1:16 am


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