It’s time for my annual Respice Futurum post about possible books and reading projects I am interested in for the new year. I’ve explained in previous years that the institution where I have had the privilege of teaching Latin and Classics for many years now is one of the oldest secondary schools in the United States and has this simple yet profound Latin motto which reflects and respects this tradition: Respice Futurum–-translated literally as “Look back at your future.” This is a fitting way for me to think about and discuss my reading plans for the new year since my previous literary patterns help to shape what I will read moving forward.
There are authors this year whose work I’ve just started to explore and am very eager to continue reading. These include Camus, Gabriel Josipovici, Fanny Howe, Jorge Luis Borges, Peter Handke and Milan Kundera. I’m also thrilled to read Boris Dralyuk’s new translations of Tolstoy’s short stories out now from Pushkin Press. I never got around to reading Michael Hamburger’s The Truth of Poetry which I really want to read this year.
I also continue to be heavily influenced by the wonderful readers I’ve met on literary Twitter and in the blogging community. Some of the recommendations from these friends include Sandor Marai, Hélène Cixous, E. Arnot Robertson and Thomas Mann. I’ve also been inspired to tackle some challenging books such as Broch’s Death of Virgil, Joyce’s Ulysses, Pound’s Cantos, and to reread Milton’s Paradise Lost. Thanks to my literary friends, you know who you are!
I usually like to have a least one long-term reading project every year. While I was reading Proust over the summer I decided it would be interesting to read a series of books on music. So far I have Adorno’s Essays on Music, Gide’s Notes on Chopin, Quignards The Hatred of Music and Ian Penman’s It Gets Me Home. There is a thread on Twitter with a wonderful list of additional recommendations as well and I have ordered several more books for this project.
And finally, here is a list of my favorite presses who have new/forthcoming books I am very excited to purchase and read:
Fifthy Fifthy: Carcanet’s Julilee in Letters, ed by Robyn Marsack
Forgetting by Gabriel Josipovici
Prose by Yves Bonnefoy, ed. by Stephen Romer and Anthony Rudolf
The Woman Who Always Loved Picasso by Julia Blackburn and with illustrations by Jeff Fisher
Microliths by Paul Celan, tr. Pierre Joris
Chapter on Love by Miklós Szentkuthy
The Red Scarf by Yves Bonnefoy, tr. Steven Romer
Invitation to the Voyage: Selected Poems and Prose by Charles Baudelaire, tr. Beverley Bie Brahic
Mysterious Solidarities by Pascal Quignard, tr. Chris Turner
There is also a new Jean-Luc Nancy forthcoming from Seagull translated by Charlotte Mandell
New York Review of Books:
Abigail by Magda Szabo, tr. Len Rix
The Criminal Child: Selected Essays by Jean Genet, tr. Charlotte Mandell and Jeffrey Zuckerman
Margery Kempe by Robert Glück
The Magnetic Fields by by André Breton and Philippe Soupault, tr. Charlotte Mandell
The End of Me by Alfred Hayes
The Marquise of O by Henrich Von Kleist, tr. Nicholas Jacobs
And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon: Selected Stories by Nikolai Gogol, tr. Oliver Ready
I will also keep my subscriptions to A Public Space, Poetry, and maybe Ugly Duckling Presse for poetry books and chapbooks.
Of course, all of this reading is subject to mood, the weather, the alignment of the stars, etc. I never really know where my reading adventures will take me. At least this gives me a few ideas…
Happy New Year!