October 6, 2011

Literary Blog Hop, October 6-9, 2011

The "Literary Blog Hop" is a monthly feature of the ladies over at The Blue Bookcase.  This month's question comes from The Reading Life and is--
"If you could invite any three literary figures from different eras to Sunday dinner who would they be?"
What a great question!  The first thing that immediately came to mind was that this reminded me of that wonderful quotation from Virginia Woolf--
"Who would not spout the family teapot in order to talk with Keats for an hour about poetry, or with Jane Austen about the art of fiction?"
Well, okay, since Keats and Austen already have invitations to Ms. Woolf's party, I can't very well invite them to mine.  Who would I invite?  Hmm, decisions...

My Guest List--

Homer.  Yes, the Homer of The Iliad and The Odyssey fame.  That itinerant blind bard of ancient Greece that left the world some of the greatest stories ever told as the epic poetry that has been translated into so many languages and read and marveled over for nearly three millenia.  I'd love to learn more about his story-telling and the bardic oral tradition that ultimately resulted in these tales becoming such a significant part of the Human literary legacy.

Emily Dickinson.  The 'Belle of Amherst' may have been quiet and even painfully shy, but there was a nuclear reactor's worth of power contained within this woman's genius that was able to, through the use of a few simple joined words, create a body of nearly 1,800 poems that perfectly pulsate and throb with Life and showcase, as Helen Vendler puts it, Dickinson's "...startling imagination and the ingenuity of her linguistic invention."  This little woman's poetry has resonated and stayed with me my entire life!

Anne Carson.  My third dinner guest would just have to be the Canadian poet and translator, Anne Carson.  While I have only read Carson's translations of Aeschylus (Agamemnon), Sophocles (Elektra), and Euripides (Orestes) imaginatively conflated into her An Oresteia (Faber & Faber, 2010).  Her interpretation is modern, lyrical, and quite powerful. To me, Carson's Agamemnon is bleak, dark, and sinister; and one can't help but be astounded with the power and rage exhibited by Klytaimestra and the penetratingly prophetic and haunting voice of Kassandra.  I want very much to read Carson's translations and thoughts on the fragments of poetry by the ancient Greek female poet, Sappho, as well as Carson's own volume of poetry entitled, Glass, Irony and God (1995).  I love her voice, it just speaks to me.  From my own contemporary perspective, Carson is up there in the exalted 'thin air' with the likes of A.S. Byatt and Margaret Atwood.

Although not specifically asked for, my fourth dinner guest would be my oldest daughter who is finishing up her Ph.D. in English at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She is a brilliant, independent-minded woman with great ideas and a tremendous future ahead of her.  Now, I think I'll just serve the meal, pour the wine and sit back and enjoy the conversations.  Check back with me in a few hours.


  1. Great selection of guests-have you pondered what food you might offer them or what topics they might enjoy conversing on-great idea to invite your daughter.

    I now follow your blog.

  2. Poetry is a great theme for this question! Particularly since the style and status of poetry has changed so dramatically over the centuries. I've read the Dickinson was influenced by the way sermons were preached, and with Carson's work with Greek drama, your guests would certainly have very interesting insights into the relationship between performance and writing. And then Homer's poetry is so public, and Dickinson's is so private. Oh yes, good picks indeed :)

  3. I have never taken to poetry as much as I have other areas of literature. However, I would love to have a conversation with Homer and Emily Dickenson!

  4. Mel u, Jam, and Cela--

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments, I very much appreciate each of them.

    @Mel u--The menu? Hmm, lamb chops on the grill, tzatziki sauce, a nice salad, and a good merlot. Conversation at the table? Free-flowing, and where ever it takes us.

    @Jam--I think you're right, it is a good mix of folks, and I think we'd all learn so much from one another.

    @Cela--As much as you love theater and film, I would urge you to give poetry a look when you can. It is the highest form of literature, in my opinion; and its influence on most other art forms seems hardly in doubt. The more you delve into it, the more addicting it becomes.

    Again, thanks for stopping by! Cheers! Chris

  5. Some great choices and that menu sounds so good.... merlot has to be my favourite red wine and now I totally want some lamb for dinner

  6. What I love about the Lit blog hop is that you get to meet so many other bloggers who love reading the classics and literary fiction, and there's so much one learns from them. I really enjoyed reading your reasons for inviting Homer, Dickenson and Carson.... And your quote from Woolf started me thinking...I think I would love to have (added to several other lists!) Keats, Browning and Seamus Heaney over for dinner... hmmm...

  7. Wow, that will make for a sophisticated dinner. I loved to read your reasons to invite your dinner guests over.

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog and am now a happy follower of your blog myself.

  8. Emily Dickinson is my favourite poet, so, you know, can I come too?!

  9. Becky, Risa, Sabrina, and Laura--

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting! And, of course, you're all invited over too.

    @Laura-- Dickinson is one of my favorite poets too. You should really look for Helen Vendler's superb book, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries (Harvard University Press, 2010). You'll love it! Cheers! Chris

  10. Emily Dickinson was in fact one of the writers invited to dinner in Van Loon's Lives-when she gets to the dinner at first she is quite reserved -her fellow guest was Frederic Chopin-Dickinson ends up very charmed by Chopin and his music-Chopin was from the very worldly background and Dickinson quite the opposite so it took some work to find the right menu for them and for Emily to be comfortable conversing with strangers-at each party Erasamus was also there as a guest host

  11. @Mel u--

    Well, there you go! Great minds think alike. I think Emily would do well with my guests. I mean, how could she not? Thanks for sharing this vignette with us. Cheers! Chris

  12. A great idea to include a translator at the party. That would be a fascinating discussion.
    Is it ok to crash your dinner?

  13. Suzanne, of course you may come to dinner! I think having a gaggle of poets and poets who translate poetry around the table would be pretty close to a sublime experience, and having all of you who appreciate poetry there to listen and engage in the conversation too would be fabulous. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments, it is very much appreciated! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend! Cheers! Chris

  14. Firstly, I love your blog title. how clever.
    I love Emily Dickinson and dip into her works every once in a while. She amazes me each time.
    I'm not familiar with Anne Carson but your write up has got me interested.

  15. I pondered Homer as well, but of the ancients, I think I would be more interested in talking to Ovid or Petronius. Great question this week!

  16. For ancients-I considered possibly Sappho also

  17. Sappho would be great, particularly as I already have Anne Carson as one of my guests! She did a magnificent translation of Sappho.