In between science reading – Stephen Jay Gould and New Scientist – and a rereading of The God Delusion, even more enjoyable the second time, I’ve been working slowly through a travel book and history book of sorts, Microcosms by Claudio Magris. I’ve always liked this sort of stuff, personal, informed meditations on places and the people who’ve been or gone there before, eg in the work of Jonathan Raban and Cees Nooteboom. Magris always works in a minor key, his word selections carefully odd but understated, a relief from the occasionally overblown [but always thought-provoking and informative] Gould. I’m only an armchair traveler myself, but I wonder if everyone else is as mystified by the places he mentions, even though they’re ‘only’ in Italy. Thanks to the net, I’ve found his current place-names [Morgo, Grado] in the Friuli at the top of the Adriatic, near Slovenia, and Alto Adige is at the very top of Italy. It includes the town of Meran [Merano], so favourably mentioned by Kafka in his letters to Milena. Magris’ descriptions shift subtly from landscape to poets and characters of place, of local distinction, or perhaps forgotten. It’s quietly enlivening, if you will.
Agave – they are what I thought they were, and the pronunciation is uh-gah’-vay.
Labels: just stuff