Monday, August 27, 2007

Nabokov's Gift (from Boston Review)

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, to give him his full patronymic due, died 30 years ago at age 78. Distilled to his essential selves he would be, in no particular order, a patrician, a husband and father, a lepidopterist, and one of the most surprising and subversive authors of the 20th century—also, one of the funniest. “Nabokov,” observes his biographer, Brian Boyd, “uses humor to undermine our attachment to the ready-made, to enlarge our sense of the possible, to whet our appetite for the surprise of life.”
His humor reflected his soul, for he occupies a rare position in the annals of literature—especially modern literature—as that oxymoronic creature, the happy writer. The torments and angst of a Kafka or a Dostoevsky were as alien to him as the politics of the day. He was happy mainly because he loved being Vladimir Nabokov and he knew that his genius demonstrated the near-infinite possibilities of language and life and art. He cared not a whit for the carping of critics and the sour grapes of lesser writers, and, 30 years after his death, his overall influence as a one-man mission civilisatrice is still growing. He remains the master of the art of beauty in exactitude. Unexpected yet precise words are connected in his writing like the fine, unbreakable links of a silver necklace. Lesser writers settle for second best; he never does. He finds the right word, however unexpected. Any sampling of his work shows this; take a random sentence from the beginning of the story “Cloud, Castle, Lake”:

The locomotive, working rapidly with its elbows, hurried through a pine forest, then—with relief— among fields.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Central tumulus excavated at the Bronze Age necropolis Bukovac-Ilirsko Groblje

At the site Bukovac-Ilirsko Groblje (translates as Illyrian Graveyard) in the village Bukovac near Mionica (Serbia), rescue excavations of Bronze Age necropolis-under-tumuli are continuing. During the previous campaigns (2004-6), five tumuli made of deposited soil were excavated.

The excavations this year exposed the central, sixth tumulus that stands out architecturally. At least six grave contexts were found in it till now. The mound is rendered special because of its stone construction-base, over which ceramic urns with cremated body remains were laid. In the next few days follows the excavation of the central space of the mound, under which a focal grave context is expected.

More than 110 years ago - in the area around Mionica - the pioneer of Serbian archaeology professor Mihailo Valtrovic, started the first planned research of prehistoric period in the then Kingdom of Serbia. All the archaeological material and the whole archive from his early work disappeared during the First World War. Most necropolises that Valtrovic excavated and registered have been destroyed through farming and agricultural activity, and the Bukovac – Ilirsko Groblje necropolis is one of the rare remaining ones.

Current excavations are a joint project of the Republic Institute for protection of cultural monuments (Belgrade), National Museum (Valjevo), and Brooklyn College CUNY New York, with full support by Mionica municipality. Research is run by Vojislav Filipovic (Archaeological Institute Belgrade) and Slobodan Mitrovic (Graduate Center and Brooklyn College CUNY)

The team: Milica Popovic, Milan Veselinovic, Marko Jankovic, Milijana Stamenkovic, Aleksa Janovic, Aksel Ben Sasi, Jugoslav Pendic, Natalija Gakovic, David Bakic, Vladimir Sljivic, Dragan Sljivic, Stefan Trajkovic Filipovic, Srdjan Radovanovic.

click for update to this brief report.