Read Da Vinci's Bicycle by Guy Davenport Online

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Esteemed writer and translator Guy Davenport's brilliant story collection, first published in 1979, is recognized today as a classic of American fiction. Written with tremendous wit, intelligence, and verve, the stories are based on historical figures whose endeavors were too early, too late, or went against the grain of their time....

Title : Da Vinci's Bicycle
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ISBN : 9780811213509
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 192 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Da Vinci's Bicycle Reviews

  • Eric
    2019-04-02 09:18

    There are ten stories in this collection but I’ll only mention the five I’m still thinking about, or plan to re-read soon."C. Musonius Rufus"Like “Mesoroposthonippidon” and “On Some Lines of Virgil” in Eclogues, this story features an insular band of urban scamps – mischievous, bounding, randy, sometimes thieving, unpretentiously accomplished, living for the day, for the sweet taste of filched fruit and chance couplings, with the superbity of jeunesse dorée or of the purest outcasts – gathered round an ascetic philosopher, a provocative skeptic, their elective mentor. Elective affinities of the classical city; families formed peripatetically, out of doors, in Athens around Diogenes, in Rome around Musonius Rufus, and in Bordeaux around the wholly fictional pataphysician Tullio. Rufus taught Epictetus, and others more obscure. Banished by Nero and condemned to a chain gang digging a canal to Corinth, Rufus recalls his students: Nero would never find the cobbler who was one of my best disciples, old Marcus who had a true flair for Pythagorean poetry of things and a noble grasp of stoic wisdom. Nor would he stumble upon the Senator who keeps his philosophy to himself, or the slavewoman Dorcas, whose dignity of mind I would place beside that of Cicero. More than likely he would ferret out, such is my luck, the scamp Fabricius who follows me for my knuckly rhetoric, as he calls it, and who spends half his time in the gymnasia ogling backsides and pretty eyes and the other half pumping his seed onto the garret ceiling or alley walls or the tiles of the public baths. But the boy has a mind and a lovely imagination…and when Nero throws him in the jug, he’ll take it like a man.Rufus had been exiled before, to the waterless island of Gyaros (a penal colony as late as the 1970s, under Greece’s rightist junta) where he saved the exiles by locating a spring. In the arduous work of clearing the spring and banking it against the sea, Davenport gives Rufus a little fictional help in the form of Caepoculous, whom Rufus knew when he ran a little theater on the Via Scortilla where he was to be seen in a beaked mask, tail feathers on his butt, castanets on his fingers, dancing in the street to music played by boy drummers and a fat whore with a tambourine who was so heavy that she had to be carried in a litter by slaves with gilded eyelids."John Charles Tapner"1855. Victor Hugo on the Channel Island of Guernsey, his third stop during nearly twenty years of exile from the France of Napoleon III. The merry band of disciples is Hugo’s own family – daughter, son, wife, mistress. They raise eyebrows with raucous parlor performances of Shakespeare (Hugo’s son was then translating the complete plays; his daughter makes the crossing clutching the volumes beneath her cape). Hugo inspects the cell and visits the grave of the hanged murderer Tapner, whose life Hugo had urged Victoria to spare. His oblique commentary on the misery of the cells – the mad, mazy scrawls, the shivering girl thief destined for Australia – is lost on his officious guide. The story begins charmingly:The lantern held to his face showed which of the exiles in the weave of the waves was the one who insulted the Queen. Their longboat had touched into the shingle and they jumped from her prow, wet to the hips, to hand out women and boxes and trunks with hummocked tops. They’d come across from Jersey in a fog, calling on a tin trumpet that had one flat ugly note breaking into the music of the gannets and gulls, the bells of the buoys, and the ruckus of windwash rolling the ocean at half dawn.“The Antiquities of Elis”Davenport imagines Pausanias the Geographer (c. AD 110 – AD 180) on one of the journeys of religious and topographic observation that make up his Description of Greece. Like Yourcenar, Davenport is seldom more bewitching than when contemplating the persistence of temples, the decay and revival of rites. (When I saw the supposed Troy I was bored by the mostly buried stretches of chronologically contrasting walls; but was elated by the remains of the last, Roman town to occupy the site, with its still-visible coherence of temples, theaters, altars and gates.) This story compelled me to move straight on to Invisible Cities. "Au Tombeau de Charles Fourier"So far in my reading his most ambitious story, or poem, or, say, poetically suggestive narrative organized in stanzaic paragraphs; in any case, a high-modernist midden of archaic ideograms and revived or refigured myth, featuring: Fourier – or, a hallucination of the inhabitants of his utopia – wasps, the Dogon trickster Ogo, Gertrude Stein, Lartigue, the Wright Brothers, Leonardo, Joyce, Picasso, and plenty else. In Professor James the nineteenth century had its great whoopee, saw all as the lyric prospect of a curve which we were about to take at full speed…“A Field of Snow on a Slope of the Rosenberg”Here Davenport ventriloquises Robert Walser, on the 1908 balloon journey from “the lignite-rich hills of Saxony Anhalt to the desolate sands of the Baltic” Walser took with his publisher Cassirer. I really have nothing to say about this story beyond telling you that it is amazing, and, despite coming at the end of this extraordinary collection, nothing I could have anticipated. For a few days I was happily stuck in a loop of re-reading. I must read Jakob von Gunten soon.

  • Jeff Jackson
    2019-04-04 04:41

    The long centerpiece story "Au Tombeau de Charles Fourier" is some serious next-level shit. Written in five line bursts, it's a visionary hopscotch that encompasses Dogon rituals, early Modernist icons, DaVinci's workshop, nature worship, and Charles Fourier's ideas on how to structure society. Imagine David Markson's author tetralogy mixed with The Golden Bough and you're partway there. It's filled with gorgeously strange images and turns of phrase, plus an oddball sense of humor. The other shorter pieces in the book have struck me as knottier and less satisfying, so I'm going to let "Au Tombeau" continue to simmer in my mind and return to finish this later.

  • Gabriel
    2019-03-29 06:39

    In trying to move around the bulk of "Au Tombeau de Charles Fourier," it suddenly struck me that I would never achieve circumference. Further, that circumference is only an estimation, not exact at all, anyway. In the shards there are the many stories-- reportage willfully surrendered to the shearings of attention. So, instead of the circle, one is presented with an ever-expanding polygon, bulges that eventually burst into further lines and lines that curve into arcs before snapping. Clearly, accumulation and juxtaposition both play a role-- to give the work sections, not divided by subject but by impression, is to give the work over to juxtaposition, and to move laterally among subjects rather than through them is to accumulate meaning rather than impose it. The reader peeks through the open space between stanzas to find the work merely reversed on the other side. I am reading Eisenstein's essays at the same time, and how fortunate! Eisenstein's theories of montage (and his use of it in his films) jibe with these stories. Eisenstein posits an "intellectual montage," which describes the method of organization here: "Intellectual montage is montage not of generally physiological overtonal sounds, but of sounds and overtones of an intellectual sort: i.e., conflict-juxtaposition of accompanying intellectual affects." Images freed from description, in a way-- that is, freed from the need of equivalence in a purely physiological way (things which look alike or are presented in a similar framing), to open the way for a more associative organizational strategy. To go beyond plot, beyond the objective correlative, beyond the need to "tell a story," and focus instead on communication. "The text of a story is... a continuous graph, kin to the imagist poem, to a collage, a page of Pound, a Brakhage film." Indeed. And, speaking of the story at hand, "'Au Tombeau...' isolates this theme of foraging and proceeds like an Ernst collage to involve seven themes, or involucra, which when opened disclose the theme of foraging in various senses." Association of affect or backward engineering of ordering.

  • Eric
    2019-04-16 03:41

    Snooping thru one of those Expænsive Genealogy Websites and, with one's own family, only so many Census Records for looking at. As well as what else. So!: search for Guy Mattison Davenport, naturally, b. 1927 in Anderson, S.C.We've memorized the basics. These include: the high Rhode to Oxford.The interesting part: the high Rhode then probably consisted in dumping one's guts abroad, aboard a seafaring vessel, and at the abovementioned E.G.W. one finds:Form I-416, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, United States Customs ServiceUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Immigration and Nationalization ServicesLIST OF IN-BOUND PASSENGERS (United States Citizens and Nationals)CLASS: TOURIST, from: LIVERPOOL, 30th JUNE, 1950on...GEORGIC...(Name of vessel),arriving at port of NEW YORK, 9th July, 1950Yes, so our trim-coifed, virile and probably paler Davenport, 'AGE: 22' (because birthday: November), rearrives from his failed hobbitry beneath Dr Tolkien. Failed, however, with this only, one suspects. For--and we have it to heart--he has just had accepted Oxford's first thesis on James Joyce. (The dissertation: Pound. But before that, The Army.)OK! the interesting part: beneath the column 'NUMBER AND DESCRIPTION OF PIECES OF BAGGAGE' Davenport is alone, amidships, in his carrying back with him, that's right, a bicycle.

  • Alison
    2019-04-08 09:46

    Very dense, demanding, erudite stories or essay poems here by a writer who is, so far as I know, virtually unknown outside MFA programs and suchlike. One story is a tour-guide musing upon the World Grown Old topos; others feature and combine folks like Gertrude Stein and Robert Walser, and some Greeks and Romans and Victor Hugo for good measure. I thought that it would be my cup of tea, especially when I got to the 2 or 3 paragraphs written in bee language, which were wonderfully inventive and funny. I chortled over it a few times, and appreciated it, and felt very smart for reading it, but ultimately I don't have as much energy right now as the writing deserves; in fact, I never do--there's only so far as I'm willing to challenge myself in my reading. Poets and other people who are willing to work very hard over single sentences will probably enjoy it more; it's definitely a book for writers.

  • Aveugle Vogel
    2019-04-25 10:26

    "fingering a galosh"

  • Jamie
    2019-04-01 06:43

    Really quite excellent although a couple of the stories were a bit lengthy and nonsensical, but all in all it was an exquisite read and I've decided to read everything he ever wrote, or at least die trying.

  • Darrell
    2019-04-09 10:43

    dense but loaded with historical richness. The stories in this book can be frustrating to read but are an absolute joy once you start unlocking the stories within the stories.