Pico Iyer Journeys

The Death Of Nuance

Natsume Soseki

Japanese literature is often about nothing happening, because Japanese life is, too. There are few emphases in spoken Japanese—the aim is to remain as level, even as neutral as possible—and in a classic work like The Tale of Genji, as one recent translator has it, “The more intense the emotion, the more regular the meter.” […]

The Long and Winding Sentence

“Your sentences are so long,” said a friend who teaches English at a local college, and I could tell she didn’t quite mean it as a compliment. The copy-editor who painstakingly went through my most recent book often put yellow dashes onscreen around my multiplying clauses, to ask if I didn’t want to break up […]

The Tyranny of the Moment

It was already clear, in December of 1999, that books were a dying species. Already more people seemed interested in producing novels than consuming them, and when it came to serious works there seemed more fascination with the writer than the writing. Books, I heard from two serious, bewildered editors in New York on the […]

A Modern Fairy-Tale

Once upon a time there was an implication. He didn’t get picked very often when the other kids were choosing teams, and he tended to live in the shadows. But he always had a sense of pride, deep down, because he knew that people would call on him in their most important moments: in bed […]

Terrence Malick's Brave New Worlds

The very notion of a man who translated Heidegger into English (The Essence of Reasons; Northwestern University Press; 1969) being allowed to film mega-budget Hollywood movies starring George Clooney, John Travolta and Colin Farrell is enough to make some of us believe there’s justice of some rough kind in the world. Terrence Malick grew up […]

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