“Alighted”

by Chris Bertram on March 18, 2010

Oliver Kamm in the Times

bq. In his first book, The Destruction of Dresden, he [David Irving] concluded that at least 135,000 had died. That figure quickly made its way into culture. Kurt Vonnegut, who as a prisoner of war had survived the bombing of Dresden, alighted on Irving’s figure and made this alleged atrocity — complete with a long quotation from Irving — a central theme of his novel Slaughterhouse-Five. But the statistic was bogus and was revealed as such during Irving’s unsuccessful libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books in 2000.

So what’s Kamm’s thought about Vonnegut here? That Vonnegut, who was there, wouldn’t have written the novel if he’d known that “only” 25,000 people had been incinerated? That the central event of the novel, the execution of Edgar Darby, would have lost its absurdity if a smaller casualty figure had been accepted? Incidentally, the “long quotation” from Irving appears on pp. 136-7 of the novel and is not, in fact, a quotation from Irving but rather from two forewords to “an American edition” of Irving’s book by officers of the American and British air forces. People who write columns excoriating other people’s shoddy research really should be more careful.

The further you go in …

by Henry on March 18, 2010

So, when Michiko Kakutani (the daughter of the famous mathematician btw) writes an article “deploring the tendency”:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/books/21mash.html?pagewanted=1&ref=books of modern culture towards semi-coherent mash-ups of other people’s work, and the article is itself a semi-coherent mash-up of the work of other people (mostly themselves deploring semi-coherent mash-ups), is she being obtuse, quite brilliant in a self-undermining way, or something else entirely? I genuinely can’t figure it out.

Alex Chilton is Dead

by Henry on March 18, 2010

Guardian story “here”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/mar/18/alex-chilton-dies.