Monday, September 22, 2014
ON CONFESSING TO SOME ODD LOVE AFFAIRS:THE THRILL OF THE ITALIAN GERUND
DESPITE BEING MARRIED TO THE SAME MAN FOR DECADES, I CONFESS TO STILL FALLING IN LOVE QUITE REGULARLY. BUT NOT WITH ANYTHING OR ANYBODY ANYONE COULD BE JEALOUS OF.
PAR EXEMPLE/AD ESSEMPIO/FOR EXAMPLE, THE ITALIAN GERUND, AND FRANZ KAFKA. Not to mention Albert Camus and Voltaire, with whom I'm in constant communication by letter.
And lest you think I only fall for long-dead guys, I'll add the already married Andre Aciman, who had me from the first line of "Lavender" (See DEAR ANDRE ACIMAN). And also my friend, Jacqueline Raoul-Duval, whose "Kafka in Love" is a revelation.
I'm also torn between having an affair with two quite different literary detectives. At first I could never imagine the Sicilian Montalbano having a worthy rival. But then Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti came along, and now I don't know what to do. (See THE MYSTERY OF HOW I FELL UNDER THE SPELL OF WRITE...)
And on the topic of quirky love affairs, I used to be in love with France, but am surprised to find myself having given my heart to Italy--another long story that I have been writing about throughout this blog.
I'll be getting back to Franz eventually, but I'll start by confessing my infatuation with a part of speech that I would never like in any language but Italian.
Although an academic himself, my writer son likes to make fun of us. For example, he spoofs the title of many an academic article by labeling them ON GERUNDING THE COLON IN ????
Of course he's right. Guilty, as charged, I've done it frequently, even in this blog: See the title of this very post and also my ON THE PERILS OF LACKING THE CONFIDENCE TO DRIVE B..., OR ON BECOMING THE SEMI-ITALIAN GRANDMA I'VE SAID I .. OR ON TRYING TO HELP REPAIR A WOUND THAT WILL NEVER H... OR ON VISITING OUR LOCAL ITALIAN HOSPITAL OR ON THE REBIRTHING PROCESS:DECEMBER 25, 1946-2012 OR ON DRIVING INTO DITCHES AND MARKETING PLUMS (EXCER... OR ON MINDING THE GAP BETWEEN SELF-AWARENESS AND BEHA... OR ON BEING A PRINCIPESSA (OR IMAGINING THAT YOU ARE)... )
Now why would something so abhorrent as the gerund in English be so irresistible in Italian?
Why is it so much more fun to say, "sto pulendo la casa" than "I'm busy house cleaning"? And with respect to this strange summer that never really arrived in my neck of the woods in Italy, instead of saying "what the hell happened to my summer that never showed up and for which I'm still waiting?", I feel much happier saying, "sto ancora aspettando questo estate che non è mai arrivato." My beloved French doesn't have anything that would hold a candle to that. Maybe that's one of the reasons I live here in Italy. I'm still trying to figure that out.
I mentioned "quirky" above, in the context of my love affairs. Although I have taught for more than 30 years at a rather traditional elite university where quirkiness is not always valued in someone of my rank, the word "quirky" has come up more than once in my course evaluations over the years. I've decided, however, that this was meant as a compliment.