Against the Day Weblog

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Thoughts, ideas, opinions, excerpts, pure nonsense, pure wisdom, solid taste, actual interest, total catharsis, amazing grace and endless lists on reading Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon.

Let the reader decide, let the reader beware.

7 Comments »

  1. Great blog!

    pp. 255-56 of Against the Day, the fall of the Campanile. “…it was to the lasagnoni that the clarity of sight to witness the engagement was granted.” I’m not sure what “lasagnoni” is a reference to. Any ideas?

    pp. 212 — is the description of the Governor of Jeshimon supposed to reflect the “aspect” of George W. Bush?

    Comment by John Reef — January 4, 2007 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  2. sorry for not commenting. Was a bit pressed for time due to ‘hospital duties’.

    Sadly I can’t answer any of the two questions. The first one is also a mystery to me as well (like many other excerpts) but it may possibly be linked to another kind of ‘aeronauts’ clan like the Tovarichi and the Chums of chance. The second question on page 212… Well it could be. As a matter of fact I do think that ‘today’ is actually less prominent in Against the Day than most people seem to think. It could be just me though…

    Comment by basileios — January 15, 2007 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  3. I found the answer in this:

    I do not want to give too exclusive an impression of Venetian industry, however, for now I remember the Venetian lasagnoni, whom I never saw doing any thing, and who certainly abound in respectable numbers.

    The lasagnone is a loafer, as an Italian can be a loafer, without the admixture of ruffianism, which blemishes most loafers of northern race. He may be quite worthless, and even impertinent, but he cannot be a rowdy,— that pleasing blossom on the nose of our fast, high-fed, thick-blooded civilization. In Venice he must not be confounded with other loiterers at the caffè; not with the natty people who talk politics interminably over little cups of black coffee; not with those old habitués, who sit forever under the Procuratie, their hands folded upon the tops of their sticks, and staring at the ladies who pass with a curious steadfastness and knowing skepticism of gaze, not pleasing in the dim eyes of age; certainly, the last persons who bear any likeness to the lasagnone are the Germans, with their honest, heavy faces comically anglicized by leg-of-mutton whiskers. The truth is, the lasagnone does not flourish in the best caffè; he comes to perfection in cheaper resorts, for he is commonly not rich. It often happens that a glass of water, flavored with a little anisette, is the order over which he sits a whole evening. He knows the waiter intimately, and does not call him “Shop!” (Bottega,) as less familiar people do, but Gigi, or Beppi, as the waiter is pretty sure to be named. “Behold!” he says, when the servant places his modest drink before him, “who is that loveliest blonde there?” Or to his fellow-lasagnone: “She regards me! I have broken her the heart!” This is his sole business and mission, the cruel lasagnone—to break ladies the heart. He spares no condition,—neither rank nor wealth is any defense against him. I often wonder what is in that note he continually shows to his friend. The confession of some broken heart, I think. When he has folded it, and put it away, he chuckles “Ah, cara!” and sucks at his long, slender Virginia cigar. It is unlighted, for fire consumes cigars. I never see him read the papers,—neither the Italian papers nor the Parisian journals, though if he can get “Galignani” he is glad, and he likes to pretend to a knowledge of English, uttering upon occasion, with great relish, such distinctively English words as “Yes” and “Not,” and to the waiter, “A— little-fire-if-you-please.” He sits very late in the caffè, and he touches his hat—his curly French hat—to the company as he goes out with a mild swagger, his cane held lightly in his left hand, his coat cut snugly to show his hips, and genteelly swaying with the motion of his body. He is a dandy, of course,—all Italians are dandies,—but his vanity is perfectly harmless, and his heart is not bad. He would go half an hour out of his way to put you in the direction of the Piazza. A little thing can make him happy,—to stand in the pit at the opera, and gaze at the ladies in the lower boxes—to attend the Marionette, or the Malibran Theatre, and imperil the peace of pretty seamstresses and contadinas—to stand at the church doors and ogle the fair saints as they pass out. Go, harmless lasagnone, to thy lodging in some mysterious height, and break hearts if thou wilt. They are quickly mended.

    Howells, W.D. “Venetian Life.” Accessed 1/22/2007. http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:1KjPuLNPX4sJ:isis.library.adelaide.edu.au/cgi-bin/pg-html/pg/etext04/8venl10.txt+lasagnoni+venice&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=firefox-a

    Comment by John Reef — January 22, 2007 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  4. wow… very interesting. Thanks for sharing it with me.

    Comment by basileios — January 23, 2007 @ 7:32 am | Reply

  5. Just picked up my paperback. My first dive into Pynchon since reading Lot 49 fifteen or so years ago.

    Hope to follow along your notes/posts, cheers for that.

    Comment by dave — November 21, 2007 @ 7:33 am | Reply

  6. Hello.This post was really fascinating, particularly since I was investigating for thoughts on this issue last Friday.

    Comment by Online Poker Rooms Reviews — January 21, 2012 @ 6:16 am | Reply

  7. Makes sense – I was guessing something like that. I thought of “lasagna” where the pasta is laid down, so I imagined it referred to people just laying around.

    So glad I found this site. I have been trying to get through this book – this is my third try! My Kindle Paperwhite seems to be helping: unlike the paper version, I can now easily carry the novel around with me, and in many cases (though not this one) I can decode a reference right from the device.

    Comment by Lucy — June 30, 2014 @ 5:07 am | Reply


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