Vivendo com Livros

Um blog voltado especificamente para os livros, meus e de outros autores. Nele pretendo colocar materiais relativos a meus livros, resenhas de livros publicados, notas de leitura e informações gerais relativas ao mundo dos livros. Podem também figurar aqui reflexões pessoais sobre esses transparentes objetos de prazer intelectual.

terça-feira, janeiro 22, 2013

Como escrever (em ingles) - Wall Street Journal

The Special Relationship

A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and his longtime editor offer a guide to the craft of nonfiction.

When Richard Todd and Tracy Kidder met, in the early 1970s, the first was a young editor at the Atlantic Monthly and the second an ambitious, if barely published, writer. Mr. Kidder was struggling with his first piece for the magazine, rewriting and rewriting without being able to make it cohere. Robert Manning, the magazine's editor, got exasperated. "Let's face it, this fellow can't write," he declared. But Mr. Todd kept his boss's opinion to himself and kept Mr. Kidder working on the piece, which was about a murder in California. It appeared in the magazine in July 1973, and a few years later Mr. Kidder, with more articles under his belt and with Mr. Todd still his editor, would win both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for "The Soul of a New Machine," about how Data General engineered a new computer.

Good Prose

By Richard Todd and Tracy Kidder
Random House, 195 pages, $26
Richard Petrucci
fruits of collaboration Two of Tracy Kidder's many stories, edited by Richard Todd, for the Atlantic.
What if Mr. Todd had agreed with Manning and spiked the piece? Would the author's fragile spirit have been broken under the weight of the editor's judgment, his writing career derailed? Probably not: Mr. Kidder had ambition and talent. But one can't know for certain. And the lessons here aren't just about perseverance or the importance of revision—though Mr. Kidder still does an average of 10 complete drafts of all his work—but also about the nature of the relationship between editor and author. Messrs. Kidder and Todd's "practical" guide to writing, drawn from 40 years of working together, is called "Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction," but the book's subtitle might as well have been, to borrow a line from its introduction, "the story of a collaboration and a friendship."
Relationships between writers and editors can be vexed, and vexing. When the publisher Robert Giroux asked T.S. Eliot if he subscribed to the adage that most editors are failed writers, Eliot said that he did. But then he added, "So are most writers"—a maxim that many a beleaguered editor, toiling behind the scenes to fix broken prose, will be quick to endorse. Michael Kinsley, a longtime editor at magazines like Harper's, the New Republic and Slate, is reputed to have said that the ideal writer is the one who files his piece and then gets run over by a bus, so the editor can rewrite with impunity. On the other hand, as Messrs. Kidder and Todd advise, editors do well to remember that, ultimately, "editors need writers more than the reverse." Many writers view editors, sometimes not without reason, as parasites subsisting on the life and voice they leach from prose. This is true even though many editors—including Mr. Todd, the author of a very good previous book about authenticity, "The Thing Itself" (2008)—are themselves writers, and vice versa. Sometimes an editor or writer will switch teams permanently in frustration. A few years ago, I heard that the editor in chief of a prestigious magazine had stepped down to become a fairly junior writer at another, less prestigious publication. Why, I asked, had he chosen to do that? "I was tired of always being the solution," he said. "I wanted to be the problem for a while."
Messrs. Kidder and Todd claim that one reason their relationship remained productive for so many years was that "we shared a code common to men of our era, which meant that we didn't expect much, or feel like offering much, in the way of intimacy or 'sharing.' " Maybe so, but in a sense they were exceptionally intimate: One of the secrets of Mr. Kidder's success is that he is not afraid of writing badly in front of his editor, which frees him from the paralysis of writer's block. I've worked as a magazine editor for 20 years and done some writing on the side, and I'd say that the relationship you have with your editor should be like the one you have with your urologist—you should feel comfortable showing him unspeakable, embarrassing things and trust that he will not recoil but endeavor straightforwardly and discreetly to help. (The writer-editor relationship should also have a confidentiality akin to attorney-client privilege or, perhaps more aptly, to that of the psychiatric couch.)
Another reason Messrs. Kidder and Todd have thrived together for decades is that "each of us imagined himself more forbearing than the other, and as a rule kept our irritations to ourselves." But despite their mutual forbearance, by this account author and editor play largely to type. Mr. Kidder assumes the traditional writer's role of perpetual adolescent ("Is your eldest at home?" Mr. Todd once said over the phone to his author's wife), while Mr. Todd takes the role of avuncular guide, treating his wayward charge with bemused irony.
Divided into chapters on beginnings, narrative, memoir, essays, dealing with facts, style, the business of writing, editing and being edited, and a usage guide, "Good Prose" mixes memoir and instruction, with sections written from the writer's perspective, sections written from the editor's, and sections written together. While unconventional, this structure doesn't feel disjointed. You are in such good company—congenial, ironic, a bit old-school—that you're happy to follow them where they lead you. Reading their chapter on narrative structure, you know they've put careful thought into how to organize the book. "The fundamental elements of a story's structure are proportion and order," they write. "Managing proportion is the art of making some things big and other things little: of creating foreground and background; of making readers feel the relative importance of characters, events, ideas, of deciding where the accents go. Often it means upsetting normal expectations by finding a superficial trivial detail or moment that, on closer examination, resonates with meaning."
For me, the memoirish sections hold special fascination, because they cover life in the 1970s at the Atlantic, the magazine where I work now. "Every month the staff argued over the magazine's cover and usually ended up with something colorful and overstated, in the vain hope that a touch of raciness would improve newsstand sales," the authors write. "But the covers threatened the magazine's cultural legitimacy, the real attraction for its true audience and for many who worked there." Four decades later this hits closer to home than I should like to admit—but I find it reassuring to learn that the Atlantic's editors then worried that they, too, might be spending down the magazine's cultural patrimony. (There are, of course, significant differences between then and now, too. The long boozy lunches at the Ritz-Carlton Bar, for instance, have been replaced by the Potbelly sandwich scarfed down at the desk.)
In dispensing advice, Messrs. Kidder and Todd draw on their long experience. For instance, to provide a sense of the volume of reporting necessary to produce a good book—and of the distilling process necessary to find the story among mere information—they reveal that Mr. Kidder drew his book "Among Schoolchildren" from 152 notebooks worth of material. They also draw artfully on examples from a disparate range of the best nonfiction (and some fiction) writers, past and present, from usual suspects like Emerson and Orwell and mid-century masters like A.J. Liebling, Truman Capote and Joan Didion to Jon Krakauer, Katherine Boo and David Foster Wallace. As a curriculum for the aspiring writer, the choices would be hard to surpass.
Messrs. Kidder and Todd articulate sturdy general principles and useful techniques, without ever being didactic. Some of their choicest bits of advice are dispensed as aphoristic bits of wisdom.
If you're not writing for a newspaper, go ahead and bury the lead (or the "lede," as the newspaperfolk spell it)—because "the heart of the story is a place to arrive at, not to begin."
"The image that calls attention to itself is also the image you can do without." (Maybe I should have dropped that urologist metaphor.)
If you are writing a memoir, "try to accept that you are, in company with everyone else, in part a comic figure."
Perhaps most important: "Writing is revision."
And finally: "The familiar rules about writing turn out to be more nearly half-truths, dangerous if taken literally. They are handy as correctives, but not very useful as instruction."
The chapter on the essay ("the natural medium for ideas") is particularly good. "Essays let you second-guess yourself, even contradict yourself in front of the reader," they write. "Self-doubt, fatal in so many enterprises, fortifies the essay."
Perhaps because many books about writing are in one way or another so dreary—so fussy or technical or boring—the good ones tend to stand out: H.W. Fowler's "Modern English Usage" (1926); Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style" (1959); William Zinsser's "On Writing Well" (1976); Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" (1995); Stephen King's "On Writing" (2000). "Good Prose" at least knocks on the door of this pantheon.
Yet a book focusing on the writer-editor relationship inevitably feels somewhat dusty in the age of the blog and the tweet, when it's a truism that book editors no longer edit because they're too busy with marketing, when dwindling amounts of time and money have made editing a luxury and editors themselves, increasingly, a rarity at every kind of periodical. The tyranny of the page view—the metric by which much journalism is measured these days—tends to demand a velocity that leaves little time for correcting prose, much less the extended writer-editor colloquies of the sort Messrs. Kidder and Todd have profitably engaged in for four decades. Like those martini-saturated lunches at the Ritz, such colloquies can seem today like an indulgent treat, the relic of some antediluvian age.
Still, I believe it remains the case that, as William Whitworth, once the protégé of the New Yorker editor William Shawn and later Robert Manning's successor as editor of the Atlantic (and also, for a time, my boss), puts it to Messrs. Kidder and Todd: "All writers could use another pair of eyes." Anyone who has read my Twitter feed would agree.
—Mr. Stossel is the editor of the Atlantic magazine. He is writing a book about anxiety and can be found, unedited, on Twitter as @sstossel.
A version of this article appeared January 19, 2013, on page C5 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Special Relationship.

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terça-feira, setembro 28, 2010

Kafka's last trial (not yet concluded...)

Kafka’s Last Trial
The New York Times, September 22, 2010

During his lifetime, Franz Kafka burned an estimated 90 percent of his work. After his death at age 41, in 1924, a letter was discovered in his desk in Prague, addressed to his friend Max Brod. “Dearest Max,” it began. “My last request: Everything I leave behind me . . . in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others’), sketches and so on, to be burned unread.” Less than two months later, Brod, disregarding Kafka’s request, signed an agreement to prepare a posthumous edition of Kafka’s unpublished novels. “The Trial” came out in 1925, followed by “The Castle” (1926) and “Amerika” (1927). In 1939, carrying a suitcase stuffed with Kafka’s papers, Brod set out for Palestine on the last train to leave Prague, five minutes before the Nazis closed the Czech border. Thanks largely to Brod’s efforts, Kafka’s slim, enigmatic corpus was gradually recognized as one of the great monuments of 20th-century literature.

The contents of Brod’s suitcase, meanwhile, became subject to more than 50 years of legal wrangling. While about two-thirds of the Kafka estate eventually found its way to Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the remainder — believed to comprise drawings, travel diaries, letters and drafts — stayed in Brod’s possession until his death in Israel in 1968, when it passed to his secretary and presumed lover, Esther Hoffe. After Hoffe’s death in late 2007, at age 101, the National Library of Israel challenged the legality of her will, which bequeaths the materials to her two septuagenarian daughters, Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wiesler. The library is claiming a right to the papers under the terms of Brod’s will. The case has dragged on for more than two years. If the court finds in the sisters’ favor, they will be free to follow Eva’s stated plan to sell some or all of the papers to the German Literature Archive in Marbach. They will also be free to keep whatever they don’t sell in their multiple Swiss and Israeli bank vaults and in the Tel Aviv apartment that Eva shares with an untold number of cats.

The situation has repeatedly been called Kafkaesque, reflecting, perhaps, the strangeness of the idea that Kafka can be anyone’s private property. Isn’t that what Brod demonstrated, when he disregarded Kafka’s last testament: that Kafka’s works weren’t even Kafka’s private property but, rather, belonged to humanity?

In May, I attended a session at the Tel Aviv district courthouse, dealing with the fate of the papers. Heading to the courtroom, I found myself in a small and dilapidated elevator with flickering fluorescent lights and a stated maximum occupancy of four people. I was reminded of “The Trial,” the novel that opens with the unexplained arrest of Josef K. by a mysterious court that turns out to have its offices in attics all over Prague, running its course somehow separately from the normal criminal-justice system. Half-expecting the elevator to deposit me in the upper stories of a low-income residential building, I emerged instead into a standard municipal-looking hallway with faux-marble floors. Black-robed lawyers paced around, carrying laptops or giant file folders tucked under their arms; many dragged still more files behind them in black wheeled suitcases.

Some minutes later, a barely perceptible charge in the air signaled the arrival of the sisters. Ruth, with her white sneakers, pearl earrings and short, bleached hair, looked like somebody’s grandmother (which she is). Eva, a former El Al employee who was by all accounts a great beauty in her youth, was dressed entirely in black, with a black plastic clip holding back her long auburn hair. Ruth wore a white shoulder bag, while Eva carried a plastic Iams bag with a paw-print logo.

Of five rows of wooden benches in the courtroom, the first three were occupied by more than a dozen lawyers: two lawyers for the National Library; a representative of the Israeli government office that is responsible for estate hearings; and five court-appointed executors: three representing Esther Hoffe’s will (which the National Library considers irrelevant to the case) and two representing Brod’s estate (which the sisters’ attorneys consider essentially irrelevant to the case). The German Literature Archive in Marbach, which has supposedly offered an undisclosed sum for the papers (said to be worth millions), was also represented by Israeli counsel. Ruth’s lawyer and Eva’s three lawyers rounded out the crowd. It’s impressive that the sisters had between them four lawyers, although, to put things in perspective, Josef K. at one point meets a defendant who has six. When he informs K. that he is negotiating with a seventh, K. asks why anyone should need so many lawyers. The defendant grimly replies, “I need them all.”

The events leading up to the hearing that day were set into motion many decades earlier. In Prague in the 1930s, Brod, a passionate Zionist, began mentioning plans to deposit the Kafka papers in the library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where his and Kafka’s mutual friend Hugo Bergmann was then librarian and rector. Brod renewed these plans after his emigration to Palestine in 1939, but somehow nothing ever came of them, and the papers passed to Esther Hoffe. In 1988, Hoffe made headlines by auctioning the manuscript of “The Trial” for nearly $2 million; it ended up at the German Literature Archive. Philip Roth characterized this outcome as “yet another lurid Kafkaesque irony” that was being “perpetrated on 20th-century Western culture,” observing not only that Kafka was not German but also that his three sisters perished in Nazi death camps.

In later years, Hoffe engaged in negotiations to place the Kafka papers — as well as the rest of the Brod estate, which includes Brod’s voluminous diaries and correspondence with countless German-Jewish intellectual luminaries — at the archive in Marbach. Nevertheless, at the time of her death, no transaction had been completed. The bulk of the collection remained divided among an apartment on Spinoza Street in central Tel Aviv and 10 safe-deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and Zurich. It is unclear how much of Brod’s estate is still housed in the Spinoza Street apartment, which is currently inhabited by Eva Hoffe and between 40 and 100 cats. Eva’s neighbors, as well as members of the international scholarly community, have expressed concern regarding the effects of these cats on their surroundings. More than once, municipal authorities have removed some of the animals from the premises, but the missing cats always seem to be replaced.

In 2008, when the sisters tried to probate their mother’s will, they were opposed by the National Library. The library contends that Brod left the Kafka papers to Esther Hoffe as an executor rather than as a beneficiary, meaning that, after Hoffe’s death, the papers reverted to the Brod estate. Brod’s will, dated 1961, specifies that his literary estate be placed “with the library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Municipal Library in Tel Aviv or another public archive in Israel or abroad.” The Municipal Library in Tel Aviv has renounced any claim to the estate, making the Hebrew University Library — today, the National Library of Israel — the only claimant specifically named by Brod.

The National Library’s argument is complicated by Brod’s so-called gift letter of 1952. The most crucial and enigmatic document in the case, it appears to give all of the Kafka papers outright, during Brod’s lifetime, to Esther Hoffe. The sisters presented the court with a two-page photocopy of this letter. The National Library, however, produced a photocopy of a four-page version of the letter, of which the two missing middle pages appear to clarify the limitations of Brod’s gift. When the court ordered a forensic examination, the sisters were unable to produce the original letter.

Last year, the court decided to grant the National Library’s request that the papers in the sisters’ possession be inventoried: some evidence suggests that the vaults contain further documentation clarifying Brod’s intentions for the papers. The sisters appealed the decision, maintaining that the state has no right to search private property for documents whose existence can’t be proven beforehand. The hearing I attended was to determine the outcome of their appeal.

Eva and Ruth, who fled Nazi-occupied Prague as children, are elusive figures who keep out of the public eye. The fact that they are represented by separate counsel reflects Eva’s greater investment in the case. While Ruth married and left home, Eva lived with their mother, and with the papers, for 40 years. Her attorney Oded Hacohen characterizes Eva’s relationship to the manuscripts as “almost biological.” “For her,” he told me, “intruding on those safe-deposits is like a rape.” (When asked whether Eva had used the word “rape” herself, Hacohen looked a bit tired. “Many times,” he said.)

As long as Esther Hoffe’s will is debated, Eva and Ruth are unable to touch any part of their inheritance, which includes more than $1 million in cash. According to Hacohen, the money is a Holocaust compensation from the German government. The National Library argues that the sum could just as easily represent the proceeds from the sale of “The Trial,” which the library considers to have been a violation of Brod’s will. Eva, who claims to live in direst poverty, has unsuccessfully petitioned for a partial probate, which would have released the money before a decision was reached about the papers.

The hearing I attended brought no good news for the sisters. Their appeal was overruled that day by the district court, and again the next month by the Supreme Court. In late July, one safe-deposit box in Tel Aviv and all four Zurich vaults were inventoried. Witnesses in Tel Aviv reported seeing Eva run into the bank after the lawyers shouting: “It’s mine! It’s mine!” Eva also somehow turned up at the bank in Zurich but wasn’t allowed into the vault.

Five of the safe-deposit boxes in Tel Aviv initially resisted inspection. Some of the keys obtained after strenuous negotiations with Eva turned out not to match the locks. By now, most of the boxes have been opened. According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, the banks have already yielded “a huge amount” of original Kafka material, including notebooks and the manuscript of a previously published short story. The specific contents, including any documents that might illuminate the question of ownership, will be made public once everything has been cataloged — a process estimated to last another month. In the meantime, the world continues to wait.

Kafka's life passed almost entirely within the space of a few city blocks in Prague, where he was born in 1883, attended school and university and, as an adult, lived with his parents and worked in an insurance agency. Kafka and Brod met in 1902, at Charles University, where both were studying law. Brod was 18 — one year younger than Kafka — but already a literary sensation. According to Brod’s biography of Kafka, the two met at a lecture Brod gave on Schopenhauer, during which Kafka objected to Brod’s characterization of Nietzsche as a fraud. Walking home together afterward, they discussed their favorite writers. Brod praised a passage from the story “Purple Death” in which Gustav Meyrink “compared butterflies to great opened-out books of magic.” Kafka, who took no stock in magic butterflies, countered with a phrase from Hugo von Hoffmansthal: “the smell of damp flags in a hall.” Having uttered these words, he fell into a profound silence that left a great impression on Brod.

For years, Brod had no idea that Kafka also did a bit of writing in his free time. Nonetheless, he began right away to commit Kafka’s utterances to his diary, starting with “Talk comes straight out of his mouth like a walking stick” (an observation about an over-assertive classmate). In 1905, Kafka showed Brod his story “Description of a Struggle.” Brod directly adopted a lifelong mission “to bring Kafka’s works before the public.” (An uncannily perspicacious talent-spotter, Brod also brought early recognition to Jaroslav Hasek and Leos Janacek.) In a Berlin weekly in 1907, Brod named a handful of contemporary authors maintaining the “exalted standards” of German literature: Franz Blei, Heinrich Mann, Frank Wedekind, Meyrink and Kafka. The first four were big names of the time; Kafka had yet to publish a single word. After much prodding by Brod, Kafka began publishing literary sketches in 1908, which were collected in a book in 1913.

In most respects, Brod and Kafka could not have been more different. An extrovert, Zionist, womanizer, novelist, poet, critic, composer and constitutional optimist, Brod had a tremendous capacity for survival. In his biography of Kafka, Ernst Pawel recounts how Brod, having been given a diagnosis at age 4 of a life-threatening spinal curvature, was sent to a miracle healer in the Black Forest, “a shoemaker by trade, who built him a monstrous harness into which he was strapped day and night.” Brod spent an entire year in the care of this shoemaker, emerging with a permanent hunchbacklike deformity, which did not impede him in a lifelong series of overlapping relationships with attractive blondes.

Kafka, tall, dark and broodingly handsome, had fewer and more anguished relations with women. From an early age, he was deeply concerned with his health, clothes and personal hygiene. (“The afternoons I spent on my hair,” a 1912 diary entry reads.) He practiced vegetarianism, “Fletcherizing” (a system of chewing each bite for several minutes), “Müllerizing” (an exercise regimen) and various natural healing programs. He worried about dandruff and constipation to an extent that occasionally exasperated even Brod (“for instance, in Lugano, when he refused to take any laxative . . . but ruined the days for me with his moanings”). He wasn’t a good decision maker, and he didn’t have good luck. After years of complaining about his job at the insurance office, he finally worked up the nerve to mail his parents a letter saying that he was going to move to Berlin and write for a living — less than a week before the outbreak of World War I, which obliged him to stay in Prague. In 1917, he was given a diagnosis of tuberculosis. In 1921, he told Brod that his last testament would consist of “a request to you to burn everything.” Brod promptly replied that he would do no such thing: his main justification, in later years, for overriding Kafka’s wishes.

In 1923, Kafka met Dora Diamant, a 25-year-old runaway from a conservative Hasidic family in Galicia. She was his last and happiest love. The six-foot-tall Kafka at that point weighed 118 pounds. The couple lived for some months in a rental room in Berlin but moved in 1924 to a sanitarium in the Austrian town of Kierling, where Kafka, unable to eat, drink or speak, edited the proofs of his story “The Hunger Artist” and eventually died in Dora’s arms, having published, in his lifetime, fewer than 450 pages.

Kafka studies now proliferate at a rate inversely proportional to that of Kafka’s own production: according to a recent estimate, a new book on his work has been published every 10 days for the past 14 years. Brod, in his 84 years on this planet, published 83 books, most of them now out of print.

In his role in Kafka’s estate, Brod presents the paradox of a radically un-Kafkaesque protagonist in a Kafkaesque plot. This was a recurring theme in their friendship. After graduating from law school, Brod, already a published author, allowed himself to be convinced by Kafka’s thesis that “breadwinning and the art of writing must be kept absolutely apart” and took a job in the post office. Brod later bitterly regretted “the hundreds of joyless hours” squandered in offices by himself and the author of “The Trial.”

Four years after Kafka’s death, Brod published a novel, “The Enchanted Kingdom of Love,” featuring a moribund, Kafka-like character called Richard Garta: “a saint of our day” whose brother turns up on a kibbutz in Eastern Galilee and unmasks Richard, posthumously, as a fervent Zionist. In 1937, Brod wrote his biography of Kafka, which, alongside genuinely brilliant insights into Kafka’s life and work, also quotes wholesale from the descriptions of Richard Garta in “The Enchanted Kingdom,” advancing the thesis that Kafka was, if not “a perfect saint,” then still “on the road to becoming one,” and that his most seemingly ambiguous literary works are essentially religious treatments of the transcendental homelessness of European Jewry.

Brod’s biography of Kafka was not well received. According to Walter Benjamin, it testifies to a “lack of any deep understanding of Kafka’s life,” one great riddle of which is, indeed, Kafka’s choice of such a philistine for a best friend. “I will never get to the bottom of the Brod mystery,” Milan Kundera writes, marveling that Brod was astute enough to preserve Kafka’s novels for posterity, yet capable of doing so in such sentimental, vulgar and politically tendentious books. The received image of Brod in Kafka studies is a well-meaning hack who displayed extraordinary prescience, energy and selflessness in the promotion of his more talented friend, about whom, however, he understood nothing and whose dying wishes he was thus able to ignore.

The truth is more complicated. Although the loss, within a few years, of both Kafka and Europe could easily have driven Brod to despair, he instead resolved to transform it into the foundation for a new future, adopting a lifelong determination to fuse his two favorite causes — Kafka and Zionism — into a single, future-bearing entity. Kafka’s life and work became a uniform and inherently meaningful body, in which every last detail had the same supreme importance: in the “22 years of our unclouded friendship,” Brod recalled, “I never once threw away the smallest scrap of paper that came from him, no, not even a postcard.” Whatever Brod thought that Kafka was going to do for mankind, it was definitely something huge. “If humanity would only better understand what has been presented to it in the person and work of Kafka,” Brod writes, “it would undoubtedly be in a quite different position.”

Pinning his hopes of a new world order onto Kafka’s oeuvre — onto, that is, a collection of abstruse literary fiction, mostly dealing with the lives of Prague white-collar workers and animals — Brod was following a dream logic common to Kafka’s own characters. In “Amerika,” Karl believes that he can “have a direct effect upon his American environment” by playing the piano in a certain way; Josephine the Mouse Singer believes that when the Mouse Folk “are in a bad way politically or economically, her singing” will save them. In 1941, Brod published an extraordinary column in the Hebrew paper Davar, recounting his arrival in Palestine with “only one plan” rising from a “mist of many obscure thoughts”: “to act for the memory of my friend Franz Kafka in this country that he missed.” (According to Brod, only Kafka’s “sickness and sudden death prevented his immigration.”) Having transported Kafka’s manuscripts by train and ship to the soil of Zion, Brod had already found a few fellow thinkers “for whom Kafka is more than any other modern writer — he is the 20th-century Job.” Once they had fulfilled their true purpose — namely, the establishment of a Kafka archive and a Kafka club in Palestine — “the Hitler era, the era of destruction” would be followed by an age of “the infinite creation in the spirit of Kafka,” “a good era for humanity, and for Judaism, which has again professed salvation to the peoples by one of its finest sons.”

Kafka’s actual relationship to Zionism and Jewish culture was, like his relationship to most things, highly ambivalent. (In 1922, Kafka compiled a list of things he had failed at, including piano, languages, gardening, Zionism and anti-Zionism.) Although Brod’s attempts to convert Kafka to Zionism were a source of tension in the early years of their friendship, Kafka grew increasingly sympathetic to the cause. As early as 1912, he discussed a journey to Palestine with Felice Bauer, a dictating-machine representative with whom he was to pursue a long, anguished, mainly epistolary romance. (The two were twice engaged to be married before separating in 1917.) In 1918, Kafka drew up his vision of an early kibbutz. The only nourishment would be bread, dates and water; notably, in light of recent developments, there would be no legal courts: “Palestine needs earth,” Kafka wrote, “but it does not need lawyers.”

Kafka’s plans to move to Palestine grew more concrete only as their fulfillment grew less likely. He began studying Hebrew in 1921. According to his teacher, Puah Ben-Tovim, “he already knew he was dying” and seemed to regard their lessons “as a kind of miracle cure,” preparing “long lists of words he wanted to know”; rendered speechless by coughing, he would implore his teacher “with those huge dark eyes of his to stay for one more word, and another, and yet another.” In 1923, Ben-Tovim visited Kafka and Dora Diamant in Berlin. She found them living in bohemian squalor, reading to each other in Hebrew and fantasizing about opening a restaurant in Tel Aviv, where Diamant would work in the kitchen and Kafka would wait on tables. “Dora didn’t know how to cook, and he would have been hopeless as a waiter,” Ben-Tovim observed. Then again, “in those days most restaurants in Tel Aviv were run by couples just like them.” Ben-Tovim left one of Kafka’s Hebrew notebooks in the National Library, where I saw it this spring: a long list of those words from which Kafka expected such miracles: “tuberculosis,” “to languish,” “sorrow,” “affliction,” “genius,” “pestilence,” “belt.”

Brod's interpretation of Kafka as a Zionist manqué is now on trial: if not, technically, in the court of law, then certainly in the court of public opinion. “Why does Kafka belong here?” asks Mark Gelber, a literature professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “Because the Zionist enterprise was important to him.” Gelber told me he considers Kafka’s animal stories to participate in a Zionist discourse, from which “Kafka removes the particularist markers, erases the particularist traces.” (This lack of “particularist markers” makes Kafka particularly susceptible to different interpretations and ascriptions: those same animal stories caused Elias Canetti to call Kafka “the only essentially Chinese writer to be found in the West.”) Many European critics — for example, Reiner Stach, Kafka’s most recent and thorough biographer — object to the view of Kafka as “a Zionist or a religious author.” “The fact that specifically Jewish experiences are reflected in his works does not — as Brod believed — make him the protagonist of a ‘Jewish’ literature,” Stach told me. Rather, “Kafka’s oeuvre stands in the context of European literary modernity, and his texts are among the foundational documents of this modernity.”

In a perfect world, Kafka could be both engaged with a specifically Jewish discourse and a foundational author of European modernity. As Brod himself observes of “The Castle,” a “specifically Jewish interpretation goes hand in hand with what is common to humanity, without either excluding or even disturbing the other.” But an original manuscript can be in only one place at a time. The choice between Israel and Germany could not be more symbolically fraught.

For the proponents of Marbach, the debate is really about storage conditions. “In Israel there is no place to keep the papers so well as in Germany,” Eva Hoffe has stated; Stach corroborates that “scholars everywhere outside of Israel are in agreement” that the papers would be better off in Marbach. Anyway, Marbach already has “The Trial,” and it would be more convenient for scholars to have everything in one place. In hopes of securing the cooperation of the National Library, Marbach has proposed to grant Israeli scholars priority access to the collection and to lend the papers to Jerusalem for a temporary exhibit.

But in a battle between expediency and ideals, the two sides are speaking different languages. Otto Dov Kulka, an emeritus professor of history specializing in the situation of Jews during the Third Reich, describes the claim that Israel doesn’t have the resources to take care of the papers as “outrageous and hypocritical.” I spoke with Kulka in his office at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I found him editing a document titled, in an enormous font legible from across the room, “Between the Periphery and the Metropolis of Death.” A diminutive, dynamic figure in his 70s, wearing ergonomic sandals and a short-sleeved khaki shirt that exposed a five-digit number tattooed on his forearm, he repeatedly jumped up from his chair to retrieve books from the shelves that towered above us.

Kulka produced and read aloud from a long list of German-Jewish intellectuals whose papers are in the National Library: Albert Einstein, Stefan Zweig, Gershom Scholem, Walter Benjamin, Else Lasker-Schüler, Martin Buber. “We are taking care of Einstein’s theory of relativity, and we will take care of Kafka,” he said. “They say the papers will be safer in Germany, the Germans will take very good care of them. Well, the Germans don’t have a very good history of taking care of Kafka’s things. They didn’t take good care of his sisters.” He fell silent. “I was together with Kafka’s sister Ottla,” he added, in a conversational tone.

“Oh, really?” I said, not understanding what he meant.

“Yes,” he said, smiling vaguely. “In Theresienstadt, before she was murdered.” Kulka, 9 years old at the time, never spoke to Ottla but described her as a kind and selfless person, who voluntarily escorted a group of Jewish orphans from Bialystok to Auschwitz.

Oded Hacohen, Eva Hoffe’s attorney, maintains that “moral positions” about Germany are irrelevant to the case. “People ask me, ‘Don’t you care that those manuscripts could end up in Germany?’ ” he said. “I care much more that those Holocaust refugees cannot pay their electricity bills here in Israel.”

Brod met his future secretary Esther Hoffe and her husband, Otto, shortly after his arrival in Tel Aviv. After Brod’s wife died in 1942, he and the Hoffes became extremely close. “Our home was his home; he didn’t have another one,” Esther told a reporter for Ha’aretz in 1968. Esther had an office in Brod’s apartment. She and Otto and Max took vacations together in Switzerland. Although acquaintances of Brod described the relationship as a “ménage à trois,” Eva has denied that her mother and Brod were romantically involved. The relationship will presumably be illuminated in Brod’s diaries, which are believed to be in one of the vaults.

The opening of the safe-deposit boxes might also elucidate the central mystery in this case: given Brod’s evident intention for the papers to end up in an archive, why did he make them a gift to a private individual? And why did he choose an individual who proved capable of hanging onto them for 40 years?

Brod’s surviving acquaintances at the Hebrew University, including Otto Dov Kulka, are convinced that the 1952 gift letter, in which he seemingly bequeathed the papers to Esther, has been altered and that Brod never wavered in his intention for Kafka’s work to remain in Israel. They maintain that the vaults will yield proof that Brod changed his will in later years to name a new executor: Felix Weltsch, a Zionist and philosopher who worked at the Jerusalem library. (Brod mentions this change in a 1964 letter to Weltsch, but the codicil has never been found.)

Reiner Stach, Kafka’s biographer, sees things differently. He maintains that Brod was torn between Marbach, with its impressive facilities, and the library in Jerusalem, where so many of his friends worked. Unable to announce that he was leaving Kafka’s papers to “the country of the perpetrators,” as Stach puts it, Brod left Hoffe to play the bad cop. Stach also suggests that although Brod didn’t wish to profit financially from Kafka, he might have wanted to compensate Hoffe for her long years of secretarial work by allowing her to sell the materials to a well-financed institute.

Etgar Keret, a best-selling Israeli short-story writer who considers Kafka to be his greatest influence, proposes that Brod had no idea that Hoffe would sit on the papers for so long. “Half of us are married to people who say, ‘I’m just going to buy a pack of cigarettes,’ and never return,” he told me. “I think this is the literary version of that, with this Hoffe chick.” Keret characterizes Brod as “a good judge of texts, for sure, but a very bad judge of human characters.” If Brod could see what was happening now, Keret says, he would be “horrified.” Kafka, on the other hand, might be O.K. with it: “The next best thing to having your stuff burned, if you’re ambivalent, is giving it to some guy who gives it to some lady who gives it to her daughters who keep it in an apartment full of cats, right?”

Kafka wasn’t the only ambivalent one. Some part of Brod clearly wasn’t ready to let the papers out of the vaults. Most scholars agree that Brod was reluctant to give up his control over Kafka’s image. Materials in the estate will probably testify to the friends’ visits to prostitutes — which Brod excised from his edition of Kafka’s diaries — or to Kafka’s occasional anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic comments, like the wish he once expressed “to stuff all Jews (myself included) into a drawer of a laundry basket.” Furthermore, Brod’s view of Kafka as the savior of mankind made the papers a huge, life-consuming responsibility, which Brod himself must occasionally have wished to stuff into the drawer of a laundry basket. Everything was at stake — the memory of Kafka, the fate of world literature, the future of Israel — and nobody could be trusted.

Meir Heller, an attorney for the National Library, told me he believes that Brod turned to Hoffe when, in his old age, he began to suspect everyone else of distorting his friend’s legacy. “She was wiping him, she was making his food,” Heller said. “He thought, I can trust her.” He describes Brod’s school of interpretation of Kafka as a “sect” into which only true believers were permitted. Heller mentioned a 1957 letter from Brod to Hoffe, specifying that, after Esther’s death, the Kafka papers should pass to one of Brod’s friends (although her daughters would still receive royalties from their publication); in later years Brod periodically returned to this letter, adding and subtracting the names of those he considered trustworthy. The publisher Klaus Wagenbach was there for a while, but Brod crossed him out after Wagenbach published a Kafka biography that Brod didn’t like.

Heller’s recurring metaphor for the papers comes from “The Lord of the Rings.” “You remember the ‘precious’?” he said, alluding to the magic ring that causes its possessor to guard it obsessively. “That’s how it is. Whoever touches these papers — it distorts their vision.”

One afternoon during my stay in Tel Aviv, I headed to Spinoza Street on the off-chance that Eva Hoffe was home and felt like talking to the press. I was accompanied by Avi Steinberg, an American writer living at the time in Jerusalem. I had become acquainted with Steinberg two months earlier, when he mailed me the galleys of a memoir he wrote about his experiences as a prison librarian. In subsequent correspondence, I mentioned my impending Kafkaesque assignment to report on a “Kafka archive kept for decades in a cat-infested Tel Aviv flat,” confessing to some apprehensions that I would be unable to locate the apartment. Steinberg promptly replied that the address was 23 Spinoza Street, that he had recently rung the doorbell himself but had no answer and that “last week in court, Eva Hoffe’s sweater was covered in animal hairs, possibly originating from a cat or cats.”

Walking through the city center, we discussed the mystery of Kafka’s testament. Steinberg saw in Kafka’s cryptic letter to Brod another version of the parable of Abraham and Isaac. (Kafka wrote several retellings of this story in 1921, the same year he first mentioned to Brod that he wanted his work to be burned.) Kafka, Steinberg suggested, wanted to prove that he was ready to incinerate the child of his creation, simultaneously knowing and not knowing that Brod would step in and play the role of the angel.

“The thing is,” Steinberg said, “we only have Brod’s word for any of this. What if Kafka never even told him to burn his stuff? Has anyone ever seen that letter? What if this is all some big idea Brod had?”

Similarly paranoid thoughts cross the mind of nearly everyone who studies Kafka. At a certain point you realize that everything — even the picture of Brod as a good-natured busybody who ignored Kafka’s wishes — comes from Brod himself. “Don’t write this down — I don’t want to be the laughingstock of the academic community,” one scholar told me, having ventured the idea that Brod himself had composed all of Kafka’s writings and, alarmed by their strangeness, attributed them to a reclusive friend who worked at an insurance office.

Spinoza Street is in a quiet residential neighborhood lined by flat-roofed stucco buildings. The dingy off-pink stucco facade of No. 23 was partly obscured by a tree with enormous glossy leaves that were apparently being eaten away by something. Parked under the tree were a broken shopping cart and an old bicycle. Behind a large protruding window, enclosed by two layers of metal grillwork, lay an indistinct heap of cats. Some commotion involving a blackbird took place in one of the trees, causing six or so cats to look up in unison, elongating their necks. The breeze turned. A terrible smell wafted toward us.

The smell was stronger inside the building. We knocked on Hoffe’s door several times. Someone or something was moving inside, but nobody answered. Steinberg, who has a mild cat allergy, began sneezing. The sneezes echoed terrifyingly in the empty stairwell.

Back in the yard, we squinted in the hazy sunlight. Two cats staggered out of a rhododendron bush, looking drunk. I kept remembering a line from “The Trial”: “The wooden steps explained nothing, no matter how long one stared at them.” Having taken the precaution of bringing some cat toys with me, I began waving an artificial mouse at a gray kitten I had just noticed under the shopping cart. After some hesitation, the kitten ran out from under the shopping cart and pounced on the mouse, then scooped it up with its little white paws and bounced it off its chest.

What would Brod have made of it all? The situation struck me as enormously sad. It was sad that Esther had gotten so terribly old and died, and that Eva, the beautiful girl whom Brod once taught to play the piano, was now making French headlines as the “cat woman septuagénaire” who guards Kafka’s papers amid “feline miasmas and angora toxoplasmosis.” Ostensibly trying to defend her privacy and financial interests, Eva was plagued at all hours by journalists, while presumably racking up a fortune in legal fees. Nor would Brod conceivably have been delighted that Kafka’s papers had generated decades of acrimony and become the playthings of lawyers. He might have felt gratified by his friend’s extraordinary fame; but it was thanks to that very fame, which Brod himself both predicted and created, that Kafka didn’t belong to Brod anymore. Brod always knew that he couldn’t hold on to Kafka forever, but he never really faced up to it, and this was the result.

The more I learned about the papers’ stormy history, the more convincing I found the “Lord of the Rings” analogy invoked by Meir Heller, the attorney for the National Library. Brod really does seem to have regarded Kafka’s work as “one ring to rule them all.” Ever since he brought it to Israel, it has been guarded with a secrecy and fanaticism unusual even within the contentious world of literary estates.

The first conflict over Kafka’s papers arose in the 1930s between Brod and Salman Schocken, a former department-store magnate who took over the publication of Kafka’s works in 1933. During the war, Schocken continued to publish Kafka from Palestine and, later, New York, but retained the original manuscripts at his library in Jerusalem. Several sources confirm a fraught letter exchange between the two, with Brod demanding the return of certain manuscripts. In 1956, Schocken moved the papers in his possession to Zurich. The Zurich papers were eventually acquired for the Bodleian Library at Oxford through the offices of Sir Malcolm Pasley, an Oxford Germanist and a friend of Kafka’s great-nephew Michael Steiner.

Esther Hoffe was notorious for her elusiveness regarding the papers that she inherited from Brod. According to Der Spiegel, she backed out of a plan to lend “The Trial” to a Kafka exhibition in Paris because she didn’t get a personal phone call from the French president. Later a German publisher reportedly paid her a five-digit sum for the rights to Brod’s diaries, but she never produced the goods.

In 1974, at the request of the Israeli State Archives, an Israeli court reviewed Hoffe’s claim to the Brod estate. The judge ruled that she could do whatever she wanted with the papers during her lifetime. The following year, Hoffe was arrested at the Tel Aviv airport on suspicion of smuggling Kafka manuscripts abroad without first leaving copies with the State Archives (a stipulation of the Israeli Archives Law of 1955). A search of her luggage yielded photocopies of letters written by Kafka and, reportedly, originals of Brod’s diaries. (An estimated 22 letters and 10 postcards from Kafka to Brod were sold the previous year, presumably by Hoffe, in private sales in Germany.)

Hoffe was released. Soon after, an archivist from the State Archives came to Spinoza Street and, in the presence of Esther, Eva and an attorney, tried to inventory the estate. The archivist reported finding more than 50 feet of files, including originals of Brod’s diaries, letters to Brod from Kafka and letters to Brod and Kafka from unspecified “personages.” Most of the files, however, consisted of photocopies. When asked about the originals, Hoffe’s attorney, according to the archivist, “hesitated for a moment, then said that the material is not here,” adding that he, the lawyer, “always counseled to leave a photocopy in Israel, in compliance with the Archives Law.”

The incompleteness of the inventory leaves many questions about the contents of the estate. The answers may well be in a more thorough catalog compiled in the ’80s by a philologist named Bern­hard Echte, now the publisher of Nimbus Books in Switzerland. Copies of Echte’s inventory, which lists some 20,000 pages of material, are closely guarded. Heller has been trying vainly to get one for years.

Echte, the rare scholar whose brush with the Kafka papers doesn’t seem to have injured his sense for the magic of literary discovery, is also the only interviewee in this story who described Esther Hoffe with genuine warmth. Echte told me in an e-mail interview that Hoffe “really tried to fulfill Max Brod’s will because she admired and loved Max Brod like a young girl (and I liked her very much for it).” Although her preference for “books with a good and interesting story” led her to find Kafka “strange,” Echte said, she nonetheless recognized Kafka’s importance to world literature and was prevented only by old age from placing the papers at Marbach. Echte fondly recalled “all the discoveries we made — Mrs. Hoffe and me.” Inside “quite a normal folder” for example, they found “two or three sheets of paper with Kafka’s last notes from Kierling,” the sanitarium where Kafka died. In Zurich, they unearthed a letter that Kafka sent to Brod in 1910, enclosing two birthday gifts: “a small stone,” still in the envelope, and “a damaged book” — which turned up two years later at Spinoza Street and proved to be a novel by Robert Walser. Other treasures that Echte described to me included a copy of “Tristan Tzara’s ‘Première Aventure Céleste de M. Antipyrine,’ the first Dada publication, with a personal dedication of the author to Kafka. Imagine that!”

What else is in the vaults? Most experts agree that the estate is unlikely to contain any unknown major work by Kafka. On the other hand, Kafka often embedded lapidary parables and short-short stories in his letters and diaries. Brod published everything he saw fit, but Peter Fenves, a literature professor at Northwestern University, speculates that there might still be some “literary gems” left: “Perhaps a story like ‘Jackals and Arabs,’ which I can imagine Brod would have suppressed” if Kafka hadn’t published it himself. (In this fable, a European traveler is informed by some jackals — sometimes interpreted as a caricature of Jews — that they have been waiting for generations for him to slit the throats of their unclean enemies, the Arabs.)

The estate is of great interest not only to literary scholars but also to historians and biographers. Reiner Stach, who has already published Volumes 2 and 3 in his three-volume life of Kafka, told me that he has been waiting for years for the vaults to divulge materials necessary for Volume 1: an early notebook by Brod “that is said to contain ‘a good deal about Kafka’ ”; Brod’s unpublished diary from 1909; and letters from Kafka’s hitherto unknown “early friends.”

Kathi Diamant — Dora Diamant’s biographer and the founder of the San Diego-based Kafka Project, which in 2000 discovered Kafka’s old hairbrush at a kibbutz in Jezreel Valley — is eagerly awaiting the release from the vaults of 70 letters written by Dora to Brod. In one letter, Dora, to whom Kathi says she may or may not be related, confesses to having burned at Kafka’s request a number of his manuscripts, perhaps including an unpublished story about a blood-libel case in Kiev. But Dora also saved 20 notebooks and 35 letters, which were seized from her apartment by the Gestapo in 1933. Kathi says that information from the Brod correspondence may help her track down these materials, possibly to a sealed archive in Poland. Both Kathi and Zvi Diamant, Dora’s last living nephew, repeatedly tried to contact Esther Hoffe about the letters: “She refused to help and hung up,” Kathi recalled.

On my last night in Tel Aviv I found myself back at Spinoza Street, to meet the filmmaker Sagi Bornstein, who is working on a documentary about the Kafka case. We met at the end of the block, just as dark was falling. Bornstein, wearing a striped knit cap and a lapel button that said simply “K” (the gift of Dutch Kafkologists), was accompanied by two crew members and a medium-size dog named Babylon Fighter. We sat on a public bench, and Bornstein fitted me with a microphone. His crew filmed our conversation from the other side of the street, where they appeared to be standing in some bushes.

Bornstein was considering two titles for his film: “Kafka’s Last Story,” referring to Kafka’s will, and “Kafka’s Egg,” referring, he said, to “an Easter egg, or the egg of Columbus.”

“It’s something that everyone is trying to solve — but in the end, it’s only an egg,” Bornstein explained. He talked about his experiences shooting in Marbach, Prague, Berlin and Kierling, and about his fruitless efforts to interview Eva Hoffe. “I feel pretty sorry for her,” he said. “I think I understand her pretty well. It’s her life, and she doesn’t owe a report to anyone. Still, the story doesn’t belong only to her. She accidentally got into a story that’s bigger than all of us together.” He fell silent. A girl passed on a bicycle. Babylon Fighter, who does not wear a leash, seemed inclined to follow her, but Bornstein dissuaded him with a stern clicking noise. “So,” he said, turning to me. “You want to go knock on her door?”

I didn’t, frankly, but a job is a job. The crew emerged from the bushes, and we all headed back up Spinoza Street. The lights were on, although it was now past 10 p.m. Bornstein walked me to the door, standing away from the peephole; if she saw him, he said, she wouldn’t open the door.

“I don’t think she’s going to open the door anyway,” I said — accurately, as it turned out. We could hear voices inside. “She’s on the phone,” Bornstein said. Back outside, he speed-dialed Eva’s lawyer Oded Hacohen on his iPhone, and they spoke for some minutes. A large moth circled over our heads in the light of a streetlamp, its wings flapping like some great opened-up book of magic.

“We’ve been having the same conversation for a year,” Bornstein said, hanging up. “He just says we can’t talk to her now. He doesn’t say ‘never’ — just ‘not now.’ It’s ‘Before the Law.’ It’s the exact same thing.”

Bornstein was alluding to the famous parable in “The Trial” about a man who comes before the law but is turned away by the doorkeeper. The man asks if he will be allowed to enter later. “It’s possible, but not now,” says the doorkeeper, explaining that he is only the first in a series of increasingly powerful and terrifying doorkeepers (“The mere sight of the third is more than even I can bear”). The man sits next to the entrance for hours, days, years, waiting to be admitted to the law. In his dying breath, he asks the guard a question: Since the law is open to everyone, why has nobody else approached it in all these years? “This entrance was meant solely for you,” the guard says. “I’m going to go and shut it now.” Like many of Kafka’s stories, it carries the dreamlike impact of a great revelation, while nonetheless not making much immediately apparent sense.

Bornstein gave me a lift home on his moped, together with Babylon Fighter and a substantial amount of video equipment. As we whizzed through traffic and a pedestrian mall, narrowly missing a fateful encounter with a young man sprawled on a sheet and claiming to be the Messiah, I reflected on “Before the Law” — specifically, on the feelings the man projects onto the doorkeeper. “Over the many years,” Kafka writes, “the man observes the doorkeeper almost incessantly. He forgets the other doorkeepers and this first one seems to him the only obstacle to his admittance to the Law.”

Who is Eva Hoffe if not the doorkeeper, the one whom we observe incessantly, who seems to us the only obstacle to our understanding of Kafka? But in fact, beyond Eva lies a series of doorkeepers, most notably Brod, who has been reproached with everything under the sun: with making Kafka a saint, with refusing to burn his papers, with hiding the papers that he refused to burn, with writing such dreadful novels and, overall, with his general inescapability. And then, when we get past Brod, it’s only to face the most powerful doorkeeper of all, Kafka himself.

“With Kafka, people go crazy about getting the original manuscript — not a photocopy, not a facsimile,” Meir Heller once remarked to me. “With most writers, once there’s a copy, nobody cares.” We fetishize the original manuscripts, because they seem to offer some access to a definitive Kafka — a Kafka beyond Brod. But this, too, is an illusion. The manuscripts aren’t definitive, because definitiveness, for better or worse, is the product of deadlines and editors and publishers: things Kafka either went out of his way not to have or ended up not having because of bad luck, tuberculosis and the First World War. When Kafka did prepare manuscripts for publication, he spent much time correcting mistakes and decoding his own abbreviations, sometimes even enlisting Brod’s help; one critic thus speculates that “Brod’s version might, in the end, look more like what Kafka would have published” than the most meticulous German scholarly editions. Maybe there is no Kafka beyond Brod.

Nonetheless, like the man in the parable, we ultimately come back to our faith in the law. In the coming weeks, a court-appointed group will finish inventorying the remaining boxes, as well as the contents of the Spinoza Street apartment. It’s only a matter of time before the list is made public and most of the materials find their way to one archive or another. The last doorkeeper out of the way, we’ll be as close to Kafka as we’re ever going to get.

Elif Batuman is the author of “The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.”

quinta-feira, julho 29, 2010

Open Library: uma biblioteca virtual

Uma biblioteca virtual de livros de autor, modificados e atualizados pelo autor.

Open Library

Um exemplo: meu livro Formação da Diplomacia Econômica no Brasil

Formação da diplomacia econômica no Brasil 1 edition
By Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Cover of: Formação da diplomacia econômica no Brasil by Paulo Roberto de Almeida
Formação da diplomacia econômica no Brasil
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
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About the Book

The best and most complete historical analysis of economic diplomacy of Brazil during Empire (19th century).
Commerce, Foreign economic relations, History
19th century
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Formação da diplomacia econômica no Brasil
as relações econômicas internacionais no Império
Paulo Roberto de Almeida.
Published 2001 by Editora SENAC Sã̃o Paulo, Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão in São Paulo, SP, [Brasília, Brazil] .
Written in Portuguese.
Edition Notes

Includes bibliographical references (p. [645]-659) and index.
"Trabalhos do autor"--P. 659-660.
Dewey Decimal Class
Library of Congress
HF1513 .A493 2001
The Physical Object
675 p. ;
Number of pages
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8573592109, 8587480219
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{{Citation |publisher = Editora SENAC Sã̃o Paulo |isbn = 8573592109 |publication-place = São Paulo, SP |title = Formação da diplomacia econômica no Brasil |url =ção_da_diplomacia_econômica_no_Brasil |author = Paulo Roberto de Almeida |publication-date = 2001 |id = 8573592109 }}
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quarta-feira, maio 26, 2010

Livro na praca, uma bobagem - Janer Cristaldo

Janer Cristaldo
Domingo, Maio 23, 2010

A idéia nasceu de um projeto americano, o Book Crossing – lemos no Estadão de hoje –. Você deixa um livro em qualquer lugar público: um banco de praça, um café, um cinema. Caso encontre um exemplar, pega, lê e depois passa adiante. E, assim, de mão em mão, o livro vai circulando. O Book Crossing ganhou fôlego em mais de cem países, até no Brasil.

O projeto não tem sentido. Livro bom não largamos na rua. Livro bom fica em nossa biblioteca. Mesmo que, desprendidos, comprássemos um Dostoievski ou Cervantes para entregá-lo aos pobres, quem garante que quem o encontra vai lê-lo? Por outro lado, digamos que você tenha, por alguma razão, livros horrorosos em sua casa e deles quer livrar-se. Ora, você não presta nenhum serviço a alguém fornecendo-lhe um livro ruim.

Idéia de jerico. Livro não se lê ao acaso. É algo que procuramos. Uma livraria pode nos oferecer milhares de livros e nenhum deles nos interessa. Se você oferece um livro a quem não lê, de nada adianta oferecê-lo. Quem não lê pode estar na biblioteca mais rica do mundo. Só vai se sentir entediado. Livro é para quem lê. Para quem não lê, de nada serve.

Subservientes a toda idéia besta que vem de fora, um grupo de cariocas decidiu ampliar a corrente e criou o Livro de Rua. O movimento não só deixa livros em lugares públicos, como também instala as "bibliotecas da liberdade" em lugares carentes. "O Book Crossing é uma ótima idéia, mas os livros acabam só circulando em áreas mais nobres, onde as pessoas têm acesso a livrarias e bibliotecas. Acaba sendo um grande clube do livro", diz Pedro Gerolimich, de 28 anos, um dos idealizadores do Livro de Rua. "Queremos democratizar o acesso à leitura".

Bibliotecas da liberdade é nome que soa bem. Mas mesmo nas “áreas mais nobres, onde as pessoas têm acesso a livrarias e bibliotecas”, há muita gente que não lê. Neste nosso mundo audiovisual, leitor é minoria. Ora, quem chegou à idade adulta sem ler é pessoa perdida para a leitura. Sem falar que ler não é critério de cultura. O mundo está cheio de gente lendo Harry Potter, Paulo Coelho, Stephen King, Zíbia Gasparetto e – cá entre nós – esta gente ganharia mais se não soubesse ler. O analfabeto não deixa de ter uma grande vantagem. Está fora do alcance da má literatura.

Nas "bibliotecas da liberdade" não há burocracia – diz o jornal –. Qualquer pessoa pode levar quantos livros quiser. Não precisa mostrar documento de identidade nem fazer cadastro. Ninguém é obrigado a devolver os exemplares. O único compromisso é passar o livro adiante ou deixar em lugar público. O lema do projeto é a "libertação" dos livros.

Muito biscateiro vai adorar o projeto. O quilo de papel sempre rende alguns trocados. A tal de libertação dos livros é delírio de quem não lê. De livro bom não nos libertamos. Eles são nossos eternos prisioneiros. Há livros que condenei à prisão perpétua, jamais sairão de minhas estantes. Para amigos muito próximos, até pode ser. Mas cada vez que um deles sai aqui de casa, me sinto como uma mãe cujo filho foi escalado para combater no Iraque.

Tenho também os livros horrorosos. São aqueles que fui obrigado a ler quando lecionei na universidade. Já pensei em doá-los. Mas dar livro ruim é colaborar com o avanço da estupidez. Não quero ser responsável por isso. Qualquer dia ainda os repasso a catadores de papel. Tenho certeza de que não irão lê-los.

"O livro serve para que as pessoas possam ler e não para ficar em uma estante. Ele tem de circular. Já libertamos 5 mil livros em quase dois anos", diz Gerolimich. A maioria foi parar nas cinco bibliotecas montadas pelo grupo. Três na Baixada Fluminense, um bolsão de miséria no entorno do Rio, duas em Belo Horizonte. E já há planos para chegar também a São Paulo e Brasília. As bibliotecas são instaladas em lugares como lan houses e postos de saúde. "A gente leva o livro onde as pessoas estão por outro motivo. Mas, quando dão de cara com os livros, elas acabam pegando. Queremos que elas adquiram o hábito da leitura".

Não é assim. Isto é visão de quem não lê. Livros servem para formar bibliotecas. São a nossa memória. Em minhas estantes, conservo livros da época universitária. Todos devidamente sublinhados, o que inclusive me serve para rever a mim mesmo nos dias de jovem. Sou leitor que não gosta nem de livro emprestado. Se gosto do livro, vou querer sublinhar. Não posso fazer isso em livro que não é meu. Da mesma forma, quando alguém me pede livro que me dói emprestar, tomo uma providência elementar: compro o livro e o dou de presente.

Gerolimich fala em bibliotecas montadas pelo grupo. Ora, bibliotecas custam dinheiro. Metro quadrado não se encontra de graça. Duvido que os libertadores as custeiem de seu bolso. O movimento dos tais de libertadores de livros me soa a ONGs que vivem de dinheiro do contribuinte.

- Enviado por Janer @ 10:16 PM


segunda-feira, abril 26, 2010

45) Escritos sobre escritos...: um estimulo a escritores aprendizes (como eu)

Sobre o ato de escrever:

- Toda pessoa tem o direito de dizer o que ela acha ser verdadeiro, e qualquer outra tem o direito de atacá-la por esta boa razão.
Samuel Johnson

- O talento, não está em escrever uma página, está em escrever trezentas.
Jules Renard

- Escrever, é uma relação de amor consigo mesmo, com as coisas, os momentos e as pesssoas. Escrever, é como viver uma vida paralela à sua vida de cada dia; é o vaso purificador da alma e de seus movimentos.
Louise Portal

- Escrever é também uma maneira de falar sem ser interrompido.
Jules Renard.

- Escrever: a única maneira de emocionar alguém sem ser perturbado por uma face.
Jean Rostand

- Custou-me quinze anos para descobrir que eu não tinha talento para escrever. Infelizmente, não consegui parar, eu já tinha me tornado famoso.
Robert Benchley

- A História será indulgente comigo, porque eu tenho a intenção de escrevê-la.
Winston Churchill

- Para escrevcer não se deve ser muito inteligente, é preciso ser um idiota resplandecente.
Antonio Lobo Antunes

- A ecrita tem isto de misterioso: ela fala.
Paul Claudel

- A ecrita é uma aventura. No começo é um jogo, depois é uma amante, em seguida é um mestre, e aí se torna um tirano.
Winston Churchill

- A única ecrita válida é aquela que a gente inventa... É isto que torna as coisas reais.
Ernest Hemingway

Marcadores: ,

sábado, janeiro 30, 2010

44) Doando livros

Enquanto Godot não chega...
Viegas Fernandes da Costa

... cai-me à mesa uma edição do caderno de Cultura do Zero Hora de 21 de novembro de 2009. Na capa, Itálico Marcon. Nunca tinha ouvido falar! Segundo Luiz Antônio Araujo, o autor da reportagem, Marcon é (ou era, haja visto os últimos eventos) o segundo maior bibliófilo do Brasil. Perde (perdia), apenas para Delfim Netto, este sim o maior juntador de livros brasileiro. Claro, falamos aqui dos maiores bibliófilos considerando o número de títulos que possuem sob sua guarda, e não a qualidade e raridade dos mesmos. Não importa! Marcon virou meu herói dado seu desprendimento! Sua biblioteca atulhava três apartamentos em Porto Alegre, livros adquiridos durante seus setenta anos de vida. Apartamentos que agora estão esvaziados de tanto papel e verbo. Itálico Marcon simplesmente resolveu doar 180 mil volumes da sua coleção para um projeto chamado “Banco de Livros”, que tem o apoio de Luis Fernando Veríssimo. O objetivo do “Banco de Livros” é montar acervos em comunidades carentes.

Fico aqui pensando na dimensão do gesto. Todo bibliogâmico sabe dos ciúmes que um livro (ou toda uma biblioteca) pode provocar. Diria até que os livros nos chantageiam emocionalmente, atiçam-nos a libido, oferecem-se às nossas mãos, olhos, bocas, e depois nos põem escravos de si. Imploram cuidados, atenção permanente, frágeis e melindrosos que são. Mas sem tergiversações, dizia do gesto, da dimensão do gesto de Itálico Marcon.

“Não foi o primeiro a fazê-lo”, Pode argumentar alguém. “Está aí José Mindlin, que doou sua rica biblioteca à USP”. “É diferente”, responderei. Ainda que também bastante admirável a atitude de Mindlin, há uma diferença substancial entre o gesto deste e o de Marcon. Mindlin doou sua biblioteca a uma única instituição universitária, e o fez cercado de exigências. Justo, claro. Bibliogâmico que é, quer ver seus livros bem preservados, tratados com o zelo de que nunca se viram privados. Além disso, Mindlin constitui um monumento à sua memória na medida em que entrega uma coleção que preservará seu nome e ficará reunida em um único espaço. As gerações futuras saberão que aqueles livros foram reunidos por uma figura lendária, chamada José Mindlin, que dedicou boa parte da sua vida caçando pelo mundo livros únicos. Não neguemos, a imortalidade é boa paga ao desprendimento de Mindlin. Já no caso de Itálico Marcon, o desprendimento se dá em outro nível.

Ao doar os 180 mil volumes da sua biblioteca particular ao projeto “Banco de Livros”, Marcon pulveriza sua coleção e dissolve a possibilidade de transformar seu gesto em ato monumental. Fica, claro, o registro da doação na imprensa e nas comendas que certamente receberá, porém o “lugar de memória” físico, acessível por corpos humanos não virtuais, este não existirá. É como o sujeito cujo cadáver sepultamos no mar. A lápide de uma sepultura é sempre a garantia de uma certa imortalidade, ainda que efêmera; de um certo estar no mundo, ainda que ausente. E é justamente esse sepultamento no mar, essa entrega de uma biblioteca, razão de ser de toda uma vida, para que se pulverize e chegue, de fato, às mãos de leitores anônimos e espalhados pela periferia portoalegrense, que torna a doação de Marcon tão significativa e magnânima.

Que sejam lidos, entretanto, os livros doados, e não se percam, nas obscuras prateleiras da burocracia ou em bibliotecas ora suntuosamente inauguradas e futuramente abandonadas e esquecidas, os livros mofados destinados à reciclagem. É isto o mínimo que podemos devolver a Marcon.

* Viegas Fernandes da Costa, autor de "Sob a luz do farol" (2005) e "De espantalhos e pedras também se faz um poema" (2008). Mantém o blog . Permitida a reprodução, desde que citado o autor e o texto mantido na íntegra.

quinta-feira, dezembro 24, 2009

43) Novo livro PRA: Maquiavel revisitado

Tenho o prazer de informar sobre a publicação de meu mais recente livro:

O Moderno Príncipe (Maquiavel revisitado)
Rio de Janeiro: Freitas Bastos, edição eletrônica, 2009, 191p.;ISBN: 978-85-99960-99-8; R$ 12,00 ;
link para aquisição online:

Outras informações sobre o livro no seguinte link:

quarta-feira, julho 29, 2009

42) Livro sobre a atividade de Inteligencia

Atividade de Inteligência

Será lançado no próximo dia 19 de agosto, às 18h30, na Biblioteca do Senado Federal, o livro “Atividade de Inteligência e Legislação Correlata”, do professor e consultor legislativo Joanisval Brito Gonçalves.
Editado pela Impetus, a publicação é parte da série “Inteligência, Segurança e Direito”.

Entende-se por inteligência, de acordo com o art. 2o da Lei nº 9.883, que criou a Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (ABIN), “a atividade que objetiva a obtenção, análise e disseminação de conhecimentos, dentro e fora do território nacional, sobre fatos e situações de imediata ou potencial influência sobre o processo decisório e a ação governamental e sobre a salvaguarda e a segurança da sociedade e do Estado”.

A obra pretende discutir o que vem a ser realmente inteligência. É o mesmo que espionagem? Então, o que vem a ser espionagem? Há outros tipos de inteligência além daquela realizada por espiões? E informações, é a mesma coisa? Qual o objetivo da inteligência? A quem ela serve ou deve servir? E a contrainteligência?

Essas são algumas das perguntas que o autor se propõe responder.

De acordo com a editora, a função precípua do livro é remover alguns véus sobre essa atividade tão misteriosa.

O objetivo é apresentar os aspectos básicos da inteligência, como seu conceito – ou as diversas maneiras como é conceituada –, suas funções, as várias modalidades de inteligência, os meios de obtenção de dados, o processo de produção de conhecimento, e os princípios que a norteiam.

Também é apresentada a legislação brasileira sobre atividade de inteligência, a qual, de forma pioneira, é comentada.

O autor apresenta fundamentos teóricos sobre a inteligência (conceitos, escopo, classificações, funções e fontes), e complementa a obra, com comentários sobre a principal legislação que rege o Sistema Brasileiro de Inteligência (SISBIN).

A obra conta com prefácio do ministro-chefe do Gabinete de Segurança Institucional (GSI) da Presidência da República, General-de-Exército Jorge Armando Felix.

Joanisval Brito Gonçalves foi oficial de inteligência (então denominado analista de informações) da Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Abin) e, atualmente, é consultor legislativo do Senado.

Entre outras atividades, atua no assessoramento da Comissão Mista de Controle das Atividades de Inteligência do Congresso Nacional.

É doutor em Relações Internacionais, pela Universidade de Brasília (UnB), professor universitário e integrante de diversas associações internacionais e brasileiras no campo da inteligência.

terça-feira, julho 28, 2009

41) O Brasil e o GATT, Rogerio de Souza Farias

Tendo feito parte da banca de mestrado que aprovou a dissertação do Rogerio, só posso recomendar o livro que dela resultou.

O Brasil e o GATT - (1973-1993) - Unidades Decisórias e Política Externa
Rogério de Souza Farias
Curitiba: Juruá Editora, 2009, 218 pgs.
Coleção Relações Internacionais
ISBN: 978853622546-3

Capítulo 1
• Unidade Decisória
• Único ou Múltiplos Atores?
• Especialização Funcional em Grupos Decisórios
• Divisão de Tarefas e Constrangimentos ao Itamaraty
• Negociações no GATT – Impactos no Processo Decisório Doméstico
• Intensidade Percepcional, Contexto e Fatores Domésticos
• Tipologias de Processo Decisório

Capítulo 2
• Negociações Tarifárias no GATT
• Renegociação do Waiver e Rodada Tóquio
• Rodada Uruguai

Capítulo 3
• Um Modelo Complementar: a Dependência Competitiva das Exportações
• A Formulação da Posição Externa Brasileira no Contencioso dos Subsídios
• Tentativas de Controle do Poder de Coordenação

Capítulo 4
• Um Panorama da Posição Brasileira nas Negociações Agrícolas da Rodada Uruguai
• Modelo de Desenvolvimento Econômico

Rogério de Souza Farias é Bacharel e Mestre em Relações Internacionais pela Universidade de Brasília (UnB); instituição onde desenvolve os seus estudos de doutoramento, com tese sobre o Brasil e o sistema multilateral de comércio. É autor de artigos sobre a ação brasileira do Brasil em foros multilaterais publicados no Brasil e no exterior. É colaborador do Boletim Meridiano 47 e de Mundorama – Iniciativa de Divulgação Científica em Relações Internacionais da Universidade de Brasília, e membro do Grupo de Estudos e Pesquisa sobre as Relações Internacionais do Brasil Contemporâneo do Instituto de Relações Internacionais da UnB. É Especialista em Políticas Públicas e Gestão Governamental, atualmente lotado no Ministério do Desenvolvimento, Indústria e Comércio Exterior (MDIC).

Coleção Relações Internacionais
A expansão do ensino de relações internacionais, nos níveis de graduação e pós-graduação, tem sido exponencial nos últimos anos.
A Coleção Relações Internacionais, lançamento da Juruá Editora, tem o propósito de prover estudantes, professores e profissionais da área com o conhecimento que resulta da expansão das pesquisas nas Universidades brasileiras.
O apoio do Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico-CNPq, por meio do projeto integrado de pesquisa “Parcerias Estratégicas do Brasil: a construção do conceito e as experiências em curso”, financiado com recursos do Edital Renato Archer de fomento do estudo das relações internacionais e sediado na Universidade de Brasília, encontra-se na origem dessa iniciativa.
A Coleção Relações Internacionais reúne estudos originais resultantes de dissertações e teses selecionadas, em razão de sua originalidade e relevância, nas Universidades que mantêm programas de pós-graduação, bem como obras coletivas ou individuais especialmente focadas nas parcerias operadas pelo Brasil junto a países europeus e emergentes, objetos a que se volta o Renato Archer da UnB.
Em razão do elevado número de lançamentos que a Coleção programou, pretende ser ela instrumento indispensável a todos os que manuseiam o conhecimento atualizado das relações internacionais, seja com o propósito acadêmico, seja com o fim de tomar decisões nas esferas política e social, pública e privada, que engendram o modelo brasileiro de inserção internacional e sua dinâmica operacional.
O espírito que norteia as publicações da Coleção coincide com o espírito de isenção, objetividade, clareza e funcionalidade que preside os estudos nas Universidades. Desse modo, põe-se o conhecimento a serviço dos atores que dele fazem uso para equipar-se de expertise com que possam alcançar interesses externos da nação ou de seus segmentos sociais, bem como reagir e equilibrar-se diante de interesses que outros países buscam realizar no Brasil.

Outros livros na mesma coleção:
As Relações Entre o Brasil e a América Central – Um século de afinidades eletivas, solidariedade e convergência (1906-2010), de Carlos Federico Domínguez Ávila
Relações Brasil-Argentina – A Construção do Entendimento (1958-1986) , de Carlos Eduardo Vidigal
O Horizonte Regional do Brasil – Integração e Construção da América do Sul, de Leandro Freitas Couto
O Pragmatismo do Petróleo – As Relações entre o Brasil e o Iraque , de Seme Taleb Fares
Opinião Pública e Política Exterior do Brasil – 1961-1964 , de Tânia Maria Pechir Gomes Manzur
O Universalismo e os Seus Descontentes – A Política Exterior do Brasil no Governo Figueiredo (de 1979 a 1985), de Túlio Sérgio Henriques Ferreira

Informações adicionais sobre a Coleção podem ser obtidas neste link.

quarta-feira, julho 22, 2009

40) Fim da Guerra: livro em frances de Thierry Garcin

Acaba de sair a segunda edição deste livro essencial para se compreender as consequências geopolíticas do final da Guerra Fria: Les Grandes Questions Internationales depuis la Chute du Mur de Berlin (Paris: Economica, 2009, 512 p.).
Seu autor, Thierry Garcin, jornalista na Radio France Internationale, é doutor em Ciências Políticas pel Universidade de Paris (Sorbonne-Paris I), pesquisador associado em Paris-V e na Universidade do Québec em Montreal (UQAM) e é professor em Paris-I, Paris-III e no Centre d'Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques (CEDS), ademais de conferencista em diversas instituições de ensino, entre elas a prestigiosa Sciences-Po.


Première partie
A) La chute des régimes communistes à l’Est
B) L’unification de l’Allemagne
C) La mort de l’Union soviétique et la renaissance de la Russie
D) Le conflit du Golfe

Deuxième partie
A) Les attributs classiques de la puissance
B) Une superpuissance renouvelée puis déconsidérée
C) Les mandats Clinton en politique étrangère
D) Les mandats Bush fils en politique étrangère
E) La nouvelle ère Obama

Troisième partie
A) La multiplication des conflits identitaires
B) Le désordre institutionnel
C) Les revendications religieuses dans les luttes politiques
D) Migrations et mouvements de population

Quatrième partie
A) La fragilité des processus de paix
B) Le renforcement des intégrations économiques
C) De nouvelles puissances émergentes
D) Les aléas de l’Union européenne

Cinquième partie
A) Les conséquences de la fin des rapports Est-Ouest
B) Les organisations de défense occidentales
C) La multiplication des actions extérieures

Sixième partie
A) La réactivation et les faiblesses des Nations unies (ONU)
B) Les organisations régionales : le cas de l’Afrique

Septième partie
A) Les conséquences politiques de la balkanisation
B) Les conséquences politiques de la mondialisation


Preço: 33 euros

quinta-feira, julho 02, 2009

39) Kindle, nao um livro, mas um leitor de livros...

The Kindle DX: Bigger, but With a Lot of Footnotes
The New York Times Circuits, July 2, 2009

From a reviewer's perspective, the Amazon Kindle is one of the weirdest, most polarizing gadgets ever to come down the pike. I mean, people who love it, love it. People who don't get it, *really* don't get it.

If you weren't thrilled by the regular Kindle, then the new, supersized Kindle DX isn't going to change your mind.

The Kindle is, of course, the world's most popular electronic book reader. As a wise man once wrote: "A couple of factors made the Kindle a modest hit when it debuted in November 2007. First, it incorporated a screen made by E-Ink that looks amazingly close to ink on paper. Unlike a laptop or an iPhone, the screen is not illuminated, so there's no glare, no eyestrain -- and no battery consumption. You use power only when you actually turn the page, causing millions of black particles to realign.

Continue reading...


"The other Kindle breakthrough was its wireless connection. Thanks to Sprint's cellular Internet service, the Kindle is always online: indoors, outdoors, miles from the nearest Wi-Fi hot spot. This sort of service costs $60 a month for laptops, but Amazon pays the Kindle's wireless bill, in hopes that you'll buy e-books spontaneously."

(All right, it wasn't some wise man; *I* wrote all that.)

A new Kindle came in February, called the Kindle 2, featuring a few small enhancements: "The new, square plastic joystick is homely and stiff, but it gets the job done. Turning pages on the Kindle is a tad faster now. The screen shows 16 shades of gray now, not four, so photos look sharper; you can also zoom in and rotate them.

"The Kindle will also read aloud to you through its tiny stereo speakers or headphone jack, and even turn the pages as it goes. The Kindle's male and female voices are very good, but nobody will mistake them for the voices of humans, let alone the professionals who record audiobooks.

"The Kindle catalog is bigger, too; 230,000 books are available [UPDATE: now 300,000]. New York Times bestsellers are $10 each, which is less than the hardcover editions. Older books run $3 to $6. That said, Amazon is still a long way from its 'any book, any time' goal...You can have any of 30 newspapers, including this one, wirelessly beamed to your Kindle each morning ($10 to $14 a month) -- minus ads, comics and crosswords. Magazines (22 so far, $1.50 to $3 monthly) and blogs ($2 a month) can arrive automatically, too. Finally, you can send Word, text, PDF and JPEG documents to the Kindle using its private e-mail address for 10 cents each. Or transfer them over a USB cable for nothing."

The Kindle DX is pretty much the same thing--just bigger. It's about 8 by 10.5 inches (the regular Kindle is 5.3 by 8), with a screen that's 9.7 inches diagonal (versus 6), about the size of a paperback book. (The DX also weighs twice as much.)

The larger screen size was developed in anticipation of what could be e-books' killer apps: textbooks and newspapers. All those graphics, diagrams and formatting elements will do a heck of a lot better on this decently sized screen. But even regular books and documents are more pleasant to read on the DX, since you can read over twice as much before you have to turn the page.

There are a couple of other tiny enhancements. For example, there's a tilt sensor inside, like the iPhone's, so when you rotate the DX 90 degrees, the text of your book rotates, too, creating a widescreen effect.

In fact, you can even turn the thing upside-down, and the text dutifully flips to remain upright. On the DX, the Next Page button is on the right side only (on the regular Kindle, there's one on each margin). That's a bummer for lefties and even righties who like to read as they walk along, carrying the Kindle in the left hand and hitting Next Page with their thumbs. Now, turning the DX upside-down is the only way to put Next Page near your left thumb (although, of course, now all the button names are upside-down, too).

I'm a little baffled by the auto-rotate feature, actually. As any reading expert can tell you, reading is much more comfortable and efficient when the columns are narrow--that's why newspapers use columns. So making the text, and your eye, slog across the entire landscape-orientation, double-wide screen is certainly not an improvement.

The rotating feature must be intended to handle PDF documents, which the DX now opens without your having to convert them. Since you can't zoom into or scroll PDFs, rotating 90 degrees is the only way you have to magnify them, if only slightly. But in that infrequent case, a menu option or button would have done the trick. As it is now, the text flops 90 degrees accidentally far too easily--as you set the Kindle down on something, for example.

The DX also holds more books than the regular Kindle: 3,500 instead of 1,500. That oughta do it.

The other element is the price: $490. Yikes. Once the e-textbook era dawns, those long-suffering student vertebrae might find that a bargain. But in the meantime, well, jeez. You can get a 37-inch LCD hi-def TV for that kind of money.

So--like I say: polarizing. The Kindle DX offers a wildly successful, immersive, satisfying, portable reading experience. There are, however, an awful lot of footnotes.

Visit David Pogue on the Web at »

38) Mercado de Armas dos EUA

A indústria de armas jamais perde um tiro
Financial Times, 02/07/2009

Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy
Dennis A. Henigan.
Potomac Books, 256 páginas

Não se deixe enganar pelo título. "Lethal Logic" soa como uma polêmica antiarmamentista, o mais novo disparo na batalha sem fim sobre o direito dos americanos de andarem armados. Em parte é, mas o livro oferece muito mais. Analisado sob a perspectiva de negócios, disseca o gênio de marketing de uma indústria que movimenta mercadorias apesar de seu mercado estar saturado e do amplo apoio a restrições mais duras sobre as vendas de seus produtos. Qualquer pessoa interessada em fabricação, vendas a varejo, ou na interação da cultura, psicologia e comércio, pode aprender lições valiosas aqui.

Enquanto a maior parte das empresas luta contra a recessão, fabricantes e comerciantes de armas continuam a acumular bons resultados. "Lethal Logic" explica: a indústria de armas descobriu, há décadas, como capitalizar sobre a adversidade.

Veja as condições atuais. O país elegeu um democrata liberal para a Casa Branca e colocou seu partido no comando do Congresso. O aumento do controle de armas pareceria o resultado provável dessa mudança em relação aos oito anos que os Republicanos passaram no poder. Uma série de incidentes com armas nesta primavera americana - incluindo os assassinatos de um médico que praticava abortos em Wichita e de um guarda do Holocaust Memorial Museum em Washington - vem revigorando o apoio perene e disseminado a restrições às armas de fogo. Em pesquisas, a grande maioria das pessoas consultadas, por exemplo, afirmam ser a favor de maior supervisão das feiras de armas, onde marginais e malucos podem se armar sem passar por uma análise de seus antecedentes criminais.

Mas, em vez de desencorajar o comércio de armas, esse clima desencadeou um frenesi de compras. Fabricantes como Smith & Wesson e Sturm Ruger vêm divulgando crescimento de dois dígitos nas vendas. Os comerciantes afirmam que não conseguem manter as prateleiras cheias. O principal motivo da corrida para o aumento dos arsenais domésticos é que, sempre que o setor percebe uma ameaça de maior regulamentação, convence os clientes de longa data a comprarem mais uma arma - só para se prevenir.

"Acreditamos que o governo Obama tentará tornar as leis sobre armas mais restritivas neste país", disse à Reuters um porta-voz da National Rifle Association (NRA). Em uma reação em cadeia, os comerciantes de armas repetem a mensagem. "Trata-se de medo, ansiedade e 'pegue-os enquanto você pode'", disse ao jornal "The Patriot Ledger" o proprietário da M&M Plimouth Bay Outfitter, uma loja de armas de Plymouth, Massachusetts. Fuzis AR-15 e outros rifles de estilo militar vêm sendo as peças mais vendidas pela M&M.

Conforme observa Dennis Henigan, autor de "Lethal Logic" e defensor de longa data do controle de armas, que faz parte do Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, o impacto de Obama é a história se repetindo. Antes de o presidente Bill Clinton sancionar em 1994 a legislação que restringiu a comercialização de rifles como o AR-15, as vendas das "armas de assalto" dispararam. Depois, os fabricantes de armas fazem mudanças cosméticas em seus rifles de assalto e os continuam vendendo.

Henigan explica que uma série de slogans - que ele chama de "lógica do adesivo de para-choque" vêm estimulando as vendas de armas ao longo dos anos. Um simples indício de uma maior regulamentação produz alertas da NRA para "o caminho perigoso em direção a mais restrições draconianas às armas e, em última instância, em direção ao confisco de todas as armas", observa Henigan. Eis como o presidente da NRA, Wayne LaPierre, classifica os períodos de espera antes de os compradores receberem suas armas: "Algumas pessoas chamam de 'o nariz do camelo entrando na tenda'; eu chamo de 'pé na porta', mas independentemente do que você diga, dá na mesma - é o primeiro passo."

Outros clássicos do repertório da indústria das armas: "Uma sociedade armada é uma sociedade educada", "Quando as armas forem consideradas fora-da-lei, apenas os fora-da-lei andarão armados", e a mãe de todos, "As armas não matam pessoas; pessoas matam pessoas".

Henigan demonstra como o negócio de armas emprega essas mensagens, junto com ativismo, para manter os políticos na linha. Se você subtrai o conteúdo ideológico, essas frases de efeito podem ser vistas como uma inspirada campanha de marketing.

Um dos atributos mais impressionantes da indústria de armas de fogo é que ela sempre pode vender novos produtos. Os americanos já possuem mais de 200 milhões de armas, que durariam gerações se mantidas de maneira correta. Mesmo assim, os donos de armas estão comprando armas substitutas, muito embora o governo Obama até agora tenha desapontado os defensores do controle de armas ao evitar a questão.

Sejam quais forem seus pontos de vista sobre armas, a relação delas com o crime e o significado da Segunda Emenda da Constituição americana, "Lethal Logic" tem algo importante a ensinar: uma mensagem consistente e apaixonada cultiva a lealdade do cliente.

segunda-feira, junho 29, 2009

37) Site da USP disponibiliza 3 mil livros

A Reitoria da USP lançou na semana passada um site que disponibiliza 3000 livros para download – as obras estão no endereço
Entre os títulos, estão livros raros, documentos históricos, manuscritos e imagens que são parte do acervo da Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin, doada à universidade.
Há planos de aumentar o catálogo para 25 mil títulos e incluir primeiras edições de Machado de Assis e de Hans Staden.