Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

"Labor Day differs in every essential from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another..."

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. And, of course, it is a holiday for many people who ordinarily report to work on Monday morning.

It marks to some degree the end of summer and the start of school. It is also a day of sales at the stores and a day of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, flat iron steaks and salmon steaks. Beer. Wine. Gin and tonics.

It brings to my mind the last day at the beach. 

Cape Hatteras. Photo by Bruce Barone.
This morning, I recall a day at the beach and the book The Beach by Cesare Pavese.

The story begins with one of those paragraphs that hypnotically draws you in and will not let you go :
For some time my friend Doro and I had agreed that I would be his guest. I was very fond of Doro, and when he married and went to Genoa to live, I was half sick over it. When I wrote to refuse his invitation to the wedding, I got a dry and rather haughty note replying that if his money wasn't good for establishing himself in a city that pleased his wife, he didn't know what it was good for. Then one fine day as I was passing through Genoa I stopped at his house and we made peace. I liked his wife very much, a tomboy type who graciously asked me to call her Clelia and left us alone as much she should, and when she showed up again in the evening to go out with us, she had become a charming women whose hand I would have kissed had I been anyone else but myself.
During the thirties and forties, Pavese translated some ten contemporary American novels as well as Moby Dick, Moll Flanders, David Copperfield, and Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (He liked  Fitzgerald so much that he once confided in a letter that he didn't dare translate him, as he had not translated Hemingway for the same reason.). He wrote his doctoral thesis on Walt Whitman in 1930 who "inspired him with visions of mixing the lyrical and the panoramic,,,a documentary art that might be politically liberating." (R.W. Flint). Italo Calvino writes in L'Europa Letteraria, December 1960:
Pavese's nine short novels make up the most dense, dramatic and homogeneous narrative cycle of modern Italy, and also -- I will add for the benefit of those who think this factor important -- the richest in representing social ambiances, the human comedy, the chronicle of society. But above all they are works of an extraordinary depth where one never stops finding new levels, new meanings.
Here, a sentence from The Beach:

"We were at the age when a friend's conversation seems like oneself talking."

And, here, in closing, a photo of my daughter on the beach. It has always reminded me of an image from a Fellini film:

Danielle on The Beach. Photo by Bruce Barone
Have you read Ceasar Pavese? Recently watched a Fellini film?



  1. Love this shot of your daughter! The Fellini reference is a good one.

  2. Yes! Caesar Pavese!

    Lovely blog post, Bruce. I enjoyed it very much.



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