Published on July 4th, 20130
Omnivore Pin-up: Jaspreet, 32, Cambridge
Unashamedly esoteric, Jaspreet is a 32 year old academic who divides his time between Cambridge, London and the British School at Rome. Ask Jaspreet out–in any language, dead or alive–via email@example.com.
What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I’m reading a few books of poems: Paul Celan, Jacques Réda and Jules Supervielle.
What have you just finished reading?
I just finished some of the ‘Récits en rêves’ of Yves Bonnefoy, the most distinguished living French poet. Though you wouldn’t know he was if you tried to find his stuff in a bookshop: most of it hasn’t been translated into English yet, alas.
What will you read next?
Out of morbid curiosity I’m going to go through the collected poems of JH Prynne. He’s probably superb, though I’ve hitherto avoided his work because his fans are so bloody irritating. A good friend convinced me that he’s worth the effort though. We’ll see.
Which author do you have a crush on?
Either Madame de La Fayette or Madame de Sévigné. Probably Lafayette because La Princesse de Clèves is such an intelligent novel. Sévigné’s letters though — you’ve got to be a pretty good writer for someone to toy with the fantasy of sleeping with you purely on the basis of your letters, especially when you’ve been dead for three hundred years. Still she DOES obsess a bit over her daughter. Yes, probably Lafayette.
What’s the sexiest thing you’ve ever read?
It would be blasphemous for me mention anything by St. Theresa of Avila or Sor Juana de la Cruz here, so instead I’ll say the ‘Cologne epode’ of Archilochus, which is the sexiest (if also seediest) seduction poem I know. It was discovered on a battered papyrus and so is tantalisingly incomplete….
Which book would you give someone you’re trying to impress?
Depends on whom I’m trying to get into bed. The Heart of A Rebel Poet is a collection of letters by the Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt. I’d give this to anybody who’s impressed by a complete mastery of English prose. Or else there’s the ‘Sylvae’ of Politian (Angelo Poliziano), a collection of breathtakingly virtuosic Latin poems — but these are only for somebody who doesn’t need the English translations on facing pages, because the translator is mediocre and gets a few things wrong. Though the French version (by Perrine Galand-Hallyn) is more than decent. For someone less literary, Roberto Calasso’s La Folie Baudelaire is not only stylish, absorbing and beautifully illustrated – it also costs thirty-five quid. Mind you if I REALLY wanted to impress somebody I’d get a real job. And stop taking people out for dinner at Nando’s.