Tuesday, May 27, 2008

As I get older and more well-read, I get so much joy from literature that references literature that I have read.

For example, earlier this year, while reading Shirley Hazzard's The Transit of Venus, there was a glorious reference to The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was wonderful, about a bad person that was ageing well having a portrait of himself withering away in an attic somewhere. It may have been my favourite part of the book.

But I had a different experience of this on Monday night. 

I went to see The Counterfeiters with my book club, a new Austrian film about the Holocaust that won an Oscar earlier this year. The Jewish prisoner characters in the film were of different nationalities, and some were Russian. In a certain scene, a Russian character was speaking his native language, while those around him were speaking German. 

I knew this, because he used the word "spasibo", which, I knew, is Russian for thank you.

I knew that because in season six of Sex and the City, Carrie dates "the Russian", and she learns a few brief words of Russian from her beautician. Including spasibo.

I enjoyed this moment nearly as much as the Transit of Venus reference. It truly was a postmodern pastiche of high and low culture, all in my own head.

And today I'm including the question, "In what language does the word “spasibo” mean thank you?" in the Canberra Times trivia quiz.

I like it when my life becomes intertextual.

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