New edition of Nadel's book

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New edition of Nadel's book

Post by jarkko » Fri Aug 18, 2006 5:19 pm

Ira Nadel reports via Kim that a new Canadian edition of the VARIOUS POSITIONS biography is scheduled to appear this fall containing a new 6000 word "Afterword". Also a new US edition is to appear in 2007 with the same "Afterword."
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Several errors in Nadel's biography, and one in the LC Files

Post by DBCohen » Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:18 pm

I’ve read Ira B. Nadel’s biography of Leonard Cohen, Various Positions, only recently, 10 years after it was first published. I thought Prof. Nadel had done a good job in some aspects, although some things that I would have expected to find in such a biography were missing. I also think that the writer relied too heavily on LC’s own writings, and it sometimes felt like he lacked a good perspective. Since serious biographies of LC are so rare, it is regrettable that this one does not meet expectations. Perhaps there is no sense, ten years after the book appeared, to elaborate too specifically on all its merits and demerits, but since I’ve learned now that the book is to reappear with an “Afterward”, I thought I’d mention some of the factual errors I found in the book, hoping that some of them could be corrected in the new edition.
Prof. Nadel traveled to several places connected with LC’s life, but he did not go to Israel, nor did he have a good consultant to check his Hebrew words and names (although he did get most of them right). Most of the errors I’ll point out are related to this problem, but occasionally I’ll mention a few other things.
1. The title of the book by LC’s grandfather, Rabbi Solomon Klinitsky-Klein, is given correctly as Ozar Taamei Hazal, but the title is translated once as “Thesaurus of Talmudical Interpretations” (p. 7), and once as “A Treasury of Rabbinic Interpretations” (p. 12). The second translation is more accurate.
2. The name of the dog “Tovarishch” means “comrade” in Russian, and has nothing to do with “the site of the Russo-German treaties” (p. 16).
3. On p. 52 we learn that LC visited Allen Ginsberg’s apartment during his studies at Columbia in 1956-57, where he saw Jack Kerouac, but on p. 78 we hear that several years later in Athens LC recognized Ginsberg from a photograph.
4. Also on p. 78, “Israeli Journalist Amos Elan” should be “Elon”.
5. On p. 105 it says that LC “followed” Marianne to Norway, but on her radio interview she says that he actually drove her there in Axel Jensen’s car.
6. On p. 170 Nadel says that the “Reaction to the film [McCabe and Mr. Miller] itself was mixed”, but he cites only negative reviews. He could have cited Pauline Kael, who praised the film greatly, calling it “a modern classic”.
7. The Japanese rice wine (p. 172) is not “saki” but “sake” (with the “ke” pronounced as in “Kent”).
8. On p. 186 it is stated that while in Israel (in 1972) LC gave a concert at the Yad Eliahu Sports Palace “in Jerusalem”. In fact, this sports arena is a very famous landmark of Tel-Aviv (a few years ago its name was changed to “Nokia Palace” for commercial reasons, but it is still in the Yad Eliahu neighborhood of Tel-Aviv); this mistake is repeated also on the concert listing of the Leonard Cohen Files. I am not sure which was the venue of the concert in Jerusalem, but it was not at any sports facility. [I later found out the concert in Jerusalem was at the Binyanei Ha'uma Hall.]
9. On the same page (186) it says that the audience responded by singing “Zim Shalom”; this is wrong because (a) the correct spelling is “Sim Shalom”, but this is from the prayer, and not likely; (b) it was probably “Hevenu Shalom” which translates as “We bring you peace” as it says here, and is a famous, secular song.
10. On p. 196 it is said that LC flew to Israel “a few days before the Yom Kippur War began in October 1973, partly out of a determination to help…”. The war started on October 6 with a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria, so if LC flew in a few days before it could not have been to offer his help, and if he did go to offer his help (which he probably did) it would have been a few days after the war had started.
11. On p. 197 “Cafe Pinoti” should be “Pinati”.
12. The whole section of LC’s war experience in Israel is not well researched, and many details are left lose. For example, on p. 199, who is “his friend Asher”? Also on the same page, 2 songs that LC was writing at the time are mentioned, but not “Lover, Lover, Lover”, an early version of which LC sang to the Israeli soldiers he was entertaining; the first line then was “I saw my brothers fighting in the desert”.
13. On p. 239 Nadel mentions the song “Who by Fire” as part of LC’s Jewish reawakening “in the eighties”, but this song is from the early seventies (from New Skin…).
I hope these and other mistakes can indeed be fixed in the next edition.

D. B. Cohen
Last edited by DBCohen on Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jarkko » Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:40 pm

Welcome to the Forum, DBC, and thanks for the information; I forwarded it to Ira.
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Post by jarkko » Thu Nov 02, 2006 10:11 pm

http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/displ ... 0679308843

The new edition of Various Positions has been published in Canada on October 24:
Various Positions
A Life of Leonard Cohen
Written by Ira B. Nadel
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada
ISBN: 978-0-679-30884-3 (0-679-30884-9)

Pub Date: October 24, 2006
Price: $21.00

Reissued with a new afterword

Leonard Cohen is back! With a #1 bestselling poetry collection, The Book of Longing, flying off bookshelves; Lian Lunson’s acclaimed documentary, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, in theatres this summer (the DVD will release this fall); and the superb soundtrack in music stores everywhere, Leonard Cohen proves he is Canada’s most enduring icon. Now, in the newly reissued Various Positions, Ira Nadel peels back the many layers to reveal the man and explain the fascinating relationship between Leonard Cohen’s life and his art. This book is a remarkable and rare
look at Leonard Cohen, up close and personal.

For nearly forty years, Leonard Cohen has endured the ups and downs of an international career that has alternately identified him as the "Prince of Bummers" and Canada's most respected poet and performer. Now, author Ira Nadel brings us closer to understanding these conflicting descriptions and allows us to enter Cohen's private world. He peels back the many layers to reveal the man and explain the fascinating relationship between Cohen's life and his art.

This is a remarkable and rare look at Leonard Cohen, up close and personal.
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LC in Israel

Post by DBCohen » Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:26 pm

Dear Jarkko,

In my former posting, concerning some errors in Nadel’s book, I also indicated that there are some errors in the “Tours” section of the Files. I wish to elaborate a little on that, and add some more information.

1. The Tour of 1972, the part in Israel

a. The concert in Tel-Aviv on 19.04.72: it says in the Files that the concert took place in the “Sports Hall”. In fact it took place at the “Yad Eliahu Sports Palace”, a famous landmark of Tel-Aviv. I remember the concert taking place there although I did not attend it.

b. The concert in Jerusalem on 21.04.72: it says here that the concert took place in the “Yad Eliahu Sports Palace”; this is obviously an error, because, as I’ve mentioned above, this site is in Tel-Aviv. Where did the concert in Jerusalem take place? I’m not sure, and had I’ve been in Israel now I could have checked it the newspapers of that period. But since I now live in Kyoto, I cannot do that; perhaps I could ask a friend to check it.

2. 1973 – Israel
It says here: “September-October: several concerts during the war (military bases)”. This is also obviously an error. The war of 1973, called in Israel “The Yom Kippur War” (since it started on the Jewish Day of Atonement), began on October 6, with a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria on Israel. Different sources indicate that Leonard Cohen came to Israel soon after the war broke out, namely after October 6, so he could not have been there in September (unfortunately, I’ve seen this error repeated in different places). How long did he stay? The fighting stopped on October 24, and a cease-fire between Egypt and Israel was formalized on November 11. It seems that LC left Israel in early November, but this should be verified.

I have a newspaper clipping of a short article from a special issue on the occasion of 20th anniversary of the war, published by the Hebrew paper Ma’ariv on 24.09.93. I am not sure that all the details in this article are accurate, because they are based on the recollection of people 20 years after the fact, but it still contains valuable evidence. According to this article, LC arrived in Israel on October 7, with the intention of volunteering to work in a kibbutz, but in Tel-Aviv he met the Israeli singer Oshik Levi, who told him he would contribute more by singing. According to Levi, LC told him that “my songs are mostly depressing, and would not help raise the fighter’s morale”, but Levi convinced him to join a show at an air force base. When he went up to sing, he was warmly received. He went on to sing many times in front of soldiers with Levi, Matti Caspi and a third Israeli singer. They gave four or five shows every day in front of soldiers everywhere in the Sinai Desert.
Levi also says: “I tried to find him respectable places to sleep in, but he insisted to sleep with us on the ground. He was full of enthusiasm and was very interested in what was going on. When we came to a base of frog-men commandos, he decided he wants to be a commando fighter. When we met with air force pilots, he decided to become a pilot”. According to Levi, LC left after the fighting ended and the negotiations began, saying that “once the politicians step in, I step out”.
The article mentions that LC wrote “Lover Lover Lover” during the war. An earlier newspaper article, which unfortunately I no longer have, gave the first stanza as LC wrote it then, but later changed. I only remember the first line: “I saw my brothers fighting in the desert”.

I hope this helps, and that the errors may be corrected.

Doron B. Cohen
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Post by tomsakic » Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:29 pm

Hi Doron,
concert index on The Files is very old one, taken from Jim Devlin's book Is This What You Wanted. While - I guess - index on the Files wasn't updated at all after first publishing, Jim is constantly updating the data in his manuscripts, and Jean-Francois is publishing new additions on http://www.leonardcohenlive.com website. I see there that name of the venue in Tel Aviv is corrected to the one you said, but data about Kippur War concerts are new to us:-) I will forward your additions to both JF and Jim (or you can contact webmaster of I'm Your Live Man thru the link above). In any case, hundreds of updates re: Leonard's old tour aren't added to The Files because I'm Your Live Man is running that part of Cohen archives on daily basis. (So it's maybe better to cancel that section or link to JF's site because people are getting half information...)
I'm sorry that your corrections didn't get in time for new edition of Nadel's book. It's very insightfull and welcomed:-)
Take care
Tom
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Post by constantsorrow » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:14 pm

Thanks for the informations about the concerts in Israel DBCohen.
It's really appreciated.
I've corrected the venue info on the leonardcohenlive website :)
JF
« Pour que nos vies s'illuminent » (Maryse Letarte)

http://www.leonardcohenlive.com
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Post by DBCohen » Thu Nov 09, 2006 2:49 am

Hi Tom and JF,

Thanks for explaining things. It takes a while to learn who is who and what is what, but I'm learning. Glad I could be of some help.

All the best,

DBC
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First concert in Jerusalem

Post by DBCohen » Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:17 pm

A good friend in Israel checked the old newspapers for me, and we found out two facts about Leonard Cohen’s first concert in Jerusalem.

1. The correct date was 20 April 1972, and not 21 April as it appears on the lists. The 21 of April was a Friday, and there are no concerts in Jerusalem on Friday night because of the Sabbath (in recent years there is more entertainment available on Friday nights, but back then it was strictly forbidden).

2. The venue was Binyanei Ha’uma, the largest, most prestigious concert hall in Jerusalem at the time. Today it is part of the Jerusalem International Convention Center (http://www.iccjer.co.il/en_index.asp).

So, problem solved.

Best wishes,

DBC
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Post by lizzytysh » Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:29 pm

Reading all of this thread, it's unfortunate that a Supplement can't be printed for the book. No one likes to be responsible for having published one-off info, but I would think that Ira's commitment to known-accuracy would be as great as yours, DBC. Keeping up with Leonard's life... particularly, segments from long ago, has to be an incredibly difficult task.

Very interesting and valuable clarifications have come about through your input here. Thanks.


~ Lizzy
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Facts, errors and obsessions

Post by DBCohen » Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:28 am

Thanks, Lizzy.

Of course, I appreciate very much the work done by Ira Nadel in his biography of LC, which contributed much to our knowledge and understanding of its subject. I am saying this in spite of the fact that I was disappointed by some aspects of the book, which often happens when reading a biography. I also know that errors can never be completely avoided. In fact, I too must apologize for a recent error. In my first email on this subject, in point no. 11, I said that “Café Pinati” is in Jerusalem; this is true, but meanwhile I’ve learned that such an establishment also existed in Tel Aviv at the time, and was popular among entertainers, actors and singers. LC had frequented it whenever he visited Tel Aviv. I spent most of my life in Jerusalem, and therefore some aspects of Tel Aviv life elude me. I did not double check before writing that comment (as I did with other items), and for that I’m sorry.

Unfortunately, I attended neither of LC’s 1972 concerts in Israel of which I’ve given some data above. At the time I was a young teenager, completely struck by the music and lyrics of my favorite singer, as well as by his literary work. But I did not want to see my idol in person. I was afraid that if I’d see him live on stage I’d go mad. Also, as often happens with an obsessive love, I was totally possessive: he was speaking to me, he was mine only, and I could not share him with the ignorant crowd. He existed only in the privacy of my room with his records and books; I even didn’t like to hear his occasional song broadcast on the radio, because it was out of context. I’m sure others on this forum had felt like me at some point. Later, when the love became more mature, I could regard it with some distance, although some of the unique appeal was never lost. And the fact is that I’ve never seen LC perform live, nor had I ever met him personally. Now I feel stupid and regret it very much. Perhaps I’ll still have the chance.

DBC
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:57 am

Unfortunately, I attended neither of LC’s 1972 concerts in Israel of which I’ve given some data above. At the time I was a young teenager, completely struck by the music and lyrics of my favorite singer, as well as by his literary work. But I did not want to see my idol in person. I was afraid that if I’d see him live on stage I’d go mad. Also, as often happens with an obsessive love, I was totally possessive: he was speaking to me, he was mine only, and I could not share him with the ignorant crowd. He existed only in the privacy of my room with his records and books; I even didn’t like to hear his occasional song broadcast on the radio, because it was out of context. I’m sure others on this forum had felt like me at some point. Later, when the love became more mature, I could regard it with some distance, although some of the unique appeal was never lost. And the fact is that I’ve never seen LC perform live, nor had I ever met him personally. Now I feel stupid and regret it very much. Perhaps I’ll still have the chance.
Thank you for this [non-academic] level of sharing here, DBC.

"I did not want to see my idol in person" ~ I invoked this 'rule' only once, in my late teens/early 20s, but it had to do with being introduced to the sax player in a group [a much, much smaller scale :wink: ]. He wasn't my idol, but I didn't want the mystique, that surrounded him when he played, to be muddled by reality, so I declined. Similar dynamic, so I understand.

As for the remainder of your paragraph... oh, do we EVER understand :lol: !!! At least a good number of us do :D . I'm so happy for you that the likelihood is immensely greater, than it was not so long ago, that you actually will get to meet Leonard, in one venue or another. It used to be that I could basically only express my regrets and tell you how sorry I am that you missed the opportunities... now, I can at least say something that actually sounds hopeful :o !! I know how much it would mean to you, and I hope you will meet and/or see him perform Live.

Very interesting, too... rather, a bit of 'instant karma' in its way :wink: on the two, different "Cafe Pinati"s at that time. Understandable error and certainly a demonstration of the same level of understanding you afford and extend Ira on his errors. What goes around, comes around, in so many ways. In any case, you sure have a handle on a lot more of the minute details of Leonard's personal/professional history than most of us here do 8) .


~ Lizzy :D
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Post by tomsakic » Thu Nov 16, 2006 12:42 pm

Hey DBC, and did you later see Tel Aviv show in Bird On A Wire, Tony Palmer's documentary shot during 1972 tour? There's bad VHS tape (transfered to DVD) circulating around.
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Memories

Post by DBCohen » Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:19 pm

Well, I was a bit apprehensive about writing and posting it, but you can’t deal with LC on the factual level alone without letting in some emotion. And after so many years of devotion, there is so much to tell. I could go on and on, but perhaps I’ll add only one example for the place that LC’s work has occupied in my life.

Actually, I was not completely alone in my love for LC’s work back in my teenage days. I was introduced to it by an elder brother in law, who was very dear to me. At first I resisted; there seemed to be some dark, intimidating magic to it all. Then I got hooked. Occasionally I’d sit with my brother in law and analyze the songs, word by word. In fact, the need to understand those songs and books strongly induced me to learn English. Now my brother in law is no longer with me. When I first heard “Here It Is” I felt it was written for him, and I see it as his epitaph. That’s the kind of thing LC can do for you.

Happy thoughts,

DBC
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Post by lizzytysh » Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:48 pm

Such a splendid and touching story, DBC, about your elder brother-in-law... you're so right on the many intense ways that Leonard affects people's lives... from birth to weddings to death and everything in between. With Leonard's love of language, I know he would feel honoured to know that his work inspired someone to one beyond their natural-born one... or to learn their natural-born one better.

Leonard is so much in an academic sense... to speak of his history from an academic perspective [the details of where he's been and what he's done, chronicling his life with the highest degree of accuracy possible] is to respect his life's devotion to his work; yet, it's his humanity that takes people to their core with his songs, books, and poetry. To include the human element is to honour his work most fully.

A word-by-word analysis of Leonard's words from English into Japanese had to be daunting, especially when trying to obtain and retain their intent. "There seemed to be some dark, intimidating magic to it all" is a wonderful description ~ isn't it amazing how even after all this time, it still retains elements of that.

I was pleased with the similarity between your description of listening to Leonard in your room. I remember my describing the feeling I had when I learned of so many fans, worldwide, openly discussing his work here and [at that time] on the Sony Board. After so many years of being virtually alone with Leonard, in what could preciously be imaged as my darkened, intimate room, I felt as if the door had suddenly been flung open from the outside, and the bright light flooded the room and nearly blinded me. There was actually a shocking effect, even though I felt deeply gratified to know that I wasn't 'alone' in my love for the incredible work of this man. There was that ambivalence of having to lessen the hold on something I held so closely to my heart. I had been anxious to share him with someone who would truly appreciate him, but that seemed to just never really happen... or so extremely seldom that it was virtually never.

I can imagine how it had to feel for you when you first heard "Here It Is" ~ with Leonard coming through for you, again, in such an important and significant way.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, DBC, and bringing the humanity of Leonard's work to the fore. I feel we are all deeply endeared to him because of it.


~ Lizzy
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