Monthly Archives: August 2010

Mostly Bellow, Some Roth

Saul Bellow disappeared off the edge of my literary radar. Perhaps he caught the tailwind of my growing disenchantment with the novels of Philip Roth. Gabriel Josipovici’s brilliant essay on Saul Bellow, in his 1977 collection The Lessons of Modernism, has reinvigorated … Continue reading

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Abominable Borges’ Translations

In Alberto Manguel’s Royal Society of Literature lecture, he comments that: The English speaking reader has been most unfortunate. Borges cannot be read, in my opinion, in English. There is no valid translation of Borges in English today. There is … Continue reading

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Mediation and Conversation

 Culture in whatever form-art, thought, history, religion-is for meditation and conversation. Both are necessary sequels to the experience. Cultivation does not come automatically after exposure to the good things as health follows a dose of the right drug. If it … Continue reading

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It’s Only a Sunfish

No man is equipped for modern thinking until he has understood the anecdote of Agassiz and the fish: A post-graduate student equipped with honours and diplomas went to Agassiz to receive the final and finishing touches. The great man offered … Continue reading

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The Rückenfigur

This afternoon, whilst browsing the shelves of a rare books shop, I found a Caspar David Friedrich book. Though, unfortunately, the text is German, the photographs of Friedrich’s paintings are stunning. Friedrich is a new, thrilling discovery. Jospovici’s latest book includes an … Continue reading

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The Insomniac of the Day

Yesterday’s post, acknowledging my difficulty in understanding Blanchot’s The Space of Literature lead to some useful comments. Stephen’s advice lead me to read the insightful essay at the centre of Blanchot’s work, Orpheus’ Gaze, which I read a several times, … Continue reading

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Refusal of the Moment of Comprehension

After a morning reading Maurice Blanchot’s The Space of Literature, I conceded defeat. I can understand the words but meaning eludes me. Online I seek guidance and find: . . . that if one wants to experience the full scope … Continue reading

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The Wit of Virginia Woolf

Contrary to the portrayal of her melancholic disposition in contemporary culture, it is Virginia Woolf’s humour that emerges most forcibly in the essays that make up the first volume of The Common Reader. Gossiping about seventeenth-century diarist John Evelyn Woolf writes: Ignorant, … Continue reading

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What Strange Intoxication?

In The Pastons and Chaucer, written by Virginia Woolf for the first volume of The Common Reader, Woolf juxtaposes the life of wealthy but romantic heir, Sir John Paston, with the origin of Chaucer’s use of language in The Canterbury Tales. … Continue reading

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Blows to the Head

It may be that, some years ahead, I look back on this curvaceous year of 2010 as a personal literary milestone, a transformative year. So far in 2010, I have read three books that have redefined my literary appetite. As … Continue reading

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