Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter. Some of the links to PDFs change or disappear, so if something interests you download it quickly.
Are we in the process of forgetting Christine Brooke-Rose? I hope not as she is an extraordinary writer and critic. Her memoir-novel Remake is an extraordinary example of experimental autobiography that has stayed with me since reading it ten or more years ago. Brooke-Rose’s fiction is often compared to Ann Quin and BS Johnson, as well as her French compatriots George Perec, Alain Robbe-Grillet and Phillipe Sollers. As well as a bloody exciting writer, Brooke-Rose was an astute critic. You’ll get a feel for her style in this essay [PDF] on Franco-Bulgarian philosopher Tzvetan Todorov. I also recommend Brooke-Rose’s quartet Out, Such, Between and Thru.
William Wordsworth’s The Prelude [PDF], which I consider his finest work. I’m not a huge Wordsworth enthusiast, but parts of it blow me away.
I’ve only dabbled with Paul Ricoeur’s work, intrigued by his complex Freud and Philosophy: An Essay in Interpretation in which he positions psychoanalysis as a language rather than a science. I was convinced by what I understood of his argument, and keep intending to read Ricoeur’s work more extensively. This Introduction: Reading Ricoeur [PDF] usefully establishes Ricoeur’s work as an exploration of the problem of human capability, or what Ricoeur termed the anthropology of the capable human being.
If you only ever read a single literary theory primer, Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle’s Literature, Criticism and Theory [PDF] is my suggestion. Illuminating and well-written.
Another of those complex French philosophers, Bernard Stiegler writes on technology, time, consumerism and politics. His essay on Suffocated Desire, Or How the Cultural Industry Destroys the Individual [PDF] reads beautifully in parallel with Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception [PDF], which is life-altering material for me, and which I wrote about earlier in the year.
Robert Musil’s Young Torless [PDF] is a classic bildungsroman on the twin themes of innocence and experience.
Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle [PDF] in which he introduces, among other concepts, the death-drive.
The concept of paratexts might seem a little geeky, a theoretical cul de sac, but I love flicking through Gérard Genette’s little book Paratexts: thresholds of interpretation [PDF], about those elements that accompany a published text: blurbs, author’s name, the title, preface or introduction, or illustrations, thresholds that shape one’s reading of a text.
The Companion to Russian Literature [PDF] is brimful of essays spanning Russian literature from the Middle Ages to the post-Soviet period. I’ve only read a few to date but recommend those of Katerina Clark and W Gareth Jones.
Chris Janaway’s advocacy for Schopenhauer as the greatest philosopher: