Category Archives: Literary Criticism

Disburdenment Through Reading

This recent piece in the LA Review of Books seized my attention, and as a consequence I’m reading Uses of Literature. It is one of those rare books of literary criticism, if you are fascinated as I am by the … Continue reading

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The Ideology of the Trivial

Another writer, quintessentially English I believe, on my reading radar is Barbara Pym. Any Pym enthusiasts care to stoke my curiosity? This passage from Judy Little’s The Experimental Self: Dialogic Subjectivity in Woolf, Pym, and Brooke-Rose interested me, both by its … Continue reading

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WG Sebald: Bibliography of Secondary Literature

In the next few days I’ll draw to a close my present immersion into Sebald’s work, leaving The Natural History of Destruction, Campo Santo, Across the Land and the Water, Unrecounted and For Years Now for another day.It’ll prolong the … Continue reading

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A Radically Altered Human Species

The implicit starting point for Sebald’s literary essays is the melancholy conviction that, during the course of the twentieth century, the history of mankind finally showed itself to be on a downward path and that, therefore, the two disastrous world … Continue reading

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Abandoning a Good (Great) Book?

I dislike novels of the Dickensian type that insist on neat resolutions, tucking away every story line. Endings are troublesome; they suggest the possibility of a conclusiveness that simply does not exist. They are a problem of narrative of which I am always … Continue reading

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Where I’m Reading From by Tim Parks

For a whimsical purchase one Sunday afternoon, I’m pleased with the rich provocations in Tim Parks’s Where I’m Reading From, a collection of powerful essays written for the New York Review of Books. Parks’s clear incisive discussion of contemporary criticism, translation and … Continue reading

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Forster and the Literary Forebears

When EM Forster lectured at Trinity College in 1927, he opened his series of lectures on the novel (collected in Aspects of the Novel) provocatively: No English novelist is as great as Tolstoy-that is to say, has given so complete … Continue reading

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Language and Style

Ideas are certainly important-who would deny that?-but the fact is, the ideas that operate in novels and poems, once they are unpicked from their context and laid out on the laboratory table, usually turn out to be uncomplicated, even banal, … Continue reading

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Form Becomes the Preoccupation

Anthony Uhlmann quoted Beckett in Samuel Beckett in Context on language as a barrier to communication, and why, as a consequence ‘form itself becomes a preoccupation,’ so it was good to track down the whole quotation below: …there will be … Continue reading

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All That Exists is Egotism

Few beings have ever been so impregnated, pierced to the core, by the conviction of the absolute futility of human aspiration. The universe is nothing but a furtive arrangement of elementary particles. A figure in transition toward chaos. That is … Continue reading

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