Tag Archives: 19th Century

Notes on Stendhal, via Sebald, Beckett et al.

Sebald chooses soldier, lover and would-be writer Marie-Henri Beyle to open the first section of Vertigo. He never mentions him by his better known pen-name Stendhal, nor does he reveal that his ‘essay’ and photographs are drawn from Stendhal’s fictionalised autobiography La Vie de Henri … Continue reading

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Reading Nietzsche Through Walter Kaufmann

Since I was seventeen I’ve read Nietzsche. I can no longer recall what I read first, probably the yellowing Thus Spake Zarathustra, annotated in two different pens, that still sits on my bookshelf. Nietzsche understands teenagers. He speaks to their complexity … Continue reading

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Duality of Silence

In The World of Silence, Max Picard quotes Goutran de Procius’s Kablina, where he sums up so lucidly the duality of silence, that tension between rapture and fear familiar to anyone that chooses to spend long periods of immersion in silence. Here in … Continue reading

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To burn delight from suffering

When someday this long affliction will have broken up, like ice, it will be spoken of as of the Black Death; and children on the heath will build a man of straw to burn delight from suffering and light from … Continue reading

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Anywhere, anywhere, as long as it be out of this world!

Anywhere Out of the World Charles Baudelaire Life is a hospital, in which every patient is possessed by the desire to change his bed. This one would prefer to suffer in front of the stove, and that one believes he … Continue reading

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An Optical and Moral Illusion

First proposition. The reasons for which “this” world has been characterised as “apparent” are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely undemonstrable. Second proposition. The criteria which have been bestowed on the “true … Continue reading

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Rilke’s Inspiration

Rilke Duino Elegies The Fifth Elegy But who are they, tell me, these Travellers, even more transient than we are ourselves, urgently, from their earliest days, wrung out for whom – to please whom, by a never-satisfied will? Yet it … Continue reading

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The Stalest Repetition

There was a time when reading newspapers was a central part of my day. In the morning I read the Guardian, on my way home I picked up the Evening Standard. I read nonchalantly, nibbling away at whatever articles looked … Continue reading

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Digestive Apparatus of Babylon

With the enduring presence of that backslappy, foul musical that has become known as Les Miz, it is easy to overlook Victor Hugo’s glorious, gothic novel Les Misérables (1862). I love this piece from a chapter entitled L’intestin de Léviathan: … Continue reading

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Marlen Haushofer’s The Loft

What began almost too quietly opened up into an extraordinarily powerful story, driven by beautiful writing (translated by Amanda Prantera) and a compelling narrator. Plotless, comprising a series of memories and encounters, the simplicity belies a complex and psychologically compelling story … Continue reading

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