Tag Archives: 20th Century

Brigid Brophy’s The Snow Ball

When William James describes consciousness as something that “does not appear to itself chopped up in bits” and uses the metaphor “stream of thought” I assume he refers to multiple parts joined together. Each part is aroused by a situation or … Continue reading

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Anna’s Fantastic Face

The following extended passage is from Brigid Brophy’s The Snow Ball. I doubt that I’ve read a better description of a face anywhere; it improves on Jane Austin with just a smidgen of Oscar Wilde. If I never read another … Continue reading

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Sigrid Hjertén

Sigrid Hjertén. 27 October 1885 – 24 March 1948 Sigrid Hjertén’s work fascinated me when I came across it first in Stockholm, the sensuality of her studies and the way she uses colour. I do wish one of London’s galleries … Continue reading

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Privileges of Fiction (Kundera)

The space defined by Milan Kundera’s The Curtain is one that privileges the novel to an extraordinary degree, attributing it to a position distinct from not only other forms of art, but also as a reflection on existence that informs philosophical … Continue reading

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Drowsy Rambling about Kundera and Adorno

It might be that Milan Kundera’s Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts is one of the best books I have read on the art of the novel. I pause at the word “read,” which feels inadequate because I immerse … Continue reading

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The Well of the Past

… Thomas Mann brought his very important contribution: [ to these questions: what is an individual and wherein does his identity reside?] we think we act, we think we think, but it is another or others who think and act … Continue reading

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Suspending Moral Judgement

Suspending moral judgement is not the immorality of the novel; it is its morality. The morality that stands against the ineradicable human habit of judging instantly, ceaselessly, and everyone; of judging before, and in the absence of, understanding. From the … Continue reading

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You’ll End Up Reading Peter Handke

I read Peter Handke’s The Afternoon of a Writer after watching Tomas Espedal’s hauntingly powerful interview. In the interview Espedal says: Reading has its own logic. No matter where you start you’ll end up reading Thomas Mann sooner or later. You’ll end … Continue reading

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Lydia Davis’s The End of the Story

Dilettante reader that I am, I abandon books without regret, often after fifty pages, bored by their banality, loquacity, or simply tired of their particular contrivance. But with Lydia Davis’s The End of the Story I persisted despite resistance to its flat, … Continue reading

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Empty Spaces

What did boredom mean then? That nothing more would happen with him. It wasn’t that he was boring, it was that I no longer had any expectations for this companionship with him. There had been expectations, and they had died. … Continue reading

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