Tag Archives: 20th Century

Genre Sublimation (Bieńczyk, Sebald, Bae Suah)

It isn’t possible to read books like Marek Bieńczyk’s Transparency without seeing traces of Sebald, rather like the lost Da Vinci that might lie hidden behind the Vasari mural in Florence. Bieńczyk’s form of literary historiography weaves autobiography and literary … Continue reading

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An Unwitting Education

My education has been so unwitting I can’t quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that’s how I’ve stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. … Continue reading

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Max Frisch, Bae Suah and Meaningless Existence

There are my old chestnuts, those writers to whom I’ve become attached. They are sufficient that I could just read and reread their works till the end, but something compels me to seek out new voices, or those that are new … Continue reading

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An Exchange That Need Never End

The essay from which I’ve extracted the passage below is from a collection of six Rebecca Solnit essays. This essay on Virginia Woolf is the last of the collection. Had I not persisted to the end, I’d probably have decided … Continue reading

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Street Haunting

Or is the true self neither this nor that, but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give the rein to its wishes and let it takes its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves? Circumstances … Continue reading

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Voice of Mourning

Like King Charles’ head, Friedrich Nietzsche is always intruding in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. Nietzsche functions as a talisman in Doctor Faustus, a deeply Romantic novel suffused with parodic twists. A talisman acts as a battery for some type of force … Continue reading

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Doctor Faustus (Still)

This is the end of my third week with Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. The week’s reading included Adrian Leverkühn’s pivotal conversation with Diabolus (or whichever nickname you’d prefer), in which the Devil offers Leverkühn a form of artistic genius, a breakthrough to art … Continue reading

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Doctor Faustus

I’m still reading Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, persevering with Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter’s translation. I’ve read that newer translations are more lucid, but stick with Lowe-Porter for her employment of medieval English vocabulary to correspond with the sections of the text in which characters … Continue reading

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Damned If I Look Back

Two things struck me while visiting Chicago last week. Firstly, of course, the architecture, with neo-Gothic, Art Deco, neoclassical and Modernist styles combining harmonically to form an exhilarating urban ensemble. Visiting Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and touring … Continue reading

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Entering The Labyrinth

To think is not to exit the cave, nor to replace the uncertainty of the shadows with the clear-cut contours of the things themselves, the flickering light of a flame with the light of the true Sun. It is to … Continue reading

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