Tag Archives: 20th Century

Canetti: Right Moment for a Book

Though not a huge Canetti enthusiast, the passage below feels apt, given how long it has taken me to get around to Sebald’s Vertigo. The temptation is to dive straight into The Emigrants but I shall delay my last of … Continue reading

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The Drunken Boat by Arthur Rimbaud

I followed deadpan Rivers down and down, And knew my haulers had let go the ropes. Whooping redskins took my men as targets And nailed them nude to technicolour posts. I didn’t give a damn about the crews, Or the … Continue reading

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Peculiar, if not Deranged

I have this fascination for fictional libraries, imagining myself absorbed for hours checking out the titles and editions on their shelves. Aside from Borges’s speculations about fictional books, one of my favourites is detailed by Anne Michaels in Fugitive Pieces (I’ve long pondered … Continue reading

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Vertigo by WG Sebald

Freud claimed that a mourner perceives the world as empty after the loss of a love-object. Sebald’s narrator in Vertigo is filled with this sense of melancholy, which coloured my days reading this book. This mood finds an echo, not … Continue reading

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One Wrong Move

What does human reason become when it steps outside its limits? There’s this chilling passage in Sebald’s Vertigo, a digression into Giacomo Casanova’s incarceration in the Doge’s Palace prison chambers Casanova considered the limits of human reason. He established that, while it might … Continue reading

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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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Quirky Treasure-House of Sebald’s Mind

Leafing through an anthology of articles and essays called The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with WG Sebald, it strikes me how little of his work I’ve spent any time with. My love of his books is based solely on Rings of Saturn, his … Continue reading

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Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf

Time is set free in Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, scenes come together and dissolve with little unity beyond the absence of the book’s central character, Jacob Flanders. The narrative makes its own time, almost free of plot, but Woolf feels … Continue reading

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Immobile in Jacob’s Room

I am a mischievous reader. Sometimes I am unable to release myself into the flow of narrative in the way I imagine a writer intends. I get stuck on a sentence, a phrase, sometimes a portmanteau word, and am unable … Continue reading

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Great Secondary Philosophical Work

Walter Kaufmann’s Nietzsche is pleasing in several different ways. A great start to a new year’s reading, as it’s got me reading, writing and thinking like a man on fire. I’ve always been stubborn about tackling the major thinkers directly, … Continue reading

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