Tag Archives: French Literature

Houellebecq Strikes a Pose

In the latest issue of The Quarterly Conversation, Adrian Nathan West captures my  sentiment in the immediate aftermath of reading Michel Houellebecq’s Submission: The worst fate a writer can suffer is to become a “writer”: for ease to eclipse inspiration, … Continue reading

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Catherine Clément’s The Call of the Trance

It isn’t easy to imagine the audience Seagull Books had in mind for Catherine Clément’s The Call of the Trance, insufficiently comprehensive for anthropology or psychology students though of some interest to both. Perhaps they were thinking of readers of boundless curiosity … Continue reading

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Could Have Made Do With Less

Samuel Beckett writing in January 1952 about Waiting for Godot. At this time it had not been staged. I do wish writers took this line rather than assuming they have any unique insight into the meaning of what they write. … Continue reading

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An Image of Death

I’ve always disliked that threshold between waking and sleep, when the “I” and the self separate. A flash of recognition from the following paragraph, which opens Aurélia (and is its high point). Our dreams are a second life. I have … 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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A Few Scraps of Wisdom

What else, indeed, have I learned from the masters who taught me, the philosophers I have read, the societies I have visited and even from that science which is the pride of the West, apart from a few scraps 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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Cataract of the Spirit

The passage below, Beckett rehashing Schopenhauer, is from Mark Nixon’s study of Beckett’s tour of Nazi Germany, Samuel Beckett’s German Diaries 1936-1937. My library copy has to go back today. They come with a price tag suitable only for institutions, … Continue reading

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Red Skull, Earth, Sea and Sky

Beckett visited Ballmer in his Hamburg studio in November 1936 where he saw this painting and made the following diary entry: Wonderful red Frauenkopf, skull earth sea & sky, I think of Monadologie & my Vulture. Would not occur to … Continue reading

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The Banality of Brilliance

To speculate about whether Proust was a snob is as superfluous as debating the degree of Joyce’s egotism, though we could construct an argument that Proust would have been unfitted to dissect the society of Recherche without a social climber’s desire. And Joyce writing in A Portrait  that the “artist, … Continue reading

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