I don't think that my admiration for the work of Gabriel Josipovici is any secret whatsoever. So, as you can imagine, I'm absolutely thrilled to have just published an interview with Gabriel here on RSB. (Thanks to Steve with his help and advice on some of the questions.) One of our very, very finest critics, and a wonderful novelist in his own right, Gabriel Josipovici is one of the few writers working in English today who seems to have thoroughly understood the ongoing challenge of Modernism.
Asking him about the quality of "lightness" that he had once remarked was vital to the success of The Iliad, Gabriel answered:
For complex reasons art before the Romantics could be both profound and ‘light’. Homer’s and Shakespeare’s plays are cases in point. After the onset of Romanticism it’s as if depth had to entail solemnity, weightiness. Contrast Mozart and Beethoven, Pope and Wordsworth, Fielding and George Eliot. I love many works written after 1800, but I wish it were lighter. And I can’t stand those great nineteenth century works that take themselves so seriously and try to found a new religion, like Mahler’s symphonies. That’s why I love Stravinsky: for me he has everything: wit, lightness, precision, yet a plangency that is deeply moving. He remains the artist I would most like to emulate (one can have ones dreams). I love some of the novels of Bellow and Nabokov and Muriel Spark and Thomas Bernhard because I think they laugh at themselves and their own pretensions even as they burrow into the depths. I love some of the novels of Aharon Appelfeld because they say what they have to say in the simplest way and then stop, and what they have to say moves me deeply. But I could go on and on, with a list of my favourite modern novels – which would include works by Malamud, Shabtai, Simon, Perec, Duras, Robbe-Grillet, Kundera, Joseph Heller and Peter Handke.