ReadySteadyBlog

Sad to hear of the death of critical theorist Mark Poster:

It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our esteemed colleague Mark Poster, Emeritus Professor of History and Film & Media Studies, passed away in the hospital earlier this morning. Mark Poster was a vital member of the School of Humanities, and for decades one of its most widely read and cited researchers. He made crucial contributions to two different departments, History and Film & Media Studies, and played a central role in UCI's emergence as a leading center for work in Critical Theory...

Mark Poster was a major figure in the rapid development of media studies and theory in the USA and internationally. While as an intellectual historian he could draw on Frankfurt School thought as well as on cybernetics, he was particularly interested in the potential of poststructuralism for media studies. From his translations of Baudrillard to his dissemination of Foucault, Poster played a highly influential role in the study of media culture, including television, databases, computing, and the Internet; he continued to offer crucial commentary on the relevance to technology and media of cultural theory, and his numerous articles and books have been translated into a number of different languages. Reflective of the breadth of his interests and expertise, Poster held courtesy appointments in the Department of Information and Computer Science and in the Department of Comparative Literature. First hired at UCI in 1968, Poster had recently retired after 40 years of service to the School and the Campus (more...)

News just in from his English-language publisher Dedalus that Herbert Rosendorfer, "one of Germany's greatest post WW2 authors", has died:

Herbert Rosendorfer was born in Germany in 1934 and died in 2012. His first novel Der Ruinenbaumeister (1969) was a critical and commercial success, and is regarded by many critics as one of the masterpieces of German twentieth-century fiction. It was published in English by Dedalus in 1992 as The Architect of Ruins. This was followed by Stephanie in 1995, which was shortlisted for the Shlegel-Tieck Translation Prize. Letters Back to Ancient China is the most commercially successful of his novels and in Germany has sold over two million copies. Mike Mitchell's translation was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize in 1997. Dedalus published Grand Solo with Anton by Herbert Rosendorfer in 2006.

Sad news: heterodox Marxist literary critic, Christopher Hampton, has died.

Daniel Fraser (Oubliette magazine) has written this moving tribute...

The poet and critic Christopher Hampton died at his home in Montmorillon on 28 April.

Christopher was born in London and, studying first as a musician, he worked for a time as a pianist and conductor before giving up music for writing. From 1962-66 he lived in Italy with his wife and daughter, teaching English in Rome.

On his return to Britain he joined the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster), where he taught for 28 years, as well as lecturing at the City Literary Institute.

Active on the left of the Labour party, he was involved in many protest movements of the eighties and nineties. In 1997 he resigned from the Party in opposition to Tony Blair’s New Labour "Third Way" politics.

His poems and articles on philosophy, politics and literature have appeared regularly in print and on the radio since 1960.

Publications by Christopher Hampton include The Etruscans and the Survival of Etruria (Gollancz 1969 & Doubleday 1970); Socialism in a Crippled World (Pelican 1981); A Radical Reader (Pelican 1984) and The Ideology of the Text (Open University Press 1990).

He was the editor of Poems for Shakespeare published by Sam Wanamaker’s Globe Playhouse Trust in 1972 as well as publishing four volumes of poetry.

I first met Christopher quite late in his life, only four years ago at his house in Poitou-Charente. There were pictures of Italy, where Christopher had taught English in the sixties, scattered around the walls. I remember in particular a picture of the crowded swirl of Sienna, the beautiful buildings an iris round the ‘circular square’ in the centre of the city.

During dinner Christopher spoke about Cicero and Marx as well as Nietzsche and Beckett. I contributed occasionally, though often found myself mumbling into my pasta, all the time fascinated by the vitality coming from his slight frame.

We left soon afterwards. There was a dense wet mist outside and the forests were hung with grey. On the way back I felt a dull ache of ideas opening up, suddenly the path I had embarked upon seemed worthwhile and applicable rather than merely cerebral. I had not expressed myself well, but I had learnt much.

We went on to talk many more times but this first encounter with his wild and inquisitive mind affected me the most. I am proud to have called him a friend and miss him dearly.

Christopher is survived by his wife Kathleen, daughter Rebecca and grandson Rohan.

There are two wonderful videos of Christopher reading available:

Here: bit.ly/KQqBbq
And here: bit.ly/LRlxnB

My friend Dai Vaughan has died. I'll write more soon, but for now, Sonofabook has this:


Dai Vaughan – film editor and producer, teacher, essayist, poet, novelist, fabulist – died last night. Last October, a film-maker paid this tribute to Dai (‘the most interesting, serious and skilled editor anyone could hope to find in the UK’): ‘He was quick to laugh, and even quicker to stroke his beard when a serious thought took hold. Every day, rain or shine, Dai took a walk during lunch...’ Here is Dai in interview with Mark Thwaite: ‘The evolutionary psychologists are right: we are still chimpanzees. But do we have to remain chimpanzees? One reason for writing fiction, and this includes fiction without overt political content, is to confront people with such choices. There’s a well-worn formulation – Gramsci, isn’t it? – “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”. I can subscribe to that.’

His novel Sister of the artist was published by CBe earlier this year. From the last poem in a sequence he sent to me a few weeks ago, now in proof: ‘And one counts, as with the / New-born, each breath a miracle.’

Joe Bageant "was an extraordinarily gifted writer and thinker. Author of Deer Hunting with Jesus: Guns, Votes, Debt and Delusion in Redneck America and countless essays and editorials on politics and society, Joe was a champion of human rights and a fearless critic of [the US] government’s mistreatment of its working class."

So says the Dangerous Minds blog which (along with Jodi Dean's I cite) brings my attention to the sad news of Joe's death. RIP big man.

The Poe Toaster is an unofficial nickname given to a mysterious person (or two persons in succession, possibly father and son) who, from approximately 1949 until 2009, paid an annual tribute to American author Edgar Allan Poe by visiting the stone marking his original grave in Baltimore, Maryland in the early hours of January 19, Poe's birthday. The shadowy figure, dressed in black with a wide-brimmed hat and white scarf, would leave three roses and a partially-filled bottle of French cognac, then disappear into the night. Onlookers gathered annually in hopes of glimpsing the elusive Toaster, who did not seek publicity and was rarely seen or photographed. (More...)

Happy birthday EAP!

It has just come to my attention (first via Booksurfer) that the anarchist writer Colin Ward has died. Sad, sad news:


Colin's contribution to anarchism has been invaluable - he founded, edited and often wrote Anarchy magazine for over ten years. In Anarchy, and a whole series of books and hundreds of articles he wrote about the practical application of anarchist ideas to social organisation. and outlined anarchism as a sociological theory. He is probably best known for Anarchy in Action, but every book he wrote provided new insights into the revolutionary potential of the way ordinary people organise and live their lives in the face of enormous odds (more...)

This via the Five Leaves Blog:


The anarchist writer Colin Ward, who died on the night of 11th February, was indirectly responsible for the existence of Five Leaves. We’d met years before, and like several people I later met, I’d been vaguely collecting Colin’s Anarchy (first series), still the best anarchist magazine produced in this country. A small group of us in Nottingham, publishing as Old Hammond Press, brought out a couple of pamphlets by Colin, one on housing, one on William Morris’s ideas of work. But in 1994 I got so fed up waiting for Faber to bring out the paperback of The Allotment: its landscape and culture that I offered to buy the rights. Colin said that as long as his co-writer, David Crouch, was in agreement he’d be pleased if Faber were to hand them over, and if it helped, the co-authors would do without royalties as they were simply pleased to have the book available in paperback.

Well, thousands of copies later Colin never regretted his generosity, and as well being the first book published by Five Leaves (though initially, for the sake of any bibliographers reading, Mushroom Bookshop), for years The Allotment kept the press afloat. We went on to publish Colin’s Arcadia for All (co-written with Dennis Hardy), Talking Anarchy (with David Goodway) and Cotters and Squatters. Colin also wrote the introduction to our edition of The London Years by Rudolf Rocker, who of course he knew. Rocker in turn knew Peter Kropotkin, whose Mutual Aid had such an influence on Colin as a political thinker (more...)

The American historian, playwright and author of the bestseller A People's History of the United States Howard Zinn has died aged 87. Lots more info via howardzinn.org.

David Belbin (thanks Dave!) tells me:


On May 8th 2010, the University of Nottingham will host a celebration of the life of one of its most widely respected alumni, the novelist Stanley Middleton. The Booker Prize winning author died in July 2009, a week short of his 90th birthday. The celebration will include live music, readings from Stanley’s novels, poems and unpublished letters, together with short talks on his life and work (more...)

Genius -- as ever -- from The Onion:


In this big dramatic production that didn't do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud. "He had a real impact on the literary world and on millions of readers," said hot-shot English professor David Clarke, who is just like the rest of them, and even works at one of those crumby schools that rich people send their kids to so they don't have to look at them for four years. "There will never be another voice like his." Which is exactly the lousy kind of goddamn thing that people say, because really it could mean lots of things, or nothing at all even, and it's just a perfect example of why you should never tell anybody anything (more...)

Albert Camus was born in Mondovi, Algeria, on the 7 November 1913 into a working class family. The Diary Junction Blog today continues:


When he was still very young, during the First World War, his father was killed, and his mother suffered a stroke on hearing the news. Camus won a scholarship and studied at the lycée in Algiers until 1932. Thereafter, he took various jobs, joined the Communist Party, studied at the University of Algiers, and married Simone Hié. He also contracted tuberculosis.

Then, 50 years ago today, at the age of 46, he died in a car accident near Sens, in a place named Le Grand Fossard in the small town of Villeblevin. Wikipedia tells me that "in his coat pocket lay an unused train ticket. He had planned to travel by train, with his wife and children, but at the last minute accepted his publisher's proposal to travel with him. The driver of the Facel Vega car, Michel Gallimard — his publisher and close friend — was also killed in the accident." In the car was the manuscript for The First Man (Le premier homme) an autobiographical work about his childhood in Algeria and was published in 1995.


More cheery fodder, about other gone-but-not-forgotten authors, can be found in the Guardian's Living in the memory: A celebration of the great writers who died in the past decade.


Welcome to the Teenies. Be assured, we can expect more deaths!

Via AP:


The Academie Francaise says that Claude Levi-Strauss, an influential French intellectual who was widely considered the father of modern anthropology, has died. He was 100.

Levi-Strauss was widely regarded as having reshaped the field of anthropology, introducing new concepts concerning common patterns of behavior and thought, especially myths, in primitive and modern societies.

During his 6-decade-long career, he authored many literary and anthropological classics, including "Tristes Tropiques" (1955), "The Savage Mind" (1963) and "The Raw and the Cooked" (1964).

The Academie Francaise said Tuesday that it plans a tribute later in the week.

It did not give the cause of death or say when Levi-Strauss had died.

I'm certainly not the person to write anything insightful on Michael Jackson, but k-punk has stepped up to the plate:


The death of this King - "my brother, the Legendary King Of Pop", as Jermaine Jackson described him in his press conference, as if giving Michael his formal title - recalls not the Diana carcrash, but the sad slump of Elvis from catatonic narcosis into the long good night. Perhaps it was only Elvis who managed to insinuate himself into practically every living human being's body and dreams to the same degree that Jackson did, at the microphysical level of enjoyment as well as at the macro-level of spectacular memeplex. Michael Jackson: a figure so subsumed and consumed by the videodrome that it's scarely possible to think of him as an individual human being at all... because he wasn't of course... becoming videoflesh was the price of immortality, and that meant being dead while still alive, and no-one knew that more than Michael (more...)

You won't need me to tell you I'm sure, but just in case you haven't heard: the novelist and critic John Updike has died at the age of seventy-six of lung cancer.

Philosopher Arne Næss (January 27th 1912 - January 12th 2009), who invented the concept of "deep ecology", has died (via The Norway Post, hence the crazy English):


The recognized Norwegian philosopher, author, environmentalist and mountain climber Arne Næss sr has died at the age of nearly 97. He died in his sleep on Monday night, VG reports. Arne Næss sr was born on January 27th 1912, and received his MA degree in 1933, as the youngest ever. Doctor of Philosophy in 1936. He became professor at the University of Oslo at the age of 27... Næss was an advocate of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non violence which he developed further (more...)

Mick Imlah, poetry editor at the TLS, whose own volume of poetry, The Lost Leader, won the 2008 Forward prize for best collection and was shortlisted for this year's TS Eliot prize (won yesterday by Jen Hadfield), has died, aged 52:


The Lost Leader was only the second collection of poetry from Imlah, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2007. His first volume, Birthmarks, was published in 1988 — a full 20 years earlier — to critical acclaim: reviewing it in the Times Literary Supplement, Neil Corcoran described him as "a poet of striking originality and cunning, a genuinely distinctive voice in the murmur and babble of the contemporary". (More...)

Via The New York Times (thanks Steve):


Richard Seaver, an editor, translator and publisher who defied censorship, societal prudishness and conventional literary standards to bring works by rabble-rousing authors like Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, William Burroughs and the Marquis de Sade to American readers, died Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82. (More.)

Via Nomadics:


Inger Christensen, considered one of Denmark's greatest authors and long mentioned among probable candidates for a Nobel Literature prize, has died at the age of 73, on Friday, January 2, her publisher said on Monday. Born on Jan 16, 1935 in the western Danish town of Vejle, Christensen published her first collection of poems, Lys (Light) in 1962, followed by Graes (Grass) a year later, Det (It) in 1969, Alfabet (Alphabet) in 1981 and Sommerfugledalen (The Butterfly Valley), which critics have hailed as her masterpiece, 1991 (more...)

Well, as you'll all have noticed, over the Christmas break Harold Pinter finally, sadly, kicked the bucket. You can google countless obits of the Big Man yourself, but I enjoyed this piece by John Peter from yesterday's Sunday Times:


Harold could be difficult, oh yes. Like so many of his characters, he deployed attack as a means of self-defence and investigation. No other dramatist has understood, let alone dramatised with such frank and shocking understanding, the needs and perils of human relations. Much has been written about his plays as examples of territorial invasion and menacing invaders; but the fact is that in most of the plays the invader is invited in by the occupant in an act of defensive hospitality (more...)

Update: also a nice piece, The Eloquent Silence of Harold Pinter, over at Obit Magazine.


Further update: I note that the Literary Saloon yesterday linked to an idiotic article in the Sunday Times entitled Pinter and the odd literary law of geniuses with crazy politics. Worth saying, I think, that one of the most admirable things about Pinter was his "crazy politics" -- hating war and the nation states that cause them, madness!

Literary and cultural critic John Leonard, "an early champion of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and many other authors, and so consumed and informed by books that Kurt Vonnegut once praised him as 'the smartest man who ever lived,' has died at age 69 (more.)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel, the matchless historian of American working class life (author of And They All Sang: The Great Musicians of the 20th Century Talk About Their Music, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do amongst many other titles), has died at his home in Chicago, aged 96 -- more via the BBC.

The Associated Press released this just a few hours ago: "David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, was found dead in his home, according to police. He was 46." (More ...)

The poet E.A. Markham sadly died yesterday of a heart attack aged just 69 (more via Baroque in Hackney).

The 79-year-old "poet, publisher, designer, essayist [and] iconographer", and champion of the avant-garde, Jonathan Williams has died. Our thoughts at this sad time are with his partner of forty years, the poet Thomas Meyer.


Jonathan is remembered by Pierre Joris, Mark Scroggins, Ron Silliman, John Latta and citizen times (links originally collected at wood s lot) -- and also in the obituary in our own comment block by Jeffery Beam.

Alain Robbe-Grillet est mort, il avait 85 ans. The father of the nouveau roman died last night of a heart attack.


Celui que l'on appelait «le pape du Nouveau Roman» est mort dans la nuit du 17 au 18 février, emporté par une crise cardiaque. Né en 1922, Alain Robbe-Grillet avait été ingénieur agronome avant de devenir l'auteur des «Gommes» (1953), de «la Jalousie» (1957) et du «Voyeur» (1955).

Son passé à l'avant-garde n'avait pas empêché son élection à l'Académie française, le 25 mars 2004 - même s'il n'y avait pas encore été officiellement reçu. Son dernier livre, «Un roman sentimental» était paru à l'automne 2007.

I should have mentioned this a week or so ago ... the French Surrealist writer Julien Gracq has died:


Julien Gracq, décédé samedi à Angers à l'âge de 97 ans, figurait parmi les très grands écrivains francais, auteur de 19 ouvrages nourris de romantisme allemand, de fantastique et de surréalisme.

Still recovering as I am from my mammoth 'flu attack, I've not been keeping an eye on things as closely as I usually try to do. So, I've only just noticed that German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen died, aged of 79, last Friday. Sad news indeed. I was a big fan. (More at NPR.)

The philosopher André Gorz, 84, co-founder of the Nouvel Observateur weekly, has committed suicide together with his wife Dorine. More via AFP.


Wikipedia tells us:


Gorz was a theorist of workers' self-management. Later, he was also concerned with political ecology. His central theme is work: liberation from work, just distribution of work, alienated work, etc. He is also one of the advocates for Guaranteed basic income.

He also was a main theorist in New Left movement,inspired by the young Marx humanism and Alienation discussion and the liberation mankind,seeking a third way between communism and reform capitalism like his mentor, Jean Paul Sartre, but even in the same spirit as the people like C. Wright Mills and the people round him in the New Left Review, and Jurgen Habermas and the Frankfurter School. Gorz called him self an "revolutionary-reformist", a democratic socialist who wanted to see system changing reforms.

Such sad news: the American short story writer, poet, and political activist, Grace Paley, died yesterday. As soon as I know more, I'll add to this. (Maud Newton has a nice, personal piece on Grace over on her blog.)

   
Ingmar Bergman, via bergmanorama.com


What was I supposed to be doing this morning? What was I supposed to be writing? Never mind, I think to myself. Bergman's dead.


George Melly (photograph via the BBC)


There just aren't enough jazz-singing, surrealist, alcoholic, bisexual Scousers in the world. And now, sadly, there is one less: George Melly, born in Liverpool in 1926, died yesterday from the effects of battling lung cancer and vascular dementia. RIP George.

The philosopher Richard Rorty died on Friday -- I've not seen anything much about his death, no obituaries as yet, so, for now, this is all I know. More information via Telos; nice appreciation over on Waggish.


Update: There are some useful Rorty links gathered together by Farhang over at continental-philosophy.org.

The great Michael Hamburger (best known for his translations of Friedrich Hölderlin, Paul Celan, Gottfried Benn and W. G. Sebald) died yesterday, probably due to a heart attack. As soon as I know more, I'll add to this -- wikipedia has more details about the poet, but no details as yet about his death.

Worthy of lots of clicks: Edward Champion has got together a great list of web-based Vonnegut resources.

The great, anti-war writer Kurt Vonnegut died this Tuesday, 10th April, in New York, at the age of 84, due to brain injuries from a recent fall. The defining moment of his life was the firebombing of Dresden, in Germany, by allied forces in 1945 -- an event he witnessed as a young prisoner of war. His experience was the basis of his best-known work, Slaughterhouse Five which was published at the time of the Vietnam War. More via the BBC.

I've just heard the sad news of Tanya Reinhart's death. This, below, is verbatim from a press release sent by her UK publisher Verso:


Tanya Reinhart has died March 17 2007 in Long Island, New York.

Tanya was a tireless voice against the Israeli state’s oppression of the Palestinian people. In the articles she wrote for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot as well as Counterpunch and Znet, she argued passionately and with an unequalled rigour that Israel should leave the occupied territories.

Her books were similarly sharp and scholarly analyses. She wrote the acclaimed Israel/Palestine: How To End the War of 1948 (2002) of which Edward Said said: “The most devastating critique now available of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinian people.” Last year Verso published her The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003 (2006), which detailed the grim logic behind the erection of Israel’s wall but also the hope engendered by the increasing resistance of both Palestinians and Israelis to Sharon and Olmert’s brutality.

Tanya was a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University, her Ph.D having been supervised by Noam Chomsky. She had recently taken a position as Distinguished Global Professor at New York University.

We are shocked and saddened to hear of Tanya’s death. The Palestinian cause has lost a great voice.

The sociologist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard died this Tuesday in Paris, at 77 years of age. Born on July 20th 1929 in Rheims, a translator of Bertold Brecht, politically near to the Situationists and Guy Debord in the '60s, Baudrillard taught sociology at the University of Nanterre from 1966. More English-language details can be found at the NY Times and the NY Sun; French-language responses include Robert Maggiori's Jean Baudrillard au-delà du réel and Laurent Wolf's Le pourfendeur d'images (via the literary saloon).


I've always enjoyed reading Baudrillard's work. My favourite? Probably a book from 1978 called In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. What I got most clearly from this was the critique of the entirely erroneous idea that the Left could speak for -- or on behalf of -- "the people" in any way:


Written in 1978 and first published in English in 1983, In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities was the first postmodern response to the delusional strategies of terrorism. At a time when European terrorists were taking politics into their own hands, Baudrillard was the first to announce that the "critical mass" had stopped being critical of anything. Rather, the "masses" had become a place of absorption and implosion; hence the ending of the possibility of politics as will and representation.

The book marked the end of an era when silent majorities still factored into the democratic political process and were expected to respond positively to revolutionary messages. With the masses no longer "alienated" as Marx had described, but rather indifferent, this phenomenon made revolutionary explosion impossible, says Baudrillard.

There is an obiturary of Jakov Lind (born Heinz Jakov Landwirth; 1927-2007) in today's Independent (thanks Tony):


The writer Jakov Lind chronicled the nightmare of Nazi Germany. He once defined himself as one of "the literary unicorns who worked in two languages like Beckett, Nabokov and Conrad", having written dazzlingly original works first in his native German and later in an idiosyncratic English. His collection of short stories Eine Seele aus Holz (Soul of Wood) does indeed place him in that exalted company through its blend of surrealistic humour and narrative power. It should be compulsory reading for anyone seeking insight into the sources of political sadism.

The publisher Saqi Books have sent me a press release about Mai Ghoussoub -- I'll quote it in full:


Our dear friend Mai Ghoussoub, artist, author, playwright and founding director of Saqi died suddenly on 17 February 2007 in London.

Mai was born in 1952 in Lebanon. She studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts/Lebanese University and graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BA in French Literature, before moving to London in 1979, where she studied sculpture at Morley College and the Henry Moore Studio. That same year she and her childhood friend, André Gaspard, founded the Al Saqi Bookshop, which has become a beacon of Arab culture in London, occupying 26 Westbourne Grove for the past twenty-eight years. They ventured into publishing in 1983, founding Saqi, and in 1990 started the Arabic publishing house Dar al-Saqi in Beirut. Since the 1980s Mai combined her activities as an artist, writer and publisher: ‘I write for my sculptures and I sculpt for my words.’ Her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She wrote numerous articles on culture, gender, aesthetics and the Middle East, and is the author of many books in English, Arabic and French. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies, including Hikayat: Short Stories by Lebanese Women and Lebanon, Lebanon. In 2005 she wrote, directed and performed Texterminators at the Lyric and Dominion theatres in London, the Unity Theatre in Liverpool, and the Marignan Theatre in Beirut. It was described as ‘outstanding theatre’ by Time Out. Most recently, her work was featured in the exhibition Beirut Out of War, which she curated with Ara Azad, Suheil Sleiman and Rana Salaam, at the MAN Museum in Liverpool.

Mai Ghoussoub of Saqi Books has died suddenly, aged just 45. More when I have it...


Mai was born in Lebanon and received her BA in French literature from the American University of Beirut. She moved to London in 1979 where she later studied sculpture at Morley College. She then worked as an artist, author and publisher with her works being exhibited in many venues in the UK.

Jakov Lind has died. I have no more information at present, I'm afraid. "Jakov Lind was born in Vienna in 1927. As an eleven-year old boy from a Jewish family, he left Austria after the Anschluss, found temporary refuge in Holland, and succeeded in surviving inside Nazi Germany by assuming a Dutch identity." After a literary apprenticeship in Israel, he made his reputation through works of fiction written in German and later in English. He was probably most famous for Soul of Wood, now sadly out of print.


Ironically, Forward.com's Joshua Cohen published a homage to Jakov just a couple of weeks ago entitled Paying Tribute to a Living Legend:


Lind’s oeuvre spans nearly 20 volumes, which have won him admiration and prizes, both in mainland Europe and in his adopted United Kingdom. Indeed, his reputation once was enormous: Critical acclaim, so often given to comparison, at one time held him as a successor to Franz Kafka; in the German-speaking world he was regarded as the peer, if not master, of Gunter Grass. Soul of Wood, a collection of stories, and the novels Landscape in Concrete and Ergo should have long established Lind’s fame and posterity, and not, perhaps as consequence of the very moral and stylistic complexity that makes them so important, his lamentable present estate.

The Independent newspaper have published an obituary of Malcolm Bowie:


Many readers of Bowie will have a special affection for Proust Among the Stars, published in 1998 and awarded the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in 2001. Although Bowie describes this as an introductory volume, written "in schematic and accessible form", it is, in fact, a distillation of accumulated, long-pondered, critical wisdom about a writer who seemed able to draw out of Bowie what was most precious to him and in him. Here, Bowie is the consummate moraliste and himself an indispensable spiritual companion.

I've just learned of the sad death of the British academic, and Master of Christ's College, Cambridge from 2002 to 2006, Professor Malcolm Bowie. Malcolm (May 5th 1943 - January 28th 2007) was an acclaimed scholar of French literature who wrote several books on Marcel Proust, including the excellent Proust Among the Stars. As yet, I've seen no obituaries and have no further information (if you know more, please leave a comment or email me. Thanks).


Update: There is some information about the funeral ceremony to be held for Michael, this coming Wednesday, at the University of Cambridge website. (Thanks to Dave Lull for this.)

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe gets a nécrologie, written by Jacob Rogozinski, "professeur de philosophie à l'université de Strasbourg," in today's Le Monde:


Le philosophe Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe est mort dans la nuit du 27 au 28 janvier, à l'âge de 66 ans, à Paris, où il était hospitalisé. Ceux qui l'ont connu n'oublieront pas l'intensité de sa présence, de son regard, de son écoute, sa grande générosité, et cette manière qu'il avait de s'exposer sans réserve, comme si l'essentiel était en jeu à chaque fois.

Né le 6 mars 1940 à Tours, il étudie la philosophie à Bordeaux, tout en militant dans une mouvance d'extrême gauche proche des situationnistes.

More on Lacoue over at Theoria: Blog and wood s lot.

The first obituary (that I've seen) of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe has just appeared in the French newspaper Liberation:


Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe est mort d'insuffisance respiratoire dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche, à l'hôpital Saint-Louis à Paris. Philosophe, germaniste, traducteur et homme de théâtre, professeur d'esthétique à l'université de Strasbourg, il avait 67 ans.

Sad, sad news: Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe has died (on Saturday I think). For the moment, this is all I know:


Chers collègues, chers amis,

Je viens d'apprendre avec une grande émotion le décès de Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. Nous sommes tout unis dans la douleur du deuil.

If any one knows more details, please let me know.

Wolfgang Iser, best known for reader-response theory, died yesterday:


Wolfgang Iser (July 22nd 1926 – January 24th 2007) was a German literary scholar. He was born in Marienberg, Germany. His parents were Paul and Else (Steinbach) Iser. He studied literature in the universities of Leipzig and Tübingen before receiving his PhD in English at Heidelberg by defending the dissertation on the world view of Henry Fielding (1950). A year later he was appointed an instructor at Heidelberg and in 1952 an assistant lecturer at the University of Glasgow, where he started to explore contemporary philosophy and literature, which deepened his interest in inter-cultural exchange.

I've just learned of the sad death, at the ripe old age of 95, of the veteran Glasgow anarchist, (and comrade and biographer of Guy Aldred), John Taylor Caldwell. John was born on the 14th July 1911 and died a couple of weeks ago on the 12th January.

Sad news. AD Nuttall died yesterday. Harold Bloom once called Nuttall, "The best living English literary critic." A professor and fellow of New College, Oxford, Tony was the author of a number of books including Dead from the Waist Down (a long review of which, by Julia M. Klein, can be read at The Chronicle), Openings, The Common Sky, A New Mimesis and the forthcoming Shakespeare the Thinker.


Speaking about Dead from the Waist Down, Frank Kermode said:


I have now read A.D. Nuttall’s book with all the pleasure I expected. He is the most learned of literary critics, and his subject here is, appropriately, scholars and scholarship. I do not think I have ever read an account of Middlemarch and Casaubon as fine as this, and the studies of Mark Pattison and the other Casaubon, Isaac, are beautifully executed. The distinction he draws between scholarship and pedantry should be of great interest in the modern graduate school, and his love of Oxford is not mere sentiment but part of his scholarly character. I would recommend this book to all who seriously aspire to good scholarship.

Robert Anton Wilson (January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) died last Thursday. RAW, famously the author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy with Robert Shea, was a "prolific American novelist, fnord, essayist, philosopher, psychologist, futurologist, anarchist, and conspiracy theory researcher."

Anne Fernald, who blogs at the wonderful Fernham, and who I'll be interviewing soon in her capacity as the author of Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader, writes:


Tillie Olsen, a leftist, feminist novelist who was targeted by McCarthy-era smear-tactics and wrote, too, of the struggles of writing while also working and raising children died two weeks shy of her 95th birthday.

Her granddaughter commented on my blog and let me know about a really great tribute planned for this Saturday:

"the family requests that on her birthday, January 14th, people whose lives have been touched by Tillie gather with friends in their homes and public libraries to celebrate her life and to read her work together. We would be comforted to hear from you about your celebrations. Please email us: tillies_family@childpeacebooks.org"

It would be wonderful if people from the feminist blogging and litblogging community could take a few hours out, on this upcoming Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend, to her.

You can visit the family's memorial site here: tillieolsen.net

I would really be excited to think that we all could re-read (or read) I Stand Here Ironing or some other great story and inform the family about it.

I mentioned the sad passing of Tillie Olsen back on Wednesday, but I know little about the writer herself. Happily, Anne has written a wonderful appreciation of Olsen over at Fernham.


Good friend of RSB, the publisher and writer Anthony Rudolf, contacted me when he heard of Olsen's death. Anthony knew Tillie and had recently written to the TLS championing her work in a letter that they didn't print but I reproduce below:


Two missing titles so astonished me in Claire Harman’s review of Myles Weber’s Consuming Silences – “a study of famously stalled or one-hit writers” -- that I reread the piece to make sure my eyes had not skipped a few sentences. No, I was right first time. I am referring to Tillie Olsen’s wonderful but supposedly unfinished novel Yonnondio: from the Thirties (Faber, 1975) -- the confused manuscripts turned up in the early 1970s and she reworked them nearly forty years after writing the book (1932-1936) -- and to Ralph Ellison’s second novel Juneteenth, also unfinished (he lost years because part of the manuscript was consumed in a fire) and which received a mixed critical reception. For me, Yonnondio is no more unfinished than Schubert’s symphony.

Unfortunately, there are two possibilities concerning these omissions: either Myles Weber did not mention the two books, which raises severe doubts about his research and his conclusions, or Claire Harman herself has failed to mention them. If Weber did not mention them, Harman should have rebuked him, assuming she knew of their existence. If he did mention them, perhaps she was unconsciously seeking to improve the story of silence on the part of two prose fiction writers who, on the strength of their first books, Tell me a Riddle and Invisible Man, count as major figures in American literature. As indeed does Henry Roth, whose late and prodigious flowering after decades of silence – although he wrote essays -- surely muddies the waters of Weber’s thesis more than Harman allows.

As for Ellison, not only did he write a second novel, he also wrote many extraordinary essays. Since when is a writer obliged to write only in one genre? To judge by Harman’s account (or her account of Weber), you would think Ellison did nothing for decades but worry about Invisible Man. In respect (or rather disrespect) of Tillie Olsen, Claire Harman vilifies and ridicules Silences, a classic work about creativity and its associated problems. Finally, Harman (or Harman’s Weber) is simplistic when it comes to Olsen’s class politics, which have to be read and understood alongside the legendary long silence of a great poet, her near contemporary George Oppen.

This is a good opportunity to ask your readers if they can help me concerning the provenance of a brilliant and appropriate phrase Tillie Olsen uses in Silences, namely ‘trespass vision’, as applied to Rebecca Harding’s Life in the Iron Mills, and which she herself puts in quotation marks. This suggests she has borrowed the phrase from another writer, but unusually she does not give a reference.

Tillie Olsen has died: "activist, feminist and an influential and widely taught fiction writer who narrated and experienced some of the major social conflicts of the 20th century, [Olsen] died Monday night, two weeks before her 95th birthday" (more via The New York Times).

My beloved grandmother died yesterday evening at about 10pm. Today would have been her 97th birthday.


Sleep well, Gran.

Today, I briefly reviewed Anna Politkovskaya’s Putin’s Russia (over at The Book Depository, where this blog is also cross-posted). (I need to get hold of her A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya and I’ll post a review of her other book about Chechnya, A Dirty War, in the next couple of weeks.) Anna, as you’ll know, was recently murdered because of her work in Chechnya and her opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Her UK publisher Random House has a tribute page up. Next year, Profile Books will be publishing an English PEN anthology called Another Sky, which contains her last writing, and Harvill Secker will be publishing Russian Diary. The translation of that latter book arrived with her UK publisher in the week she was killed. For more, you can also read her session at the 2005 Hay festival.

The Romanian poet Oskar Pastior has died on Wednesday:


Oskar Pastior was born in 1927 in Romania, and grew up in the multi-lingual environment of the Transylvanian town of Sibiu/Hermannstadt speaking the outmoded German of his forefathers. He says that he has this multilingualism to thank not only for the insights it gave him into the possibilities of writing, but above all the associated "relativisation of normative thinking". He was deported in 1945 after the Red Army took control of Romania and spent almost five years in Soviet labour camps. After returning, he managed to complete his university entrance qualifications while doing his military service, and then went on to study. In 1968 he fled to the West, and since 1969 has lived in Berlin. And worked – on the language, with the language. "My seriousness is really rather childlike, akin to the games of kids who've had their fingers burned."

This -- and more on Pastior -- via Nomadics (and at the Literary Saloon).

Via TEV:


Guadeloupe Andre Schwarz-Bart, a winner of the Prix Goncourt, has died.

Born of Polish Jewish origins in the eastern French city of Metz on May 23, 1928, Schwarz-Bart gained fame with his novel Le Dernier des Justes, or The Last of the Just, which traced a Jewish family's evolution over many centuries until the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. It won France's prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1959.

Fantasy writer David Gemmell has died. From his publisher Transworld:


It is with great sadness that we announce that David Gemmell died on Thursday 28 July, at the age of 57. David had quadruple heart bypass surgery two weeks earlier and appeared to making a good recovery, which made the news all the more shocking.

Paola Kaufmann, author of The Sister and the forthcoming The Lake has died suddenly, from a brain tumour, at the age of 37.


This, below, from her publisher Alma Books:


Born in 1969 in Rio Negro, Argentina, Paola achieved great success, not only as a writer, but also as a biologist and scientific researcher. In the short space of five years, she produced three books, The Devil’s Golfcourse (winner of the Fondo Nacional de las Artes Prize), The Sister (winner of the Casa de las Américas Prize) and The Lake (winner of the Planeta Prize for fiction).

It is tragic that a writing career, which had delivered so much in such a short life, could not continue; doubtless Paola would have continued to write books of beauty and insight to be enjoyed by fans the world over. As an author, she was a joy to work with and shall be sadly missed by all here at Alma.

György Faludy, 96, a poet and translator considered one of Hungary's greatest literary figures of the last century, died Friday in his Budapest home (via LA Times, thanks TEV):


Faludy fled the Nazis and the communists, and his works were banned in his home country for decades. He spent 33 years in exile, first in Europe and later mainly in Toronto, where he obtained citizenship. He returned to Hungary in 1989, shortly after the publication there of his autobiographical novel My Happy Days in Hell. First published in English in 1962, the book was considered a precursor to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's accounts of the Soviet concentration camps. Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Faludy first gained acclaim in the mid-1930s for his translations of the ballads of 15th century French poet Francois Villon. He left Hungary in 1938 amid rising intolerance against Jews and hostility to his political views. He returned after World War II and was imprisoned in the infamous Recsk labor camp in 1950 on false charges by Hungary's Stalinist regime. In the camps, he organized literature courses to keep the prisoners occupied. Faludy was released in 1953, when the camp was closed after Stalin's death.

Egypt's Naguib Mahfouz, the only Arab to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, has died in hospital in Cairo aged 94 (via the BBC). His The Cairo Trilogy - Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street, all of which originally appeared in the 1950s - detailed the adventures and misadventures of a Muslim merchant family and were recently reissued by Black Swan.