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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Blog entries on '06 January 2006'

Friday 06 January 2006

Josipovici on Proust

Reading Gabriel Josipovici's The Lessons of Modernism and his The World and the Book, last night, I was reminded, yet again, what a matchless critic and writer he is. The first essay in The World and the Book is Proust: A Voice in Search of Itself. It's a superb paper which reminds us how "philosophical" and disruptive Proust's mammoth masterpiece actually is. And, crucially, how anti-novelistic. Lots of readers, who actually bother to read Proust, seem thrilled by its Edwardian grandeur and its scale and they miss its manifold subversions. Proust understands his own obsessions; he observes them and works through them within the body of the work. He recognises that the world within the pages of his book is not the world - despite the length of the work and some realist descriptions, the thrust of the work is anti-realist (there is nothing "natural" about Realism it is an invented, historically situated style): Proust is not attempting verisimilitude, he realises that truth is not mimesis.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 06 January 2006

McPherson and Robert Kelly

I mentioned McPherson and Company books back in November. Since then, a few of McPherson's lovely books have been sent on to me: Giorgio Manganelli's Centuria: One Hundred Ouroboric Novels looks superb (Tim Feeney, writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, called it, "metadestructive, immolating itself (and, by extension, its traditions), but leaving in its place something new and pure and often spellbinding") as does Juan Tovar's Creature of a Day ("[a]t the same time cryptic and pristine, even monastic in its mystical unraveling of the tragic sense of life, the novel presents itself as a labyrinth or a rose, as a beautifully constructed symmetry built upon twists and turns and shade"). But it is Robert Kelly (contributor to the RSB Books of the Year symposium and soon-to-be RSB interviewee) and his work which interests me the most, his Queen of Terrors (which breaks "loose from the constraints of linear thought, employing cubist technique in the construction of experience") is next to the bed and will probably get read this weekend.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 06 January 2006

Iraqi Jews

I've just recieved Abbas Shiblak's Iraqi Jews: A History which looks fascinating. I think it was the excellent and ever-provocative Lenin's Tomb which first brought this to my attention:


If anyone is interested in the actual history of the Jewish exodus to Israel, you could do worse than read, for instance, Abbas Shiblak's Iraqi Jews: A History of Mass Exodus, 2005, which documents the complicity between the Jewish Agency in Israel and the pro-British Hashemite monarchy in forcing Jews to flee Iraq. Just like the Mizrahi Jews of the Maghreb, the Sephardic Jews in Arab countries were treated by the Zionists as a pool of useful labour, not to mention as footsoldiers for expansionist war.

The publisher blurb runs:


The Jews of Iraq constituted one of the oldest and most deeply rooted Jewish communities in the world. But in the early 1950s most of them left for Israel, under circumstances that remain the subject of heated controversy.

Iraqi Jews: A History examines the role of this community, highlighting the critical years of the late 1940s - after the establishment of the state of Israel - when deep rifts began to appear Iraqi society. The sad sequence of events that finally led to the mass exodus of Jews in the 1950s was marked by dishonesty on all sides.

An honest, impartial and well-documented account of a formerly well-integrated and vibrant community, Iraqi Jews: A History is a landmark in the political and social history of the Middle East.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Serendipoetry

Augustus

As you sow, so shall you reap. The bags packed,
Umbers and gold swollen between the purse-strings,
Getaway cars nose on a hot scent.
Under striped canvas the patrons gather,
Staring at blue, incorrigible seas.
The stubble burns a hole in summer's pocket;
Upon the baked crust of their world, the mice
Scatter their ashes to the harvest moon.

-- Peter Scupham
(Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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