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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 '02 February 2006'

Thursday 02 February 2006

Attila Jozsef

You'll find a nice, detailed post (with lots of good links) on the Hungarian poet Attila Jozsef (1905-1937) over on Chandrahas Choudhury excellent The Middle Stage blog. Jozsef, he tells us, "lived a short, sharp, incandescent life, wracked by poverty, loneliness, suffering and uncertainty, which he somehow managed to channel into verse of great beauty and poignancy."


In an autobiographical essay written in 1937, the year in which he took his own life by throwing himself under a freight train, Jozsef recounts all the things that he did to survive from day to day:

"War broke out when I was nine and our lot became progressively worse. I did my share of queuing. There were occasions when I joined a queue at the foodstore at nine o'clock in the evening and just when my turn was coming at half past eight the next morning they announced that all the cooking fat had gone. I helped my mother as best I could. I sold fresh water in the Világ Cinema, I stole firewood and coal from the Ferencváros goods station so that we should have something to burn. I made coloured paper windmills and sold them to children who were better off, I carried baskets and parcels in the Market Hall, and so on."


Quoting Jozsef's What Will Become Of Him, and also his late poem Lullaby, Chandrahas argues that, "[f]ew poets have written about poverty - its gnawing uncertainty, lack of hope, pathetic abjectness, raw despair - so powerfully."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 02 February 2006

Foucault and the Iranian revolution

On the University of Chicago Press blog (cleverly entitled The Chicago Blog), comes information about a new book of theirs - Foucault and the Iranian Revolution:


On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after fifteen years of exile [and] was acclaimed the leader of the Iranian Revolution. Later that year revolutionary students would storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take the staff hostage, to profound consequence. One observer of the Iranian Revolution was Michel Foucault, who was a special correspondent for Corriere della Sera and le Nouvel Observateur, for whom he wrote a series of articles. In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson illuminate Foucault's support of the Islamist movement and show how Foucault's experiences in Iran contributed to a turning point in his thought.

Also, read Foucault's What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 02 February 2006

Shame

Good to see Ron Silliman, Steve and the literary saloon all mentioning Robert Kelly and Birgit Kempker's Shame: A Collaboration. I hope to be interviewing Robert here on RSB about his work very soon:


Shame is a bi-lingual text in prose and poetry ... When Birgit Kempker — a younger German writer living in Basel — invited Kelly to create a work together, neither knew the other except by reputation. They proceeded, over the course of two years, to communicate by e-mail through sixteen exchanges, and the subject was shame, shame at its most personal and prosaic and intimate, sometimes even fetching, and at its most generic and couched and poetic and hallucinatory ... Shame is a book spoken between two lovers who will never be lovers, a book of the unabashed and prised apart secret intimacy that can be laid bare against all constraint by ghostly lovers — virtual, exemplary, psychic guides to one another...and the rest of us.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 02 February 2006

Comments

We've changed the comments procedure here on RSB to make things a little easier for everyone: if you have not posted a comment on RSB before, it will need to be approved by me, but once you have an "approved" comment, you can go ahead and post further comments to your heart's content. We have also introduced a captcha code to prevent spam.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 02 February 2006

Ruined

Bud, at Chekhov's Mistress, brings my attention to the fact that "a lot of people are talking about “great first sentences” of novels." Ed started this (linking to 100 Best First Sentences) and Jenny Davidson has also contributed to the meme. For my money, you can't get much better than the opening line of Anita Brookner's first novel A Start in Life (1981) (re-titled The Debut in the States):


Dr. Weiss, at 40, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

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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