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Blog entries on '05 July 2006'

Wednesday 05 July 2006

Arvon on

The Arvon International Poetry Competition 2006 is now open. The competition has been running for twenty-five years and first opened in 1980 with Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Philip Larkin amongst the judges. There is no restriction on line length or subject -- all poems are welcome. The deadline is September 15th 2006. Entries cost £7 for the first poem and £5 for each poem thereafter. Prize money ranges from £500 to £5000. I'm always rather wary about competitions that you have to pay to enter, but the money raised, I'm told, goes towards Arvon's grants for writers programme.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Wednesday 05 July 2006

Hermann Ungar

Put the name of the Czech writer Hermann Unger (rendered Ungar by his UK publishers Dedalus) into Google and the second entry you get is for the The Hermann Unger Literary Teahouse (Literární Cajovna Hermanna Ungera)! How fine is that!?


Winningly, the Teahouse gives a nice gloss on Unger's life:


The teahouse is named after a native of Boskovice whose writing was sometimes compared to that of Kafka. Hermann Unger was born in Boskovice in 1893 and grew up speaking German and Czech. While at school in Brno he became active in Jewish politics, and went on to study Hebrew, Arabic and law at university. The studies were interrupted by war and Hermann was dispatched to the Russian front from where he eventually returned wounded and with a silver medal for valour. His writing career began in 1920 with Boys and Murderers, and continued with The Maimed (1922) and The Class (1927). Unger became friends with some of Prague’s most famous Jewish-German writers: Paul Kornfeld, Ernst Weiss, and Franz Werfel, and was a contemporary of Franz Kafka and Max Brod.

He died of acute appendicitis at the age of 36 in December 1929, but has not been forgotten by the tea-connoisseurs of his hometown.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Wednesday 05 July 2006

Zurau Aphorisms

Not due out in the UK until this coming November, but certainly worth noting, is Franz Kafka's The Zurau Aphorisms (Harvill Secker). (the publisher information I have renders this "Zureau"; a dear friend tells me "Zürau" is best.) The only information I have, so far, comes straight from Amazon:


Franz Kafka spent eight months in Zurau between September 1917 and April 1918, enduring at his sister's house the onset of tuberculosis. Illness paradoxically set him free to write, in a series of philosophical fragments, his settling of accounts with life, marriage, his family, guilt and man's condition. These "aphorisms" will appear, sometimes with a few words changed, scattered across other writings (letters, diaries), some of which appeared as posthumous fragments only after his death in 1924. By chance, Roberto Calasso rediscovered the original notebooks as Kafka wrote them, in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Each thought or sequence of thoughts is set off on a separate page in counterpoint to the white space surrounding them. With a brief introduction and afterword by Calasso, the assemblage is a distillation of Kafka at his most powerful and enigmatic. It is a lost jewel that provides the reader with a fresh perspective on the collective work of a genius.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Books of the Week

Edward Carpenter Edward Carpenter
Chushichi Tsuzuki
Cambridge University Press

This is the first full-scale biography of Edward Carpenter, an 'eminent Victorian' who played an intriguing role in the revival of Socialism in Britain in the late nineteenth century. 'A worthy heir of Carlyle and Ruskin', as Tolstoy called him, Carpenter tackled boldly the problems of alienation under the pressures of commercial civilisation, and developed a strongly personalised brand of Socialism which inspired both the Labour Party and its enemies, Syndicalism and Anarchism. A homosexual, he grappled with the problems of sexual alienation above all, and emerged as the foremost advocate of the homosexual cause at a time when it was a social 'taboo'. This study, based upon letters and many other personal documents, reveals much of Carpenter's personal life which has hitherto remained obscure, including his 'comradeship' with some of his working-men friends and his influence upon such notable literary figures as Siegfried Sassoon, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence.

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Vigilant Memory Vigilant Memory
R. Clifton Spargo
Johns Hopkins University Press

Vigilant Memory: Emmanuel Levinas, the Holocaust, and the Unjust Death focuses on the particular role of Emmanuel Levinas's thought in reasserting the ethical parameters for poststructuralist criticism in the aftermath of the Holocaust. More than simply situating Levinas's ethics within the larger context of his philosophy, R. Clifton Spargo offers a new explanation of its significance in relation to history. In critical readings of the limits and also the heretofore untapped possibilities of Levinasian ethics, Spargo explores the impact of the Holocaust on Levinas's various figures of injustice while examining the place of mourning, the bad conscience, the victim, and the stranger/neighbor as they appear in Levinas's work. Ultimately, Spargo ranges beyond Levinas's explicit philosophical or implicit political positions to calculate the necessary function of the "memory of injustice" in our cultural and political discourses on the characteristics of a just society.

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Poem of the Week

Cousin Nancy

Miss Nancy Ellicott
Strode across the hills and broke them,
Rode across the hills and broke them --
The barren New England hills --
Riding to hounds
Over the cow-pasture.

Miss Nancy Ellicott smoked
And danced all the modern dances;
And her aunts were not quite sure how they felt about it,
But they knew that it was modern.

Upon the glazen shelves kept watch
Matthew and Waldo, guardians of the faith,
The army of unalterable law.

-- TS Eliot
Collected Poems 1909-62 (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

fascicle

Part of a book published in installments. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary was published in fascicles. more …

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October's Books of the Month

Everything Passes Everything Passes
Gabriel Josipovici
Auschwitz Report Auschwitz Report
Primo Levi

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