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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"
Friday 01 September 2006
A Thomas Bernhard question
A RSB reader writes asking:
I would really like to get the best versions of Thomas Bernhard's work. I have not read him before, so (1) could you recommend the books (ie translation etc.), and (2) the order that I should read them in!"
So (as they say) I decided to ask an expert and consult Steve: who advises:
There are no versions to worry about. Only one novel has two translations (Cutting Timber/Woodcutters). Order ... well, chronologically is the easist, though reverse order would probably give the better impression: Gargoyles, The Lime Works, Correction, Yes, Concrete, Gathering Evidence (not a novel, but ...), Old Masters, The Loser, Cutting Timber, Extinction. I've left out one or two minor works but Three Novellas is great. See also thomasbernhard.org/works.
Worth noting that Gargoyles and The Loser are being re-issued this November and next July respectively (by Vintage USA) and remembering, too, that Michael Hofmann's new translation of Bernhard's Frost is due from Knopf in October.
Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Books of the Week
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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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
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.
Collected Poems 1909-62 (Faber and Faber)
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October's Books of the Month
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