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

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Blog entries on '02 September 2005'

Friday 02 September 2005

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams, author of Letters to Virginia Woolf (Hamilton Books) (and, previously, The Artist as Outsider in the Novels of Toni Morrison and Virginia Woolf [Greenwood Press]), seems to have done a very good job mobilising the blogosphere - and good on her for that!

Coolie published a short essay by her and Lee, Stefanie and Jai (this via Woolfish blog Fernham) have reviewed her book.

Well, not liking to be left out, I'll be interviewing Lisa soon, here on RSB ...

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 02 September 2005

Mars-Jones on Calasso

Writing in the Observer last Sunday, Adam Mars-Jones, reviewing Robert Calasso's K, said:

Calasso's style often overlays Kafka with a strongly clashing flavour. It's as if someone who has been chopping garlic all morning has made gruel without washing his hands ... For all its devotion, this literary personality seems very much at odds with Kafka's nature, so tentative and implacable.

Tentative and implacable - I like that. It is only oxymoronically that one can think about Kafka and his realist mythemes, his strangely abstract yet concrete constructions. Indeed, Kafka's irreducibility should remind us of the singularity of literature, its irreducibility. And also its magnetism. We can attempt to interpret, but we can never fully know. Something remains out of reach.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 02 September 2005

Gibson on Alain-Fournier

It is years and years since I read Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes and I have nothing very insightful to say about it, I'm afraid! But I feel generally well disposed towards the novel and so I'm keen to interview Robert Gibson, whose recent book The End of Youth: The Life and Work of Alain-Fournier (Impress Books) has just landed.

Robert Gibson has published on Alain-Fournier's work for over half a century. His latest book draws on new material that has appeared over the last twenty-five years that allows a significant reappraisal of the detail and influences of Alain-Fournier's life. Robert Gibson has had unique access to this material and this book will prove to be another landmark in the study of the author of Le Grand Meaulnes. Robert Gibson is retired Professor of French from the University of Kent [...] He is the world authority on Alain-Fournier in the English-Speaking world.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 02 September 2005


Reviewing Nobel prize-winning Imre Kertész's Fatelessness, our Book of the Month, the Complete Review said:

Fatelessness, is a fine work, but -- unlike Kertész's later works -- ultimately not a truly remarkable one. Nevertheless, in laying the foundation for almost everything he wrote afterwards (and for understanding the man) it remains an essential text. It is good place to start on Kertész, but should be just that: the start. In moving from this book to his later works one moves from a simple, affecting story to true literature, from reality to art.

I differ, a little, in my thoughts on Kertész's debut: I did think it was "remarkable". It was powerfully restrained; György Köves, the Jewish teenage narrator has an authentic and compelling voice; and the ironic distance Kertész's builds through the György's naivety is chilling.

Kertész is very careful, via György, not to describe Buchenwald, where Kertész himself was imprisoned, as "hell". What does that - hell - mean? It is too metaphoriacal, too abstract. György simply describes what happened to him. He doesn't abstract - mythologise - the horror. And it is this device that gives the work its power.


Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (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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