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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 '09 September 2005'

Friday 09 September 2005

Pullman on Milton

In the Telegraph last Saturday, which I missed this because I never read it, was a reprint of Phillip Pullman's introduction to OUP's handsome new hardback edition of Milton's Paradise Lost.

I can't find it online (do let me know - via the comments - if you can) which is a pity as it is a nice, breezy introduction the poem. It is, however, like the volume itself, devoid of the usual scholarly framework you might expect to find in a reprint of a classic: for that you'll need Penguin Classics' Paradise Lost or Oxford World's Classics' Paradise Lost. (I also hear that Longman's edition is very good.)

Pullman says in his introduction:

A poem is not a lecture; a story is not an argument. The way poems and stories work on our minds is not by logic, but by their capacity to enchant, to excite, to move, to inspire. To be sure, a sound intellectual underpinning helps the work to stand up under intellectual questioning, as Paradise Lost certainly does; but its primary influence is on the imagination ... I don't think that the version created by Milton, blind and ageing, out of political favour, dictating it day by day to his daughter, will ever be surpassed.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 09 September 2005

This Blinding Absence of Light

Tahar Ben Jelloun's celebrated novel This Blinding Absence of Light, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale, which won the 2004 IMPAC Award, is just out in paperback from Penguin.

The IMPAC judges said:

We admire the novel's beauty and clarity of language, its formal restraint which gives it subtle power, its commitment to its terrible subject, its passionate evocation of the human soul and the will to survive.

The Independent called it, "One of the greatest prison novels of our age" and the Irish Times called it, "One of the most beautiful, humbling and important books most of us are ever likely to read." So, well thought of then! I best get on to it.

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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