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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 '27 September 2005'

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Skolkin-Smith and Paley

Leora Skolkin-Smith, author of Edges: O Israel, O Palestine (which was kindly sent to me by Leora t'other week) and poet, publisher (with Glad Day Books) and peace activist Grace Paley are interviewed [sound file] at WBAI Pacifica Radio in NYC. (See also the Grace Paley profile at the Guardian site.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Clark on Blanchot

Timothy Clark on Maurice Blanchot (via pas au-delà - and also see Steve on Clark's Routledge Critical Thinkers: Martin Heidegger):

Literature fascinates Blanchot as a site of irreducible strangeness and resistance to conceptual thought. Blanchot's critical thinking re-engages the old dispute between poetry and philosophy. The mode of being of literature eludes notions of strict essence, evaluation or weighing, in terms of its supposed truth or falsehood. The space of literature is not one that can feed into any sort of thinking in terms of cultural monuments, human values or edifying reflection. It is a space of crisis and the dissolution of certainty.

See also The Poetics of Singularity: The Counter-culturalist Turn in Heidegger, Derrida, Blanchot and the Later Gadamer (EUP).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Poets Thinking

As soon as I finish Terry Eagleton's Holy Terror (OUP) - which should be tonight if I don't collapse in front of the telly after French class - I'll be reading Helen Vendler's Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats which arrived yesterday from HUP. I'm impressed with what I've read by Vendler (Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire) and quite fancy reading her Coming of Age as a Poet: Milton, Keats, Eliot, Plath too.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Banned books

I only just noticed ... it's Banned Book Week in the States. See the American Library Association's list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Christine Brooke-Rose

Just noticed this interview with Christine Brooke-Rose with Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski and this interview at the Center for Book Culture with Ellen G. Friedman and Miriam Fuchs. And this biographical sketch is useful. Invisible Author: Last Essays looks excellent:

A blend of memoir and narrative, Invisible Author consists of six lectures by Christine Brooke-Rose, in which she discusses her own work, thus breaking the taboo that authors should not write about their writings, though constantly invited to talk about them. The collection ends with a splendidly summarizing interview by Lorna Sage.

Sarah Birch's Christine Brooke-Rose and Contemporary Fiction is probably one to order from the library:

Setting her work firmly in the context of English and French writing and literary and feminist theory, Sarah Birch examines the full range of Brooke-Rose's fiction: the early realist novels published between 1957-1961; the strongly anti-realist period beginning with Out (1964), when Brooke-Rose's work was seen to be heavily influenced by French experimental fiction; and the third phase of her development which began with Xorandor (1986) and which marks a questioning return to the traditional techniques of the novel. Sarah Brich asks why a novelist who has been so highly praised by critics is nevertheless excluded from the contemporary canon, and argues that Brooke-Rose's position on the borders of European and British cultures raises key questions concenring the notion of a `national' tradition and of literary post-modernism. For Birch, Brooke-Rose's work is best understood as a poetic and playful questioning of categories in general, be they discursive or cultural.

Born in 1923 in Geneva and educated at Somerville College, Oxford and University College, London, Brooke-Rose taught at the University of Paris, Vincennes, from 1968 to 1988 and now lives in the south of France. Carcanet publish her novels Amalgamemnon, Xorandor, Verbivore and Textermination and her earlier novels Out, Such, Between and Thru in the Brooke-Rose Omnibus. Also available is her autobiographical work, Remake (1996).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Literary criticism titles

A wee while ago Dan Green, annoyed that "[l]iterary criticism is in a sorry state these days", provided a list of books "that would educate anyone who picked them up about literary forms, style, history, predominant themes." The list is an excellent one and runs:

Richard Poirier A World Elsewhere: The Place of Style in American Literature
Northrop Frye Anatomy of Criticism
Wayne Booth The Rhetoric of Fiction
Ian Watt The Rise of the Novel
Richard Chase The American Novel and Its Tradition
Eric Auerbach Mimesis
Cleanth Brooks The Well-Wrought Urn
William Empson 7 Types of Ambiguity
Leo Marx The Machine in the Garden
Tony Tanner City of Words: American Fiction 1950-1970

Steve, agreeing with Dan that contemporary literary criticism has been "superseded by gossip and what passes for literary 'news'", responded with this following list of inspiring gems:

Maurice Blanchot The Space of Literature
Walter Benjamin Illuminations
Jorge Luis Borges The Total Library
Teodolina Barolini The Undivine Comedy
Paul Celan Collected Prose
Gabriel Josipovici On Trust
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe Poetry as Experience
Christopher Ricks Beckett's Dying Words
Michael Wood The Magician’s Doubts

I'm a big fan of Simon Critchley's Things Merely Are: Philosophy in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens and his Very Little ... Almost Nothing. What about you guys?

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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-- Mark Thwaite, Managing Editor


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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