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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 '03 October 2005'

Monday 03 October 2005

Will the truth out? Really?

Mrs BookWorld, who I think of us being "our" Shakespeare expert (although Elliss has a fair few books on the bard come to think of it!), has had her interest piqued by The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare by Brenda James and William Rubinstein. The unmasking was the result of applying "a 16th century code-breaking technique to a small passage of Shakespeare’s writing". Sounds dodgy to me as well, Sandra. I wonder what Clare Asquith will make of it? She has just written Shadowplay (which I mentioned a few weeks back) which also decodes the plays - this time finding in them evidence of Will's pro-Catholocism.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 03 October 2005

Guy Debord

That very fine press, Reaktion Books, have just released Andrew Merrifield's Guy Debord in their Critical Lives series. I'm looking forward to this one. The best book I've read on the SI's head honcho? That would have to be Anselm Jappe's Guy Debord. Andrew Hussey's rather plodding The Game of War is to be avoided. I would still judge Sadie Plant's The Most Radical Gesture: Situationist International in a Postmodern Age to be very well done, despite the inevitable charges of acedemic recuperation that were, of course, levelled at it.

(Interesting piece, that 3:AM linked to a wee while back How Does One Become Guy Debord? [from Historical Materialism Volume 13, Number 1, 2005].)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 03 October 2005

Words Without Borders

New issue of Words Without Borders is online:

This issue begins with several pieces devoted to the importance of maintaining indigenous languages, then goes on to reproduce one of the most difficult and beautiful of the ancient Aztec works from a new translation into Spanish. Two sections of poems, one more clearly connected to ancient themes and the other contemporary, follow. There are stories and fables, and two descriptive essays of aspects of ancient culture still in existence, one Nahua and the other Maya.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 03 October 2005

Peter Weiss

Peter Weiss (1916-1982), probably best known for his play Marat/Sade, and posthumous winner of the Georg Büchner Prize, has recently had the first volume (of three) of his The Aesthetics of Resistance, translated by Joachim Neugroschel and with an introduction by Fredric Jameson, released by Duke Univesity Press.

A major literary event, the publication of this masterful translation makes one of the towering works of twentieth-century German literature available to English-speaking readers for the first time ... The first volume, presented here, was initially published in Germany in 1975; the third and final volume in 1981, just six months before Weiss's death. Spanning from the late 1930s into World War II, this historical novel dramatizes anti-fascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss's novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in the refusal of humans to renounce resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that it is in art that new models of political action and social understanding are to be found. The novel includes extended meditations on paintings, sculpture, and literature.

"[M]ajor literary event" it may be, but I've seen no reviews in any British papers or journals. In the Oct/Nov issue of BookForum Mark M. Anderson reviews it, but the piece isn't available on the net. Online I can only find the review at the matchless complete-review and also Noah Isenberg's review in The Nation. Isenberg says:

Arguably one of the most demanding works of modern German literature, Weiss's tome has no linear narrative development, no clear beginning, middle or end, no chapter breaks, few paragraph breaks and no clear plot lines. While it shares some of the stock features of the classic Bildungsroman (it tracks, in part, the character formation of the nameless first-person narrator) and, even more, of the 1950s nouveau roman of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Nathalie Sarraute, it ultimately resists such categories, as one might expect. Indeed, one very basic element of "aesthetic resistance," perhaps envisioned as a formal irritant, is the novel's self-conscious disavowal of its own genre.

Duke Univesity Press seem to be being coy about a schedule for the coming volumes, but it is wonderful to see this volume out at last. (See also the complete-review's Weiss page and Internationale Peter Weiss Gesellschaft.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Monday 03 October 2005

The World of Houellebecq

A two-day conference on the overrated French writer, Michel Houellebecq, is to take plece at the Scottish Poetry Library (Crichton Close, Canongate, Edinburgh) at the end of the month (via 3:AM).

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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