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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 '18 October 2005'

Tuesday 18 October 2005

Clinamen titles

The best introductory book on Maurice Blanchot is Ullrich Haase and William Large's Maurice Blanchot (in the very fine Routledge Critical Thinkers series). Large's latest book, just out from Clinamen, is Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot: Ethics and the Ambiguity of Writing. This has just arrived along with Alain Badiou's On Beckett.

About the Beckett title, Clinamen say:

... the first collection together of all of Badiou's work on Beckett, and the first translation of this important material. Badiou presents a Beckett whose work is the work of philosophy itself - a philosophy in the full sense of the word, which works to reduce experience to its essential determinations. Rejecting the stereotype view of Beckett as the dark existentialist of abandoned existence, Badiou rather focuseson what he calls the 'hidden poem' in the prosody and themes of Beckett's work. For Badiou, philosophy expresss itself immanently in culture through the 'procedures of truth' manifested in science, art, politics and love. These essays together furnish a meditation on the developments of Beckett's ideas, always philosophically allusive, from first works through The Unnameable (a solipsist impasse, claims Badiou, from which it would take Beckett ten years to escape), to a final engagement with questions of the Other and Love.

Also worth looking out for from Clinamen is Walter Benjamin's Philosophy: Destruction and Experience edited by Peter Osborne and Andrew Benjamin. I'll be reviewing the latter's Disclosing Spaces: On Painting in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 18 October 2005

The Other Press

A fine package of books has arrived from the Other Press. Nice, nice books. Peter Stephan Jungk's The Perfect American and his recent Tigor (Faber have this in the UK as The Snowflake Constant) and Peter Stamm's Unformed Landscape (all translated by Michael Hofmann). Also Talking With Poets: Robert Pinsky, Seamus Heaney, Philip Levine, Michael Hofmann, and David Ferry and Elected Friends: Robert Frost and Edward Thomas to One Another:

Robert Frost and Edward Thomas met in a bookshop in London in 1913. During the next four years, the two writers--Frost, an unknown poet who had sold his farm in New Hampshire in order to take his family to England for one last gamble on poetry and Thomas, a sad literary journalist--formed the most important friendship between poets since that of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Their friendship only ended with Thomas' death in Arras, France, a casualty of the First World War.

The complete-review said of Jungk's Tigor, "some decent ideas and writing, but doesn't achieve its aims". Regardless, I'm still pretty keen to read it. Peter Stamm has been described as "one of Switzerland's most remarkable young talents" (via the very useful New books in German website which "presents regular reviews of new titles particularly recommended for translation into English.")

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Tuesday 18 October 2005

Holy Terror

I reviewed Terry Eagleton's Holy Terror for the New Statesman. For whatever reason, they are probably not going to run with it, so I'm publishing it here. I said:

Avowedly, Eagleton is a Marxist. One of the great shames of this book is that, beneath all his learning, when a clear, more committed voice emerges, it isn’t something radical we hear, but the same, dull, liberal platitudes (“the West risks being brought to the ground by its own unwielding strength”, “freedom must posit the freedom of others”) which we hear all of the time. It would seem, despite all his learning, that Eagleton is as perplexed as the rest of us. As readers we are cowed by his citations, not enlightened. Knowing that sublimated at the very core of society resides a primordial terror tells us precious little. It certainly tells us nothing about the history of terrorism nor illumines paths that may counter or prevent it ... as a treatise on terrorism, or as any sort of a guide to thinking about either the terror of the impassioned or the equally vile response of the scared State, this is all but useless.

(For the whole of my review of Holy Terror.)

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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