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Blog entries on '27 March 2006'

Monday 27 March 2006


This Thursday, 30th March, between 1-2pm, (when surely most good folk are locked in offices?) at Manchester Central Library (in the second floor reception room), Comma Press are launching Parenthesis "a new generation in short fiction ... a showcase for emerging talent in UK short fiction." It's free, refreshments will be provided, and there will be readings by Anna Ball, Adam Marek, Alistair Herbert and L.E. Yates.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Monday 27 March 2006

On Late Style

I began reading Edward Said's On Late Style (one of my Books of the Week this week, alongside Amorgos by Nikos Gatsos) at the weekend. The book, nicely reviewed by Paul Griffiths in the latest BookForum, was left unfinished when Said died of leukaemia, aged 67, back in September 2003. With the help of his wife Mariam and the literary critics Richard Poirier and Michael Wood (who, as one would expect from such an excellent writer, provides a useful, short introduction) the work has been constructed and looks to be a fitting last book by a key intellectual figure of the last few decades.

The first essay in the book is an engagement with Adorno's work on late Beethoven. Indeed, Adorno haunts this work. Whilst On Late Style is being billed as Said's last book of literary criticism it is every bit as much a book of musicology.

Edward Said looks at a selection of essays, poems, novels, films, and operas to determine what late style may explain about the evolution of the creative life. He discusses how the approaching death of an artist can make its way “with anachronism and anomaly” into his work, as was the case in the late work of Thomas Mann, Richard Strauss, Jean Genet, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, and C. P. Cavafy. Said examines Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Genet’s Le captif amoureux and Les paravents, Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Visconti’s film of Lampedusa’s The Leopard, Euripides’ The Bacchae and Iphigenia at Aulis, and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, among other works.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Monday 27 March 2006

The Devil Is a Gentleman

JC Hallman's The Devil Is a Gentleman sounds bonkers, like something Jon Ronson or Louis Theroux might write, but coming out of an engagement with William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience:

Varieties was a watershed effort: a bestselling portrait of history’s pluralism and a defense of the spiritual quest, in all its guises, against the era’s increasingly secular sentiments. Today, with all the old tensions between skeptics and believers still in place, JC Hallman pays homage to James’s exploration of offbeat religious movements. But where James relied on the testimony and biographies of prophets and mystics, Hallman travels directly to some of America’s newest and most unusual religions, trekking from Druid circles in the mossy hills of northern California to the gleaming mother church of Scientology ... Along the way, he participates in a variety of rites and reports on a broad spectrum of beliefs. Eventually Hallman adopts James as his patron saint, spiritual adviser, and intellectual companion on the journey that will culminate in the creation of this book, a compelling combination of adventure and biography, spotted with hair-raising predicaments and rife with poignant portraits of unforgettable characters, including William James himself.

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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