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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 '04 July 2006'

Tuesday 04 July 2006

Philip Rieff RIP

I've just learned of the death of Philip Rieff (1922-2006). He died last Saturday in Philadelphia. "Rieff was a sociologist best known for his examination of the social consequences — especially the moral consequences — of the assimilation of the ideas of Freud into modern culture."

In 1989, the University of Chicago Press published a collection of Rieff's essays, The Feeling Intellect: Selected Writings, edited by Jonathan B. Imber. They also have two of Rieff's most influential works: Freud: The Mind of the Moralist and The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud.

Just recently the University of Virginia Press published My Life Among the Deathworks:

...Rieff articulates a comprehensive, typological theory of Western culture. Using visual illustrations and unique juxtapositions, he displays remarkable erudition in drawing from such disciplines as sociology, history, literature, poetry, music, plastic arts, and film; he contrasts the changing modes of spiritual and social thought that have struggled for dominance throughout Western history. Our modern culture—to Rieff's mind only the "third" type in western history—is the object of his deepest scrutiny, described here as morally ruinous, death-affirming rather than life-affirming, and representing an unprecedented attempt to create a culture completely devoid of any concept of the sacred.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Tuesday 04 July 2006

Jerzy Ficowski

Jerzy Ficowski's only book of his own fiction Waiting for the Dog to Sleep (Twisted Spoon Press) is one of my Books of the Week this week. There is a useful short obituary for Ficowski over at which gives some background to this important Polish writer and expert on Bruno Schulz. (For more on BS, see Mark Kaplan's tribute to Bruno Schulz.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Tuesday 04 July 2006

July's Books of the Month

I'm never quite sure why "summer reading" has come to be a synonym for "reading rubbish books", but the lists that abound at this time of year rarely seem to bring one's attention to anything decent. I hope my own Books of the Month for July offer a little more food for thought ...

First up is Darkness Spoken the collected poems of the extraordinary Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann (published by Zephyr Press, "a non-profit arts and education organization" based in the US that have a very good list).

And then we have Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation by James K. Lyon (Johns Hopkins University Press): "Drawing heavily on documentary material—including Celan's reading notes on more than two dozen works by Heidegger, the philosopher's written response to the poet's Meridian speech, and references to Heidegger in Celan's letters—Lyon presents a focused perspective on this critical aspect of the poet's intellectual development and provides important insights into his relationship with Heidegger, transforming previous conceptions of it."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Tuesday 04 July 2006

New site for Carcanet

Michael Schmidt's excellent publishing house, Carcanet ("simply one of the best literary publishers in the world" according to Charles Simic), has just redesigned its website. Nice clean lines, and more easily navigable than its previous incarnation, the site promises more interactive features to come.

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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