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Blog entries on '06 July 2006'

Thursday 06 July 2006

Ligeti on UbuWeb

Some new Ligeti goodies on UbuWeb:

György Ligeti: Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes (AVI): Video from an ARTE (France) broadcast of Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes. Since its world premiere in the Netherlands in 1963, Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes has been very rarely performed in public. The complicated scenographic staging, the detailed preparation by hand, the need for around ten technicians to activate more or less simultaneously the 100 metronomes, makes the demand for performances limited. Also, György Ligeti: Portrait, A Documentary by Michel Follin (1993). The Hungarian composer György Ligeti's biography typifies the displaced cosmopolitan, truly at home only in the international community of music. Appropriately enough, this revealing film portrait of his life and music has a train journey as its central metaphor, with Ligeti gazing through the window onto the changing middle-European landscape. His music - innovative, complex, brilliantly eclectic - accompanies his reflections and memories. (French, no subtitles).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 06 July 2006

Aleksander Wat

A very nice post today on Patrick Kurp's excellent Anecdotal Evidence blog on Polish poet, brother of A. Broniszowna, and co-founder of Polish Futurism, Aleksander Wat (whose My Century is out with the NYRB):

One relies on certain books the way some believers look to the Bible -- not as divinely inspired, intended for literal understanding, but as sources of dependable wisdom. At the kitschy end of the wisdom spectrum we find the self-help genre, books designed as mood-elevating delivery systems, books that assure us we are O.K. despite conclusive evidence to the contrary. Publishers and booksellers label this stuff “inspirational,” but serious readers have always assembled their own eccentric libraries of true wisdom, whether sacred or secular.

For more about Wat's (1900-1967) life, I understand that Tomas Venclova's Aleksander Wat: Life and Art of an Iconoclast (Yale) is the classic biography (nice review by Dennis J. Dunn).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 06 July 2006

More Germania II -- Thomas Bernhard

Steve has just brought my attention to A Companion to the Works of Thomas Bernhard edited by Matthias Konzett (the author of The Rhetoric of National Dissent in Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, and Elfriede Jelinek), published by Camden House, another fine German-centric publisher ("scholarly books dealing with German and Austrian literature") who I noted last Thursday with reference to Scott Peeples' The Afterlife of Poe. A pdf of the introduction to Konzett's Companion should be available on the publisher website but, frustratingly, the link isn't working. I'll chase them.

Update: Boydell have just got back to tell me that the introduction to A Companion to the Works of Thomas Bernhard (PDF file; 97KB) is now back online. Thanks!

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 06 July 2006

More Germania

Regular readers will know of my fondness for the books of the London-based German specialist publisher Libris (whose wonderful In Time of Need: A Conversation about Poetry, Resistance and Exile I've just reviewed for PN Review).

Well, I've just received some fine-looking books from fellow German-language specialist Ariadne.

Elfriede Jelinek: Framed by Language (edited by Jorun B. Johns and Katherine Arens) was first published in 1994 (way before Jelinek came to most non-German readers attention by winning the Nobel prize in 2004) and contains "fifteen essays ... demonstrat[ing] the significance of this major literary voice, addressing Jelinek as a master of modernist prose, of postmodern critique of literary genres, and of stage and screen. Hers is a strong voice against domestic violence, pornography, oppression of women, and the continuance of the fascist legacy in the everyday world of contemporary Austria and Germany."

Alexander Lernet-Holenia (1897-1976) Mars in Aries "was immediately banned upon its publication in book form in 1941 [...] Richly constructed with cultural, historical, literary, linguistic, philosophical, and metaphysical references that counter Nazism [...] the intermeshing of existentialism and fate, the duality of existence, and the qualities of resistance. [The novel] underscores Alexander Lernet-Holenia's place in the Austrian literary canon alongside such writers as Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Musil and Broch."

Christine Lavant (1915-1973) was one of Austria's most famous yet obscure 20th-century poets. Thomas Bernhard referred to her work as testimony to a "zerstörte Welt / destroyed world." Memoirs from a Madhouse "was not published until after her death, because she considered it too personal. We find autobiographical elements in it which describes her exhaustion, her sleeplessness, her failed suicide attempt, and her daily struggles to survive by writing."

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 06 July 2006

Armed Madhouse

Yesterday, I posted Max's review of Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast. As ever with Max, its a good, solid review, but I know that comments like, "unlike many in the antiwar movement, Palast ... has not staggered down the road of supporting any dictator or theocrat who is against the US" and "I and many people on the left supported the Iraq war because it was essentially the only way of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and giving Iraqis some hope in the first time in thirty-five years" will, understandably, be a red rag to some. I'll hold my tongue for now, but for those who wish RSB book reviews had their own dedicated comments facility, comment here!

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 06 July 2006


As you'll probably know, RSB interviewee Tom McCarthy has a new book out: Tintin and the Secret of Literature (Granta). See the Guardian extract for more or read Susan Tomaselli's review. We're not big lovers of Tantan around here: although we do pronounce his name in a poncey way just to show how francophilic we are!

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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