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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 '17 November 2006'

Friday 17 November 2006

The Waves

I've just finished reading another Virginia Woolf novel. The Waves was wonderful; every bit as good as To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway. (Worth noting: the University of Adelaide Library’s collection of Web books [] has the entire text of The Waves online as well as lots of other goodies.) I'll think and write about the book over the weekend. In the meantime, this from an essay by Lisa Marie Lucenti:

Pamela Caughie writes that "Woolf's characters and narrators do not present a consistent theory of self and world. Instead, they make us self-conscious of theorizing about self and world by making the narrative strategies self-conscious." With such slippery characters to work with, it is perhaps less important -- or even feasible -- to try to define the form of Woolf's subjects than to trace a few of their paths and crossings. To do so is an even greater challenge when, as Bernard says in The Waves, "We melt into each other with phrases.... We make an insubstantial territory". In this novel, six "characters" or voices alternate between acceptance and rejection of their own insubstantiality. And, Woolf would have us realize, her characters are not alone in this struggle, since they are caught within the most basic and most irresolvable questions of ontology -- what it means to be and how one goes about that business.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Friday 17 November 2006


Via the ever-excellent Literary Saloon this, so you may well have seen it: "In Representative Fictions in The Nation William Deresiewicz tackles the English-language version of Franco Moretti's The Novel [this link to vol.1] (pared down to two volumes, from the original Italian five) ... He does write: "for all its flaws, The Novel [this link to vol.2] is an impressive achievement" -- but also:

While some of these essays make useful points, and a couple of them interesting ones, they are distinguished, in general, by numbing banality and the use of methodologies that would make a statistician weep. (As one writer admits, "My data stop at precisely the point where one wants to know more.") Some of the charts aren't even properly proofread, though that problem is hardly unique to this section. The two volumes together contain well over a hundred typos and inconsistencies -- which, given the collection's price and publisher and prestigious editorial board (which includes Fredric Jameson and Mario Vargas Llosa), is nothing short of disgraceful. Also disgraceful is the quality of the translations. Many of these essays are from Italian and other originals, and if the editors were going to bother having them translated, they might as well have taken the trouble to have them translated into English.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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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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