Berfrois

A Year Without Summer

A Year Without Summer

A vampire is a thirsty thing, spreading metaphors like antigens through its victim’s blood. It is a rare situation that is not revealingly defamiliarized by the introduction of a vampiric motif, whether it be migration and industrial change in Dracula, adolescent sexuality inTwilight, or racism in True Blood.

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Gorky on Chekhov

Gorky on Chekhov

Portrait of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Osip Braz, 1898 by Maxim Gorky Once he invited me to the village Kout-chouk-Koy where he had a tiny strip of land and a white, two-storied house. There, while showing me his “estate,” he began to speak with animation: “If I had plenty of...

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‘The world is turning into text’

‘The world is turning into text’

by Gregory Jusdanis Who me, listen to audio books? That was my attitude until recently, a prejudice of my profession that literature is better read than heard. But on a solo road trip this summer I took along the ten-disk set of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn...

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David Beer: Simmel’s General Method

David Beer: Simmel’s General Method

Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927 by David Beer Form and Dialectic in Georg Simmel’s Sociology: A New Interpretation, by Henry Schermer and David Jary, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 328pp. As well as being a somewhat interesting character, Georg Simmel is perhaps best described as an eclectic, diverse and unconventional social thinker....

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Akshay Pathak on Vijaydan Detha

Akshay Pathak on Vijaydan Detha

Vijaydan Detha, the fabulist, folklorist writer would have been pleased if one were to start talking about him with a chougou - a form of mostly nonsensical rhythm or rhyme he employed in most of his stories much in the oral tradition of storytelling that he found himself most...

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Theodore Ziolkowski: Conspiracy!

Theodore Ziolkowski: Conspiracy!

Various explanations have been offered for the obsession with conspiracy. C. G. Jung theorized that our sense of individuality is enhanced by the possession of a secret which the individual is pledged to guard, and that the earliest evidences of social structure reveal the craving for secret organizations. If...

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From Hard Luck to Horror Show

From Hard Luck to Horror Show

Charles Manson, Crime & Punishment Museum, Washington D.C.. Photograph by Sarah Stierch From London Review of Books: The Ketchup Bottle Holdup was the point where the five-year-old Manson’s life veered from hard luck to horror show. His mother and uncle went to prison in Moundsville, West Virginia. He was...

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Jenny Diski and the Vast Leaning Book Towers

Jenny Diski and the Vast Leaning Book Towers

The Poet, who made Chairman Mao’s red-braised pork for supper last night, so I am not entitled to complain about anything, has a dark side. Before he was an academic he was a book dealer. He gave up book dealing but not the books. We live in a terraced...

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Gertrude Stein’s texts always stress infinite forward motion…

Gertrude Stein’s texts always stress infinite forward motion…

Gertrude Stein by Samuel Vriezen Fail again. Fail better. Fail again. Better again. Or better worse. Fail worse again. Fail better worse now.” By the writer who most famously explored the theme of failure, Samuel Beckett, this sequence is one of the most famous instances, from his...

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Ron Rosenbaum on Auden, Larkin and Love

Ron Rosenbaum on Auden, Larkin and Love

I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb”—widely regarded as one of Larkin’s finest poems—and contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s...

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Virginia Woolf: Is Biography an Art?

Virginia Woolf: Is Biography an Art?

Vanitas still life with skull, books, prints and paintings by Rembrandt and Jan Lievens, with a reflection of the painter at work, Simon Luttichuijs, 1635 – 1640 by Virginia Woolf I. The art of biography, we say — but at once go on to ask, is biography an art?...

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“Übersetzung” and “Übersetzen”

“Übersetzung” and “Übersetzen”

The German dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946) wrote his first drama Vor Sonnenaufgang at the age of 27. Hauptmann, though living in the small town of Erkner, a couple of miles southeast from Berlin, was in lively exchange with the newly established Berliner naturalistic group “Durch” (Engl.: “Through” or “By”)....

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Prospects for the Book

Prospects for the Book

Lightbulb and Book, Tim Mara, 1995-6 From Eurozine: Many books have been written about the future of the book, but the truth is that we still know little about the subject. The upshot of this paradoxical loop: the book has a glorious past and an unsettling present but, as...

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Is ‘Things Fall Apart’ an exemplar of literary existentialism?

Is ‘Things Fall Apart’ an exemplar of literary existentialism?

Readers of Things Fall Apart will recall the moment in the penultimate chapter of the novel when the gathering of the people of Umuofia is rudely interrupted by messengers from the white man. The messengers are confronted by Okonkwo, who happens to have taken a position at the very...

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Paige Cohen on editing EJ Koh’s debut novel

Paige Cohen on editing EJ Koh’s debut novel

Butterfly Man (Red), Arthur Boyd, 1970 by Paige Cohen I first heard EJ Koh read around one year ago at The Strand Bookstore in New York City. A year ago, we were both still MFA students living on opposite ends of Manhattan, myself a fiction candidate at The New...

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Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

It all started with cellphones, a long time ago. No student, and few teachers, would make voice calls from class, but in the early...

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Remembrance of Translations Past

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

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Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting...

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Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Not that ‘the critic’ has ever been a greatly appreciated or understood figure. Some fat toad with a feather in his hat who thinks...

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Russell Bennetts
Street Fighter: Berfrois Interviews Tariq Ali

The extreme centre is a form of government that arose out of neoliberal economics and exists today in virtually the whole of Europe, North...

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John Crutchfield: Go West

Perhaps this is what finally draws me back to the Western. It is a fundamentally serious genre. It deals with serious questions, and it...

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Joel Gn on Henri Lefebvre

How may we speak of that which goes off the record in an age of digital colonisation?

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Volker M. Welter on Michael Graves

The designer Michael Graves, who passed away at the age of 80 on March 12th, was widely considered to be one of the founding...

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Sebastian Normandin on Steven Pinker

“The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists.” So begins Steven Pinker’s recent controversial essay on scientism and its...

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Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

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McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

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Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

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Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

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