Berfrois

Woolf, it seems, was predisposed to find Ulysses undeserving of Eliot’s praise…

Woolf, it seems, was predisposed to find Ulysses undeserving of Eliot’s praise…

In February of 1922, just after James Joyce's Ulysses appeared, Virginia Woolf wrote to her sister Vanessa, who was then in Paris: “for Gods sake make friends with Joyce. I particularly want to know what he’s like.”

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Joanna Walsh on Samuel Beckett

Joanna Walsh on Samuel Beckett

The first time I read More Pricks Than Kicks I was assailed by terrible cramps that rippled up and down the front of my torso until I stopped reading. It seemed appropriate. Echo’s Bones is a long short story originally intended as the ‘recessional’ to More Pricks Than Kicks,...

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Michael Munro: Prose

Michael Munro: Prose

“We may laugh at the bourgeois’s inability to parrot his master’s lesson,” concludes this compelling account of our “illustrious,” inescapable precursor, “but we may well wonder whether, just as he has been speaking prose unwittingly, he may unwittingly state a truth about it.” Indeed, what might that truth...

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Did Woolf prefer Joyce or Proust?

Did Woolf prefer Joyce or Proust?

The Sirens imploring Ulysses to stay, 1886 by James Heffernan More than twenty years ago, Suzette Henke challenged what was then the reigning view of Virginia Woolf’s response to James Joyce’s Ulysses. To judge this response by Woolf’s most damning comments on the book and its author, Henke argued,...

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Ryan Chang on Kate Zambreno

Ryan Chang on Kate Zambreno

Photograph by kygp by Ryan Chang Green Girl: A Novel (P.S.), by Kate Zambreno, Emergency Press, 268 pp. When I’m trying to think about Lacan’s jouissance, I think of how my friends describe their trips on dimethyltriptamine, or DMT. DMT, naturally produced by our brains in the last minutes...

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Did Concrete poetry cause Brazilian electronic poetry?

Did Concrete poetry cause Brazilian electronic poetry?

If the first “wave” of Digital Humanities was said to have prompted a quantitative turn, e.g. the compilation and implementation of databases as well as the organization of information in elaborate arrays, then the much anticipated “second wave” is to be “qualitative, interpretive, experimental, emotive, generative in character”.

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How can people be both equal and dignified?

How can people be both equal and dignified?

I have been reading Geoffrey Hartman’s A Scholar’s Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe. By “intellectual journey” Hartman means something like an autobiographical bibliography — it is full of stories surrounding his writing. I started reading it mostly for Hartman’s memories of Erich Auerbach, with whose...

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Daniel Bosch on Peter Cole

Daniel Bosch on Peter Cole

by Daniel Bosch The Invention of Influence, by Peter Cole, New Directions, 120 pp. In his six-page introduction to The Invention of Influence, Harold Bloom writes that Delmore Schwartz and Peter Cole share “the gift of almost never writing badly.” Bloom’s praise seems backhanded to me because on the...

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K. Thomas Kahn on Doris Lessing

K. Thomas Kahn on Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing by K. Thomas Kahn [Preface: I wrote most of this piece, just as I read the book in question, while sitting beside my dying father in a hospital room. We have no shared language. My “I” is a “you” he has never pluralized into an eventually embraceable...

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Vernon Lee: Thinking, Talking

Vernon Lee: Thinking, Talking

From De claris mulieribus, Giovanni Boccaccio, 16th Century by Vernon Lee As towards most other things of which we have but little personal experience (foreigners, or socialists, or aristocrats, as the case may be), there is a degree of vague ill-will towards what is called Thinking. It is reputed...

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Woolf on De Quincey

Woolf on De Quincey

It must often strike the reader that very little criticism worthy of being called so has been written in English of prose — our great critics have given the best of their minds to poetry. And the reason perhaps why prose so seldom calls out the higher faculties of...

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Victoria Brockmeier: Captain Planet

Victoria Brockmeier: Captain Planet

Early in Matthew Cooperman and Marius Lehene’s collaborative masterpiece, Imago for the Fallen World, we’re told that “a fresh look and a fierce listen induce a lump in the throat.” (11) Certainly the case when the object of one’s attention is a work like this one. The book’s substantial...

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“imagine this inside”

“imagine this inside”

F320 (“There’s a certain Slant of light”) was always my favorite Dickinson poem—and I told my father that—later I memorized it and I love reciting it—when I was a kid my father told me that Dickinson was choosing (or not choosing) between the weight of cathedral tunes and the...

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You may say Rauan Klassnik’s a dreamer…

You may say Rauan Klassnik’s a dreamer…

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from us, flanked by a couple of tough, angry looking lawyers. Ron looks absolutely soulless.

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David Palumbo-Liu on Chinua Achebe

David Palumbo-Liu on Chinua Achebe

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe replied, “Listen, just listen.” I would like to add that there is listening, and there is listening.

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Philippe Theophanidis on Jean-Luc Godard

At one point near the end of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, Marcel Proust describes a painting by Claude Monet from 1897, titled “Bras...

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An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous...

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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Jason S. Polley: Prawns

The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Jesse Miksic on Dark Souls II

Is Dark Souls II the crowning rebirth of Gothic Romance for the digital age? I'm being dramatic, I realize. The spirit of Gothic has...

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Michael Munro
A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty. That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s...

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Menachem Feuer
Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The...

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Henry Giardina
Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen...

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Ashley James
Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

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