Berfrois

A Ferryman is What We Need by Daniel Bosch

A Ferryman is What We Need by Daniel Bosch

Charon the Ferryman, Jose Benlliure y Gil, 1919 by Daniel Bosch “Ferry,” the English noun and verb, is derived from the Old Norse “ferja,” to move across a body of water. “Ferry” is related to German “fahren,” to ride, or to travel, the sense of which includes duration. It...

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When angst was in fashion, writing was angelic and crazy…

When angst was in fashion, writing was angelic and crazy…

‘All pens are filled with potential’. So begins an advertisement in the Guardian newspaper for its ‘new idea’. The paper is offering weekend masterclasses in creative writing and publishing, taught by novelists (‘discover the novelist within’), historical fiction writers (‘Historical novels have been riding high in the best-seller lists...

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Is context a “thing” at all?

Is context a “thing” at all?

Ms.B86 fol.55b Poem by Ibn Quzman by Vincent Barletta Focused as some of us are on medieval and early modern literature, the question of context comes up a great deal. Is our work sufficiently contextualized? Where and how do modern theories of language and meaning (our inevitable toolkit) fit...

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For Scholarship and Virtue

For Scholarship and Virtue

The Yellow Flowers, Vincent Van Gogh, 1887 by Rick Honings and Arnold Lubbers In the small town of Steenbergen, situated in the Dutch province of North Brabant, near the Belgian border, a book club was set up in 1797, with Voor Wetenschap en Deugd (For Scholarship and Virtue) as...

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{raven, writing desk}

{raven, writing desk}

One modern incarnation of the debate between nominalism and realism is to be found in philosophical arguments about sets. There are two ways of characterizing a set: intensionally, through description (e.g. the set of all inhabitants of London, to use an example of Russell's), and extensionally, which is just...

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The Victorians Can Help Us by Simon Calder

The Victorians Can Help Us by Simon Calder

‘David Copperfield and Uriah Heep’. From David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 1850. Illustration by by Fred Barnard, 1870 by Simon Calder How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, by Leah Price, Princeton University Press, 360 pp. What use is this book, which asks us to enlarge our...

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Daniel Tobin: Irish Routes

Daniel Tobin: Irish Routes

The apartment building where I grew up in Brooklyn during the Sixties and Seventies had strangely much in common with the kind of close-knit Irish townland from which my grandmother emigrated in 1913. Tucked just beyond the entry on the first floor landing, her small one bedroom flat was...

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Novels of Circulation

Novels of Circulation

The Merchant Georg Gisze, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1532 by Jonathan Lamb Piece originally published at Public Domain Review. Some of the best recent books about things, such as John Plotz’s Portable Property (2008) and Elaine Freedgood’s Ideas in Things (2006), deal with artefacts, commodities and curiosities that find...

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Every Book I’m Shufflin’

Every Book I’m Shufflin’

Card from A Shufflebook, by Richard Hefter and Martin Stephen Moskof, 1970 by Zuzana Husárová and Nick Montfort Introduction The paper formulates the category “shuffle literature” to help reveal important qualities of certain intriguing works of fiction and poetry. We show how unusual formal and material aspects of these...

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Uso

Our lives of jugs, and pots and plates…

Our lives of jugs, and pots and plates…

“The important thing is not what we write,” Joyce tells Arthur Power in Conversations with James Joyce, “but how we write, and in my opinion the modern writer must be an adventurer above all, willing to take every risk, and be prepared to founder in his effort if need...

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What exactly happened, between 1970 and 1998, to Shulamith Firestone?

What exactly happened, between 1970 and 1998, to Shulamith Firestone?

Shulamith Firestone by Sianne Ngai Shulamith Firestone’s Airless Spaces (1998) has been sitting in one of my bookcases since 2000. I bought the postcard-sized Semiotext(e) book mostly out of surprise from seeing the name of its author in print: one I realized I hadn’t seen for a very long...

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Nymphets Become Nymphs

Nymphets Become Nymphs

When in 1996 Hafid Bouazza published his debut collection of short stories De voeten van Abdullah, it caused quite a stir. Besides the obvious literary qualities of the collection, it was the author’s background that so excited its readers. Hafid Bouazza, born in Morocco, the son of one of...

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Dickens the Inimitable

Dickens the Inimitable

Charles Dickens, by Charles Baugniet, 1858. From The New York Review of Books: Is Dickens the greatest of English novelists? Few would contest that he is the most English of great English novelists, and that his most accomplished novels—Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Our Mutual...

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Kafka must end in the inexplicable…

Kafka must end in the inexplicable…

Franz Kafka From The Times Literary Supplement: Stanley Corngold seems to have established himself as the doyen of American Kafkaists. Ruth V. Gross’s preface to Kafka for the Twenty-First Century, co-edited with Corngold, sets the tone. The idea, she explains, was “to assemble a number of distinguished Kafka researchers...

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18/14

18/14

“Seferis, Seferis. Do we have him? Is he one of ours?” (eínai se mas) shouts the clerk to a colleague sipping a frappé at a desk across the room. Fani Papageorgiou and I are negotiating the labyrinthine bureaucracy of death at some lesser Ministry of the Underworld.

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The Deaths of a Tax Accountant by Jarrod Dunham

The Deaths of a Tax Accountant by Jarrod Dunham

“Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin”, Roland Barthes wrote in his 1967 essay “The Death of the Author”. Barthes, an author himself, was of course not speaking literally. And yet, the literal death of an author – the 2008 suicide of David Foster...

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Thomas Heise: Unnatural as the Boom

Thomas Heise: Unnatural as the Boom

Among our canonical twentieth-century writers, none suffered this pronouncement—one avoids labeling it a fate—more than F. Scott Fitzgerald. At what should have been the height of his novelistic powers in the mid 1930s, he was listless, reckless in his personal affairs, sick with tuberculosis and jaw-droppingly drunk. As Fitzgerald...

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Consider Gina and Belinda

Consider Gina and Belinda

Little Christer, 1955 From The Smart Set: In this small but engaging show, Strömholm documents these women’s lives in public and private. He gives us intimate scenes from inside drab hotel rooms and claustrophobic bathrooms, where the women stare at the camera through their reflections in the mirror, a double...

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