Berfrois

‘We all hate the poetry we learnt in school. Why?’

‘We all hate the poetry we learnt in school. Why?’

That the object of education should be to fit the child for life is such a trite and well-worn saying that people smile at its commonplaceness even while they agree with its obvious common sense.

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Where Most of the Beats Had Stayed

Where Most of the Beats Had Stayed

Allen Ginsberg outside Shakespeare and Company, Paris by Jenny Diski A great sadness in my young life was to have missed Paris in the Fifties: those existentialists sitting morosely in the Deux Magots (did Beckett really pour a glass of beer over his head without showing any sign of...

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They Love Love-Songs Too

They Love Love-Songs Too

When I was younger, in college and grad school, I'd read that someone my current age had won the lottery, and it just seemed so pointless. What would they do with twenty years of money coming in that could possibly make their, or anyone's, life better? There they would...

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Even the crafted poetry menu would look strange…

Even the crafted poetry menu would look strange…

Much of modern poetry is unintelligible or seems incoherent. That’s not modern poetry’s problem though. The problem with modern poetry is the absence of a general interest reader of poetry. Cautious readers avoid the crafted, arched bridges called poems precariously balanced over esoteric estuaries. But was there ever a...

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‘Iago as much as Imogen’

‘Iago as much as Imogen’

Moby Dick Arises from the Deep, Gilbert Wilson From The Chronicle Review: The poet most likely to practice and evoke ethical imagination is not “poetical,” in the sense of flamboyant or opinionated. Thinking of Shakespeare, Keats, who was Shelley‘s contemporary, claimed that the most powerful versifier “has no identity”...

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Ware’s Wares

Ware’s Wares

From Building Stories, Chris Ware, 2012 From The New York Review of Books: In September 1999, as Jimmy Corrigan was nearing completion, Ware visited the preserved apartment of the outsider artist Henry Darger. Darger had lived an isolated existence, working feverishly on thousands upon thousands of pages of eccentric...

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When is all the apparent inconsistency to attain consistency?

When is all the apparent inconsistency to attain consistency?

Robert Browning, Michele Gordigiani, 1858 by Gerald Massey Dramatis Personae, by Robert Browning, first published 1864, 258 pp. Many puzzled readers of current verse are, no doubt, marvelling what our modern poetry is coming to. When, where and how is all the apparent inconsistency to attain consistency? The Epic...

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Of Birds and Lobsters by Elias Tezapsidis

Of Birds and Lobsters by Elias Tezapsidis

The maternal figures of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and Jonathan Franzen's Freedom are antithetical characters. Avril Incandenza, the imperious OCD-ridden mother figure in Infinite Jest, raises insecure children despite her profound love for them. On the contrary, Patty Berglund, the conflicted mother in Freedom, eventually adopts the role...

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Folk Poesy

Folk Poesy

‘The Goose-Girl’. From German Popular Stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, 1823. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. From The Times Literary Supplement: Most of Pullman’s forerunners turned to imaginative creations of their own after they had quarried the scholarly deposits. M. R. James’s thrilling ghost stories are steeped in his...

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But in Love?

But in Love?

Achilles Lamenting the Death of Patroclus, Gavin Hamilton, 1760 – 1763 by Gregory Jusdanis Did they or didn’t they? Only Homer knows for sure. But readers of the Iliad have wondered for centuries about the love between Achilles and Patroclus. The topic was so disturbing to Wolfgang Petersen that...

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Valued by Alienists

Valued by Alienists

Many and many a reader has asked that. When the story first came out, in the New England Magazine about 1891, a Boston physician made protest in The Transcript. Such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.

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For print literature too, hermeneutic approaches already account for the material presence of the work…

For print literature too, hermeneutic approaches already account for the material presence of the work…

Digital literature runs the risk of becoming top-heavy, by which I mean that the amount of theory (let's say: the head) on digital literature is weightier than the body of works to be considered. This is quite contrary to the situation in print literature, where serious literary criticism is...

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Skag Central

Skag Central

In his fiction, Irvine Welsh asks how we can sustain a sense of community in a culture where pursuit of self-interest is proclaimed as the dominant virtue. Skagboys, the new prequel to Trainspotting, takes issue with the spiritual legacy of Thatcherism.

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