Berfrois

Joseph Conrad on the Titanic

Joseph Conrad on the Titanic

S.S. Titanic at the docks of Southampton, April 1912. by Joseph Conrad It is with a certain bitterness that one must admit to oneself that the late S.S. Titanic had a “good press.” It is perhaps because I have no great practice of daily newspapers (I have never seen so many of them together lying about my…

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What do poetry editors do with all their time?

What do poetry editors do with all their time?

From Poetry: In a conversation I’m picturing, an imaginary American novelist named Pat is having drinks with a poet who is also the editor of some sort of poetry journal.  This poet is named Kendall: Pat: Does it ever happen that someone gives you a poem for your magazine,...

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Splendid Cabin

Splendid Cabin

Abraham Lincoln famously greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe at the White House in 1862, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

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Waste Paper

Waste Paper

‘Terse As Virulent Hermaphrodites’: Middlebrow Representations of Modernist Poets in the 1920s   by George Simmers Based on a  paper given at the conference on ‘The Popular Imagination and the Dawn of Modernism’, at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, 15 September, 2011. In P.G. Wodehouse’s 1925...

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“Is it a jail, father?”

“Is it a jail, father?”

Engraving of the U.S. Treasury building in 1804, from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, No. 262, March, 1872 by Alison K. Hoagland Fortress of Finance: The United States Treasury Building, by Pamela Scott, Washington DC: Treasury Historical Association, Illustrations. xiv + 318 pp Pamela Scott, the premier architectural historian of...

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Cosima was Wagner’s wife, the one word Jessa Crispin hadn’t searched for…

Cosima was Wagner’s wife, the one word Jessa Crispin hadn’t searched for…

Cosima Wagner From The Smart Set: “Find Madame Wagner, and you will find yourself,” the man told me. It wasn’t quite the spiritual quest I had been expecting as I sat waiting for the U-Bahn to arrive. One second I was enjoying my book; the next, a man was...

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What Makes Laws Law

What Makes Laws Law

Moses and the Tablets of the Law, Claude Vignon by Walter Kendall III Legality, by Scott Shapiro, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 472 pp Scott Shapiro’s new book Legality has re-ignited many of the jurisprudential debates initially kindled by H. L. A. Hart’s The Concept of Law in 1961. For instance,...

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Magdalena Slyk: Congrats Tomas!

Magdalena Slyk: Congrats Tomas!

Tomas Tranströmer by Magdalena Slyk After I had been studying Swedish for three years, and had begun to read an increasing amount of Swedish literature, I encountered the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer. At first, I found that it was not easy to read and understand all the different images...

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Admiring Tolkien

Admiring Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien From The New Yorker: At Oxford in the nineteen-forties, Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was generally considered the most boring lecturer around, teaching the most boring subject known to man, Anglo-Saxon philology and literature, in the most boring way imaginable. “Incoherent and often inaudible” was...

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Nicholas Rombes on Olena Kalytiak Davis

Nicholas Rombes on Olena Kalytiak Davis

Olena Kalytiak Davis, photograph by Gerard Malanga by Nicholas Rombes What I said at the end last time, about how my friend K. never showed up at the bar, wasn’t exactly true. He did show up, disheveled and unshaven, his black hair long and a little greasy and almost...

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Fantastika is, in fact, the spectrum itself…

Fantastika is, in fact, the spectrum itself…

From cover of The Fourth Circle, by Zoran Živković, 2005 edition From World Literature Today: Michael Morrison: You have allied your fiction with the literary tradition of Middle-European “fantastika.” How do you define this tradition? Which of its authors have influenced your work? Zoran Živković: The literary and geographical...

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In Control

In Control

Margaret Sanger From Barnes and Noble Review: Now is a fitting time to reconsider the life of Margaret Sanger. The United Nations marked October 31st as the day the global population reached 7 billion, a milestone greeted with both celebration and consternation around the world. Sanger would have no...

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The Sea Cook

The Sea Cook

From Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 2002 edition. Illustrated by Milo Winter From The Times Literary Supplement: The circumstances in which Robert Louis Stevenson came to write Treasure Island are legendary. The legend originates with the author himself in the essay “My First Book” (1894), written in the...

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Beckett’s Fear of the Other Side

Beckett’s Fear of the Other Side

Samuel Beckett, Avigdor Arikha, 1971 From London Review of Books: At the turning point of this second volume of Beckett’s letters, which is also the turning point of his professional life, the moment when, after so many years of ‘retyping … for rejection’, his best work is finally to...

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‘Every place deserves an atlas’

‘Every place deserves an atlas’

At the bottom of the cover of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas it says, “Rebecca Solnit,” but this is not really, or entirely, her book.  Rather it is the result of an amazing collaboration among artists, cartographers, geographers, activists, historians, gadflies, ecologists, photographers, and a law scholar, all...

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As a Fly

As a Fly

Williams skipped college, enrolling directly in the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school in 1902, and it was there that he met Pound, along with Hilda Doolittle, who would become the poet known as H.D. when Pound showcased her poems in the various Imagist manifestoes and anthologies that flourished in...

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Hilary Plum: Behind the Headlines

Hilary Plum: Behind the Headlines

by Hilary Plum The Room and the Chair, by Lorraine Adams, Vintage, 366 pp. The Submission: A Novel, by Amy Waldman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 pp. Zone, by Mathias Énard, Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell, Open Letter Books, 517 pp. Lorraine Adams’ The Room and the...

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Fed

Fed

On a big platter in the middle of the full table sits the fat novel, its dust jacket a cracking bronze, peeling at the edges, its pages sliced and curling, its story stuffed with, well, stuffing: characters mixed with plot in a warm, moist setting, everyone talking at once,...

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