Berfrois

Jenny Diski is not cheery or brave or serene at the moment…

Jenny Diski is not cheery or brave or serene at the moment…

I’ve been writing a more or less monthly memoir of my life in the sixties and seventies when I lived with Doris Lessing, and my continuing relationship with her until her death last year at 94. It is also an ongoing portrait of my incurable cancer.

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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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Elias Tezapsidis on Grant Maierhofer

Elias Tezapsidis on Grant Maierhofer

The notion of an art world devoid of dark subjects is dangerous: it would construct a dishonestly escapist field. To attempt isolating sinister themes would be disastrous, because art needs them to continue being a catalyst for meaningful discourse. The tediousness of depression is perhaps inherent in the creative...

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Koizumi Yakumo

Koizumi Yakumo

How could a man born on a Greek island in 1850 be a household name in Japan today? The answer lies in the story of Lafcadio Hearn, whose life was global, bi-racial, and multicultural a century before these concepts became fashionable. Without knowing it, Hearn turned himself into a...

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The Rime of the 450 Year Old Bard

The Rime of the 450 Year Old Bard

"Hamlet" was the play, or rather Hamlet himself was the character, in the intuition and exposition of which I first made my turn for philosophical criticism, and especially for insight into the genius of Shakspere, noticed.

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Agrume

Agrume

The Lemon Grove in Bordighera, Claude Monet, 1864 From Literary Review: Goethe’s ‘The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister’, a neglected masterpiece if ever there was, is known nowadays for a single line from a ballad sung by Mignon, the daughter of a wandering musician. ‘Know’st thou the land where the...

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Virginia Woolf on George Eliot

Virginia Woolf on George Eliot

by Virginia Woolf To read George Eliot attentively is to become aware how little one knows about her. It is also to become aware of the credulity, not very creditable to one’s insight, with which, half consciously and partly maliciously, one had accepted the late Victorian version of a...

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Remembrance of Translations Past

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 translation of any foreign work into the English language, his choice of Remembrance of Things Past as the general title alarmed the seriously ill Proust...

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Winnie Mandela?

Winnie Mandela?

Graphic by Michelle Jia. Image via Knoxville Museum of Art. by Ato Quayson I just finished reading a fascinating appetizer to John Carlin’s new book on Nelson Mandela, Knowing Mandela, and it set me wondering what might be the place of solitude in the narration of South African history....

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Jerry Moore: Feverish Rivers

I learned that Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff had been a Nazi when I was in a Santa Marta supermarket. I had just stepped into the Exito...

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Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant flies

Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question...

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Robyn Ferrell on Balthus

The pitfalls of identification, hero-worship, envy and malice can beset the most patient writer in the throes of five hundred-plus pages of attention to...

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Michael Munro on Spinoza

Immanence is not philosophy, nor philosophy immanence. But there is in the passage from one to the other a modification of sense that is...

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David Beer
David Beer: Broadcastwerk

Writing at sometime around 1930 or 1931, Walter Benjamin suggested that the voice on the radio is a like a visitor in the home,...

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Rose Barnsley: Young, Gifted and Žižekian

At nineteen, it is easy to think that all you're missing is the right movement. But there is something about the young left wing...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Rama’s And

While local journalists were once again busy regurgitating worn-down, coma inducing positions about yet another spectral appearance of Enver Hoxha at the celebration of...

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Playing the Percentages: Berfrois Interviews Danny Dorling

The portrait of the 1% in your book is one of sociopathic, power-hungry narcissists with a striking lack of empathy. This may seem antagonistic,...

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Joseph Spece
Joseph Spece: When Gamers Attack

Like many ugly controversies, the beginnings of #gamergate are linked to the end of love — well, the end of a relationship, at least....

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Lauren Berlant performs by clicking

Today I introduced Facebook to someone older than me and had a long conversation about what the point of networking amongst “friends” is. The...

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Tinder Times by Bibi Deitz

I am in bed with a man. He has to go home. He is not staying the night. So he pulls out his iPhone...

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Jenny Diski keeps up

Some things are best met with silence. If I were to proceed with this month’s column in an honest way, it would be a...

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From Fashion by Tracy O’Neill

The man who brought us a disembodied protagonist alluringly voiced by Scarlett Johansson has now issued a drama — starring apparel. Recently, Opening Ceremony...

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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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