Thursday, April 24, 2014

Theme: Fiction

  • For my last post on Cervantes and his “invention of fiction” before handing in my finished manuscript, I wanted to return to one of the most influential interpretations of his work in the twentieth century: that of Michel Foucault. To begin with, we should recall that Foucault chooses two Spanish artists to initiate his exploration of the shift in epistemes between the Renaissance and the âge classique: Diego Velázquez and Miguel de Cervantes. Read more
  • What happens when I introduce a ghost or monster into my fiction? What options open up to me? Is there an established convention? Am I bound to it? The majority of literary theory regarding the Uncanny and the Abcanny is near useless in answering any of these questions. Concerned with defining terminology, these theories only help in identifying instances as either/or. Read more
  • Sometimes when the maples are green with leaf, the wind gentle and not bringing too much heat; and the sky is clear or its cumulus dissolves in the evening air, and the day’s last sparrows go to roost; and the girls are meditative in both body and mind, the boys not too puerile, people of all ages out for a stroll; then well-being is palpable, owing to something other than one’s net worth in any mercenary sense. And sometimes Moonface, her shoulders hunched, walks the crucible of the street, returning from a night spent with some young man or another. I note how lonely her aspect is, how unmet. How useless I am to her in her search for meaning.Read more
  • You remember your childhood. Your tow-headed, reddish-tinged mother, who yelled after you all day like a Paraguayan peasant chasing her donkey. And your father flattened in front of the TV, murmuring curses against the people flickering on the screen. Your grades at school were average, pathetic, as you competed against the ones at the top of the class with their brilliance adapted to hedge-hopping teachers’ brains who flitted from idea to another on stage like macaques.Read more
  • “A writer in the act of writing must fear neither his own words nor anything else in the world,” Heini tells Algin in Irmgard Keun’s After Midnight. Algin is considering writing a historical novel that will satisfy the stiff submission requirements of the Reich Chamber of Literature. The historical novel might be relatively safe because the players have passed.Read more
  • “The idea that everyone has a story to tell (which underlies the notion that anyone can write since all a writer needs is a story) is strictly correct,” Jenny Diski said, writing in the London Review of Books (7 Mar, 21) about Marco Roth’s memoir, The Scientists: A Family Romance. Well, Henry James thought so, anyway. Continued Diski, echoing James, “If you were born, you’re in there with a story.”Read more
  • I should not have affixed so comprehensive a title to these few remarks, necessarily wanting in any completeness, upon a subject the full consideration of which would carry us far, did I not seem to discover a pretext for my temerity in the interesting pamphlet lately published under this name by Mr. Walter Besant. Read more
  • In making any survey, even the freest and loosest, of modern fiction, it is difficult not to take it for granted that the modern practice of the art is somehow an improvement upon the old. With their simple tools and primitive materials, it might be said, Fielding did well and Jane Austen even better, but compare their opportunities with ours!Read more
  • It’s true that I worked for them during the second purge. It’s not my intention to excuse what I’ve done, though God knows my crimes, if crimes is even the proper word, are far less grievous than those committed by others, the ones now called patriots. As for those maimed by our activities, they will have to speak, if they are still capable of speaking, for themselves.Read more
  • 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 fiction and drawings. Read more
  • When I established myself in the triangular garret which had gained so distinguished a reputation, my thoughts naturally turned to Master B. My speculations about him were uneasy and manifold. Whether his Christian name was Benjamin, Bissextile (from his having been born in Leap Year), Bartholomew, or Bill. Whether the initial letter belonged to his family name, and that was Baxter, Black, Brown, Barker, Buggins, Baker, or Bird.Read more
  • 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 time and which I didn’t associate with fiction. Read more
  • In early 1614 a royal censor named Márquez Torres was reading the manuscript of the second part of Don Quixote, to be released the following year, when he got into a conversation with some visiting dignitaries in the company of the French ambassador. The Frenchmen, when they heard he was at work on a new book by Miguel de Cervantes, began to sing his praises and to ask about his social standing in Spain. Read more
  • In April this year, BBC Radio 4's Front Row devoted a programme to Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family in an Amsterdam annexe during the Second World War. When Frank turned thirteen in 1942, she received the present of a diary, which she kept during the period of just over two years in which she lived in hiding. The diary was published after Frank died in 1945, aged fifteen, in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and has become one of the most famous texts in the world. Read more
  • Locating the murky distinction between pornography and erotic art has long exercised minds in many domains, philosophy amongst them. One of the chief ways in which philosophers have sought to draw the distinction is by illuminating the nature of the different types of appreciation specific and appropriate to each.Read more
  • "Borges" is a cipher: a proper name that stands in for a set of texts with which that name is associated. It's a figure or speech or language, a form of metonymy: part stands for whole.Read more
  • Dick Cheney’s memoir, In My Time, is self serving, stonewalling and riddled with glaring omissions. But it does contain some startling revelations. Cheney was twenty-nine when he made his first trip abroad, in 1970 and then only on official White House business.Read more
  • We thought we knew everything about Roland Barthes – the way he managed to glide effortlessly across the entire French intellectual landscape, in turn embracing semiotics and dismissing it.Read more
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