Berfrois

June 2015

Delmore Schwartz is the writer without whom…

Delmore Schwartz is the writer without whom…

Delmore Schwartz is to Jewish-American writing what Richard Wright is to African-American writing. He is the writer without whom.

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Blue

Blue

These days, more often than usual, a quote comes to mind, which I've been carrying around for twenty years now, and it seems that it's quite important to me.

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Cheese is the very soul of song…

Cheese is the very soul of song…

My forthcoming work in five volumes, The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature, is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful whether I shall live to finish it.

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Justin E.H. Smith has tremendous admiration for Soviet foreign-language pedagogy…

Justin E.H. Smith has tremendous admiration for Soviet foreign-language pedagogy…

by Justin E. H. Smith I’ve just completed the first lesson of L. N. Kharitonov’s Self-Teaching Manual of the Yakut Language (Third Edition, Moscow, 1987). What satisfaction! At this early stage the vocabulary is very similar to Turkish, though to be precise the true relation is the reverse: modern...

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“it’s a’ as it is”

“it’s a’ as it is”

For most of its short generic life, the novel has depended on marriage and childbirth as signs of sexual relationship, and has had a difficulty representing sexual life beyond marriage and childbirth without the assistance of figurative language.

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Iron Laughs

Iron Laughs

I did survive communism and even laughed. But I've stopped laughing many times since. First of all, of course, because in the former Yugoslavia, the collapse of the old system brought wars.

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Albert Rolls: Contagious Magic

Albert Rolls: Contagious Magic

What I did, wanted to do, was to read Renaissance texts, those of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as if they were integrated into a cosmos that was held together with the laws of contagious and sympathetic magic.

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Masha Tupitsyn on Dave Chappelle

Masha Tupitsyn on Dave Chappelle

Do you know what it means to refuse 50 million dollars in America? I come back to this American story, this American man’s story—this important question he dared to ask—often. Even referring to it—referring to himself—as a parable.

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A Dream Boat

A Dream Boat

It was in the way he lifted her, first very low, almost causing an inverted curtsy and then up and up beyond all encrusted visage.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: LGBT Struggles in Albania

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: LGBT Struggles in Albania

This morning I woke up to a rather surprising headline: "first gay marriage in Tirana." The article referred to the marriage ceremony recently held in the residency of the UK Ambassador in Tirana, between Donald Holder and Michael Kane.

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Feroz Rather in Srinagar

Feroz Rather in Srinagar

Though the war was still going on, it was not a terribly sad time in my life; at least, I had the consolation of the possibility of dying at home.

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Foucault’s Politics of Truth by Stuart Elden

Foucault’s Politics of Truth by Stuart Elden

The key figures are Cardinal Richelieu and Chancellor Séguier, and Foucault thinks it is important that he can discern the “first great deployment of the ‘arms’ of the State independent of the person of the King”.

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Tammy Ho Lai-Ming: One Little Room

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming: One Little Room

A room with graffitied walls. Inside this room the dogs bark. A room cluttered with porcelain figurines. A room decorated with binary numbers.

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Where Headlong Stars Have Gone

Where Headlong Stars Have Gone

The last couple of years have finally allowed us to say this safely about Georgia – a nation, which, prior to the time of Shakespeare, possessed a literary inheritance almost comparable to that of England.

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‘She said the earthquake parted them’

‘She said the earthquake parted them’

My grandmother’s house still stands. When she was born in the 1920s, the streets had no name. She said the earthquake parted them.

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