Berfrois

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #9

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #9

Karen—hurt and vengeful and angry to see herself depicted in Sarah’s novel as a weird, flattened, stereotype of herself—has come to the reading hoping to “bump” the turntable...

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In the Night by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

In the Night by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

On a chilly Thursday evening, I headed from my parking spot outside the Kaufleuten Saal, where Joyce once put on plays as co-founder of The English Players theater group, and up Augustinergasse, which winds around a small square before opening up to the building at number 9: the Haus...

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Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with someone in a formal, old-fashioned way; on the other hand, it suggests that we just don’t experience something, we judge it. Taken together, we can...

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Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen out of love with the world.” Or something to that effect. In that vague period of late spring and early summer, which in Massachusetts we...

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Pound in Soho

Pound in Soho

When Ezra Pound arrived in London in 1909, he began arranging introductions to all the literary people he could manage. The most felicitous was to the novelist Olivia Shakespear; not only did she connect Pound with her lover, W.B. Yeats, but Pound eventually married her daughter, Dorothy.

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Feroz Rather: Half-Residency

Feroz Rather: Half-Residency

In the winter of 2012, I flew from California to Chicago to attend the annual AWP conference. It was snowing lightly when I emerged from the hotel on Michigan Avenue with Brian, an aspiring fiction writer from Los Angeles. The wind blew ceaselessly, whipping the snowflakes into the chafing...

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‘New movements in literature are those which copy the last century but one’

‘New movements in literature are those which copy the last century but one’

New movements in literature are those which copy the last century but one. If they copy the last century, they are old-fashioned; but if it is quite clear that they are much more than a hundred years old, they are entirely fresh and original.

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Joanna Walsh on Samuel Beckett

Joanna Walsh on Samuel Beckett

The first time I read More Pricks Than Kicks I was assailed by terrible cramps that rippled up and down the front of my torso until I stopped reading. It seemed appropriate. Echo’s Bones is a long short story originally intended as the ‘recessional’ to More Pricks Than Kicks,...

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Michael Munro: Prose

Michael Munro: Prose

“We may laugh at the bourgeois’s inability to parrot his master’s lesson,” concludes this compelling account of our “illustrious,” inescapable precursor, “but we may well wonder whether, just as he has been speaking prose unwittingly, he may unwittingly state a truth about it.” Indeed, what might that truth...

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Did Woolf prefer Joyce or Proust?

Did Woolf prefer Joyce or Proust?

The Sirens imploring Ulysses to stay, 1886 by James Heffernan More than twenty years ago, Suzette Henke challenged what was then the reigning view of Virginia Woolf’s response to James Joyce’s Ulysses. To judge this response by Woolf’s most damning comments on the book and its author, Henke argued,...

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Did Concrete poetry cause Brazilian electronic poetry?

Did Concrete poetry cause Brazilian electronic poetry?

If the first “wave” of Digital Humanities was said to have prompted a quantitative turn, e.g. the compilation and implementation of databases as well as the organization of information in elaborate arrays, then the much anticipated “second wave” is to be “qualitative, interpretive, experimental, emotive, generative in character”.

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How can people be both equal and dignified?

How can people be both equal and dignified?

I have been reading Geoffrey Hartman’s A Scholar’s Tale: Intellectual Journey of a Displaced Child of Europe. By “intellectual journey” Hartman means something like an autobiographical bibliography — it is full of stories surrounding his writing. I started reading it mostly for Hartman’s memories of Erich Auerbach, with whose...

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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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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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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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