Berfrois

Booked In

Booked In

There’s something to value about a completely unmediated and uncurated encounter with old books: a chance to access for yourself the raw material of history...

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Gulp!

Gulp!

From cover of The Studio Almanac, illustrated by J. Walter West, 1897 by Louise Imogen Guiney An editor, a person of authority and supposed discretion, requested a friend of mine, the other day, to write an essay with this weird title: “How to Read a Book of Poems so...

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LIFT

LIFT

by Stuart Moulthrop Since this is a paper about the computational context of literary writing, and to some extent poetry, I have invested heavily in metaphor, at least as far as the title is concerned. Taking key terms in no particular order: by end I mean not so much...

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The use of criticism is to sift, not to stamp…

The use of criticism is to sift, not to stamp…

If an essay on Criticism were a serious matter; for, though this age be emphatically critical, the writer would still find it necessary to investigate the laws of criticism as a science, to settle its conditions as an art. Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through...

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A Swigswag

A Swigswag

by Joe Linker “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...

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Impressions are the very air we breathe…

Impressions are the very air we breathe…

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...

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Always Delighted

Always Delighted

Henry James, 1890 by Willa Cather Their mania for careless and hasty work is not confined to the lesser men. Howells and Hardy have gone with the crowd. Now that Stevenson is dead I can think of but one English speaking author who is really keeping his self-respect and...

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Gentlemen Prefer Loos

Gentlemen Prefer Loos

L-R: Jean Harlow and Anita Loos promoting Red-Headed Woman, 1932 by Elyse Graham When James Joyce was nearly blind and working on the first draft of Finnegans Wake, the book he permitted himself during his daily reading window was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a best-selling satire by Anita Loos. ...

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Death’s Irony Surpasses All Others!

Death’s Irony Surpasses All Others!

In the fall of 1849, Gustave Flaubert invited his two closest friends—Louis Bouilhet and Maxime du Camp—to hear a reading of what he believed was to be his masterpiece: a retelling of the temptation of St. Anthony. The 30 year-old writer had been working on it for four years,...

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Technical Estrangement

Technical Estrangement

Implicit in the Google view is the idea that our consciousness itself is no longer capable of attending to thought, communication, and reflection without technical assistance. In the same year, the Ars Industrialis group declared in their Manifesto that we must “struggle against carelessness , against the destruction of...

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Joanna Walsh reviews the latest translation of Georges Perec

Joanna Walsh reviews the latest translation of Georges Perec

In Oulipo’s running debate over whether to make the constraints it employs explicit, Perec usually came down on the side of letting the cat out of the bag - but La Boutique (remains) Obscure. Perec’s dreams are the same kind of crazy as most people's. He discovers hitherto unnoticed...

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Daniel Bosch: LTYP

Daniel Bosch: LTYP

But it could very well be that Harvard University Press is smart enough to recognize a Harvard edition of LTYP will have an imprimatur. Whatever its relative virtues, the Harman translation out of Cambridge, as Banville points out, is “likely to become the standard one.”

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‘Everything is the proper stuff of fiction’

‘Everything is the proper stuff of fiction’

“The Siege of Namur by Captain Shandy and Corporal Trim”. Engraving by Henry Bunbury in The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, 1773. by Virginia Woolf In making any survey, even the freest and loosest, of modern fiction, it is difficult not to take it...

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Pynchon on Campus

Pynchon on Campus

In the essay "Hallowe'en? Over Already?" (1999), Thomas Pynchon writes about some of the fall 1998 goings on at the Cathedral School in New York City, where his son, Jackson, was enrolled in the second grade. They included a picnic, though not for Hallowe'en; the Blessing of the Animals,...

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Ralph Waldo Emerson on Shakespeare

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Shakespeare

Great men are more distinguished by range and extent than by originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving, like a spider, their web from their own bowels; in finding clay, and making bricks, and building the house; no great men are original. Nor does valuable originality...

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The Puzzle of the Monograph’s Missing Engagement

The Puzzle of the Monograph’s Missing Engagement

Portrait of a Scholar, Domenico Fetti, C17th by Alexander Key I’ve just finished a review of a recent monograph on a mediaeval Arabic scholar in which I noted a few translation and typographical errors, commended the philology involved, and gave a synopsis of the contents. So much, so unsurprising;...

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