Berfrois

Eli S. Evans: The Writer vs. the Pandemic III

Eli S. Evans: The Writer vs. the Pandemic III

Constant specter of illness and death, increasing likelihood of unemployment, nail in the coffin of the post-World War II order.

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Daniel Levin Becker: Little Demons of Subtlety

Daniel Levin Becker: Little Demons of Subtlety

As I write this in San Francisco, Jacques Jouet is at the Place Stalingrad in Paris, writing a serial novel in thirty-two parts. He has agreed to sit for eight hours a day inside a windowed tent at the southwestern tip of the Bassin de la Villette, typing away...

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Gertrude Stein’s Pétainism

Gertrude Stein’s Pétainism

From Life magazine, 1945 From Humanities: Why were so many prominent modernist writers and philosophers attracted to fascist or authoritarian regimes in the first half of the twentieth century? A list of those who were not—Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, and Robert Musil—pales in comparison to a list...

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Might not the psyche of writer and reader mesh powerfully in quarrel?

Might not the psyche of writer and reader mesh powerfully in quarrel?

From The New York Review of Books: Like Hardy, Lawrence’s writing is extremely sensitive to issues of fear and courage. In Sons and Lovers the moral veto that Miriam places on sex before marriage is “unmasked” by her boyfriend Paul as merely fear finding an alibi in moral convention....

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Late Postmodernism in Dutch Literature

Late Postmodernism in Dutch Literature

1993-1994-1995, Bianca Runge by Thomas Vaessens Abstract In this article I will show how Dutch authors reoriented themselves from the late 1980s onwards in relation to the postmodern tradition they inherited. I will discuss the critique of postmodernism formulated by Dutch writers in the light of the following hypothesis....

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Winning Words

Winning Words

Tennyson in the London 2012 Olympic village From Literary Review: They are putting Tennyson up in the Olympic village. Last year, the final line of ‘Ulysses‘ – ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’ – prevailed in a public competition to select ‘Winning Words’, which means...

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Sphere Within Sphere

Sphere Within Sphere

Anita Desai by James Warner In The Artist of Disappearance, Anita Desai meditates on the private and fragile nature of the creative act. Her nostalgic visions of India are also parables of the self’s search for authenticity. Anita Desai’s work has often shown us the remnants of a glorious...

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The Cult of Chuck by Daniel Roberts

The Cult of Chuck by Daniel Roberts

A smart friend, who nonetheless doesn’t often find time to read for pleasure, asked me recently if I had read any Chuck Palahniuk before. I sure have. And for whatever reason, the question of where to get started with this specific author is one that I’ve been asked quite...

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Daniel Roberts: DFW at Brown

Daniel Roberts: DFW at Brown

David Foster Wallace by Daniel Roberts There’s this thing that happens to people who read David Foster Wallace, the novelist and essayist who would have turned 50 years old today. It’s the reason his literary reputation so fervently exploded the moment he died: those who like his work don’t...

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Thomas Travisano on Robert Lowell

Thomas Travisano on Robert Lowell

One suspects that just as Lowell drew out of Bishop—in her effort to engage and entertain him—a previously unforeseen willingness to indulge in literary shoptalk and to reflect on the theatre of ideas, Bishop drew out of Lowell—in his effort to engage and entertain her—a capacity for lively and...

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Jonathan Lear: Isn’t It, Don’t You Think?

Jonathan Lear: Isn’t It, Don’t You Think?

Crow Indians, photograph by David F. Barry, c.1878 by Jonathan Lear On the face of it, a conception does not seem the sort of thing it is easy to lose. If we think of our life with concepts in terms of our ways of going on, categorizing and thinking about...

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Waste Paper

Waste Paper

‘Terse As Virulent Hermaphrodites’: Middlebrow Representations of Modernist Poets in the 1920s   by George Simmers Based on a  paper given at the conference on ‘The Popular Imagination and the Dawn of Modernism’, at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, 15 September, 2011. In P.G. Wodehouse’s 1925...

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Admiring Tolkien

Admiring Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien From The New Yorker: At Oxford in the nineteen-forties, Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was generally considered the most boring lecturer around, teaching the most boring subject known to man, Anglo-Saxon philology and literature, in the most boring way imaginable. “Incoherent and often inaudible” was...

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Beckett’s Fear of the Other Side

Beckett’s Fear of the Other Side

Samuel Beckett, Avigdor Arikha, 1971 From London Review of Books: At the turning point of this second volume of Beckett’s letters, which is also the turning point of his professional life, the moment when, after so many years of ‘retyping … for rejection’, his best work is finally to...

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Fed

Fed

On a big platter in the middle of the full table sits the fat novel, its dust jacket a cracking bronze, peeling at the edges, its pages sliced and curling, its story stuffed with, well, stuffing: characters mixed with plot in a warm, moist setting, everyone talking at once,...

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Infinitely Gentle

Infinitely Gentle

His polite moments, which were frequent if often implausible (he denied reading quickly, being widely read, being “an especially fluid writer”) were all the more absurd given how caustic he could be.

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Martha White on E. B. White

Martha White on E. B. White

In July 1969, New York Times journalist Israel Shenker had managed to persuade White to be interviewed at his farmhouse in Maine, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. It was rare for my grandfather to consent to such a request and the interview had not gone well.

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