Berfrois

Lilith: On Love, Living and Meritocracy

Lilith: On Love, Living and Meritocracy

My father once said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” It is taken from Love Story, a 1970 movie based on the novel of the same name...

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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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Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

From the cover of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, 1959 edition   by Gloria Nne Onyeoziri Some Igbo people say that the millipede that is stepped on keeps quiet while its aggressor is the one to complain. They are not only leveling the playing field of the power to...

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Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

The Slaying of the Bull of Ishtar, from Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, illustrated by Ernest Wallcousins, 1915 by Theodore Ziolkowski Any ten minute search on the internet turns up hundreds of hits for Gilgamesh in recent years. Apart from novels, plays, poems, operas, and paintings, the ancient Babylonian...

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Yo Borges

Yo Borges

by Jon Beasley-Murray What does it mean to “read Borges”? What are we even endeavoring to read? “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:...

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Angus Cleghorn on Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil

Angus Cleghorn on Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil

Brazilian Landscape, Eizabeth Bishop by Angus Cleghorn After a decade in Brazil, Elizabeth Bishop was offered a $10,000 advance “to provide the text for the Life World Library Brazil, but famously disliked how the editors changed what she wrote” (Bishop: Poems, Prose & Letters viii) in the 1962 volume....

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Zonkers

Zonkers

When Kerouac Met Kesey | by Sterling Lord

The American Scholar

During his trip back to Oregon in 1963, Ken and his entourage began to think about what would become the Merry Pranksters’ bus trip to New York the following year...

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Lisa Klarr: Gothic Yoknapatawpha

Lisa Klarr: Gothic Yoknapatawpha

by Lisa Klarr As Teresa Goddu argues, the ‘American’ gothic is usually a ‘regional term,’ referring quite specifically to the South. In the 19th Century, the region functions as a ‘repository’ for a variety of cultural anxieties having mostly to do with the moral degeneration of the nation. But...

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Get S¡ll¡!

Get S¡ll¡!

by Daniel Green The sheer bulk of Ron Silliman’s The Alphabet, as well as its apparently arbitrary structural principle, could initially leave the impression it deliberately defies reading. The same could be said of the larger project, the “life work” in progress and of which The Alphabet is a...

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Richard M. Cook on Alfred Kazin

Richard M. Cook on Alfred Kazin

by Richard M. Cook I discovered Alfred Kazin’s journals in the summer of 1984. I was researching a book on American public criticism, criticism written for the reading public, or what Virginia Woolf called the “common reader,” rather than for academics. Kazin was one of the critics I wanted...

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Baboonlike

Baboonlike

The Lion King, walt Disney Pictures, 1994 From Bookslut: “When nude/ I turned my back because he likes the back. /He moved onto me. // Everything I know about love and its necessities/ I learned in that one moment/ when I found myself/ thrusting my little burning red backside...

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Priest, Gangster, Drinker, Gent, Novelist, Funnyman, Genius

Priest, Gangster, Drinker, Gent, Novelist, Funnyman, Genius

Flann O’Brien, Brian O’Toole From Boston Review: “A really funny book,” was James Joyce’s verdict on At Swim-Two-Birds, the comic masterpiece by his compatriot Brian O’Nolan, a.k.a. Flann O’Brien. Graham Greene said he read it “with excitement, amusement and the kind of glee one experiences when people smash china...

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Both Daemon and Prig

Both Daemon and Prig

Malvolio and the Countess, R. Staines, 1859 by Emma Darwin I’ve stumbled on something that Auden wrote to an aspiring teenage poet, John Cornford: The real problem though for you as for every other writer… is that of the Daemon and the Prig. Real poetry originates in the guts...

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In sci-fi, Kurt Vonnegut found an improbable moral purpose…

In sci-fi, Kurt Vonnegut found an improbable moral purpose…

Slaughterhouse 5.5, photograph by Alev Adil From New York Magazine: A cranky ostrich in a rumpled suit, Kurt Vonnegut might seem an odd fit for the staid Library of America. (His advice to young writers? “Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”) But Vonnegut, like...

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Catherine Flynn: Out of the Exploration of Paris

Catherine Flynn: Out of the Exploration of Paris

André Kertész by Catherine Flynn Learning to read Ulysses means tracing a path through its strangeness. Becoming familiar with the twists and turns of its prose and the multitude of characters that pass through its pages can also mean forgetting the work’s initial effects of disorientation and fragmentation. It...

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