Monthly Archives: October 2012

More ghosts.

If the ghosts are real, then she is sane, and her desperate efforts to protect her dear charges, though doomed in the end, are noble and self-sacrificing. If the ghosts are mere illusions, then she is suffering a bout of insanity, in which her “revelations” about the children’s unearthly communications, and her perception of them as allied to unspeakable evil, must reflect her deeply suppressed aggressions and hostility.

James’s wish to make jurors of us all has been eagerly taken up over the years. “The Turn of the Screw” has served as irresistible grist for those critics given to solving stories once and for all. In comment after comment, article after article, the evidence has been sifted through and judgments delivered. Fine, intelligent readers have confirmed the validity of the ghosts (Truman Capote); equally fine and intelligent readers have thunderously established the governess’s madness (Edmund Wilson).

In more Halloween-themed material, on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. [via The New Yorker]

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Happy Halloween.

Here is an appropriately ghostly song. [via YouTube]

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On the novella.

Ian McEwan comments on the novella over at the New Yorker. [via The New Yorker]

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Pound for pound.

Good afternoon! It’s good to be back. I am short on sleep today, but there is this lengthy introductory article to Ezra Pound over here. [via Open Letters Monthly] I found the article a fun read, and I’m not even sure I like Pound.

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Omnivore: Away.

Omnivore is a regular report on some of the things that I’ve been enjoying during the week (or thereabouts).

I’m actually out of the country this weekend. (Be back tomorrow night.) I’ll hopefully be able to find a bit of time to read some Beckett. Brought along Disjecta with me.

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Dose of Dave Holland.

Some jazz this morning. [via YouTube]

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Yoko Tawada.

Tawada writes about … well … it’s not easy to give a “whatness” to her writing. But language and perception are always central, problematic and vivid. Consider Tawada’s short story, “Where Europe Begins” (the title story of one of her collections). In it, the narrator, a foreigner living in Germany, starts off the story with an earache, which a doctor later diagnoses as a pregnancy; at a flea market, she picks up a book, which the vendor says is not a book but a mirror, and then when she brings the object home, it turns out to be a box containing four cassette tapes—a book on tape. She plays it. She “tries to listen to the voice without losing my distance from it. But I couldn’t. Either I heard nothing at all, or I was plunged into the novel.“

This article on Japanese-German writer Yoko Tawada made me preorder The Bridegroom was a Dog, an upcoming New Directions release of hers. [via The New Yorker]

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Exercise!

For your consideration: Conversational Reading points us to the new edition of Exercises in Style to be put out by New Directions. [via Conversational Reading] (I got my copy preordered a couple of months ago!)

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Harum scarum scramble.

Unlike Satantango and The Melancholy of Resistance, the two other novels by László Krasznahorkai translated into English so far, and which are both set entirely in rural Hungary, War and War is an urban novel, opening in a city in Hungary, then quickly moving to New York.  Korin, a bureaucratic archivist, discovers a manuscript that defies immediate classification and so he must read it in order to catalog it.  The manuscript turns out to be “a work of astonishing, foundation-shaking, cosmic genius,” and Korin, an immediate convert,  realizes that previously “he understood nothing, nothing at all about anything.”  The manuscript, however, promises to help him “recover the dignity and meaning whose loss he had been mourning.”  And so he decides he must dedicate his life to giving this lost, obscure manuscript immortality on the Internet.  “There was nothing to do but, in the strictest sense, to stake his life on immortality.”

László Krasznahorkai’s War and War gets featured over at Vertigo. [via Vertigo]

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First chapter.

Because blunders were a tributary of spontaneity, and without it, they would vanish like an illusion. In this respect, Actyn might have gone too far, and he might now be entering the arena where all his efforts were automatically sterile. Ever since he had decided to turn all his firepower against Dr. Aira and his Miracle Cures, he had burned through stages, unable to stop because of the very dynamic of the war, in which he was the one who took every initiative. In reality, he had overcome the first stages—those of direct confrontation, libel, defamation, and ridicule—in the blink of an eye, condemned as they were to inefficiency. Actyn had understood that he could never achieve results in those terrains. The historical reconstruction of a failure was by its very nature impossible; he ran the risk of reconstituting a success. He then moved on (but this was his initial proposition, the only one that justified him) to attempts to produce the complete scenario, to pluck one out of nothingness . . . He had no weapons besides those of performance, and he had been using them for years without respite. Dr. Aira, in the crosshairs, had gotten used to living as if he were crossing a minefield, in his case mined with the theatrical, which was constantly exploding. Fortunately they were invisible, intangible explosions, which enveloped him like air. Escaping from one trap didn’t mean anything, because his enemy was so stubborn he would set another one; one performance sprung from another; he was living in an unreal world. He could never know where his pursuer would stop, and in reality he never stopped, and at nothing. Actyn, in his eyes, was like one of those comic-book supervillains, who never pursues anything less than world domination . . . the only difference being that in this adventure it was Dr. Aira’s mental world that was at stake.

Hey look, it’s the first chapter of César Aira’s The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira. [via BOMBLOG]

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