The editors of The New York Times Book Review choose the best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.
“Detractors of new poetry make judgments about craft based on conservative assumptions about poetic traditions, forms, style. But radical aesthetics have their own craft and traditions, formed from intersecting political and linguistic concerns. So this isn’t a question of craft at all. Tremain and others might more accurately say that poetry is rapidly changing. And although it has always changed, recent new voices have radically altered the landscape of poetry – for some, beyond comfortable recognition. What no one dares to say aloud is who these new poets are and why they are such a threat to the supposed status quo.”
“Jacques Derrida is widely regarded as the most important French philosopher of the late twentieth century. Yet when his name was put forward for an honorary degree at Cambridge University in 1992, a significant portion of the Anglo-American philosophical establishment was outraged. Eighteen philosophers from nine countries signed a letter to The Times opposing the award on the grounds that Derrida’s work consisted of “tricks and gimmicks similar to those of the Dadaists or of the concrete poets” and amounted to ‘little more than semi-intelligible attacks upon the values of reason, truth, and scholarship’. Understanding Derrida’s legacy, then, must also involve understanding why he should have been the target of such vitriol.”
I really do think with my pen, for my head often knows nothing of what my hand is writing. MS 112 114:27.10.1931
Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened & will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For ‘recognition of sin’ is an actual occurrence & so is despair & so is redemption through faith. Those who speak of it (like Bunyan), are simply describing what has happened to them; whatever gloss someone may want to put on it! MS 118 56r c: 4.9.1937
If I am thinking just for myself without wanting to write a book, I jump all around the topic; that is the only way of thinking that is natural to me. Forcing my thoughts into an ordered sequence is a torment for me. Should I even attempt it now??
I squander untold effort making an arrangement of my thoughts that may have no value whatsoever. MS 118 94v c: 15.9.1937
One cannot speak the truth; – if one has not yet conquered oneself. One cannot speak it – but not, because one is still not clever enough.
The truth can be spoken only by someone who is already at home in it; not by someone who still lives in untruthfulness, & does not more than reach out towards it from within untruthfulness. MS 162b 37r c: 1939-1940
Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when hiking through snow. You doze off & die in your sleep. MS 162b 42v c: 1939-1940
Thoughts at peace. That is the goal someone who philosophizes longs for. MS 127 41v: 4.3.1944
Words are deeds. MS 179 27: ca. 1945
If people did not sometimes commit stupidities, nothing intelligent at all would ever happen. MS 131 219: 8.9.1946
“Samuel Beckett kept a copy of The Divine Comedy by his bedside as he lay dying in a Paris hospice in 1989. Oxygen canisters stood nearby for his emphysema but, immersed in Dante, he appeared to be ‘having fun’, remembered the poet Derek Mahon (who visited him a month before he died at the age of 83).”
“One of the most persistent myths in America today is that urban areas are innovative and rural areas are not. While it is overwhelmingly clear that innovation and creativity tend to cluster in a small number of cities and metropolitan areas, it’s a big mistake to think that they somehow skip over rural America.”
“The New York Public Library is propelling classic literature to the forefront of technology with a series of Insta Novels — stories on Instagram intended to reach to a larger audience, especially young readers.”
“When Walt Whitman was a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, the Capitol dome, like the nation, was still under construction”
“The gothic has adapted and grown, like a stone grotesque acquiring moss, though it has never departed from its underlying principles. Edmund Burke in his essay on the sublime identified what it was that Vasari felt, and what it was that so seduced the readers of Matthew Lewis and Anne Radcliffe: the idea that terror, and terrible things, could excite the emotions in the way the sight of a mountain range receding into mist might do. He wrote, ‘Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger … is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.’ This potent conflation of terror and excitement helps account for one of the most obscure and dangerous aspects of the gothic: its villains may commit revolting acts of violence, both sexual and moral, but they are never as repellent as they ought to be.”
“English Heritage this week asked for suggestions to increase the number of women honoured by its blue plaques. The current proportion is 14%, though a sizeable band of female writers will soon be eligible: Beryl Bainbridge, Penelope Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Jane Howard, PD James, Sarah Kane, Doris Lessing, Ruth Rendell and Muriel Spark.”
The Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading has announced that the next Beckett Research Seminar will take place on Saturday, 24 November 2018.
Tickets can be purchased on the door on the morning of the seminar, but they need to know numbers for catering so please email Mark Nixon at firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday 15 November if you wish to attend. As such please notify the organiser if you have any dietary requirements.
The event will include talks by Julie Bates (Trinity College Dublin), Pim Verhulst (University of Antwerp), Lucy Jeffery, and Shane Weller (University of Kent). You can find out more about the event on the The Samuel Beckett Society website.
The British Association for Modernist Studies has made the following announcement on its official webpage:
“Our Postgraduate Bursary Award Scheme has become the major scheme of its kind in the UK. Each year, we make significant funds available to students researching Irish-related topics at British universities. We aim to support research that uncovers new or neglected areas in the field. As an applicant, you are encouraged to produce a specific and targeted funding request, detailing how the award will support your research. Your applications will be assessed by a panel of important international academics, ensuring that this is a valuable award in more ways than one. We are keen to recognise the diversity of work taking place on Irish culture and society when coming to our final decision. In any one year we usually give bursaries to between three and six winners (sums are usually between £300–£1000). The bursaries are presented to successful candidates by the Irish Ambassador to Great Britain, at our Awards Ceremony held at the Irish Embassy in London.”
The deadline for submission of applications is 17 March 2019 and the awards will be announced in April 2019. For more information, take a look at the Prizes and Funding page of the British Association for Irish Studies website.
“In countries and epochs in which communication is impeded, soon all other liberties wither; discussion dies by inanition, ignorance of the opinion of others becomes rampant, imposed opinions triumph.”
— Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved
I am both delighted and honoured to announce that RhysTranter.com has been selected by the British Library’s UK Web Archive “as an important part of Wales’ documentary heritage”. The site has become part of the repository’s permanent collection, where it will “remain available to researchers in the future”. The UK Web Archive is a partnership between the British Library, the National Library of Wales, and the National Library of Scotland.
Find out more about the UK Web Archive.
“Many readers will be tempted to skip over the first 700 pages of this volume, to go straight for the final months. But that would be a big mistake.”