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“A uniquely Brazilian form, crônicas offered readers free-form writing from writers of all kinds, including poets and novelists. Lispector’s adoring editor at the paper, Alberto Dines, simply published almost everything exactly as she submitted it.” [Source: The Paris Review]

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Clarice Lispector in 1961.

Went cycling to Cardiff Bay barrage with Jennifer this morning. We sat for some time in the sunshine, before deciding to return to the cool shade of the apartment. I’m still reading Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina, which is just superb. I have also come across a number of interesting articles, reviews, and commentaries from around the web:

12 visual artists interpret Radiohead‘s seminal 1997 album, OK Computer • (Re)reading Don DeLillo‘s White NoiseFalling Man, and Cosmopolis in dark times • Sam Jordison on the publication of A Confederacy of Dunces David Hering on Alan Clarke‘s ‘hypnotic junkie odyssey’, Christine • On the diaries of T.S. Eliot‘s first wife • And 17 brilliant short novels you can read in one sitting, including works by Marguerite DurasThomas BernhardRoberto BolañoCormac McCarthyClarice Lispector, and more.

Brad Johnson (The New Inquiry) looks at the distinctive quality of Lispector’s prose
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Clarice Lispector
Though she never considered herself a poet, Clarice Lispector’s prose inhabits this poetic riddle in a way that is only recently beginning to gain the recognition it deserves. In his biography of Lispector, Benjamin Moser deems her “the Sphinx of Rio de Janeiro,” noting her defiant comments about staring down the Sphinx in Egypt: “I did not decipher her. But neither did she decipher me.” By Moser’s reckoning, whose editorial hand and evangelistic enthusiasm has guided Lispector’s entry into New Directions’ catalogue, it is precisely the mysteriousness of Lispector’s style that has made a mess of previous translations and stunted her reception in the United States. In interviews and in the afterword to his translation of The Hour of the Star (2011), Moser never goes so far as to blame these early translations for failing to cement Lispector’s place among other Latin American literary heroes like Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes, but neither does he think her books simply require some new marketing and another chance. These translations are new for a reason. Moser bristles at what he sees as English translators trying to tame Lispector’s strangely composed Portuguese, ironing out the wrinkles in her syntax and cleaning up what would be bad grammar if it weren’t intentional. [Read More]

From Ted Gioia’s article on Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist novel, Nausea
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Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

In general, Sartre is more committed to philosophy than to fiction, even here in the pages of his greatest novel. But when the story lags, the intensity of the intellectual debate flares up to compensate—so much so, that Nausea is essential reading not just for students of literature, but also for anyone interested in the evolution of Sartre’s views on a range of philosophical issues.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this book is Sartre’s decision to supply a happy ending. His horror story ends with a way out of the nausea. I am less than convinced by this turnabout in our suffering Mr. Roquentin, but as a longtime jazz lover, I am secretly pleased at the cure for the existential nausea. A jazz record featuring a singer and saxophonist does the trick—to be specific an old recording of “Some of These Days.” I only wish Sartre had been more specific about the names of the musicians on the date (he doesn’t identify any of them). I would love to hear the jazz record that trumps Freud, cures the ill, and solves existential angst. (more…)

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New open-access journal launched to celebrate Roland Barthes’ centenary

Introducing Barthes Studies

Neil Badmington

And lead us not into doxa… I have an uneasy feeling that Roland Barthes, were he still alive, would have doubts about this venture. An academic journal bearing his name and devoted to his work? In English? The noun ‘studies’, with its ring of stillness and seizure? The implicit claim to a field or a fold? Is not the very idea of a publication called Barthes Studies at odds with the drift, the unlearning, the reinvention, the non-arrogance, the escape, the non-vouloir-saisir, and the ‘desperate resistance to any reductive system’ which so often fire the pages of Roland Barthes? Might not this journal set or settle at once into doxa – that fatal term enlisted repeatedly in Barthes’s work to describe established knowledge, common sense, the obvious, the natural, what-goes-without-saying? Have I forgotten that Barthes told the audience at the conference held in his honour at Cerisy-la-Salle in 1977 that he had twice refused the invitation, and that he only accepted on the third occasion because he did not wish to create the image of ‘hewho-refuses-conferences-in-his-name’?

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Back in April, Sarah Werkmeister interviewed Indonesian writer Aan Mansyur for the Emerging Writers Festival. Here is what he had to say…
Aan Mansyur
Aan Mansyur

Tell us about your writing style. What are your influences, passions and the messages that you try to convey in your work?

I write poems and prose. In every piece I write, I’m trying to say different things in different ways. I often think that writing is how I discover things, rather than an exercise in telling readers things I already know.

What are some of the challenges you face in the writing process, and what tips would you give to aspiring writers to overcome these?

I’m a lazy writer. I like to spend my time reading books instead of writing. I also can’t write in crowded places unlike other writers, although I live in library which is quite packed with visitors. I try to allocate two to three hours daily at early dawn while everyone else is still asleep, to read books I admire and recommendations from my favorite authors. This is how I learn and a solution to my laziness. Reading books is good, they make me feel haunted and keep me awake so I ended up writing. (more…)