The New York Times has published a lovely and charming interview with Patti Smith, where she talks about some of her favourite books (and where I discovered she has a signed first edition of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake).

Source: The New York Times

As The Story Was Told (1996), a two-part documentary featuring interviews with authorised biographer James Knowlson, publishers John Calder and Barney Rosset, actress Billie Whitelaw, nephew Edward Beckett, and others. The documentary is notable, in part, for its glimpses of Beckett’s home in Paris and his country retreat in Ussy-sur-Marne.

7d8da-54393_james-joyce

“After the ‘Ulysses’ author died, in 1941, Ireland declined to honour him as it had WB Yeats” — The Irish Times

On 2 November 2017, Special Collections at the University of Reading will be hosting a day on ‘Editing Modernist Letters’. Organised by the Beckett at Reading Postgraduate Group (BARP), the day will include talks by academics in the field (Joanne Winning and Nicola Wilson), and two workshops based on the correspondence of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. To find out more about the event, or to book tickets, visit the BARP website.

British writer shares what motivates him to create fiction, and how he came to write and publish his debut novel, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas
Daniel James
Daniel James

When did you first decide to become a writer?

I honestly can’t recall a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. It was less of a conscious decision and more of a realisation about my own nature. I think the only real question was what kind of writer I wanted to be. When I was young, I loved books, cinema and comic books equally and I dreamed of writing stories for each of those mediums. I used to draw and paint a lot as a child and the idea of writing and illustrating my own graphic novels always appealed to me. Similarly, the visual storytelling inherent to cinema, as well as using light and sound to bring different worlds and atmospheres to life and create an end to end sensory experience for people to get lost inside, seemed to map to the way my brain worked.

When I’m writing, I’m often visualising the story unfolding and simply describing what I see in words or hearing the characters inner thoughts and dialogue and transcribing it. This was certainly the case in my debut novel. It was almost as if the story already existed somewhere, out there in the darkness, and was being transmitted into my brain. It’s more than just words and images however. It could be an atmosphere that I sense, like a feeling from a waking dream, that I want to recreate and share in a story. (more…)

sam-shepard-patti-smith

“In the winter of 2012, we met up in Dublin, where he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Trinity College. He was often embarrassed by accolades but embraced this one, coming from the same institution where Samuel Beckett walked and studied. He loved Beckett, and had a few pieces of writing, in Beckett’s own hand, framed in the kitchen, along with pictures of his kids. That day, we saw the typewriter of John Millington Synge and James Joyce’s spectacles, and, in the night, we joined musicians at Sam’s favorite local pub, the Cobblestone, on the other side of the river. As we playfully staggered across the bridge, he recited reams of Beckett off the top of his head”

— Source: My Buddy: Patti Smith Remembers Sam Shepard | The New Yorker

SaveSave

Séan Richardson on a free new broadcast that sheds light on the cultural legacy of modernism

modernistpodcast-logo.jpgWhat is the Modernist Podcast?

The Modernist Podcast is a platform for ‘green’ academics to share their research with the wider community. We aim to bring critical discussion beyond the bindings of the journal and out from within the walls of the conference, into the airwaves and across digital media. We believe that this is a great way for researchers to have their voices heard early into their career, as well as disseminate their work to a broader audience, making scholarship more accessible to a diverse array of listeners. The podcast itself comes out monthly, and researchers are linked together by theme: from Queer Modernism to Modernism and Form, James Joyce to Modernism and Race. (more…)

james-joyce
James Joyce

At 5pm on Tuesday 30 May 2017, Scarlett Baron will be giving a free lecture on James Joyce at the University of Reading. The lecture will connect to her broader interest in modernist and postmodernist literature in English and French:

“Her 2011 monograph ‘Strandentwining Cable’: Joyce, Flaubert, and Intertextuality reads Joyce within an Anglo-French literary tradition and argues for the importance of his work within the emergence of intertextual theory.

Everyone is most welcome to this event, which takes place 5pm at the Special Collections, University of Reading. The lecture will be accompanied by a glass of wine and is hosted by the Finnegans Wine Reading Group.”

To book a place, or for more information, take a look at the Eventbrite page.

samuelbeckett-walking“As a literary structure, the recounted walk encourages digression and association, in contrast to the stricter form of a discourse or the chronological progression of a biographical or historical narrative. A century and a half later, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf would, in trying to descrive the workings of the mind, develop the style called stream of consciousness. In their novels Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway, the jumble of thoughts and recollections of their protagonists unfolds best during walks. This kind of unstructured, associative thinking is the kind most often connected to walking, and it suggests walking as not an analytical but an improvisational act. Rousseau’s Reveries [of the Solitary Walker] are one of the first portraits of this relationship between thinking and walking.”

— From Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Should we bother with modernism? Is it suited to our bedside table, or should it be exiled to obscurity on some distant library shelf?
68c34-virginiawoolf
Virginia Woolf

While looking for something interesting to read online recently I stumbled across something boring. Namely, Robert McCrum’s Guardian piece on ‘The best boring books’: it listed big, grey bricks of supposedly anaesthetic prose. McCrum selected novels based on their ability to relieve anxiety and dull the senses, singling out two modernist novels among his favourites: James Joyce’s notorious Finnegans Wake and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. I looked again. Is there something intrinsic to modernism that lends itself to these kinds of associations? Of dullness and tedium in the mind’s eye of the public?

Gabriel Josipovici asked What Ever Happened to Modernism? As part of an in-depth literary study, he charted the recent decline of modernist literature in opposition to other, more traditional forms of storytelling. But what is it about Modernism that turns so many readers away? Why are Joyce, Eliot and Kafka missing from our holiday reading lists? And if by some miracle they are on our bookshelves, why do we never pick them up? (more…)

Finnegans Wake imagined technology which did not even exist. It is a novel—if we are to call it such—written for the 21st century, and perhaps the only way it can be adapted in other media is through the internet’s nonlinear, labyrinthine structures; the online project First We Feel Then We Fall does just that, creating a multimedia adaptation of Finnegans Wake that “transfers” the novel ‘to audiovisual language,’ and demonstrates the novel as—in the words of The Guardian’s Billy Mills—’the book the web was invented for.'”

More at Open Culture.

Source: Classic Penguin.

Writer imagines the life of James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia
lucia_joyce1.jpg
Lucia Joyce

“With admirable narrative control, this debut novel depicts its narrator, Lucia, James Joyce’s daughter, losing control to ‘ungovernable emotions’. The immensely gripping story skilfully oscillates between Zurich, 1934, where Lucia is having excruciatingly tense sessions as a patient of Dr Carl Jung, and the devastating tale of how, in late 1920s Paris, her life unravelled.”

More at The Guardian.

The Norwegian author discusses the 20th century Irish modernist in the New York Times
james-joyceThis year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Its genesis was long and tortuous — Joyce began writing his novel in 1904 — and the road to its canonisation as one of the seminal works of Western literature was not short either: The reviews spoke of the author’s “cloacal obsession” and “the slime of foul sewers,” comments that seem strange today, insofar as it is the subjective aspect of the book, the struggle that goes on inside the mind of its young protagonist, that perhaps stands out to us now as its most striking feature. What appeared at the time to be unprecedented about the novel seems more mundane to us today, whereas what then came across as mundane now seems unprecedented. Joyce’s novel remains vital, in contrast to almost all other novels published in 1916, because he forcefully strived toward an idiosyncratic form of expression, a language intrinsic to the story he wanted to tell, about the young protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, and his formative years in Dublin, in which uniqueness was the very point and the question of what constitutes the individual was the issue posed.

(more…)

On 19 May, Professor Anne Fuchs FBA MRIA will give a lecture exploring the figure of the walker in modernist and contemporary literature at the British Academy in London

About the event

ba7d4-robertwalserwalking
Robert Walser

Modernity celebrated speed as the motor of progress and a source of pleasure unleashing vitality and energy. But speed also provoked a new desire for slowness to allow modern selves to cope with the frantic pace of transformation. Hence the emergence of the modern walker who, for example, strays through texts by Benjamin, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Thomas Mann and Robert Walser. Focusing on diverse types of walking such as urban perambulations, rural rambling, disorientated straying, imprisoned crawling and condemned walking, my lecture examines the aesthetic and moral implications of perambulating through time and space. (more…)