A new title by Clare Hayes-Brady, published by Bloomsbury.

The Paris Review shares ‘The Eyes Have It’ online.

Britt Grootes (GEMS) talks to the prominent Barthes scholar about his life and work

On Roland Barthes

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Roland Barthes

What draws me back to the late Barthes above all, I think, is his attention to ‘the magic of the signifier’, to nuance, to all that is light and delicate. His restless invention and reinvention. Drift. Then there’s the unclassifiability and the mischief. And the style, of course — that elegant, seductive style. (We often call him a ‘theorist’ in the anglophone world, but ‘écrivain’ is much closer to the mark in so many ways.) Barthes knew a thing or two about the seduction of the reader with only the signifier. When I open something like Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, I’m his. [Read More] (more…)

Jennifer Dawn Whitney (DCRC) traces the history of our anxieties about robot technology

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In contemporary Western culture, we often trace our relationship with automation and robotics to the Industrial Revolution – or, more recently – to a kind of American futurism rooted in the 1950s. Wedged between these two moments of modernity we find the word ‘robot’, which came into usage in the 1920s.

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4th Estate releases beautiful contemporary editions of Ballard’s novels and short stories

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4th Estate have collaborated with the artist Stanley Donwood, known for his work with the rock group Radiohead, to produce a series of luminous, beautiful, surreal, and contemporary designs for 21 of J.G. Ballard’s works. Donwood is known for the way he playfully manipulates the signs and symbols of modern life, in colour and collage, and his signature style is ideally suited to Ballard’s aesthetic. The new editions, which come complete with a series of illuminating introductions, will welcome a whole new generation of readers to Ballard’s fantastical and prophetic worlds. Extremely impressive.

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Critics respond to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 film, the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)

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Uncorrected Proof of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice

After a publishing career of more than 50 years, Thomas Pynchon has finally allowed one of his novels to be filmed. Inherent Vice, which has been adapted and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is all about a stoner private detective named Larry “Doc” Sportello in 1970 southern California, called in by an ex-girlfriend to investigate the sinister disappearance of her married lover. It is an occult mystery upon which Doc attempts to shed light using the torch he still carries for her.

The resulting movie is a delirious triumph: a stylish-squared meeting of creative minds, a swirl of hypnosis and symbiosis, with Pynchon’s prose partly assigned to a narrating character and partly diversified into funky dialogue exchanges. Each enigmatic narrative development is a twist of the psychedelic kaleidoscope. (more…)

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Pynchon, DeLillo, Atwood, Dostoyevsky, DeLillo.

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The New York Times looks back on the release of David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus

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When his “Infinite Jest” came out 20 years ago, David Foster Wallace felt some anxiety about how his fully stuffed novel would be received. In an interview on the radio show “Bookworm” at the time, Wallace said: “This is the great nightmare, when you’re doing something long and hard, is you’re terrified that it will be perceived as gratuitously hard and difficult, that this is some avant-garde-for-its-own-sake sort of exercise.” (more…)

Alberto Comparini (LARB) reviews a new study of the novel-essay and its place in modernity
“Hybrid genres,” and the questionable orthodoxy of traditional genres, are subjects that continue to vex literary theory. Consider Joris-Karl Huysmans’s Against Nature, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, or Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities: What do these novels share? What kind of novels are they? Are these books truly novels, or are they another form altogether?

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Ben Golder on the French thinker Michel Foucault
As human rights rise in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s so too does the work of thinkers (many of them French philosophers or theorists of language—structuralist, post-structuralist, postmodern) dedicated to deconstructing or critically historicizing the idea of “humanity.” How do we account for the exponential popularity of human rights as a political and legal medium in the same period as the increasing prominence of these post-humanist styles of thought that seemingly pull the humanist rug out from under the feet of the human rights movement?

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Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy
From a 1992 interview with Richard B. Woodward (The New York Times)

“You know about Mojave rattlesnakes?” Cormac McCarthy asks. The question has come up over lunch in Mesilla, N.M., because the hermitic author, who may be the best unknown novelist in America, wants to steer conversation away from himself, and he seems to think that a story about a recent trip he took near the Texas-Mexico border will offer some camouflage. A writer who renders the brutal actions of men in excruciating detail, seldom applying the anesthetic of psychology, McCarthy would much rather orate than confide. And he is the sort of silver-tongued raconteur who relishes peculiar sidetracks; he leans over his plate and fairly croons the particulars in his soft Tennessee accent. (more…)

‘The trivia is exceptional’: DeLillo on the Kennedy Assassination
Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo

Among the treasures online at The Paris Review is a 1993 interview with American novelist Don DeLillo. Adam Begley talks to the writer about everything from his work routine to world politics to his unique brand of dialogue. (more…)

A new academic network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

This interdisciplinary network uses the radical insights of aesthetic modernism to develop dialogue with medical practice in psychiatry, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, neurology, and the mental healthcare offered at the end of life. The project is dynamically interdisciplinary, fostering collaboration between researchers and clinicians working in Higher Education, the NHS, and international healthcare. It brings literary and arts scholars, philosophers, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, neuropsychologists, neurologists, research scientists, and doctors in palliative care and general practice into dialogue with theatre practitioners, dancers and artists from across the UK, Europe and the USA, asking them to explore together the resources modernism offers for creatively understanding experiences of body and mind poorly served by realist models of the self. (more…)

From Martin Paul Eve (3:AM Magazine)

Thomas Pynchon ranks among the most critically acclaimed American authors of the past fifty years; certainly so when viewed in terms of academic scholarship. He has two academic journals devoted solely to his work and influence (Pynchon Notes and Orbit: Writing Around Pynchon), over twenty monographs exploring his writing and, since 1978, there have been 23 doctorates awarded in the United Kingdom alone on, or in major part concerning, his fiction. This trend shows no sign of stopping; with apologies to the well-known formulation of James Joyce, almost a century ago, it seems as though Thomas Pynchon will continue to keep the professors busy. (more…)

Espen Terjesen’s beautifully drawn essay on Bernhard’s writing

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I’m very excited to share a beautiful and concise ‘graphic essay’ on the work of Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. The essay was written, drawn, and designed by Espen Terjesen, an illustrator, cartoonist, pixel artist, teacher/lecturer, and writer working in Bergen, Norway. In addition to the original essay, Terjesen has also been kind enough to provide me with an English translation.

Terjesen’s work not only presents themes from Bernhard’s writing with striking, icy accompaniments, but offers a playful approach to the traditional academic essay. By combining elements of literary criticism with the graphic novel, Terjesen’s reading of Bernhard becomes, in itself, a creative act. What we are left with is something both thought-provoking and accessible.

To see the strip in its original format, please find links to Terjesen’s essay at the bottom of this post. In its complete form, the essay includes a number of footnotes and recommended reading. You can click any of the images to enlarge them. Enjoy! (more…)