Lara Feigel reviews Peter Boxall’s new book about the relevance of the novel in the 21st century

peter-boxall-value-of-the-novel

In his 1925 essay, “Why the Novel Matters”, DH Lawrence celebrated the novel as the “one bright book of life”. According to him, the novelist alone understands that there is as much life in the hand that writes as in the mind that thinks. Where science and philosophy privilege mind over matter, turning man into a “dead man in life”, the novel resurrects the “whole man alive”. Lawrence acknowledged that books do not constitute life, but insisted that they were “tremulations on the ether” that could make the whole man alive tremble into urgent being.

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The Inaugural Modernist Network Cymru Conference

The Research Institute of the Arts and Humanities
Swansea University, Monday 7 September 2015
Keynote speaker: Professor Angharad Price (Bangor University)

monc-modernist-network-cymruThe 2010s have been a busy decade for modernist scholars. In 2010, the inaugural BAMS conference considered Virginia Woolf’s (in)famous assertion that ‘On or about December 1910, human character changed’; in 2013, BBC Radio 3 ran a series of programmes celebrating Paris’ annus mirabilis, exemplified by the 1913 premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring; and in 2014 we celebrated Dylan Thomas’ birth in a year-long series of events.

Now, in 2015, as we mark 100 years since Caradoc Evans’ landmark short story collection, My People, it seems a good time to stop and take stock of the past, present and future of both modernism and modernist studies as a discipline.

This inaugural conference, to be held at Swansea University, invites scholars from Wales and beyond to reflect upon modernism and its legacies. As the first Modernist Network Cymru (MONC) event, it aims to showcase the range and diversity of research into modernism happening in Wales today. MONC brings together scholars and professionals working on modernism in Wales to encourage collaboration and communication; as such, we welcome interdisciplinary proposals on any aspect of modernism, as defined in the widest sense. We particularly welcome scholars working on Welsh modernist writers and artists, as well as modernist art and writing in Wales. (more…)

27 – 30 April 2016, University of Antwerp

About the Conference

Beckett and Modernism
The Second Annual Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society

Samuel Beckett. Photograph: John Haynes
Samuel Beckett. Photograph: John Haynes

The year 2016 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Beckett Studies (JOBS), founded in 1976 by James Knowlson and John Pilling. To celebrate this occasion, we are proud to announce both of them as keynote speakers at the second conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, dedicated to Beckett and Modernism. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Last Modernist’, Beckett has also been situated within the postmodern canon. After a long critical debate, the term ‘modernism’ has recently been reframed by a vibrant field of what is sometimes called the ‘new modernist studies’, and the term ‘Late Modernism’ seems to be gaining currency in Beckett studies. (more…)

Tilda Swinton in Orlando (dir. Sally Potter, 1992)
Tilda Swinton in Orlando (dir. Sally Potter, 1992)
In an article for The Telegraph, Tilda Swinton writes about Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, the impact the novel had on her personal life, and her experiences playing the title role in Sally Potter’s 1992 adaptation

I was at school near Sevenoaks, within a short walk of Knole, and one of my school chums was a Sackville-West. Like Orlando – like Vita – I had grown up in an old house and looked like the people in the paintings on the stairs, mainly ruffed, mustachioed, velvet-covered men. We all posed formally in front of bits of furniture, strung together on a high family tree like so many forgotten party balloons caught in the branches. Like Orlando, I wrote poetry. In my adolescent fantasy I read this book and believed it was a hallucinogenic, interactive biography of my own life and future. [Read More]

Why read a ‘difficult’ book?
Emily Temple (Flavorwire) has compiled a list of ’50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers’. Their toughness varies from the sheer bulk of the volume (eg. Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Stein’s The Making of Americans), to their stylistic virtuosity (Finnegans Wake, anyone?). But despite their daunting reputations, there can be something special about reading a ‘difficult’ book.

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Ferris Jabr (New Yorker) discusses Nabokov, Joyce, Woolf, and the science of walking (thanks to Emily Blewitt for the link)

In Vogue’s 1969 Christmas issue, Vladimir Nabokov offered some advice for teaching James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: “Instead of perpetuating the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings, instructors should prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced.” He drew a charming one himself. Several decades later, a Boston College English professor named Joseph Nugent and his colleagues put together an annotated Google map that shadows Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom step by step. The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, as well as students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, have similarly reconstructed the paths of the London amblers in “Mrs. Dalloway.” (more…)