Agreeable eye.

an eudæmonistarchives

Generally: criticism

It was the Distance

For no good reason1 I’ve been reading The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (ed. W. Martin, CUP: 2002). It is somewhat refreshing to find books which do not concern Cicero. And it is interesting to step outside the charmed circle of academics and then to peer back in, as though through windows. For one can […]

A Sudden Liberating Thought

with no sudden crisis of conscience

The Victim of Prejudice

or, the difficulties of being desired

Rasselas

a philosophical expedition to Abissinia

The Green Dwarf

a suggestion

Street Sleeper

Volkswagens and other historical anecdotes

Directions to Servants

lessons for masters

Love and Freindship (sic)

the perils of misspelling for young authors

Murphy

insidious

Pnin

ars academica

Snow

a Turkish winter

An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting

household exercises

parrying poetics

At the end of March there was a puff piece about Anne Carson in the NY Times, occasioned by a staged reading of her translation of, I think, Euripides’ Hekabe.1 One short passage attracted my attention: For all this, Ms. Carson said, she is not a poet. ‘Homer’s a poet,’ she said. ‘I would say […]

The Sacred Font

and other puzzles

quite literally

snobbery

wild east

Boris Fishman, ed. Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier 2003 Now a reader is in a sense complicit in the making of a good book; without the reader’s empathy, wit, and understanding, be the book ever so finely written and ever so well put together, any book can be called rubbish. I myself remember […]

literary virtues

I ordered the book from the library after reading a quotation from it somewhere on the internet. I don’t remember my source, which is probably just as well; I had also heard the author mentioned favorably, and thought I might as well take a look. The book arrived and, as usual, I judged it by […]

Setting the East Ablaze

The main problem – and the reason why The Great Game is a superior book – is that the material does not seem fully digested. The tone changes from chapter to chapter depending on whose memoirs Hopkirk draws on…

elusive taste

Muriel Barbery. The Elegance of the Hedgehog & Gourmet Rhapsody. trans. Alison Anderson. New York: Europa, 2008/2009. I’ve stayed in much richer ones than that. I’ve stayed in one so rich that when you pulled the lavatory-plug it played a tune… Rich people – you have to be sorry for them. They haven’t the slightest […]

Azerbaijan Diary

Thomas Goltz. Azerbaijan Diary. London: M.E. Sharpe, 1999. You cannot persuade a party of frenzied nationalists that two blacks do not make a white; consequently, no day went by without a catalogue of complaints from both sides, Armenians and Tartars, of unprovoked attacks, murders, village burnings and the like… – C.E. Bechhofer (1920) (qtd. in […]

on biography (1)

Alexander Theroux. The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2011. After much consideration of this point, I came to the resolution of writing truly, if I wrote at all; of withholding nothing, though some things, from their very nature, could not be spoken of so fully as others. – Elizabeth Gaskell (Life of Charlotte […]

on biography (2)

Hermione Lee. Virginia Woolf. New York: Vintage, 1996. I have little more to say. If my readers find that I have not said enough, I have said too much. I cannot measure or judge of such a character as hers. I cannot map out vices, and virtues, and debateable land. – Elizabeth Gaskell (Life of […]

Requiem

Antonio Tabucchi. Requiem: A Hallucination trans. Margaret Jull Costa. London: Harvill, 1994. Please, he said, don’t abandon me to all these people who are so certain about everything, they’re dreadful. You don’t need me, I said, don’t talk nonsense, the whole world admires you, I was the one who needed you, but now it’s time […]

The Balkan Trilogy

From a series of postcards of Bucharest in the 1940s. Olivia Manning. Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy. New York: NYRB Classics, 2010 (1960 – 1965). This is an odd way to start a consideration of Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy, but I want to take a moment to think about Graham Greene. His novels inhabit […]

stulta navis

in which culture achieves its apotheosis and history is denied

nepeta cataria

‘A Girl Walks Home Alone’ It moves slowly; indeed, the pacing is unsettling. It’s been quite a while, though, since I’ve enjoyed a movie as much as A Girl Walks Home Alone, which was a thoughtful bit of creativity, rather than a bombastic collection of marketing images. I cannot (and do not want to) say […]

delirium

Rodin, ‘Assemblage: mask of Camille Claudel and left hand of Pierre de Wissant’ (1895?) Reading Fiona Templeton’s Delirium of Interpretation, I didn’t quite know what to make of it – I do not believe I have recently read a work that so forcefully put me, as a reader, at such a great cultural distance from the […]

cavilling

cunning & resourceful

A pity they don’t have name tags, isn’t it? Good thing you can tell them apart by their hats. Mimesis has been on my list of books to read for quite some time. The notion that it was written from memory, without access to a present library of familiar reference books appealed to me. So […]

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