Posts Tagged ‘Literature


Dr. Roget’s autobiography

Peter Mark Roget began compiling world list at the age of eight. Estranged from other children, Dr. Roget found great comfort in solitude compiling word list and associations.  Ironically that what helped Dr Roget avoid emotion became the tool of others struggling to express it. Essayist, Lesely Chamberlain, argues that Dr. Roget’s magnum opus isn’t the bible of objectivity, but rather one that is quite autobiographical in form.

See for instance, the record number of paragraphs of sub-lists under the heading “Disorder.” Roget was a Freudian case half a century before Freud, and one might deconstruct his real magnum opus as a secret autobiography, to be matched alongside the recorded life.

Read the essay in its entirety here.


Nobel Prize for Literature 2008

Ladbrokes has set odds on possible winners of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Below are the top ten, via complete review:

  • Claudio Magris at 3/1
  • Adonis at 4/1
  • Amos Oz at 5/1
  • Joyce Carol Oates at 7/1
  • Philip Roth at 7/1
  • Don DeLillo at 10/1
  • Haruki Murakami at 10/1
  • Les Murray at 10/1
  • Yves Bonnefoy at 10/1
  • Arnošt Lustig at 14/1

Has exoticism lost appeal?

Ralph Potts’ new book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer.

Of course, the motifs and assumptions of well-told travel stories do change over the years—But I think non-traditional narrative has become a way for writers to wriggle into the complexities of postmodern travel and show the reader things they might otherwise have missed.

The Art of Writing a Story About Walking Across Andorra, a second-person-voice meta-satire about generic travel writing.

Blogs have boomed, so has online video; magazine ad space has shrunk, and traditional newspapers are suffering. Since so much travel media naturally emphasizes consumer and service information, this probably just means that the same kinds of articles are finding their way into new and different venues.

Hat-tip to World Hum; the entire review is here.


Ovid: The Amores

Ovid’s first book, Amores, published in 16 BC, and written in the elegiac distich.

Here is the translation from A.S. Kline, as well as the original Latin text.


Digitisation and the emergence of transliterate writers

Will intelligent literature survive the new world of web downloads, e-books, and the ever shortening attention spans? John Walsh highlights the shifting cultural trends and its impact on the world of literature, here.

“Will books exist in 50 years? Definitely, but they will also be just one of the many ways we experience art. I feel quite cynical about the cloak of preciousness that’s been woven around the novel: it’s such a recent medium – we’ve only had it a few hundred years and yet you often hear people say, ‘We’ve always had novels.’ No we have not!”

Amazon’s Kindle is one of the many new electronic reading devices designed to keep pace with today’s growing constraints.


Springboks and victory for cultural amity

“It was the moment I realised that there really was a chance this country could work,” gushes a teary-eyed rugby official.

John Carlin’s new novel, ‘Playing the Enemy’, explores how ruby helped bridge a racial chasm in South Africa.

An excellent review via Economist.


90-second book review

I suppose everyone has their own individual heuristic when it comes to deeming a book readable.  Here is a reductive way on making a 90-second decision on whether to read a new book from an unfamiliar author.

Does the cover art contain high heels, Mistral, or any reference to either Oprah Winfrey, Joel Osteen, or “Dr. Phil?”

Some of these are quite humorous…

At the highest level, is this book’s topic based on the typical “zeitgeist” product that gets greenlit by someone who watches lots of golf on TV and who seldom finishes reading the 1,000-word “features” found in in-flight magazines?


New Orhan Pamuk novel

Nobel Winner Orhan Pamuk will release his new novel, The Museum of Innocence, this week, as it will appear in Germann at Frankfurt’s book fair August 29, marking the first time a Turkish writer has published simultaneously in a foreign language

The Museum of Innocence, a new book by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, will be published in more than 30 languages after its release in Turkey this week.

The entire release is here


Want a culture of innovation? Fund our artists.

Innovation is the new buzzword for the so-called value-added economy: Wealth is now created primarily through intellectual capital, not natural resources. Japan and Microsoft taught us that we don’t need coal and wood and mounds of potash: We need smarts.

Our view of the societal importance of art has shifted over the last half century.

Here you can read the entire article.


Aflame Books

Publisher and co-creator of Aflame Books, Richard Bartlett opens doors to writers who write in their native languages. Originally South African, Richard speaks, reads, and translates from Portuguese to Afrikaans. Publishing books in translation is considered a niche market and earlier this year Aflame published, Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi, which proved to be a international bestseller.


“Rivers of Babylon” by Peter Pišt’anek

Peter Pišt’anek delivers a post-communist portrait of a still unified Czechoslovakia through country bumpkin protagonist, Rácz.

Rivers of Babylon is a dark sort of satire, with a slightly bitter taste to most of it, but it is satire, and enjoyably amusing at that. Parts are exaggerated — so also the desperation everyone shows when there’s no heat — and there’s some jarring brutality, but it all fits with Rácz’s rise from country bumpkin to nouveau-riche magnate, as he stomps his way to the top without ever becoming more refined. It’s a wry picture of the new eastern Europe, often too close for comfort even in its absurder twists, and it’s an entertaining read.

Read the entire review here

An interview with Peter Pišt’anek, and the 1998 Rivers of Babylon film trailer here.


Chinua Achebe’s new collection of essays

Anyone following the current trends in literature will really enjoy this bit about Achebe.

The Nigeria novelist, poet and essayist, Chinua Achebe, has completed a new book to be published later this year (2008),  an event his agents excitedly report “wonderfully coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of his first book-Things Fall Apart, and the world wide re-issue of his African trilogy.”

Tony Mochama with The Standard interviews Achebe here

“Achebe takes the reader on an autobiographical intellectual journey through the thickets of history, race, religion, ethnicity, war and politics. He provides an update of his classic treatise ‘The trouble with Nigeria’ in an essay devoted to Nigeria’s recent sociopolitical history.

Things Fall Apart (1958), considered Achebe’s magnum opus, unveiled the archetypal modern African novel to Western audiences.  Chinua Achebe discusses Things Fall Apart with BBC correspondents.

August 2020
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