Monday, April 22, 2013

Shakespeare, Proust, Holly Grail

"I do think that if a book is really well written, it's terribly difficult to see how it's done. I think it's part of the mystery of writing that the real great hands always conceal how they do it. And an awful lot of bad writing is due to people trying to write like great writers and not really seeing that the outer covering has nothing to do with it at all."
Anthony Powell, interviewed by Michael Barber (Paris Review, Spring-Summer 1978)

This selfish desire - let’s not pretend it is an altruistic or philanthropic urge - is nowadays catered for under the aegis of “creative writing”. In the UK and elsewhere in Europe, this is a fairly new state of affairs. But in the US, where “creative writing” has been on the scene for longer, many universities operate a policy of basic segregation: there is an “English” (or “literature”) department and a “creative writing” department, and the two lead separate existences, in a strange sort of academic isolation. However, things are changing. The relationship between “English” and “creative writing”, especially in the UK, is shifting. Composition

Hoarder, moneylender, tax dodger — it's not how we usually think of William Shakespeare

THE EARTH, AS I can feel it, is pressed together at points and ruptured in parts. And so events seem to fold into each other, like burial and birth. It’s not like the smooth and undulating beauty of a ribbon streaming out. No. The earth buckles with the stories it holds of all those who have cried and all those who have croaked

A rare psalm book from 1640 could fetch between $15 million to $30 million at a Sotheby's auction on Nov. 26 in New York. Holy Grail of Rare Cold River Hymnal Stories Could Fetch $30M "Spraying cold water on a witch hunt is one of the duties that a critic should be ready to perform." By the Book

Proust famously preferred to write in bed, and, between chronic illness and predisposition, ended up spending much of his life there. “It is pleasant, when one is distraught, to lie in the warmth of one’s bed, and there, with all effort and struggle at an end, even perhaps with one’s head under the blankets, surrender completely to howling, like branches in the autumn wind,” he wrote in “Pleasures and Regrets,” his first book, a collection of prose poems, philosophical reflections, and sketches, published in 1896, when he was twenty-five THE THRILL OF PROUST’S HANDWRITING

Australians often forget just how odd our flora and fauna seem to Europeans.  That Wallace Line which defines the boundary between our fauna and what’s in the rest of the world was only recognised in 1859, but long before that travellers’ tales were full of strange rats, greyhounds that hopped (i.e. kangaroos), swans that were black in defiance of Aristotle*, and double-ended reptiles.  Curious Minds is the story of the naturalists who came to our shores and began to identify and classify our strange world. * Aristotle used the example of white swans as an irrefutable fact, i.e. because all swans were white, etc. Black Swan Event