Archive for Arts – Literature

Literary Studies and Evolutionary Science

In the face of any looming apocalypse, imagined or not, prophets abound. For the literary academy, which has been imagining its own demise for almost as long as it has been around, prophets seem always to look to science, with its soothing specificity and concreteness. As the modern discipline of literary criticism was forming in the early 20th century, scholars concentrated their efforts on philology, a study that was thought to be more systematic than pure literary analysis. When the New Critics made their debut in the 1920s and 30s, their goal was to give a quasi-scientific rigor to literary theory: to lay out in detail the formal attributes of a “good poem” and provide guidance as to how exactly one discovered them. Later the Canadian critic Northrop Frye, in his 1957 Anatomy of Criticism, famously queried: “What if criticism is a science as well as an art?” And some of the poststructuralist thought that began to filter into America from France in the 1960s took as its bedrock linguistic and psychoanalytic theory.

More, here.


Great Finds in a Library


300 Love Letters

Click Picture!


The latest – Summer 2008 – edition is now online, here.

Some more on Mahmoud Darwish

Mourid Barghouti on Mahmoud Darwish in the Guardian

The story of the Palestinian people since their nakba is a story of unfulfilled desires: the desire for normal life, for justice, for national independence and freedom, but even Mahmoud had to come to this cheerless conclusion: “I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanise, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe. But now I think that poetry changes only the poet.”

And Sinan Antoon in the Al-Ahram Weekly (online)

In the latter phase of his work Darwish was free to roam all themes no matter how mundane or metaphysical. The anchored and fixed I of his early years was now scattered in pronouns as the self became a site severed by time and space and open to all its others, in the widest sense. Darwish and his work contained multitudes and vast horizons, at the heart of which was Palestine in and of itself, but also Palestine as a metaphor for love, exile, and the injustice and pain of our contemporary moment.

More Who Goodness

For those of you (like me) who are in a period of deep withdrawal and mourning after the end of this year’s Doctor Who, there’s lots of writerly goodness (and probably a hint of campery) still to come with three events that will dovetail neatly to the Christmas episode.

Steven Moffat will be interviewed on 23rd of this month at the Media Guardian event at the Edinburgh International Television Festival

John Barrowman and Russell T Davies will both be at the Times Literature ’08 Festival in Cheltenham on Sunday 12th October.

Russell will also be giving a talk on the forthcoming Doctor Who: A Writers Tale book at the National Theatre on Friday 7th November. I expect Russell will be hard pressed to keep the questions about the return of you-know-who at bay this close to Christmas.

RIP Alexander Solzhenitsyn 1918 – 2008

“…Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers — such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a façade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as wastepaper instead of being read…”