“You have one body and one life to live and you only get this one shot – and that reality can drive you crazy.” Ottessa Moshfegh
Author Archive
Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

Laura Beatty: Insight and wonder

One comes away from meeting and talking with Laura Beatty with a combined sense of awe and the closest human affinity and immediacy. She possesses a formidable mind, a very composed and elegiac conversational style that one may only call a delicately poetic oral prose. The beginning of a thought or a sentence soon acquires...
New travels with myself and another

New travels with myself and another

Laura Beatty’s new book Lost Property, a nearly sublime hybrid between a novel and a philosophical essay, begins with an England in a state of utter crisis – social, humanitarian, political, cultural, a crisis of identity, values, place, purpose and meaning. Beatty’s heroine describes herself as tottering between being and non-being, reason and insanity. “At...
“Angels you will see only when you’re dead. Possibly.”

“Angels you will see only when you’re dead. Possibly.”

Think back to when you were very young, still capable of looking at the world with wide, wondrous eyes. When books had a breathtaking pulse and three-dimensionality about them, and every page seemed like an invitation to a mystic dance – a summons to enter a world of grand enchantment, of dark, mysterious corners and...
Docta puella

Docta puella

“This book is about a poet who disappeared, about a woman who pursued her career in a blaze of publicity, while leading a secret life that eventually destroyed her, and who left such a legacy of lies and evasion that her true story can only now be told,” writes Lucasta Miller in the preface of...
A vision of eternity

A vision of eternity

There are infinitely more than fifteen ways of looking at Dante – we can see him as a historical figure, a radical maverick, the conscience of a Church and a State in dire crisis. He is the writer of poetry that many have come to see as the ultimate representation of the sublime, as well...
Where the wise and wild things are

Where the wise and wild things are

Amanda Brettargh is a quiet torrent of a woman. A conversation with her starts sotto voce, her Australian lilt making you think of vast landscapes and limitless horizons. And this would also sum up exactly her vision of Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, a weekend of talks, activities and workshops dedicated to children, to children’s imagination...
In the midst of life, we are

In the midst of life, we are

Think of the word Iran. Think of a place, a landscape, a face, a history, a culture and perhaps a taste. What comes first into the contemporary mind is perhaps the tragic story of a mother torn away from her husband and daughter; subjected to imprisonment and negotiations, as though she were a criminal or...
Polar bears in Auschwitz

Polar bears in Auschwitz

“When I was in second grade, I found a piece of paper on my desk with the words, ‘You are a Jew’. I went home and asked: ‘Mum, what is a Jew?’ She explained that people have different religions, Christians, Protestants and Jews in Czechoslovakia. I said: ‘And we are Jews?’ The answer was a...
Man the measure

Man the measure

Back in the roaring Sixties and Seventies, literary criticism and especially the philosophy of literary aesthetics and of socio-political analysis through literary texts acquired a distinctly ‘cool’ status. At last, academia was coming out of the dusty cupboards, climbing down from its ivory towers and marching into the streets arm in arm with the most...
A paean to the death of Central Europe

A paean to the death of Central Europe

Józef Wittlin, like Homer’s Odysseus whom he so much admired, was a man of many minds, human experiences, geographical and national homes. Born in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he would come to be hailed as one of the most important voices of a new-born independent Poland. A Jew by birth, a Christian...