"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Posts tagged "Contexts"
Under the sign of eternity

Under the sign of eternity

Until not so long ago, a hand-made quilt of one’s own was one of the most prized possessions a young woman could have: part of her trousseau, a link with her past, a vision of her future. It offered a reflection of who she was, culturally and ancestrally, of who she wished to be, creatively...
Adventures of the imagination

Adventures of the imagination

Teaching creative writing is a pain in the ass. You bust a gut all year to put on thoughtful classes, to challenge, coax, and inspire the best work, you read reams and reams and reams of work in progress and then a few flinty, original pieces which give you hope, only to be met by...
The life-lie

The life-lie

In 1990 Tony Harrison shocked and riveted London audiences with his production of Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, which pits an ancient text, Sophocles’ satyric play Ichneutae, against the inevitably objectifying and alienating mechanism of historical analysis. With unflinchingly raw social realism, Harrison not only raised questions of high and low art, of the validity of the...
The unbearable burden of non-being

The unbearable burden of non-being

Lviv, also known as Lwów and to others as Lvov, as Antonia Lloyd-Jones reminds us in her translator’s note, or to some as Lemberg and even Leopolis, is a city with a rich enamel of history – it is almost majolica-like in its many facets, colours, hues and patterns, in the broken splinters of its...
An Amazon dreaming of Arcadia

An Amazon dreaming of Arcadia

Historical fiction or fiction inspired by real events often runs the risk of yielding to the temptation of aggrandising one’s subject, of over-valorising the kernel of truth for the sake of effect and novelty, of the triumph of a first discovery. Like Arrowby in Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea, the author, as much as...
Gall and barefaced daring

Gall and barefaced daring

I was well into my forties when I came upon Barbara Baynton’s story ‘The Chosen Vessel’, and I have never got over it. It is shocking, and dreadful: a lone woman huddles with a tiny baby in an undefendable bush house at night, while a tramp armed with a knife slinks around it in the...
Message in two suitcases

Message in two suitcases

There is an old Urdu/Hindi word that would suit well this explosively funny, irresistible, and profoundly tragic human comedy: lifafa/lifaafaa, a term that can mean a bag, an envelope, a wrapper or a cover, anything frail, or an outward show. Mama Tandoori is all of these and indeed much more, a surging personal narrative and...
The Leica way

The Leica way

In his previous book, Norwegian Wood (MacLehose Press, 2015), Lars Mytting composed an elegy to trees – not only as an elemental form of life, as symbols, and as the other, vital half of the animate cosmos, but also in their immutable relation to man. Norwegian Wood is about the transcendental materiality of timber, logs,...
A biblical paradise

A biblical paradise

An impish dog playing tricks on his mistress brings about a meeting that will change the life of a monarch. Or so goes the story in Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, where a corgi-chasing Elizabeth II runs into a travelling library. The rest is a journey into a world of enchantment, discipline, determination, revelation. What...
Curious about curiosity

Curious about curiosity

Adventurous forgetting is common with scholars. The urge to move beyond the page estranges us from the work. We chase the next illuminating ‘maybe’, losing sight of the words we began with. The problem is not iconoclastic interpretation; not disorienting or disturbing responses – this is all the stuff of creative reading. “There is a...