"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Posts tagged "Contexts"
Dante's nose

Dante’s nose

Early in the morning of September 1321, Dante died of malaria in Ravenna. Looking at the images (pictorial or sculptural) that we have of him, and considering the corpus of his work, especially the impact he was to have on our understanding of European culture in the centuries to come, one would think this would...
Here and there

Here and there

One of the things we do as poets is to try to preserve experiences, people, places important to us, in an effort to save them from time’s erasure. In Passport to Here and There, I’ve been more conscious of this than in some of my other books and felt that a short introduction to my...
Atlantic

Atlantic

Married as we were to your brown untourist beaches, unconcerned with the many shores you touched, as children, we thought that you, Atlantic, belonged to us, your below-sea-level offspring.   See us playing cricket, turn-down bucket making wicket – ball a spin-off of empire – lost in the applauding waves for six. At Easter, to...
Modern fiction

Modern fiction

Reading Andrea Marcolongo’s The Ingenious Language: Nine Epic Reasons to Love Greek in certain ways lives up to its English title in providing an epic experience (the Italian original’s simpler 9 ragioni… emphasises the more light-heartedly catchy, yet didactic underpinnings of the text, rather than its epic claims, significance or proportions). As Marcolongo reminds us...
The dream of Norway

The dream of Norway

In 1920, two years after the end of WWI, the League of Nations officially began its work of rebuilding the world. It was a grand scheme, a tremendous dream, a triumph of a reconstituted modernity, and the legacy of enlightenment humanism over militarism, colonialism, barbarity and tribalist divisionism. It should have been idealistic. It has...
History from the wings

History from the wings

In times of crisis, sociohistorical impasses, and what the French scholar John Cruickshank has termed, on a different occasion, the despair in the face of “man’s metaphysical dereliction in the world”, the individual and collective instinct is to turn to parallels, contrasts, and to recent or very distant memory. To familiar or unfamiliar territory. We...
Island voices

Island voices

Most people’s vision of the two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago would comprise gorgeous, untainted beaches, lively festivals and scrumptious Creole cuisine, while V.S. Naipaul put the islands on the literary map with his early Trinidad-set novels, most notably A House For Mr Biswas. Two singularly brilliant debuts – One Year of Ugly by Caroline...
Telling it straight

Telling it straight

In dark times, it’s only natural for readers to seek an escape. So it’s no surprise that, to fill the tedium of society-wide lockdown in the darkest, saddest days I’ve witnessed since 9/11, many friends of mine have wiped their reading lists clean of brave and hard-hitting ‘literary’ fiction in favour of lighter genre fare....
All he surveys

All he surveys

The eponymous King of Warsaw in Szczepan Twardoch’s first book to be translated into English is Jakub Szapiro: a champion prize-fighter; a secular Jew, whose exploits in the ring, especially against Aryan opponents, have made him the darling of his community; a devoted family man, who dotes on his two young sons. All this is,...
A month of singular vision

A month of singular vision

Hisham Matar is undeniably a remarkable man, with a talent for unusual journeys and their tales. A gifted storyteller, he excels in that rare balancing act between the personal and the universal, the minutely concrete and the sublimely abstract. He loves to explore the terra incognita between permanence and transience, presence and errantry, past and...