"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Posts tagged "Contexts"
Flowers in a jam jar

Flowers in a jam jar

In April 1961 Ernest Hemingway would distil, in almost oracular terms, the nature of the writing act as a way of capturing the world, as a way of relating to life, but also as a way of confronting the inexorable absence at the heart of much of existence: “In writing, there are many secrets. Nothing...
An absence full of presence

An absence full of presence

What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home by Mark Mazower is an eloquently written rhapsody on the art of remembering. It is rhapsodic both in the primary sense of the word, in that it is a chronicle exuding a certain air of poetry and exalted, almost epic feeling, and in...
Having words in Manchester

Having words in Manchester

There’s an old quip: ‘What’s another word for a thesaurus?’ In fact, there is another word for a thesaurus and what’s more, there always has been: synonymicon. Next time someone rolls out that old line, you can respond by telling them that. It might not make you the most popular person at a party, but...
The truth of the lie

The truth of the lie

“The duty of art (or of thought) consists in showing us the complexity of existence in order to make us more complex, in examining the mechanics of evil, so that we may avoid it, and even the mechanics of good, perhaps so we may understand them”. This is Javier Cercas’ declaration of intent at the...
In the zone

In the zone

In early 1947, the time in which The Ashes of Berlin is set, the Second World War had been over nearly two years. Although the guns had fallen silent, the war’s effects lingered on, and the peace had thrown up problems all its own. The main character of the novel, Inspector Gregor Reinhardt, returns to...
Never happier

Never happier

When I first came across Jia Pingwa’s Gaoxing (高兴: Happy) in 2007, I felt an immediate empathy with this handful of migrant workers collecting the trash of a sprawling Chinese metropolis, and being treated like trash too. In the novel, now published as Happy Dreams, Happy Liu and his fellow villager Wufu arrive in Xi’an...
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...