"When I read Céline I thought, 'Wow, you can do this, you can do anything!' That was a turning point, because it showed me you just have to follow your heart." Antti Tuomainen
Posts tagged "history"
The end of the world that never came

The end of the world that never came

Some books speak infallibly and for eternity; no matter their narrative temporality, the very magnitude of their resonance transcends their present, encompasses the past, often pre-empts and preconditions the future on a universal scale that gives them a sense of almost divine omniscience and awesomeness. These will eventually become what we call rather inadequately the...
Unquiet spirits

Unquiet spirits

Even now, perhaps most especially today, understanding the events of the first half of the twentieth century has a significance that we cannot possibly afford to ignore. The way to the trauma, evil and pain, to the sociohistorical origins, causes, sociodynamics and pitfalls, and to the portents and lacunae we overlooked to our horrific detriment,...
A perpetual advent calendar

A perpetual advent calendar

Our world is ever more in need of the solace, wisdom and power of books. Good books are often hard to come by, so here is a bumper list of some of the most gripping volumes recently published for the young, the younger and the no longer so young in search of the music of...
Picking a subject

Picking a subject

If anyone asked I said I wanted to be a writer, and I imagined and intended that this should be another word for novelist. But the stories of the glamorous dead, biography and narrative history, were as often as not what I read for pleasure. Not long before the turn of the century, my mother...
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...
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...
After shock

After shock

On 4 July, a little under six months into Donald Trump’s presidency, I joined a packed audience of over 2,000 at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for an engaging and impressive keynote speech by Naomi Klein based around her latest book No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics. Klein equates Trump’s election...
Very like a whaler

Very like a whaler

Among the great books of the sea, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale of 1851, has few peers. Around the simple narrative of Captain Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of the great white whale that had taken his leg, the whale’s deliberate destruction of his ship, and the loss of all but one member of the crew,...
Be a writer

Be a writer

In Ancient Egypt, or at least in the New Kingdom, writing was taught in scribal schools. Young boys (there is little evidence for girls’ schooling) were taught to read and write by dictation and by copying existing texts. Various compositions, of different genres and from different periods, were deemed suitable for teaching purposes. Classics of...
Greetings from Fürstenfelde

Greetings from Fürstenfelde

The vixen lies quietly on damp leaves, under a beech tree on the outskirts of the old forest. From where the forest meets the fields – fields of wheat, barley, rapeseed – she looks at the little group of human houses, standing on such a narrow strip of land between two lakes that you might...