James Knowlson: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (1996)

29 December 2014, dusan

“Samuel Beckett’s long-standing friend, James Knowlson, recreates Beckett’s youth in Ireland, his studies at Trinity College, Dublin in the early 1920s and from there to the Continent, where he plunged into the multicultural literary society of late-1920s Paris. The biography throws new light on Beckett’s stormy relationship with his mother, the psychotherapy he received after the death of his father and his crucial relationship with James Joyce. There is also material on Beckett’s six-month visit to Germany as the Nazi’s tightened their grip.

The book includes unpublished material on Beckett’s personal life after he chose to live in France, including his own account of his work for a Resistance cell during the war, his escape from the Gestapo and his retreat into hiding.

Obsessively private, Beckett was wholly committed to the work which eventually brought his public fame, beginning with the controversial success of Waiting for Godot in 1953, and culminating in the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.”

Publisher Bloomsbury, London, 1996
ISBN 0747527199
872 pages
via kmamdani

Reviews: Prendergast (London Review of Books, 1996), O’Hara (The New York Review of Books, 1996), Sipper (Los Angeles Times, 1996), Brown (European Review, 1997), Hutchings (World Literature Today, 1997).



Ernest Fenollosa, Ezra Pound: Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry (1919–)

29 December 2014, dusan

“First published in 1919 by Ezra Pound, Ernest Fenollosa’s essay on the Chinese written language has become one of the most often quoted statements in the history of American poetics. As edited by Pound, it presents a powerful conception of language that continues to shape our poetic and stylistic preferences: the idea that poems consist primarily of images; the idea that the sentence form with active verb mirrors relations of natural force. But previous editions of the essay represent Pound’s understanding—it is fair to say, his appropriation—of the text. Fenollosa’s manuscripts, in the Beinecke Library of Yale University, allow us to see this essay in a different light, as a document of early, sustained cultural interchange between North America and East Asia.

Pound’s editing of the essay obscured two important features, here restored to view: Fenollosa’s encounter with Tendai Buddhism and Buddhist ontology, and his concern with the dimension of sound in Chinese poetry.

This book is the definitive critical edition of Fenollosa’s important work. After a substantial Introduction, the text as edited by Pound is presented, together with his notes and plates. At the heart of the edition is the first full publication of the essay as Fenollosa wrote it, accompanied by the many diagrams, characters, and notes Fenollosa (and Pound) scrawled on the verso pages. Pound’s deletions, insertions, and alterations to Fenollosa’s sometimes ornate prose are meticulously captured, enabling readers to follow the quasi-dialogue between Fenollosa and his posthumous editor. Earlier drafts and related talks reveal the developmentof Fenollosa’s ideas about culture, poetry, and translation. Copious multilingual annotation is an important feature of the edition.”

Critical edition
Edited by Haun Saussy, Jonathan Stalling, and Lucas Klein
Publisher Fordham University Press, 2008.
ISBN 0823228681, 9780823228683
240 pages

Reviews: Armstrong (Sign Language Studies, 2009), Nicholls (Modernism/modernity, 2010), Beam (Oyster Boy Review, 2012).
Commentary: Williams (2009).

Publisher (2008)

Fenollosa’s documents in the Beinecke Library.
Version published in The Little Review, 1919: 6:5 (Sep 1919), 62-64, 6:6 (Oct 1919), 57-64, 6:7 (Nov 1919), 55-60, 6:8 (Dec 1919), 68-72 (at Index of Modernist Magazines).
Version printed in Instigations, 1920, 357-388 (at Internet Archive), HTML (at Project Gutenberg).
Critical edition, 2008: EPUB.

Fionnghuala Sweeney, Kate Marsh (eds.): Afromodernisms: Paris, Harlem, Haiti and the Avant-garde (2013)

27 December 2014, dusan

“This collection of ten essays makes a persuasive case for a black Atlantic literary renaissance and its impact on modernist studies. The chapters stretch and challenge current canonical configurations of modernism in two ways: by considering the centrality of black artists, writers and intellectuals as key actors and core presences in the development of a modernist avant-garde; and by interrogating ‘blackness’ as an aesthetic and political category at critical moments during the twentieth century. This is the first book-length publication to explore the term ‘Afromodernisms’ and the first study to address together the cognate fields of modernism and the black Atlantic.”

Publisher Edinburgh University Press, 2013
ISBN 074864640X, 9780748646401
264 pages

Review: Thomas (French Studies, 2013).



Tony Harris: The Legacy of Cornelius Cardew (2013)

20 December 2014, dusan

“Cornelius Cardew is an enigma. Depending on which sources one consults he is either an influential and iconic figure of British musical culture or a marginal curiosity, a footnote to a misguided musical phenomenon. He is both praised for his uncompromising commitment to world-changing politics, and mocked for being blindly caught up in a maelstrom of naïve political folly. His works are both widely lauded as landmark achievements of the British avant-garde and ridiculed as an archaic and irrelevant footnote to the established musical culture. Even the events of his death are shrouded in mystery and lack a sense of closure.

As long ago as 1967, Morton Feldman cited Cardew as an influential figure, central to the future of modern music-making. The extent to which Cardew has been a central figure and a force for new ideas in music forms the backbone to this book. Harris demonstrates that Cardew was an original thinker, a charismatic leader, an able facilitator, and a committed activist. He argues that Cardew exerted considerable influence on numerous individuals and groups, but also demonstrates how the composer’s significance has been variously underestimated, undermined and misrepresented.

Cardew’s diverse body of work and activity is here given coherence by its sharing in the values and principles that underpinned the composer’s world view. The apparently disparate and contradictory episodes of Cardew’s career are shown to be fused by a cohesive ‘Cardew aesthetic’ that permeates the man, his politics and his music.”

Publisher Ashgate, 2013
ISBN 140944810X, 9781409448105
228 pages

Review (Bruce Coates, Jems, 2013)
Review (Virginia Anderson, Music and Letters, 2013)
Review (Christopher Hobbs, NABMSA, 2013)



Sylvia Berryman: The Mechanical Hypothesis in Ancient Greek Natural Philosophy (2009)

19 December 2014, dusan

“It has long been thought that the ancient Greeks did not take mechanics seriously as part of the workings of nature, and that therefore their natural philosophy was both primitive and marginal. In this book Sylvia Berryman challenges that assumption, arguing that the idea that the world works ‘like a machine’ can be found in ancient Greek thought, predating the early modern philosophy with which it is most closely associated. Her discussion ranges over topics including balancing and equilibrium, lifting water, sphere-making and models of the heavens, and ancient Greek pneumatic theory, with detailed analysis of thinkers such as Aristotle, Archimedes, and Hero of Alexandria. Her book shows scholars of ancient Greek philosophy why it is necessary to pay attention to mechanics, and shows historians of science why the differences between ancient and modern reactions to mechanics are not as great as was generally thought.”

Publisher Cambridge University Press, 2009
ISBN 0521763762, 9780521763769
286 pages

Review (Serafina Cuomo, Aestimatio, 2012)
Review (Jean De Groot, Metascience, 2012)
Talk by the author (video, at UBC, 104 min, 2011)



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