A Translator’s Diary

Emma Ramadan at The Quarterly Conversation: When I first read Marguerite Duras’s Moderato Cantabile for my high school AP French class, an alarm went off on me. That I was reading the words of someone who understood love in the same way I did. At that point in my life I hadn’t yet experienced love, but it…

‘The William H. Gass Reader’

Nick Ripatrazone at The Millions: William H. Gass loved words. “A word is a wanderer,” he wrote in “Carrots, Noses, Snow, Rose, Roses.” “Except in the most general syntactical sense, it has no home.” Gass longed to make worthy homes for words. He often chose lists. Lists were his secular litanies. Lists allowed Gass, who always…

Thoughts on the Essay

Brad Holden at the Marginalia Review of Books: It is the mind of the writer that makes for the most brilliant essays. Reality—whether the material world of our senses or the intellectual world we apprehend—is of intrinsic interest. It exists, according to some thinkers, eternally in the mind of God, an object of divine contemplation.…

Working in an Amazon Warehouse

Jesse Barron at Bookforum: Heike Geissler, the German novelist and translator, ran out of money in the winter of 2010 and took a temporary job at an Amazon warehouse in Leipzig to support her two children. As she tells us in the opening pages of her book about that experience, she was not intending to…

Why Do We Love Joni Mitchell the Way We Do?

Nick Coleman at Literary Hub: Mitchell settled in the imaginations of pop listeners in the early 70s. In the UK, “Big Yellow Taxi” was a biggish hit in the summer of 1970, its glassily sardonic reflections upon humanity’s relationship with the environment marking out the flaxen-haired Scando-Canadian hippie-chick who sang it as a poster girl…

Jacques Derrida: The Problems of Presence

Derek Attridge at the TLS: In 1962 Derrida published a book-length introduction to his translation of Husserl’s short work The Origin of Geometry in which the seeds of his later thinking were already evident, but it was in 1967 that he truly made his mark on the French philosophical scene. In that year he published no fewer…

Delacroix: Romanticism’s Unruly Hero

Jed Perl at the NYRB: Color is Eugène Delacroix’s hero. He fights for color. He lives for color. His oil paintings are luxurious orchestrations of feverish reds, velvety blues, dusky purples, astringent oranges, and shimmering greens. In his works on paper, some of the same colors, presented as isolated elements, become refreshingly austere. There is…

‘Against the Clock’ by Derek Mahon

Magdalena Kay at the Dublin Review of Books: Derek Mahon’s new volume of poems, Against the Clock, again proves him one of the greatest contemporary masters of poetic form. Preoccupied as he is with his advancing age and the “final deadline” looming in the future, the suppleness and subtleness of his flexible rhythms and rhymes keep…

James Baldwin’s Optimism

Gabrielle Bellot at The Paris Review: “Every poet is an optimist,” Baldwin told Hugh Hebert at the Guardian when Beale Street was published. And yet, Baldwin continued, “you have to reach a certain level of despair to deal with your life at all … If you’re black, and short, and ugly, and pop-eyed, and you think maybe you’re homosexual though you…

The Great Nadar

Emilie Bickerton at the LRB: ‘Like the knives of Chinese jugglers’, Charles Bataille said of his friend Félix Nadar, ‘turbulent, unexpected, terrifying’. Adam Begley’s biography describes a life lived so frenetically, it’s surprising it lasted so long – Nadar died at the age of ninety, in 1910. Yet he is remembered today primarily for the stillness…

Art and The Rectangle

Amy Knight Powell at Cabinet Magazine: Scholars have built a tight historical and corresponding conceptual link between the advent of the rectangular, Renaissance frame and the advent of linear perspective. It’s true that the renovation of Fra Angelico’s San Domenico altarpiece entailed both, but this was usually not the case. In 1480, about a century…

The Dragon: Fear and Power

Tom Shippey at Literary Review: ‘A dragon is no idle fancy,’ wrote Tolkien in 1936, but ‘a potent creation of men’s imagination, richer in significance than his barrow is in gold’. The potency has only increased over the last eighty years. Dragons crowd the pages of modern fantasy; no one needs telling that Daenerys, the Mother…

The Drawings of Klimt and Schiele

Michael Prodger at The New Statesman: Although it was Klimt’s paintings that first impressed Schiele, especially a solo show in 1908, the two men didn’t meet until the following year when they established a strong rapport and exchanged drawings. The role of drawings occupied a different place in the art of each man. The majority…

Boygenius Is Driven by the Spirit of Solidarity

Carrie Battan at The New Yorker: In 2016, the singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers, who were all in their early twenties, were living parallel lives. They’d proved themselves to be careful and accomplished writers and performers, and had begun to attract attention from critics and labels alike. Each artist had crafted a…

How The World We Live in Already Happened in 1992

John Ganz at The Baffler: Who was the main enemy now? On the right, the answer increasingly was one another. In the 1980s, the conservative movement split into two warring factions—neoconservatives and paleo conservatives. The two sects fought over ideas, but also resources: comfortable think tank positions and administrative posts; grant money and the allegiance…