Pride With Prejudice

Jane_Austen5

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 to 18 July 1817) “Her acute sense of character, her bland irony, her exquisite powers of organisation and presentation, turned the uneventful lives of well-fed people in quiet corners into enchanting novels.”* She may have belonged, as Edward Said claimed, ‘to a slave-owning society,’ but Jane Austen was a great writer – one of the very greatest – of small things, and the interior of the provincial English mind. She wasn’t so fussed about ‘themes.’ She wrote about girls looking for a man to marry, which was of prime importance then; today, 200 years after her premature…

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When Vice Presidents Carried Guns

Hamilton-burr-duel

11 July 1804: Vice President Aaron Burr kills former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey.  We forget, even these days, what a frontier country early America was. In his sublime novel, Gore Vidal has Burr describe it thus: “It was determined that we would meet across the river in New Jersey, on the heights known as Weehawk….we would meet in two weeks’ time on July 11, 1804…I did not realize with what cunning Hamilton had prepared his departure from this world, and my ruin…When I woke up on the sofa, saw dawn, I knew I would…

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Dante Defeats Disappointment

Image of Dante by Agnolo Bronzino

Image of Dante by Agnolo Bronzino

Giosuè Carducci (27 July 1835 to 16 February 1907) refused the Dante Chair in Rome because, among other things, he feared its politicisation, no doubt correctly. Yet it must have rankled because Carducci knew what many of the wise knew: that the life and work of Dante Alighieri is a miraculous example to all. In these times of artistic, financial, intellectual and moral bankruptcy, verged on a new theocratic age, it is salutary to consider this extract of Carducci’s poem to Dante: “Dante, how comes it that my vows I pay To thy proud image? Still I meditate The verse…

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Vladimir, you’re needed!

July 2, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Nabs

Vladimir Nabokov died 2 July 1977.  Forty years later, his crisp, lush, exquisite prose, his deep insight and weirdness, as well as his celebrated courage in tackling the extremely tacky in a highly sophisticated way, is needed more than ever, in the face of what some like to call ‘contemporary literature’.  There’s no need to buy brick walls of modern novels – go into a decent second hand store (if you can find one) or Kindle up a copy of, say, Despair, Lolita, Pale Fire, Pnin, Transparent Things, etc., or his great memoir, Speak, Memory. Our appreciation of Nabokov was written…

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Submission

(photo by Jorge Royan)

(photo by Jorge Royan)

(by Michel Houellebecq) (2015) (translated by Lorin Stein) Submission is a good idea for a novel, which terminates just when it seems to be building a head of steam. A ‘Lower’ Sorbonne Professor of Literature, specialising in J. K. Huysmans and an unenthusiastic promoter of ‘A’s for lays,’ finds himself on the academic outer when a version of the Muslim Brotherhood wins the French general elections. The professor skips town, ultimately decides to return and collect his redundancy payment and pension, only to be seduced by the new paradigm into converting to Islam and returning to academe, now deloused and free of…

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