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Index: Commentary on Art and Literature

The latest event in the history of the novel.

Paul Cohen: ‘A central concept of postmodern literary theory is intertextuality: a recognition of the highly complex relationships among literary works. One could consider Remainder to be the emblematic novel of the age of intertextuality.’

Viduities.

Alan Wall: ‘We are outnumbered by the dead. Should they all return at once, our world would be crowded, perhaps beyond endurance. Bob Hope waits in cryonic suspension, ready for that moment when the medical technology can restore him to the ranks of the living, where he might once more set the table on a roar, as Yorick too had done, before they laid him in the earth, before digging him up again. A prolepsis of archaeology.’

Shakespeare’s dysnarrativia.

Alan Wall: ‘What happens if your dysnarrativia is willed? What kind of language are we looking at if the subject deliberately disconnects from communal usage and expectation, for whatever reason? Hamlet does just this.’

Considering ‘I’, alone.

Alan Wall: ‘The poetic “I” occupies a special space. What Roman Jakobson calls the poetic function permits the written word within the written space to float relatively free of referentiality; to foreground the gestures of its own linguistic play, its fictionality.’

Irony, ambiguity and London sleaze.

Anthony Howell: ‘Bathurst is excellent as the gloomy, grieving poet who becomes savagely critical of dates and dining later in the evening. Rebecca Johnson is fascinating as the dying woman who becomes a wraith who is then transformed into the potential flame for an affair which might or might not be reignited by lunch later.’

Who will read short stories?

By DAVID McVEY. IN THE SPRING 2018 issue of The Author, Michael Bhaskar’s article ‘Not Going Gently’ offered a fascinating insight into the precarious survival of literary fiction and made a powerful case for its cultural importance. Necessarily, he addressed the long form, the novel, but his article prompted me to prod the physique of […]

Tintoretto: after and before.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘The past, as our imagination transforms it in the present, already evolves into the future. This was the lesson I learned from Tintoretto in work after work—a lesson that quickened my steps and restored me to reality, that multivalent realm of ‘the seen and the unseen.’’’

Five poets remark on prose poetry.

Peter Riley: ‘To avoid endless problems of definition, it would help if they were called “short prose pieces”, which is one thing they undeniably are. This was Eliot’s idea (who hated them). ‘

Satire for the Millennium.

By ANTHONY HOWELL. Twas a blith Prince exchang’d five hundred Crowns For a fair Turnip; Dig, dig on, O clowns! —Richard Lovelace (“On Sanazar’s being honoured…”) A definition of satire: Heinsius, in his dissertations on Horace, makes it for me, in these words; “Satire is a kind of poetry, without a series of action, invented […]

The Morality of the Profession of Letters.

R.L. Stevenson: ‘The writer has the chance to stumble, by the way, on something pleasing, something interesting, something encouraging, were it only to a single reader. He will be unfortunate, indeed, if he suit no one. He has the chance, besides, to stumble on something that a dull person shall be able to comprehend; and for a dull person to have read anything and, for that once, comprehended it, makes a marking epoch in his education.’

The Beginning and the End of Art

Tronn Overend: ‘There are rights and obligations, notions of justice and a facility of logic, plus the recognition of different “beliefs and intentions” in others. Denis Dutton notes there is nothing that is culturally specific about these human traits. They are as “universal as the blinking reflex”. Games, jokes, gossip; feelings of envy, pride, shame and grief are the human condition. To this list must be added the making of art.’

Pictures and words.

Peter O’BNrien: ‘The Cubists and Futurists, and Joyce and Beckett changed the way we look at images and the way we string words together. The linearity can be disrupted, the sequencing can be scrambled. Lacunae. Knots. Repetitions. Noughts. Everything is possible, and perhaps to be desired. And new connections are made between the ways the mind works and how it makes sense (or non-sense) of what it catches and absorbs.’

Poetry written in Britain’s ‘long moment’.

Peter Robinson: ‘The crisis our country is still in as we speak, the withdrawal agreement from the EU not likely to be got ‘over the line’, never mind the treaties that are to establish our future relationship with continental Europe, brought back, as we’ve already touched on, a lifetime of personal and public vicissitudes, and the poems in “Ravishing Europa” came relatively quickly under the pressure of public events as felt on my barometric pulses.’

In Keen and Quivering Ratio.

Tim McGrath: ‘Newton and Dickinson were themselves embodiments of the philosopher’s stone, the prima materia that brought about alchemical transformations. A good percentage of what they touched turned into the purest form of gold, the spiritual gold synonymous with perfection and immortality.’

In medias res.

Devon Boyers: ‘In The Duke’s Children, Trollope writes in both narrative and predictive metaphor, embodying the liminal space between literary movements in which Victorian positivism intermingled with and waned against an increasing interest in empiricism.’