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Showing posts from April, 2013

Me and Mrs Brown's Anatomy

I have become, of late, one of the couple-of-hundred or so people in the UK to buy contemporary poetry – small volumes from Picador, Faber, Seren, and some small presses. I’ve been concerned that my interest in poetry is part of a drift away from the novel that I’ve been experiencing for a few years; though, to be honest, the novel of high realism has never been to my taste, and I’ve long preferred more experimental or disrupted fictions. (This is why I gravitate towards New Wave science fiction, I think.) My antipathy towards realist or mimetic fictions is also, I suspect, why I have very little feeling for fantasy fiction; as critics such as Christine Brooke-Rose have suggested, realist fiction and (certain kinds of ) science fiction are proximate in their techniques, and in particular their investment in world-building, concrete materiality through redundancy of detail (Barthes’s ‘reality effect’), and causal transparency (closeness of histoire and recit, or narrative structure and…

The theme of the assassin and hero

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I always have a copy of Borges’ Labyrinths by my bedside; it’s a book that I dip into again and again. I’m not a collector, though I must own a thousand books, but if I were, the one book that I would collect would be Labyrinths. In miniature, it is a library in itself, almost as though, Aleph-like, it contains infinitude within finite space; for me, Labyrinths contains all other books, or pathways through them. I recently re-read Sterne’s Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which draws directly on Cervantes; the Quixote is crucial to Borges’ ‘Pierre Menard’ and many other fabulations/ ficciones; the circulation Tristram Shandy > Don Quixote > Pierre Menard sends me back, as always, to Borges. I was interested to note that reference to Sterne’s work in Borges is fleeting; the online Borges Center website has only one passing reference to offer, in a short piece by Borges on Joyce’s Ulysses. The spirit of Sterne, albeit contra ‘gravity’ in a way that the poker-faced Borges rar…