Posts tagged england
Through his press, Gaberbocchus (the name is a latinized version of Jabberwocky), he introduced to the English-reading world translations of works now considered canonical, including Alfred Jarry’s absurdist play Ubu Roi, Raymond Queaneau’s Exercises in Style, and Cozette de Charmoy’s above-pictured “collage novel,” The True Life of Sweeney Todd.
Bertrand Russell admiringly summed up Themerson’s own work as being “nearly as mad as the world.” The plot of The Mystery of the Sardine, a meandering detective story that begins with an exploding poodle and includes among its cast of characters a 12-year old author (of a book titled Euclid Was an Ass) and a bureaucrat called the Minister of Imponderabilia, suggests that Russell was not far off in his pithy assessment.
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No one reads Thomas Lovell Beddoes, who asks in his poem “Dream-Pedlary”:
If there were dreams to sell/ What would you buy?
and whose obscurity perplexed Lytton Strachey, who wrote:
If the neglect suffered by Beddoes’ poetry may be accounted for in more ways than one, it is not easy to understand why more curiosity has never been aroused by the circumstances of his life. For one reader who cares to concern himself with the intrinsic merit of a piece of writing there are a thousand who are ready to explore with eager sympathy the history of the writer; and all that we know of both the life and character of Beddoes possesses those very qualities of peculiarity, mystery and adventure which are so dear to the hearts of subscribers to circulating libraries.
For more on Beddoes’ peculiar, mysterious and adventurous life, see John Ashbery’s lecture on the poet in Other Traditions.
(Image: first stanza of “Lord Alcohol”)
Berg is a beautiful novel: it is dark, esoteric, haunting - sometimes disturbing. It is saturated with detail, particulars and minutiae. A novel of voices and voice. The best novel ever set in Brighton in my opinion - forget Patrick Hamilton (as splendid as he is), Ann Quin’s Berg is the real deal. It cuts through the superfluous like acid and marvels in the seamier mystery all our seaside towns, and especially Brighton, keep hidden. For an insight into what British literary fiction could have been if we’d only have listened, I’d start with Berg by Ann Quin every time.
(Cover art via)
Although he’s attained a certain vogue in the past few years, we’re convinced no one reads B.S. Johnson, author of among other things, The Unfortunates, a book presented to the reader as a series of unbound chapters, to be read according to whim.
No one reads L. P. Jacks. (Photo: Rabindranath Tagore and L.P.Jacks)
From Among the Idolmakers: “Desolate Islands, more than I could ever explore, more than I could count or name, I found in the men and women who press upon me every day. Nay, my own life was full of them; the flying moment was one; they rose out of the deep with the ticking of the clock. And once came the rushing of a mighty wind; and the waves fled backward till the sea was no more. Then I saw that the Islands were great mountains uplifted from the everlasting foundations, their basis one beneath the ocean floor, their summits many above the sundering waters — most marvellous of all the works of God.”