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Paul Giles

Paul Giles

Paul Giles is Professor of English in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. His most recent book is The Planetary Clock: Antipodean time and spherical postmodern fictions (OUP, 2021).

Paul Giles reviews ‘Dark-Land: Memoir of a secret childhood’ by Kevin Hart

June 2024, no. 465 27 May 2024
Kevin Hart’s Dark-Land is the memoir of a distinguished poet and scholar who was born in England in 1954, moved with his family to Queensland when he was eleven, and migrated again in 2002 to the United States, where he is currently Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Virginia. Dark-Land is well-written and amusing, with memorable vignettes ranging from his time in a London prima ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'The Idealist' by Nicholas Jose

November 2023, no. 459 26 October 2023
One striking feature of Nicholas Jose’s fine new novel is its principled versatility. Set in multiple locations – Adelaide, Washington, DC, East Timor – and introducing alternative narrative voices, Jose evokes a world of complex intersections comprising many different angles and viewpoints. As a former diplomat himself, he writes with expert knowledge of a variety of professional and person ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'Impermanent Blackness: The making and unmaking of interracial literary culture in modern America' by Korey Garibaldi

September 2023, no. 457 27 August 2023
'Interracial,’ explains Korey Garibaldi in his compelling first book, is a term ‘not as familiar as it once was’, though it was often used in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century to describe ‘cross-racial collaborations and cultural influences’ across the literary world. One of the most influential advocates of such literary interracialism was W.S. Braithwaite ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'Professing Criticism: Essays on the organization of literary study' by John Guillory

June 2023, no. 454 24 May 2023
John Guillory is an eminent professor of English at New York University who has written extensively on English studies as an academic discipline. Professing Criticism brings together in revised form a selection of essays he has written on this subject over the past twenty years, together with some new material. Overall, the book offers a very knowledgeable and incisive analysis of the state of lit ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory', edited by John Frow

April 2023, no. 452 27 March 2023
Coming in at 3,140 pages spread over four chunky volumes and featuring essays by 181 contributors, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory is in every sense a weighty articulation of the state of literary criticism in the early twenty-first century. In their famous Encyclopédie (1751–66), Diderot and d’Alembert promulgated the virtues of consolidating new know-ledge in the public domain, r ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews ‘Demon Copperhead’ by Barbara Kingsolver

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
The dedication in Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel reads ‘For the survivors’, and its epigraph is taken from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1849), to which Kingsolver’s title pays a sly homage. Her book is a self-conscious reworking of Dickens’s famous novel about an orphan making his way in the world, with Kingsolver’s treatment being narrated by a boy born as Damon Fields in Le ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'What is American Literature?' by Ilan Stavans

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
Ilan Stavans is a professor of Humanities at Amherst College in Massachusetts, a native of Mexico City who is now a distinguished scholar of Latin American and Hispanic cultures. Here he turns his outsider’s gaze on the large question ‘What is American Literature?’ to productive if rather erratic effect. This is a strange book, one that purports to achieve an Olympian overview of an establis ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'Red Heaven: A fiction' by Nicolas Rothwell

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
Nicolas Rothwell is perhaps best known as a critic of art and culture for The Australian, though he has also published several non-fiction books, one of which, Quicksilver, won a Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2016. Red Heaven, subtitled a ‘fiction’, is only the second of Rothwell’s books not to be classified as non-fiction. Always straddling the boundary between different genres, Roth ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'Messing About in Boats' by Michael Hofmann

July 2021, no. 433 23 June 2021
Michael Hofmann’s Messing About in Boats is based on his 2019 Clarendon Lectures at Oxford. This series, rather like the Clark Lectures at Cambridge or the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard, offers a distinguished literary practitioner the opportunity to address a particular theme in a short sequence of interlinked lectures. Given that the form of oral delivery tends to preclude extensive ... (read more)

Paul Giles reviews 'The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War' by Michael Gorra

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
André Gide, when asked who was the greatest French poet, is said to have replied ‘Victor Hugo, alas’, and many readers have responded in similar fashion to William Faulkner’s place in the history of the American novel. Werner Sollors, the eminent Harvard scholar of American Literature, unambiguously described Faulkner in 2003 as ‘ultimately the most significant American novelist of the [t ... (read more)
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