Literary Studies

As he reminds his readers on numerous occasions in The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime, Harold Bloom is now well into his eighties. He has spent a lifetime teaching and writing about literature at Yale University, where he has long claimed to constitute a 'department of one'. The claim is part lament, part affectation, part boast. ...

Brenda Walker reviews 'The Simplest Words' by Alex Miller

Brenda Walker
Friday, 26 February 2016

In The Simplest Words, Alex Miller's recently published work on his own journey through country, writing, love, friendship, and fatherhood, there is a remarkable scene of levitation. Miller describes his young daughter soaring up his own bookshelves, pas ...

Ian Dickson reviews 'James Merrill' by Langdon Hammer

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 25 February 2016

To his critics, James Merrill was at best a petit maître, a composer of exquisitely manufactured lyrics that reflected his privileged life and over-refined sensibilities. When he won Yale's Bollingen Prize for Poetry, the editorial writer for The New York Times wearily deplored the judges' preference for 'literary' poets. This prompted a sharp res ...

From time to time, Australian literature has been fortunate enough to attract the enthusiasm of international critics, from C. Hartley Grattan in the 1920s to Paul Giles, who compared Australian and American literature in his scholarly Antipodean America (2013). Nicholas Birns, a New York academic, tells us that he first encountered Australian writing back ...

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Mick' by Suzanne Falkiner

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Late in 1998, the Times Literary Supplement, as was its wont, sent Randolph 'Mick' Stow a book for review. It was Xavier Herbert: A Biography (1998) by Francis de Groen, and Stow accepted the commission with enthusiasm. 'What a ghastly, embarrassing old pillock,' he wrote to his lifelong friend Bill Grono. 'Well, you'll soon read my opinion of him. ...

J.M. Coetzee reviews 'The Modernist Papers' by Frederic Jameson

J.M. Coetzee
Thursday, 18 February 2016

Though by profession a scholar of literature with a specialism in French literature, Fredric Jameson (born 1934) has made his mark as a cultural historian and even as what used to be called an historian of ideas. His chef d'oeuvre, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), provides one of the more persuasive cognitive maps we have of ...

Let's start with the title. The act of reading is anything but simple, as Fiona McFarlane and Gabrielle Carey both point out. Eyes, brain, and mind cooperate to create from a series of symbols with no intrinsic representative value a coherent message, or some amusing nonsense, or a persuasive argument, or a boring anecdote, or a parade of transparent lies.

D ...

Derek Attridge is one of the most formidable theorists working today in the field of literary studies. His central strategy is to identify potential for recognition in the reading process of singularity and alterity, with the qualities of a particular work manifesting themselves most powerfully when they reveal 'unexpected possibilities of thought and feeling'.

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Michael Hofmann reviews 'Ted Hughes' by Jonathan Bate

Michael Hofmann
Thursday, 17 December 2015

I can readily see that I am not the intended reader for The Unauthorised Life of Ted Hughes. Born in the year his first book of poems came out (The Hawk in the Rain, 1957); made to read Hughes at school (I preferred Sylvia Plath); a graduate of the same university (Cambridge); my books published by the same publisher (Faber), and sharing (if at all ...

'It is hard to imagine a more challenging scholarly task than composing, in under three hundred pages, an introduction to a field as vast and variegated as French literature. From the fabliaux, mystery plays and chansons de geste of medieval times to such figures as the present-day Nobel Prize-winning novelists Le Clézio and Modiano, it embraces n ...