Literary Studies

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 ...

Outwardly safe, aristocratic, and uncontroversial, the English country house seems suitably benign coffee-table material to leaf through on a drowsy Sunday afternoon. However, while the story of the English country house is certainly steeped in nostalgia and privilege, it is also a narrative of exclusion, exploitation, and decline. Geoffrey G. Hiller engages with ea ...

John Arnold reviews 'Blockbuster' by Lucy Sussex

John Arnold
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

In Blockbuster! Lucy Sussex deftly relates the story of Fergus Hume and his great Melbourne detective novel, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. First published in 1886, it has never been out of print and has been translated into many languages and a ...

Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003) is the most widely celebrated proponent of a post-boom form of literature from the Southern Cone region of Latin America (Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay), which is characterised by cohesive yet complex narrative worlds. Hailing from a country that endured repressive and vi ...

Colin Steele reviews 'Where I'm Reading From' by Tim Parks

Colin Steele
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

British novelist, translator, and critic, Tim Parks, based in Italy since 1981, is well credentialled to examine the changing world of books. Parks says, however, that while he wanted to comment on ‘writing itself, and reading, and books’, he didn’t want to do it ‘in a precious way’.

In Where I’m Reading From, Parks is ...

Few, if any, contemporary authors have attracted the level of critical attention that is lavished upon J.M. Coetzee. No doubt there are many reasons for this, but a good part of the fascination with his fiction is a result of the evident rigour with which it is conceived. To read a Coetzee novel is to encounter a work that seems to have ...

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Curiosity' by Alberto Manguel

Andrea Goldsmith
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

There are two broad approaches to reading Alberto Manguel’s Curiosity. The first type of reader will study the book – or rather, the text – assiduously connecting the personal narratives that introduce each chapter with the books Manguel references in the more theoretical and discursive aspects that follow. Dante’ ...