Posts

Anne Serre - Each sentence evokes a dream logic both languid and circuitous as the governesses move through a fever of domesticity and sexual abandon. A sensualist, surrealist romp

Image
Anne Serre, The Governesses, Trans. by Mark Hutchinson, New Directions, 2018.
excerpt


‘In a large country house shut off from the world by a gated garden, three young governesses responsible for the education of a group of little boys are preparing a party. The governesses, however, seem to spend more time running around in a state of frenzied desire than attending to the children’s education. One of their main activities is lying in wait for any passing stranger, and then throwing themselves on him like drunken Maenads. The rest of the time they drift about in a kind of sated, melancholy calm, spied upon by an old man in the house opposite, who watches their goings-on through a telescope. As they hang paper lanterns and prepare for the ball in their own honor, and in honor of the little boys rolling hoops on the lawn, much is mysterious: one reviewer wrote of the book’s “deceptively simple words and phrasing, the transparency of which works like a mirror reflecting back on the reader.…

Lisa Adkins - Speculative time is a time in which pasts, presents, and futures stand not in a predetermined or pre-set relation to each other but are in a continuous state of movement, transformation, and unfolding. Thus, in the time of securitized debt, futures may remediate not only the present but also the past

Image
Lisa Adkins, The Time of Money, Stanford UP, 2018.


Speculation is often associated with financial practices, but The Time of Money makes the case that it not be restricted to the financial sphere. It argues that the expansion of finance has created a distinctive social world, one that demands a speculative stance toward life in general. Replacing a logic of extraction, speculation changes our relationship to time and organizes our social worlds to maximize the productive capacities of populations around flows of money for finance capital. Speculative practices have become a matter of survival, and defining features of our age are hardwired to their operations—stagnant wages, indebtedness, the centrality of women's earnings to the household, workfarism, and more. Examining five features of our contemporary economy, Lisa Adkins reveals the operations of this speculative rationality. Moving beyond claims that indebtedness is intrinsic to contemporary life and vague declarations that …

Jonathan Basile - an in-depth exploration of one of literature’s greatest tricksters, Jorge Luis Borges. His short story “The Library of Babel” is a signature examplar of this playfulness, though not merely for the inverted world it imagines, where a library thought to contain all possible permutations of all letters and words and books is plumbed by pious librarians looking for divinely pre-fabricated truths.

Image
Jonathan Basile, Tar for Mortar: "The Library of Babel" and the Dream of Totality, Punctum Books, 2018.
Read an Excerpt from Tar for Mortar Here!


Tar for Mortar offers an in-depth exploration of one of literature’s greatest tricksters, Jorge Luis Borges. His short story “The Library of Babel” is a signature examplar of this playfulness, though not merely for the inverted world it imagines, where a library thought to contain all possible permutations of all letters and words and books is plumbed by pious librarians looking for divinely pre-fabricated truths. One must grapple as well with the irony of Borges’s narration, which undermines at every turn its narrator’s claims of the library’s universality, including the very possibility of exhausting meaning through combinatory processing. Borges directed readers to his non-fiction to discover the true author of the idea of the universal library. But his supposedly historical essays are notoriously riddled with false references and…

Teodor Parnicki uses novel and surprising literary structures: interview (or rather, and almost always, interrogation), informer’s reports, police reports, confessions, dream-journals, and letters (often fragmentary). He writes in extraordinarily long, dense, complicated sentences using odd grammatical constructions

Image
Teodor Parnicki, Ostatnia powieść (The Last Novel)






In world literature there is a special category: the Great Unfinished Novel. It comprises such early-20th century classics as Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities, Jaroslav Hašek’sTheGood Soldier Švejk, Franz Kafka’s The Castle, and, from more recent times:  Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting and David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. Teodor Parnicki’s thousand-page TheLast Novel belongs to this revered company: the Polish author left it uncompleted at the time of his death on December 5, 1988. When it comes to complexity, however, this cognitive overkill of a novel stands out even among the above-mentioned titles. Based on the critical response of those Polish readers who managed to read, let alone digest, this colossal book, I can assume that it has secured the place as the most formidable work of 20th century Polish literature.
Teodor Parnicki is a great unknown for the Anglophone reader as none of his works have bee…