Sunday, September 25, 2005
School of Hard Equinox
No one has time this time of the academic year, and some people have even less. We Valvettes, for example, haven’t had time to arrange the catering and formal invitations needed for a properly Bakhtinian carnival. I haven’t even had time to write my own weblog post.
Luckily for the world of literary scholarship and criticism, some have more inner resources.
By the simple expedient of lengthening their Sunday, Amie translated Celan, Mark Kaplan found “The world’s a stage” means something different from a stage, and Alphonse van Worden (gratuitous Zizek namedrop in hand) and John Pistelli strolled with China Miéville through the transitional neighborhoods of genre, realism, experiment, politics, and killing Jonathan Franzen.
“On Beauty is arguably her most ambitious novel,” and Steve Mitchelmore accepted the invitation. In similar moods, Literary Thug accepts Herzog, Paul K. pronounced last rites over The Literary Wittgenstein, I turned out to share one literary distaste with Aaron Haspel, and Matthew Cheney reviewed fast reviewers of Slow Man.
Although it technically falls outside the purview of this survey, I’d also like to thank GZombie for pointing to “The Political Economy of Reading“ by William St. Clair, who’s stripped the covers from the stolen paperback ménage à trois between cost, copyright, and repression:
The business purpose was to prevent the high price market in the complete texts from being undermined. Since the clampdown was not retroactive, the older texts, that is those for which an intellectual property ownership claim had been made before 1600, continued to be reprinted. This resulted in the build up of vested commercial interests in prolonging the existence of the older texts that had been first printed before the clampdown. A political economy approach helps to explain why after 1774 the reading nation grew rapidly until near universality was reached by the end of the nineteenth. It explains why Shakespeare disappeared from popular reading, from 1594 to 1808, and why a body of texts of mediaeval romance that had been continuously favoured for many centuries should suddenly lose all appeal around 1800.
Among the poet blogs, K. Silem Mohammad has been putting us all to shame with the ideological function of irony, the birth of critical conscience, and the problem of reviewing poetry. Mark Scroggins offered a solution and the next edition of Transatlantic Zukofsky. Nick Piombino served poetry where everybody knows your name, and k page harris gave new meaning to poetry of place.
“Joshua Clover” (aka “Jane Dark") issued an efficient looking manifesto for Marxist criticism and/of emergent poetics, with Henry Gould responding antagonistically, Jordan Davis and Thomas Basbøll more equanimital, but everyone a bit puzzled about how to set about belonging to the present when they have no choice in the matter, and how to attempt a historicist reading of contemporary writing. By definition, isn’t the reader always more thoroughly embedded in history than the poem? Still, as Ron Silliman showed, you don’t have to wait long for shared references to require a bit of research. Helping the researcher: memoirs from Marjorie Perloff and Rosmarie Waldrop
The Valve’s own Miriam Burstein has expressed sensible skepticism regarding the Startling Origins of Oliver Twist! and produced a splendidly concise appreciation of John Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel. As a scholar of the period and a scholar of historical novels, L.P. is likely to outclass the reviewer in your or my local paper. Staying in the world of High Genre, a duel to the brain death over Gene Wolfe’s honor has been taking place over at Acephalous. I’m staying out of the crossfire, but those who miss the most venemous years of the NYRB letters column may feel at home.
Happy fall! It’s not just season’s greetings, it’s a theology! But on the evidence presented here, it looks as if the blogroll could use an update.
This reminds me of one of those “news in brief” compilations from Harper’s.
Only better, blogly.
”... it looks as if the blogroll could use an update.”
True, nnyhav, and notably to be added is your own site, which, dope that I am, I completely forgot when rushing through my survey. John Holbo especially might delight in your post on Nabokov’s chess.
Adam and Matt, it’s seemed to me for quite a while now that the most interesting parts of Harper’s have evolved into a blog on paper: blockquote blogging at the front and blink blogging at the rear. Not a bad way of dealing with this transitional period, but I doubt the formula will save them in the long run....
So you resisted writing “a properly Bakhtinian bacchanal”. I’m a bit disappointed.
nnyhav has a blog! I’m delighted!
Yes, the blogroll does need a big update. Ray’s post is a big help. I’ll try to get to it soon.
Now that this “big update” seems to have taken place, I couldn’t help but notice how Steve Mitchelmore’s “This Space: the fire’s blog” didn’t seem to make the cut.
How The Valve can comfortably call itself a literary blog without reading him is completely beyond me. Not, of course, to suggest that he’s much of a fan of Zizek, if that’s the criteria? (In which case, anyway, there are probably others more worthy...)
Who says we’re comfortable?