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Archive for the 'Literary Studies' Category

Monday, August 7th, 2017

#WITMonth Book Giveaway!

City Folk and Country Folk

In celebration of Women in Translation Month, we are offering the chance to win a copy of three recent works by women, translated by women. The giveaway titles include: the newly published novel City Folk & Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya, translated by Nora Seligman Favorov from our Russian Library series; Teresa, My Love: An Imagined Life of the Saint of Avila by Julia Kristeva, translated by Lorna Scott Fox; and new in paperback The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura, translated by Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter. Throughout the week, we will feature more on these titles and others on the blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Author Theodore Martin and Series Editor Matt Hart Discuss *Contemporary Drift*

Contemporary Drift

Recently Theodore Martin, author of Contemporary Drift: Genre, Historicism, and the Problem of the Present just published in the Literature Now series, and Matt Hart, a co-editor of the series, discussed Martin’s new book. Here’s their conversation:

Matt Hart: In the opening paragraph of Contemporary Drift, you write that your goal isn’t to say what “the contemporary” means but, instead, to explore “how difficult the question is to settle.” Why is that? I mean, why is it so hard to define the contemporary and what do you gain by focusing on the difficulty of that question, rather than trying to answer it?

Theodore Martin: A great many people study contemporary culture without agreeing—or even feeling the need to agree—about what “contemporary” means or what its historical boundaries are. This fascinates me. How should it be possible to get such critical mileage out of a concept that has no consensus definition? When I suggest that we focus on the difficulty of defining the contemporary, I mean to call attention to the simple fact of these competing definitions. Faced with the question of whether our contemporary moment begins in 1945 or 1973 or 2001, it would be nice simply to be able to choose one of these options and get on with it. But I strongly believe that would miss the point.

MH: Miss the point how?

TM: Because there are bigger and more complicated questions at stake. How do we decide in the first place that the contemporary means what we think it means? How do we manage to make sense of the lived and living history of our volatile present moment? This how—the conceptual and critical work that give us some basic idea of what counts as contemporary—is at the heart of my study; it is what I think the “difficulty” of the contemporary names and illuminates.

MH: So should we give up on trying to define “the contemporary”?

TM: Definitely not. There’s a considerable distance between difficulty and impossibility; I don’t think it is impossible to define the contemporary. Nor do I mean to suggest that the difficulty of the contemporary inevitably terminates in plurality, multiplicity, or undecidability. I simply think that the real work of analyzing and unpacking the concept of the contemporary should be expected to yield something more significant than a set of dates.

MH: Do you think it’s always been hard to define the contemporary? Or is there something about the “contemporary contemporary” (sorry!) that makes it particularly tough to pin down?

TM: That’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I began writing this book, and I think it’s an extremely important question to get right. On one hand, this means acknowledging that the problem of defining the contemporary—of grasping the historical moment one is living in—is in one sense the central historical dilemma of modernity. Since at least the French Revolution, modern historical consciousness has been shaped by the question of what it means to live in a present that seems in some fundamental way distinct from the not-so-distant past.

MH: So what’s different about the present?

TM: It seems to me that both the desire to pin down the contemporary and the difficulty of doing so are more pronounced today than they have been before. It’s not hard to imagine why that might be. The story of modern capitalism is a story of constant acceleration. All the temporal rhythms by which we measure contemporary life—from economic cycles to news cycles—have sped up to unimaginable degrees in the past half-century. In this context, we can see how the hyper-accelerated forms of capitalism that have reshaped western societies over the last several decades would ultimately conspire to make the present an intensified site of anxiety, instability, and uncertainty. That uncertainty—the sense of being at sea in a present that is itself at sea in history—is what my book calls “drift.” What is unique about the problem of the contemporary in our contemporary moment, I would suggest, is the way it indexes the unprecedented challenges that come with trying to orient ourselves in a present that is, in very real and historically specific ways, more adrift than it ever has been before—while also reminding us that such challenges are not themselves sui generis but have their own history.

MH: In your book, you pay particular attention to five familiar narrative genres—realism, film noir, the western, the detective novel, and post-apocalyptic fiction—and you argue that “the historical drag of genre” gives us a kind of analytical counterweight to the “drift” of the present. Can you explain what you mean by “drag”? How does paying attention to genre help us think historically?

TM: I see genre and the contemporary as two versions of the same problem: the problem of how we articulate an image of the present by deciding where it departs from the past. In the case of the contemporary, that image is prone to uncertainty and drift; we hear the term constantly but can never be quite sure what it means. Genre, in turn, counteracts that drift by allowing us to trace the process of exactly how our ideas of the contemporary get formulated.

(more…)

Friday, June 16th, 2017

The Nation Calls

The Untold Journey

“Diana listened to her husband’s end of the conversation from the entrance to the kitchen, where she was standing. She understood at once that he was talking to Margaret Marshall, the literary editor of The Nation. She quickly surmised that Marshall was asking her husband if he had any candidates who might be interested in writing unsigned reviews of novels for the magazine. As soon as Lionel hung up the receiver, she walked over to him, smiled, and surprised herself by asking if she would be a suitable candidate. She wanted to be in the running.” — Natalie Robins

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Today, for the final post of the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from The Untold Journey in which Robins talks about the Trillings’ Partisan Review parties (featuring Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt, Elizabeth Hardwick, Meyer Schapiro, Alfred Kazin, and others) and about how Diana started reviewing books for The Nation.

The Nation Calls
By Natalie Robins

In 1937, two years before his book on Arnold was published, Lionel began writing for the new, Communist-free Partisan Review, a magazine whose strong intellectual and cultural influence would last for decades. It was edited by William Phillips and Philip Rahv, two men who had first met at meetings of the John Reed Club. Both men, and their wives, would become close friends of the Trillings.

Diana, gratified by her husband’s accomplishments, nonetheless began to feel very uncomfortable at the Partisan Review parties they attended. Her views were overlooked in discussions by and large because she was not a writer, at least not a published one. “If you went in as a wife, which I did in the early years of my married life, they [the parties] were hell,” she later told the writer Patricia Bosworth. Mary McCarthy, who was listed on the masthead of the first issue of Partisan Review, wrote an occasional theater column for it, and at the time was living with Rahv, especially snubbed Diana. McCarthy focused all her attention on Lionel. But Lionel did not enjoy being in her spotlight. “What makes an intelligent woman suppose that the way to attract a man is to be rude to his wife?” Lionel asked Diana, as she reported in The Beginning of the Journey. She later made clear that despite everything, “Lionel never got upset about anything that happened to himself the way he got upset if something went wrong for me, and I felt that way about him.” This was because of “their extraordinary mutuality,” and “extraordinary alikeness.” They had fierce and spirited minds and a powerful sense of loyalty that transcended their acute emotional difficulties.

Mary McCarthy, along with the political theorist (as she liked to be known) Hannah Arendt, and later on, the critic and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick, and the historian Bea Kristol, writing under her birth name Gertrude Himmelfarb, all had “honorary membership” in Partisan Review, Diana told Bosworth. And “they all weren’t friendly at all,” even though Himmelfarb and Diana would, for a long while, become pretty good pals. But in general, in the late 1930s, and for several decades after, there was no sisterhood. As for Arendt, Diana said that she “never said hello to me in her whole life. I guess she wanted to go to bed with Lionel. That was usually the reason when women weren’t pleasant to me.” (more…)

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

On Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor

The Untold Journey

“Diana had found a story—a story that stirred her: Jean Harris, a proper headmistress of a fancy southern private school, discovers that Herman Tarnower, her longtime famous doctor lover, author of the bestseller The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, has a new and much younger love. Harris confronts him about it on the evening of March 10, 1980, and ends up killing him with a .32 caliber revolver she said she meant to use on herself; only the gun went off accidentally as her lover grabbed for it.” — Natalie Robins

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Robins’ discussion of Diana Trilling’s bestselling account of the trial of Jean Harris, accused of the murder of her longtime lover, Herman Tarnower: Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Untold Journey!

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

The Other Night at Columbia: A Report from the Academy

The Untold Journey

“‘The last time I was in this theater,’ Dupee began quietly, ‘it was also to hear a poet read his works. That was T. S. Eliot.’ A slight alteration of inflection, from iron to mockery, from condescension to contempt, and it might well have been a signal for a near-riot, boos and catcalls and whistlings; the evening would have been lost to the ‘beats,’ Dupree and Columbia would have been defeated. Dupee transformed a circus into a classroom…. One could feel nothing but pity for Ginsberg and his friends that their front of disreputableness and rebellion should be this transparent, this vulnerable to the seductions of a clever host. With Dupee’s introduction, the whole of their defense had been penetrated at the very outset.” — Diana Trilling

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from an article by Diana Trilling, originally published in the Partisan Review. You can read the article in full at the website of Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, in the Partisan Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, page 214. In “The Other Night at Columbia: A Report from the Academy,” Trilling describes her experience attending a poetry reading by Allen Ginsberg, Peter Olovsky, and Gregory Corso at Columbia University. For additional context, we have also excerpted a description from The Untold Journey of the way that “all hell broke loose” upon the publication of this article.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Untold Journey!

The Other Night at Columbia: A Report from the Academy
By Diana Trilling

The “beats” were to read their poetry at Columbia on Thursday evening and on the spur of the moment three wives from the English department had decided to go to hear them. But for me, one of the three, the spur of the moment was not where the story had begun. It had begun much farther back, some twelve or fourteen years ago, when Allen Ginsberg had been a student at Columbia and I had heard about him much more than I usually hear of students for the simple reason that he got into a great deal of trouble which involved his instructors, and had to be rescued and revived and restored; eventually he had even to be kept out of jail. Of course there was always the question, should this young man be rescued, should he be restored? There was even the question, shouldn’t he go to jail? We argued about it some at home but the discussion, I’m afraid, was academic, despite my old resistance to the idea that people like Ginsberg had the right to ask and receive preferential treatment just because they read Rimbaud and Gide and undertook to put words on paper themselves. Nor was my principle (if one may call it that) of equal responsibility for poets and shoe clerks so firm that I didn’t need to protect it by refusing to confront Ginsberg as an individual or potential acquaintance. IO don’t mean that I was aware, at the time, of this motive for disappearing on the two or three occasions when he came to the house to deliver a new batch of poems and report on his latest adventures in sensation-seeking. If I’d been asked to explain, then, my wish not to meet and talk with this troublesome young man who had managed to break through the barrier of student anonymity, I suppose I’d have rested with the proposition that I don’t like mess, and I’d have been ready to defend myself against the charge, made in the name of art, of a strictness of judgment which was intolerant of this much deviation from respectable standards of behavior. Ten, twelve, fourteen years ago, there was still something of a challenge in the “conventional” position; I still enjoyed defending the properties and proprieties of the middle class against friends who persisted in scorning them. Of course, once upon a time — but that was in the ’30′s — one had had to defend even having a comfortable chair to sit in, or a rug on the floor. But by the ’40′s things had changed; one’s most intransigent literary friends had capitulated by then, everybody had a well-upholstered sofa and I was reduced to such marginal causes as the Metropolitan Museum, after-dinner coffee cups, and the expectation that visitors would go home by 2 A.M. and put their ashes in the ashtrays. Then why should I not also defend the expectation that a student at Columbia, even a poet, would do his work, submit it to his teachers through the normal channels of classroom communication, stay out of jail, and then, if things went right, graduate, start publishing, be reviewed, and see what developed, whether he was a success or failure?

Well, for Ginsberg, things didn’t go right for quite a while. The time came when he was graduated from Columbia and published his poems, but first he got into considerable difficulty, beginning with his suspension from college and the requirement that he submit to psychiatric treatment, and terminating — but this was quite a few years later — in an encounter with the police from which he was extricated by some of his old teachers who thought he needed a hospital more than a prison. The suspension had been for a year, when Ginsberg had been a Senior; the situation was not without its grim humor. It seems that Ginsberg had traced an obscenity in the dusty windows of Hartley Hall; the words were too shocking for the Dean of Students to speak, he had written them on a piece of paper which he pushed across the desk: “F— the Jews.” Even the part of Lionel that wanted to laugh couldn’t, it was too hard for the Dean to have to transmit this message to a Jewish professor — this was still in the ’40′s when being a Jew in the university was not yet what it is today. “But he’s a Jew himself,” said the Dean. “Can you understand his writing a thing like that?” Yes, Lionel could understand; but he couldn’t explain it to the Dean. And anyway, he knew that the legend in the dust of Hartley Hall required more than an understanding of Jewish self-hatred and also that it was not the sole cause for administrative uneasiness about Ginsberg and his cronies. It was ordinary good sense for the college to take therapeutic measures with Ginsberg.

For me, it was of some note that the auditorium smelled fresh. The place was already full when we arrived; I took one look at the crowd and was certain that it would smell bad. But I was mistaken. These people may think they’re dirty inside and dress up to it. Nevertheless, they smell all right. The audience was clean and Ginsberg was clean and Corso was clean and Orlovsky was clean. Maybe Ginsberg says he doesn’t bathe or shave; Corso, I know, declares that he has never combed his hair; Orlovsky has a line in one of the two poems he read — he’s not yet written his third, the chairman explained — “If I should shave, I know the bugs would go away.” But for this occasion, at any rate, Ginsberg, Corso and Orlovsky were all clean and shaven; Kerouac, in crisis, didn’t appear, but if he had come he would have been clean and shaven too — he was at Hunter, I’ve inquired about that. And anyway, there’s nothing dirty about a checked shirt or a lumberjacket and blue jeans, they’re standard uniform in the best nursery schools. Ginsberg has his pride, as do his friends.

And how do I look to the “beats,” I ask myself after that experience with the seats, and not only I but the other wives I was with. We had pulled aside the tattered old velvet rope which marked off the section held for faculty, actually it was trailing on the floor, and moved into the seats Dupee’s wife Andy had saved for us by strewing coats on them; there was a big grey overcoat she couldn’t identify: she stood holding it up in the air murmuring wistfully, “Whose is this?” — until the young people in the row in back of us took account of us and answered sternly, “Those seats are reserved for faculty.” If I have trouble unraveling undergraduates from “beats,” neither do the wives of the Columbia English department wear their distinction with any certainty.

But Dupee’s distinction, that’s something else again: what could I have been worrying about, when had Dupee ever failed to meet the occasion, or missed a right style? I don’t suppose one could witness a better performance than his on Thursday evening; its rightness was apparent the moment he walked onto the stage, his troupe in tow and himself just close enough and just enough removed to indicate the balance in which he held the situation. Had there been a hint of betrayal in his deportment, of either himself or his guests — naturally, he had made them his guests — the whole evening might have been different: for instance, a few minutes later when the overflow attendance outside the door began to bang and shout for admission, might not the audience have caught the contagion and become unruly too? Or would Ginsberg have stayed with his picture of himself as poet serious and triumphant instead of succumbing to what must have been the greatest temptation to spoil his opportunity? “The last time I was in this theater,” Dupee began quietly, “it was also to hear a poet read his works. That was T. S. Eliot.” A slight alteration of inflection, from iron to mockery, from condescension to contempt, and it might well have been a signal for a near-riot, boos and catcalls and whistlings; the evening would have been lost to the “beats,” Dupree and Columbia would have been defeated. Dupee transformed a circus into a classroom…. One could feel nothing but pity for Ginsberg and his friends that their front of disreputableness and rebellion should be this transparent, this vulnerable to the seductions of a clever host. With Dupee’s introduction, the whole of their defense had been penetrated at the very outset.

There was a meeting going on at home of the pleasant professional sort which, like the comfortable living-room in which it usually takes place, at a certain point in a successful modern literary career confirms the writer in a sense of disciplined achievement and well-earned reward. I had found myself hurrying as if I were needed, but there was really no reason for my haste; my entrance was an interruption, even a disturbance of the attractive scene. Auden, alone of the eight men in the room not dressed in a proper suit but wearing his battered old brown leather jacket, was first to inquire about my experience. I told him I had been moved; he answered that he was ashamed of me. I said, “It’s different when it’s a sociological phenomenon and when it’s human beings,” and he of course knew and accepted what I said. Yet as I prepared to get out of the room so that the men could sit down again with their drinks, I felt there was something more I had to add — it was not enough to leave the “beats” only as human beings — and so I said, “Allen Ginsberg read a love-poem to you, Lionel. I liked it very much.” It was a strange thing to say in the circumstances, perhaps even a little foolish. But I’m sure that Ginsberg’s old teacher knew what I was saying, and why I was impelled to say it.

Read the article in full at the website of Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, in the Partisan Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, page 214.

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Introducing The Untold Journey

The Untold Journey

“Diana Trilling’s life—one full of secrets, contradictions, and betrayals—chronicles social, political, sexual, and literary changes over the decades of the twentieth century, enormous changes she lived through and was in almost constant conflict over.” — Natalie Robins

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Robins’ preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Untold Journey!

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Book Giveaway! The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling

The Untold Journey

“Robins’ absorbing life-study of Diana Trilling is rich in surprises. The book is a fine-grained portrait of the celebrated Trilling marriage, of Lionel’s private weaknesses, and of his carefully concealed dependence on Diana’s engagement in the making of his books. The story told includes Diana Trilling’s campaign for her own place in the world of letters and deftly characterizes the political landscape of their time. The finished portrait is shocking but humane, and is drawn with wit and art.” — Norman Rush

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Thoughts on Rapture by Iliazd (Ilia Zdanevich)

Iliazd’s Rapture is one of the upcoming titles in the Russian Library, a new series that seeks to demonstrate the breadth, variety, and global importance of the Russian literary tradition to English-language readership through new and revised translations of premodern, modern, and contemporary Russian literature.

Rapture

Today Veniamin Gushchin, CC ’18, Russian Library Intern responds to Rapture by Iliazd, translated by Thomas J. Kitson

The term emigrant, as opposed to the more commonly used immigrant, is inherently backwards facing, focusing on the country of origin rather than the destination. In the popular imagination, the immigrant arrives in a land of opportunity, while the emigrant flees from an oppressive regime, hopelessly yearning to return to their past. Though the two words have vaguely the same meaning, though the distinction in writing is but a few letters and in pronunciation is often barely detectable, the terms are antonyms due to the complex set of relationships an individual has with their countries of departure and arrival.

As the son of Russian immigrants that grew up in a bilingual and bicultural environment, I am very sensitive to this distinction. My parents immigrated to the United States in the 90s for greater job opportunities in the field of medicine and made the deliberate choice – mostly to spite my grandmother, who believed such efforts to be in vain – to raise me speaking Russian and aware of my cultural heritage. From watching the Soviet version of Winnie the Pooh before Disney’s to listening to tapes of the actor Innokenty Smoktunovsky reading Eugene Onegin on road trips, my parents recreated a small island of Russian culture in our home. They spoke of their Soviet past with a mixture of nostalgia and disillusionment, as many Russians do. My childhood experience was one of continually balancing my parents’ past with the pressures to assimilate to American culture. Living in suburban Maryland rather than in an immigrant enclave like Brighton Beach, my sole source for my Russian identity was my parents, my only chance to use my Russian my home. As a result, preserving this heritage grew in significance. Now, studying Russian literature in college, I seem to have come to some sort of compromise between these identities. Nevertheless, I do often feel as if I am still that child coming back from school to my parent’s home, part of and distant from both worlds. More importantly, my experience is different than those of denizens of Brighton, than those whose heritage becomes but a percentage mentioned in discussions of ethnic background.

To turn things back a century, and three waves of Russian migration, the tension between cultural preservation and assimilation is reflected in the most prolific Russian émigré writers, Ivan Bunin and Vladimir Nabokov. Especially in the works of the nomadic Nabokov, nostalgia for an idealized version of prerevolutionary Russia is central to the artist’s identity. In terms of assimilation, even in Paris, Bunin wrote exclusively in Russian and interacted mostly with his immediate circle of fellow emigrants. Though Nabokov appears to have shown a greater degree of adaptability, becoming internationally renowned as a writer in English, his constant relocation – the only “Nabokov house” is in St. Petersburg where his family lived before the Revolution – betrays his inability to settle down and fully reconcile his lost past with the present. The idealization of this prerevolutionary period has influenced perceptions of the Soviet Union and imperial Russia both abroad and in Russia. More recently, post-Soviet discourse, exemplified in artistic expression such as Govorukhin’s film “Russia That We’ve Lost,” returns to portraying the turn of the twentieth century as a time of cultural brilliance and sophistication. These notions about the first wave of Russian immigration and that era have become so widespread that they have come to represent its dominant narrative.

The figure of Ilia Zdanevich, or Iliazd, complicates this simplistic view of the reactionary emigrant. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, his first act of migration was to Petrograd, where he became involved in a number of avant-garde artistic groups associated with the movement of Russian Futurism. His reason for migrating to Paris was to establish new artistic relationships between the nascent Soviet avant-garde and similar artistic movements in Paris, such as Dada and surrealism. Both political and artistic, he stands in contrast to the more conservation Nabokov and Bunin. While the latter two writers proudly continued the traditions of Russian nineteenth century literature, Zdanevich eagerly embraced the possibility of reshaping and developing his genre. Despite his efforts, however, once the Soviet government turned against the avant-garde, Iliazd found himself in “poetic reclusion,” effectively exiled despite having emigrating for an entirely different set of reasons. Nevertheless, the artist continued to live in Paris, collaborating with the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Léger, developing a reputation in the European art world and, at least in part, assimilating.

Rapture is a doubly nostalgic novel, set in Iliazd’s native Georgia and written as an allegory of the Russian Futurism movement. Published in a doubly distant Paris, it is a thick mixture of avant-garde and traditional folklore, of Russian, Georgian, and Western influences that is impossible to fully separate into its constituent elements.

This new translation of Rapture allows Anglophone readers to experience Iliazd’s complex and thrilling artistic vision for the first time ever. In addition to placing the novel on the same shelf as the modernist masterpieces of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Thomas Mann, the publication of this translation complicates the simplistic binary between emigrant and home country present in the most influential narratives about this era. Iliazd’s voice joins the already dominant voices of Bunin and Nabokov to paint a more detailed and nuanced portrait of the first wave of Russian immigration in Paris. Immigration, emigration, and migration are all messy concepts, crossing the boundaries of identity as much as geopolitical borders. Each individual within these processes has a unique relationship to both the country of arrival and departure, the experience only able to be captured in polyphony.

Want to learn more about Rapture? Join the event TODAY, May 4, cosponsored by the NYU Jordan Center and PEN America World Voices Festival, with translator Thomas Kitson and scholar Jennifer Wilson. “What’s Old is New: Gender and Power in Iliazd’s Neglected Rapture

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Interview with Ashley Shelden, author of Unmaking Love

Unmaking Love, Ashley Shelden

“What I see in contemporary literature—in novels that I discuss in the book and those that didn’t make it in—is an understanding of love that runs counter to [a] traditional story. In these novels, love is not a uniting, conservative, or peaceful force; love is more often aggressive, violent, divisive, and corrosive.”—Ashley Shelden, author of Unmaking Love: The Contemporary Novel and the Impossibility of Union

The following is an interview with Ashley Shelden, author of Unmaking Love: The Contemporary Novel and the Impossibility of Union:

Question: Love is typically seen as sentimental and conservative, and perhaps because of that, other queer theorists and critics tend to focus on desire or sex. With this in mind, why are you so interested in love?

Ashley Shelden: It’s not that I’m not interested in desire or sex as analytic categories. Indeed, so much of the theoretical and intellectual work in psychoanalysis and queer theory that has galvanized me focuses on these concepts. Motivated by this work, I wanted to think more deeply about love in theory and literature in order to rethink the uses to which it has been put both intellectually and politically. In this way, my project is in sympathy with Laura Kipnis’s Against Love. I don’t necessarily agree with Kipnis’s arguments in that book, but I am invigorated by her impressive capacity not to accept received ideas and her commitment to putting pressure on all our assumptions about love.

I think you’re right, then: love is often used coercively as a sentimental force of conservation—to maintain the primacy of marriage, to occlude differences, to pacify and render inert disruptions to the dominant order. But what I see in contemporary literature—in novels that I discuss in the book and those that didn’t make it in—is an understanding of love that runs counter to this traditional story. In these novels, love is not a uniting, conservative, or peaceful force; love is more often aggressive, violent, divisive, and corrosive. It’s this unfamiliar version of love in which I am most interested because it flies in the face of what we commonly assume love to be.

Q: It sounds like part of what appeals to you about the alternative account of love that contemporary novels articulate is the light these novels can shed on politics. What political concerns does love allow you to consider anew?

AS: Let me just say here that when I think about the political uses of love, I don’t have in mind a sense of politics as partisan. By “political” I mean the ways we adjudicate on relations within the social. I want to clarify this point because my book is not necessarily suggesting new definitions of love for progressive political ends. Instead, my aim is to think about the ways that love is used to organize—and indeed disorganize—sociality. In that way, the political relations that love informs are quite broad. The first political issue that we might think of in relation to love is, of course, same-sex marriage, the mantra for which is “love is love.” But beyond the intimate sphere of loving relations, love also pertains to the recognizably contemporary issue of relationality in a globalized, transnational world. In the book, I use Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled and Hari Kunzru’s Transmission in order to think through the amorous dimensions of transnational connectedness.

Another political issue that the question of love brings to the fore is the question of “the other” and otherness. Jacques Lacan famously suggested that there can be no love for an other, and we can only love sameness, that which reflects back to us the image of ourselves. This idea enlivens my project as it concerns issues relating to ethics—if love is directed only at sameness, then this idea suggests that there is something destructive in love’s seemingly unifying force. In order to love another, I must obliterate the other’s otherness, making that person into a fictional reflection of myself, which effectively eradicates the other in her particularity.

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Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Extreme Domesticity

Extreme Domesticity and Tainted Witness

“I use the term “extreme” to jar us out of the common assumption that domestic spaces are always stable, banal, and conventional—invested in traditional family values and complacently bourgeois. The goal of my book is to trouble our stereotype of domestic life by exploring versions of home at odds with the normative ideal. I do so by looking at the non-conforming households of gender rebels, the marginal households of those dealing with dislocation and economic insecurity.” — Susan Fraiman

This week, we are featuring two exciting new books from our Gender and Culture Series: Extreme Domesticity: A View from the Margins, by Susan Fraiman, and Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives, by Leigh Gilmore. Today, Susan Fraiman answers questions about what exactly she means by “extreme domesticity,” the importance of acknowledging the labor and skill of domestic labor while avoiding romanticizing the concept, and how she uses literature to examine conceptions of domesticity.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a copy of both books!

Question: I’m curious about your title. What do you mean by “extreme domesticity”? Are you talking about a return to pre-technological, labor-intensive homemaking—as in making our own clothes, growing our own food?

Susan Fraiman: Definitely not. In fact, I would distance myself from what is sometimes called the “new domesticity”: a zealous return to artisanal housewifery, extreme crafty-ness, often understood in counter-cultural or even feminist terms. What I do have in common with this impulse is my appreciation for the labor, skill, and potential for creativity involved in keeping house, whether or not you take a DIY approach. At the same time, I would never want simply to romanticize domestic labor or lose sight of the way women have historically been oppressed by unpaid work in their own homes or low-paid work in someone else’s.

Q: In that case, how exactly is the domesticity of your book “extreme”?

SF: I use the term “extreme” to jar us out of the common assumption that domestic spaces are always stable, banal, and conventional—invested in traditional family values and complacently bourgeois. The goal of my book is to trouble our stereotype of domestic life by exploring versions of home at odds with the normative ideal. I do so by looking at the non-conforming households of gender rebels, the marginal households of those dealing with dislocation and economic insecurity. So “extreme” has a number of meanings for me. It refers to homemakers seen as immoderate or outlandish, whose gender/sexuality is stigmatized as dangerously eccentric. It also refers to those in extreme circumstances, whose home life is precarious as a result of poverty, violence, and/or immigrant status. I consider a wide range of domestic figures, but they’re all outsiders of some kind. A few are even literally out-of-doors.

Q: Your book spans several centuries, multiple genres, and brings together a number of unlikely suspects. Who are some of the “outsider” women and men you discuss?

SF: I should start by noting that I’m a literary and cultural critic, not a social scientist. All of my examples are drawn from texts (as opposed to ethnographic research). As such they are images of domesticity, at one remove from actual lives. They do, however, tell us a good deal about how we conceive of the domestic. In addition to reflecting our views, images also have the ability to shape them. As for which texts I discuss, many are novels: from Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton (1848) to Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues (1993) and Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging (1997). I also take up Edith Wharton’s classic design guide, The Decoration of Houses (1897), as well as depictions of Martha Stewart, that delightfully bad girl of good housekeeping. A last chapter draws on memoirs and participant-observer accounts of homelessness.

Q: Can you say more about the last chapter? I know you mentioned literal outsiders, but aren’t homeless women and men defined as such because they’re lacking in domesticity? If they have no homes, how do they count as domestic subjects?

SF: I would put it a bit differently. If you have no reliable shelter, your domesticity is broken up and embattled, but it doesn’t cease to exist. You still need to eat something, sleep somewhere, store your stuff, struggle to achieve a bit of personal safety, privacy, and coziness. If anything, when you can’t take “home” for granted, your domestic efforts are that much more urgent, ongoing, and visible. The figures discussed in this chapter include a mother in a welfare hotel, a guy camping out with his dog, a woman and her shopping cart, along with several robust subcultures of “homeless” people. The latter provide examples of collaboration as well as violence, political activism as well as poor conditions, and the chapter as a whole offers many examples of domestic agency as well as difficulty. If homelessness puts enormous pressure on domestic needs and routines, it also serves to highlight the aspects of everyday life shared across the board, whether or not we are securely housed.

Q: I have one last question. You describe this as a feminist project, but you’ve already noted the historical confinement of women in domestic spaces, restricting them to the drudgery of domestic labor. In what sense is your largely “appreciative” approach to domesticity a feminist intervention?

SF: As I say, my goal is not to romanticize housekeeping. It’s also true that the ideology of proper domesticity generally serves to enforce norms of gender, class, sexuality, and race. That said, it’s too often the case that domestic figures, practices, concerns, and spaces are the objects of condescension and blanket dismissal. Because women continue to be primarily responsible for household labor, everything associated with houses and housekeeping is strongly feminized and consequently trivialized (and this is true even when men are involved). In other words, the bias against all aspects and forms of domestic life is strongly tied to biases against women and phenomena identified as “feminine.” By stressing the diversity of domestic arrangements, by appreciating housekeepers of all genders, and by valuing the gestures that go into making a home, I am hoping to push back against that bias.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Introducing Extreme Domesticity

Extreme Domesticity and Tainted Witness

“My goal in the following pages is to sever domesticity from the usual right-wing pieties and the usual left derision. I am out to kill the Angel in the House once and for all—but not by shunning houses and housekeepers altogether. My strategy instead is to decouple domestic spaces, figures, and duties from a necessary identification with conservative ‘family values.’” — Susan Fraiman

This week, we are featuring two exciting new books from our Gender and Culture Series: Extreme Domesticity: A View from the Margins, by Susan Fraiman, and Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives, by Leigh Gilmore. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from both the introduction and the sixth chapter of Extreme Domesticity.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a copy of both books!

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Extreme Domesticity and Tainted Witness

Extreme Domesticity and Tainted Witness

“In Extreme Domesticity, Susan Fraiman continues to perform the crucial task of challenging—in lucid, fervent prose—the “habitual, unthinking” conflations and repudiations which keep women, or the feminized, at the bottom of hierarchies of value.” — Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

“Rarely does an academic book address its moment so precisely as Tainted Witness…. An important and timely book. If ever we needed evidence that the work of feminism is not yet done, this is it.” — Times Higher Education

This week, we are featuring two exciting new books from our Gender and Culture Series: Extreme Domesticity: A View from the Margins, by Susan Fraiman, and Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives, by Leigh Gilmore. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Spectacles Vehement and Untutored and Rude: Reading David Foster Wallace in the Age of Trump

David Foster Wallace's Balancing Books, Jeffrey Severs

“Wallace is chief among the contemporary U.S. writers who deserve careful re-reading in the age of Trump.”—Jeffrey Severs

The following post is by Jeffrey Severs, author of David Foster Wallace’s Balancing Books: Fictions of Value:

On the night of November 8, 2016, walking home from a sorrowful bar, I tried easing the pain by pausing to post on Facebook: “Dawn of a new age of grim apocalyptic satire? Searching for a bright side.” Soon a British friend and fellow scholar of contemporary fiction offered “Trump means fart in the UK—does this help?” Then another scholar-friend said he was reminded of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Johnny Gentle, a cheesy, idiot lounge-singer-turned-politician, “the first U.S. President ever to swing his microphone around by the cord during his Inauguration speech.” I’d also been thinking of Gentle’s precedent. This germaphobe’s major geopolitical achievement is to turn much of New England and Quebec into a waste dump, disastrously imposing his irreality and obsessive-compulsive habits on North American policy.

Wallace’s novel of grim apocalyptic satire, published in 1996, is set during Subsidized Time, when numbered years have been replaced by corporate sponsorships, but careful reading reveals the setting is the 2010s. So here we were, more or less on schedule, an entertainment- and consumption-addicted society, more swayed by image than substance in all things and now climbing into the (tiny) hands of a boorish, hateful star of reality TV (a genre Wallace also analyzed brilliantly—see his late story “The Suffering Channel”).

Wallace is chief among the contemporary U.S. writers who deserve careful re-reading in the age of Trump. Re-reading Wallace should be followed by Pynchon, Morrison, DeLillo, Wideman, Coover, Mailer, Vollmann—we have a lot to learn about American fascism from our novelists. Wallace set his unfinished novel The Pale King (2011) in the 1980s but still captured forty years of past and future Republican presidencies with lines about electing “a symbolic Rebel against his own power . . . We’ll have a tyranny of conformist nonconformity presided over by a symbolic outsider whose very election depends on our deep conviction that his persona is utter bullshit.” The Pale King uses the hatred of taxes to explain how Americans view civic duty in childish terms, like adolescent rebels against parental authority who are still happy to use Daddy’s credit card. The future leader that IRS workers conjure in The Pale King will “do what corporate pioneers have discovered works better” than outright lying to the populace: “He’ll adopt the persona and rhetoric that let the people lie to themselves.” Nation of self-deceiving kids, meet your man-child narcissist-in-chief.

Wallace, who grew up in Illinois and taught there for many years, understood the perennial appeal of conservatism to middle America. Indeed, as D.T. Max’s 2012 biography revealed, Wallace himself, a late convert to the left, voted for Ronald Reagan (Gentle’s model, with a dash of Bill Clinton playing the sax on late-night TV thrown in) and for proto-Trump Ross Perot. In his essays about Illinois, John McCain, and right-wing radio, Wallace took seriously and saw the depths of what coastal elites have been scrambling to parse since November: how the white, rural, working-class folks of various fly-over zones think about their country, how their cynicism about government can be ruthlessly exploited with the techniques of the entertainment-industrial complex. Wallace can’t help us much with the jingoism, racism, and xenophobia that led to Trump’s win, but he did give us visceral evidence that, as one of his essays quoted from de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, “spectacles vehement and untutored and rude,” aiming “to stir the passions more than to gratify the taste,” continue to be the American way.

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Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

An Interview with Jeffrey Severs, Author of “David Foster Wallace’s Balancing Books”

David Foster Wallace's Balancing Books

“Immersive reading of literary fiction, especially in Wallace’s ragged, tangential, footnoted forms, reminds us that the minds of others are wonderfully textured, unpredictable places—and forgetting that underlies nearly every ethical problem we encounter, as Wallace demonstrates again and again.”—Jeffrey Severs

The following is an interview with Jeffrey Severs, author of David Foster Wallace’s Balancing Books: Fictions of Value:

Question: How do you account for the continuing popularity of David Foster Wallace in 2017, especially his novel, Infinite Jest?

Jeff Severs: Infinite Jest has certainly become the book on which many young intellectuals test their reading mettle, much like Gravity’s Rainbow was for me when I was in college in the mid-1990s. Many of my most ambitious undergraduates often come to my courses already in love with Infinite Jest or some of his essays and wanting to read the books that inspired Wallace. Certain parts of Infinite Jest have become quite apt descriptions of how we entertain ourselves and communicate in the 21st century: Wallace’s “InterLace” network of film-cartridge distribution predicted the rise of Netflix and supposedly total “choice” over TV, and his deadly Entertainment is an exaggeration that exposes how unhealthy our everyday media habits can be—think of what we’re saying by making the bodily metaphor of “binge-watching” commonplace. Whenever I feel weird about where I’m looking (camera or screen?) during a Skype call, I think of Infinite Jest’s hilarious account of the demise of video-telephony. He understood how machines would continue to make being in touch easier but never resolve fundamental anxieties about communication, like “Does this person truly understand me?” and “Am I just narcissistically talking to myself here in the guise of a conversation?”

Q. Wallace has experienced an upsurge in critical interest since his 2008 suicide. How does his untimely death figure in the culture’s reception of him and your own appreciation of him?

JS: If you’ve ever been through depression or addiction yourself or been close to someone with those struggles, Wallace’s work offers illuminating descriptions of how those states can frame every thought and comprise the air of every breath. Those who love Wallace’s work and find wisdom in it tend to recognize that his intimate descriptions of the mind consuming itself are absolutely heroic. Immersive reading of literary fiction, especially in Wallace’s ragged, tangential, footnoted forms, reminds us that the minds of others are wonderfully textured, unpredictable places—and forgetting that underlies nearly every ethical problem we encounter, as Wallace demonstrates again and again.

It’s very difficult to say anything about Wallace’s suicide in relation to his writing that seems simultaneously true, right, respectful, and attentive to his complex understanding of authorship, autobiography, fiction, and the ability of language to represent feeling. Beyond being sad that we will see no more books from him, I prefer to think of writing and thinking about him after his death as an opportunity to be the kind of active, involved reader he was obsessed with cultivating—a way of helping make his work into a nuanced, communal dialogue that doesn’t begin and end with him. That’s what he seemed to want most.

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Monday, February 20th, 2017

Book Giveaway! David Foster Wallace’s Balancing Books

David Foster Wallace's Balancing Books

“Since its inception, David Foster Wallace studies has focused on a relatively small set of themes—irony, sincerity, addiction, and the mass media—often centered on Wallace’s own descriptions of his literary project in interviews and essays. Severs’s insightful new study builds on and challenges this critical orthodoxy, revealing how Wallace was a careful economic, political, and historical thinker. Wallace’s writing, as Severs shows in a series of original and bracing chapters that cover the author’s whole career, engaged provocatively with the New Deal, the social-welfare state, the monetary system, and the history of neoliberalism. Severs uncovers a new domain of questions that will dominate debates about Wallace’s legacy and the meaning of his important art for decades to come.” — Lee Konstantinou

This week, our featured book is David Foster Wallace’s Balancing Books: Fictions of Value, by Jeffrey Severs. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

On Modernist Magazines, Little and Small — A Conversation with Eric Bulson and Donal Harris (Part 2)

On Company Time, Donal Harris

“Just about every serious author working in the U.S. contributed to big magazines in some capacity, and plenty of writers worked for them for multiple years, if not decades. Lots of them complained about this situation, but I found it an interesting occupational fact that shaped their ideas about what it means to be an author or ‘professional writer’ and what it means to produce literature. And, on the other side, I wanted to know why these magazines thought it was a good idea to hire poets to write copy!”—Donal Harris

This is the second part of a two-part conversation between Eric Bulson, author of Little Magazine, World Form and Donal Harris author of On Company Time: American Modernism in the Big Magazines (You can read part 1 here).

Bulson and Harris shift their focus from small to big to examine how magazines like Time, Life, The Crisis, shaped the direction of modernist literature the work and careers of W.E.B. Du Bois, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather and others. (Here is part one of their conversation):

Eric Bulson: On Company Time proves that Modernists weren’t as antagonistic to big magazines as we’ve been led to believe! So, how does this shift in focus influence our understanding of that period in literary history we call “modernism”? Are Willa Cather and W.E.B. Du Bois really modernists? Do we need to rethink, maybe even throw out the term?

Donal Harris: I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find out Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or even Gertrude Stein, occasionally crossed paths with big magazines. But what I discovered is that just about every serious author working in the U.S. contributed to big magazines in some capacity, and plenty of writers worked for them for multiple years, if not decades. Lots of them complained about this situation, but I found it an interesting occupational fact that might influenced their ideas about what it means to be an author or “professional writer” and what it means to produce literature. And, on the other side, I wanted to know why these magazines thought it was a good idea to hire poets to write copy!

Does the fact that a lot of American modernists made a living by selling their talent as writers mean that we should do away with the term? I don’t think so. No more so than discovering little magazines’s longer and wider history outside of Western Europe and the United States (which I was fascinated to find out about!) means that we should get rid of that term. It just means that we think about modernism’s proclaimed market aversion slightly differently. Rather than a fact on the ground, it’s a rhetorical gesture that helped to differentiate modernism’s various types of experimentation from the innovations happening in mass-market magazines.

A side effect of this altered approach is the new visibility of people like Cather and Du Bois within modernism. They took both their magazine work and their literary aspirations very seriously, and they thought about them as two sides of the same coin. I mean, it’s hard to imagine the originality of McClure’s magazine without Willa Cather, and it’s hard to imagine Cather’s novel The Professor’s House without what she learned while editing McClure’s.

EB: The story you tell about Big Magazines ends with the arrival of television. Was TV really as powerful a force as you argue here?

DH: Ending with the rise of television in the early 1950s was partially a decision of convenience, to be sure. The book is about the relationship between various forms of print media and the people who write and publish them. So I end when a new, non-print media takes the history of journalism and literature in a different direction.

Certainly what you call the “little wireless magazines” pushes forward the artistic possibilities of electronic communication to a much earlier date, which I found compelling. The periodical world I wrote about is less sanguine about these changes. In 1948, when T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature, about one percent of American households owned televisions. When Hemingway won it in 1954, over fifty percent did, and by 1958 over eighty percent did. And you can watch magazine circulations fall as television spreads. It was only natural for magazine editors to see the flood of television screens as a bad omen for their own longevity.

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Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

On Modernist Magazines, Little and Big — A Conversation with Eric Bulson and Donal Harris (Part 1)

Little Magazine, World Form, Eric Bulson

“I would love to believe that writers, critics, editors, and translators have been and will continue to be everywhere connected, but that is not and never has never been the case. The cold reality of literary history teaches us otherwise, and the little magazine is a great place to examine how this whole concept of a world republic of letters did and did not work globally in the twentieth century.”-Eric Bulson

Below is the first part of a two-part conversation between Eric Bulson, author of Little Magazine, World Form and Donal Harris author of On Company Time: American Modernism in the Big Magazines.

In this first part, Harris asks Bulson about his book and how it challenges the ways we have thought about the form and content of modernist magazines, their role twentieth-century global literature, and the promises and limitations of little magazines in creating a “world republic of little magazines” (In tomorrow’s post, Bulson will ask Harris about the “big” magazines):

Donal Harris: The term “little magazine” refers primarily to the non-commercial journals printed in the United States, England, and Western and Central Europe between the two World Wars. But little magazine, world form takes a different approach, both in terms of geography and time frame. What new constellations of magazines and literary scenes did you find when you thought about the legacy of this medium more broadly?

Eric Bulson: Like so many other people who have studied modernism over the years, I was under the impression that little magazines were really a western phenomenon. That, of course, is not true at all, and so the more I looked for examples from outside the usual Paris-New York-London orbit, the more I began to uncover constellations that I never knew existed.

One of the more surprising examples for me early on was Black Orpheus, a little magazine that came out of Nigeria in the 1950s, and had a major influence on the direction of what we now call Anglophone literature. And Black Orpheus was a major wake-up call for me. Once I knew that these other little magazine hubs existed, the more I began to realize that the whole timeline and geography for the little magazine was severely restricted and misleading. In fact, the old narrative that it was born with the French Symbolists in the 1890s and died at the end of the 1940s with the beginning of World War Two just doesn’t work globally. Once you modify the geographical frame, in fact, then you must change the timeline. The little magazine is born at different times in different places, and trying to get our heads around this whole idea requires that we develop new strategies for thinking about what the little magazine is and where it has been.

Donal Harris: You spend quite a bit of space discussing the idea of “form” as an overlooked aspect of scholarship on little magazines and periodicals in general. How do you see the “form” of little magazines changing (or remaining constant) during the twentieth century? And does periodical form have an impact on the content that gets included in the magazine?

Eric Bulson: Form is absolutely critical to our understanding of the historical, social, political, economic, and, of course, literary meaning of little magazines. It’s interesting, in fact, that the emphasis on form was something that book historians and art historians figured out decades ago but literary critics were slow to pick up on. Yes, the cool covers and edgy design have garnered lots of attention but not in any rigorous, analytical way. They are more of a side-show, or an after-thought, for those who are interested in getting to the “real content” of little magazines. Taking our cue from a tradition of those non-literary critics that think of the little magazine as an art object and as a medium can help us to reframe how we understand the relationship between the form and content, what’s in the little magazine and what the little magazine is made of.

One very important example for me was VVV, a Surrealist magazine printed in the United States during World War Two. It’s a magazine, yes, but it’s also a traveling art exhibit for the surrealists who chose voluntary exile after the Nazis arrived in France. There are visually stunning installations in these pages from Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp and so many others, so that reading through VVV actually feels like walking through a gallery. But as interesting as that experience might be, the payoff comes in thinking about the politics of this form, the very idea that the shape, design, structure becomes a way for these exiled surrealists to find a place for art in an increasingly repressive, violent world. So form is not just about the structure, design, and sequence: it is also about the materiality of the experience, what paper gets used for the contents and cover design, what ink and typeface are available, who does the printing and with what machines and which compositors.

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Friday, January 20th, 2017

On Childhood and Love

Marriage as a Fine Art

Philippe Sollers: The love encounter between two people is the rapport between their childhoods. Without that, it doesn’t amount to much.

Julia Kristeva: You’re right to begin with childhood, because ours were so different, and yet we’ve brought them into tune.

This week, our featured book is Marriage as a Fine Art, by Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers. For the week’s final post, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s second chapter, in which Kristeva and Sollers discuss the importance of childhood to shaping how one lives and loves.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Marriage as a Fine Art!

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Love and Experience

Marriage as a Fine Art

“The pages that follow resonate with current anxieties around the topic of marriage, while not falling for the unlikely merger of two into one or hinting at a happy solution to the idyllic, and failed, ‘togetherness’ of ‘diversity.’ They invite you, simply but ambitiously, to ponder the experience of marriage as one of the fine arts.” — Julia Kristeva

This week, our featured book is Marriage as a Fine Art, by Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt in which Kristeva and Sollers discuss the nature of experience.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Marriage as a Fine Art!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Love of the Other

Marriage as a Fine Art

“Together we fell into a dialogue that never stopped, we are still deep into a conversation with no end in sight, because it’s full of arguments; though we don’t always see eye to eye, the intensity of the conversation never flags.” — Philippe Sollers

This week, our featured book is Marriage as a Fine Art, by Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers. To kick off the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s fourth chapter, in which Kristeva and Sollers discuss the idea of “love” and how it impacts a relationship and a marriage.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Marriage as a Fine Art!