In contemporary Norwegian fiction Tomas Espedal’s work stands out as uniquely personal; it can be difficult to separate the fiction from Espedal’s own experiences. In that vein, his novel Against Art is not just the story of a boy growing up to be a writer, but it is also the story of writing. Specifically, it is about the profession of writing—the routines, responsibility, and obstacles. Yet, Against Art is also about being a father, a son, and a grandson; about a family and a family’s tales, and about how preceding generations mark their successors. It is at once about choices and changes, about motion and rest, about moving to a new place, and about living.
Praise for the Norwegian Edition
“One of the most beautiful, most important books I've read for years.”—Klassekampen
“Espedal has written an amazingly rich novel, which will assuredly stand out as one of the year’s best and will also further fortify the quality of Norwegian literature abroad.”— Adresseavisen
“Against Art attacks literature while at the same time being intensely literary. Our greatest sorrows and torments, the individual experiences often so anemic in art, find a voice of their own.”—Morgenbladet
“Against Art moves me with its maternal history and proves yet again that Tomas Espedal writes great novels.”—Dag og Tid
In contemporary Norwegian fiction Tomas Espedal’s work stands out as uniquely personal; it can be difficult to separate the fiction from Espedal’s own experiences. Against Nature, a companion volume to Espedal's earlier Against Art, is an examination of factory work, love’s labor, and the work of writing. Espedal dwells on the notion that working is required in order to live in compliance with society, but is this natural? And how can it be natural when he is drawn toward impossible things—impossible love, books, myths, and taboos? He is drawn into the stories of Abélard and Héloïse, of young Marguerite Duras and her Chinese lover, and soon realizes that he, too, is turning into a person who must choose to live against nature.
“A masterpiece of literary understatement. Everybody who has recently been thirsting for a new, unexhausted realism, like water in the desert, will love this book.”—Die Zeit, on the Norwegian edition
The incandescent African American writer Gary Fisher was completely unpublished when he died of AIDS in 1994 at the age of 32. This volume, which includes all of Fisher’s stories and a generous selection from his journals, notebooks, and poems, will introduce readers to a tender, graphic, extravagant, and unswervingly incisive talent. In Fisher’s writings the razor-sharp rage is equalled only by the enveloping sweetness; the raw eroticism by a dazzling writerly elegance. Evocations of a haunting and mobile childhood are mixed in Fisher’s stories with an X-ray view of the racialized sexual vernaculars of gay San Francisco; while the journals braid together the narratives of sexual exploration and discovery, a joyous and deepening vocation as a writer, a growing intimacy with death, and an engagement with racial problematics that becomes ever more gravely and probingly imaginative.
A uniquely intimate, unflinching testimony of the experience of a young, African American gay man in the AIDS emergency, Gary in Your Pocket includes an introduction by Don Belton that describes Fisher’s achievement in the context of other work by Black gay men such as Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill, and a biographical afterword by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.
From February 1942 to July 1944, Oskar Rosenfeld served in the statistics department of the Lodz ghetto. A playwright and journalist, he kept his own notes on life and conditions in the ghetto for a fictionalized account he hoped to write one day. Though Rosenfeld eventually perished at Auschwitz, In the Beginning Was the Ghetto projects his voice at last to the wider world.
Ludwig Wittgenstein University of Chicago Press, 1979 Library of Congress B3376.W563N6 1979 | Dewey Decimal 193
This considerably revised second edition of Wittgenstein's 1914-16 notebooks contains a new appendix with photographs of Wittgenstein's original work, a new preface by Elizabeth Anscombe, and a useful index by E.D. Klemke. Corrections have been made throughout the text, and notes have been added, making this the definitive edition of the notebooks. The writings intersperse Wittgenstein's technical logical notations with his thoughts on the meaning of life, happiness, and death.
"When the first edition of this collection of remarks appeared in 1961 we were provided with a glimpse of the workings of Wittgenstein's mind during the period when the seminal ideas of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus were being worked out. This second edition provided the occasion to be struck anew by the breadth, rigor, and above all the restlessness of that mind."—T. Michael McNulty, S. J., The Modern Schoolman
In Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science, Richard Yeo interprets a relatively unexplored set of primary archival sources: the notes and notebooks of some of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution. Notebooks were important to several key members of the Royal Society of London, including Robert Boyle, John Evelyn, Robert Hooke, John Locke, and others, who drew on Renaissance humanist techniques of excerpting from texts to build storehouses of proverbs, maxims, quotations, and other material in personal notebooks, or commonplace books. Yeo shows that these men appreciated the value of their own notes both as powerful tools for personal recollection, and, following Francis Bacon, as a system of precise record keeping from which they could retrieve large quantities of detailed information for collaboration.
The virtuosi of the seventeenth century were also able to reach beyond Bacon and the humanists, drawing inspiration from the ancient Hippocratic medical tradition and its emphasis on the gradual accumulation of information over time. By reflecting on the interaction of memory, notebooks, and other records, Yeo argues, the English virtuosi shaped an ethos of long-term empirical scientific inquiry.
Raucous adobe hearts and urban violet mascara. Televised immigration games and ethnic sit-coms. Chile con karma served on a bed of race. In a startling melange of poetry, prose, journal entries, and even a screenplay, Zen Chicano desperado Juan Felipe Herrera fixes his gaze on his own life and times to craft his most personal work to date.
Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler is a river of faces and phrases, jottings and reflections—a personal pilgrimage and collective parade of love, mock-prophecy, and chiste. Tuning in voices from numerous time zones, languages, and minds, Herrera recalls his childhood and coming of age, his participation in the Chicano Movement, and the surreal aspects of postmodern America. He uses broad strokes to paint a historical, social, and familial portrait that moves from the twilight of the nineteenth century to the dawn of the twenty-first, then takes up a finer brush to etch the eternal tension between desire and frustration, hope and disillusionment, violence and tenderness.
Here are transamerican sutras spanning metrocenters from Mexico City to San Francisco, or slinking across the border from Juárez to El Paso. Outrageous, rhythmic lists—"Foodstuffs They Never Told Us About," "Things Religion Makes Me Do"—that fire the imagination. Celebrations of his Plutomobile that "runs on ham hawks & bird grease," and of Chicano inventions such as cilantro aftershave and "the art of eating Vicks VapoRub with your dedos."
Pushing forms to the edge of possibility while forcing readers to rethink reality as well as language, Herrera invokes childhoods and neighborhoods, stand-up clowns and Movimiento gypsies, grandmothers of the buñuelo kitchen and tragicomic soliloquies of dizzy-headed outcasts of paradise. Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler is a crucible of flavorful language meant to be rolled lazily on the mind's tongue—and then swallowed whole to let its hot and savory sweetness fill your soul.
An eclectic collection of poetry, prose, and politics, Notebooks of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn is a text, a narrative, a song, a story, a history, a testimony, a witnessing. Above all, it is a fiercely intelligent, brave, and sobering work that re-examines and interrogates our nation’s past and the distorted way that its history has been written. In topics including recent debates over issues of environmental justice, the contradictions surrounding the Crazy Horse Monument, and the contemporary portrayal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as one of the great American epic odysseys, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn stitches together a patchwork of observations of racially charged cultural materials, personal experiences, and contemporary characterizations of this country’s history and social climate.
Through each example, she challenges the status quo and piques the reader’s awareness of persistent abuses of indigenous communities. The voices that Cook-Lynn brings to the texts are as varied as the genres in which she writes. They are astute and lyrical, fierce and heartbreaking. Through these intonations, she maintains a balance between her roles as a scholar and a poet, a popular teacher and a woman who has experienced deep personal loss.
A unique blend of form and content that traverses time, space, and purpose, this collection is a thoroughly original contribution to modern American Indian literature. Moreover, it presents an alternative narrative of the nation’s history and opens an important window into the political challenges that Natives continue to face.
The Notebooks of Henry James
Edited by F. O. Matthiessen and Kenneth B. Murdock University of Chicago Press, 1981 Library of Congress PS2123.A35 1981 | Dewey Decimal 818.403
"For other novelists the value of Henry James's Notebooks is immense and to brood over them a major experience. The glow of the great impresario is on the pages. They are occasionally readable and endlessly stimulating, often moving and are ocasionally relieved by a drop of gossip."—V. S. Pritchett, New Statesman
"The Notebooks take us into his study, and here we can observe him, at last, in the very act of creation at his writing table."—Leon Edel, Atlantic Monthly
"A document of prime importance."—Edmund Wilson, New Yorker
“For a long time, it was not clear if I would become a writer or an artist,” says Anselm Kiefer, whose paintings and sculptures have made him one of the most significant and influential artists of our time. Since he was awarded the Peace Prize by the German Book Trade in 2008, his essays, speeches, and lectures have gradually received more attention, but until now his diary accounts have been almost completely unknown. The power in Kiefer’s images, however, is rivaled by his writings on nature and history, literature and antiquity, and mysticism and mythology.
The first volume of Notebooks spans the years 1998-1999 and traces the origins and creative process of Kiefer’s visual works during this period. In this volume, Kiefer returns constantly to his touchstones: sixteenth-century alchemist Robert Fludd, German romantic poet Novalis, Martin Heidegger, Ingeborg Bachmann, Robert Musil, and many other writers and thinkers. The entries reveal the process by which his artworks are informed by his reading—and vice versa—and track the development of the works he created in the late 1990s. Translated into English for the first time by Tess Lewis, the diaries reveal Kiefer’s strong affinity for language and let readers witness the process of thoughts, experiences, and adventures slowly transcending the limits of art, achieving meaning in and beyond their medium.
Praise for Kiefer
“His works recall, in this sense, the grand tradition of history painting, with its notion about the elevated role of art in society, except that they do not presume moral certainty. What makes Kiefer’s work so convincing . . . is precisely its ambiguity and self-doubt, its rejection of easy solutions, historical amnesia, and transcendence.”—New York Times
“Wordiness for Kiefer is painterliness. The library and the gallery, the book and the frame inseparable, even interchangeable, in his monumental archive of human memory. Not since Picasso’s Guernica have pictures demanded so urgently that we studiously reflect and recollect in their presence.”—Simon Schama
Since his first collection of poetry appeared in 1953, Philippe Jaccottet has sought to express the ineffable that lies at the heart of our material world in his essential, elemental poetry. As one of Switzerland’s most prominent and prolific men of letters, Jaccottet has published more than a dozen books of poetry and criticism.
One of Europe’s finest contemporary poets, Jaccottet is a writer of exacting attention. Through keen observations of the natural world, of art, literature, music, and reflections on the human condition, Jaccottet opens his readers’ eyes to the transcendent in everyday life. The Second Seedtime is a collection of “things seen, things read, and things dreamed.” The volume continues the project Jaccottet began three decades earlier in his first volume of notebooks, Seedtime. Here, again, he gathers flashes of beauty dispersed around him like seeds that may blossom into poems or moments of inspiration. He returns, insistently, to such literary touchstones as Dante, Montaigne, Góngora, Goethe, Kierkegaard, Hölderlin, Michaux, Hopkins, Brontë, and Dickinson, as well as musical greats including Bach, Monteverdi, Purcell, and Schubert. The Second Seedtime is the vivid chronicle of one man’s passionate engagement with the life of the mind, the spirit, and the natural world.
Writers’ notebooks sometimes prove more revelatory than diaries or intimate journals. At first they might appear to be rag-and-bone shops of ideas, insights, hesitations, doubts, and records of things seen, heard, read, dreamt. But eventually they coalesce into a labyrinthine map of the creative process. Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet has faithfully kept notebooks for many decades, and the selections that make up the Seedtime volumes have retained a vividness of insight and discovery despite the passage of time. After all, as the poet himself says, his notebooks are “a collection of delicate seeds with which I try to replant my ‘spiritual forest.’”
Seedtime III, which brings this series to a close, records numerous fleeting thoughts, ephemeral experiences, and philosophical observations from a renowned poet well into his seventies, charting the single steps—sometimes forwards, sometimes back—taken in a lifelong attempt to transcend the limits of art. The inconclusive nature of the notebook entries, their tentativeness and lack of resolution, renders them as intriguing and evocative as some of Jaccottet’s best works. In them readers will find a life full of the kind of contemplation that attracts yet eludes most of us in our daily existence.
Originally published in Italian in 1915, Shoot! is one of the first novels to take as its subject the heady world of early motion pictures. Based on the absurdist journals of fictional Italian camera operator Serafino Gubbio, Shoot! documents the infancy of film in Europe—complete with proto-divas, laughable production schedules, and cost-cutting measures with priceless effects-—and offers a glimpse of the modern world through the camera's lens.
Shoot!, presented here in its 1927 English translation, is a classic example of Nobel Prize-winning Sicilian playwright Luigi Pirandello's (1867-1936) literary talent and genius for blurring the line between art and reality. From the film studio Kosmograph, Pirandello's Gubbio steadily winds the crank of his camera by day and scribbles with his pen by night, revealing the world both mundane and melodramatic that unfolds in front of his camera. Through Gubbio's narrative—saturated with fantasy and folly—Pirandello grapples with the philosophical implications of modernity. Like much of Pirandello's work, Shoot! parodies human weaknesses, drawing attention to the themes of isolation and madness as emerging tendencies in the modern world.
Enhanced by new critical commentaries, Shoot! is an entertaining caricature, capturing early twentieth-century Italian filmmaking and revealing its truths as only a parody can.
Arwa Salih was a member of the political bureau of the Egyptian Communist Workers Party, which was founded in the wake of the Arab–Israeli War and the Egyptian student movement of the early 1970s. Written more than a decade after Salih quit the party and left political life—and published shortly after she committed suicide—the book offers a poignant look at, and reckoning with, the Marxism of her generation and the role of militant intellectuals in the tragic failure of both the national liberation project and the communist project in Egypt. The powerful critique in The Stillborn speaks not only to and about Salih’s own generation of left activists but also to broader, still salient dilemmas of revolutionary politics throughout the developing world in the postcolonial era.