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V. S. Naipaul Declares Literature Dead

Sunday, June 8, 2008
From the Independent:

"The novelist V S Naipaul has damned the achievements of his literary contemporaries by declaring that there are 'no more great writers.'"

"He made his outspoken comments while at a launch of a new magazine at the Wallace Collection, in London. 'Publishing has gone down in quality so much in recent years and the problem is that there is no literary life any more because there are quite simply no more great writers,' he said."

Does this include the author of A House for Mr. Biswas?

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Anne Enright Wins 2007 Booker Prize

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
According to a story on Reuters:

"Dubliner Anne Enright won the Man Booker Prize, one of the literary world's most prestigious awards, on Tuesday for her bleak Irish family saga 'The Gathering.'

'We found it a very powerful, uncomfortable and even at times angry book', chairman of the judges Howard Davies said after picking one of the outsiders from the short list.

'It is an unflinching look at a grieving family in tough and striking language,' he told reporters after the judges spent 2-1/2 hours closeted together picking the winner of the prize of $100,000."

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Doris Lessing Wins the Nobel Prize

Thursday, October 11, 2007
Another extremely good selection for the Swedish Academy:

"Doris Lessing, the Persian-born, Rhodesian-raised and London-residing novelist whose deeply autobiographical writing has swept across continents and reflects her engagement with the social and political issues of her time, today won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described her as 'that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.'

[. . .]

Ms. Lessing, who turns 88 later this month, never finished high school and largely educated herself through her voracious reading. She was born in 1919 to British parents in what is now Iran, raised in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and currently resides in London. She has written dozens of books of fiction, as well as plays, non-fiction and two volumes of her autobiography. She is the 11th woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature."
(Source: The New York Times)

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Well Said, Ms. Costello, Well Said

Saturday, October 6, 2007
An exchange from J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello in which a professor censures Costello's sister for criticizing contemporary studies in the humanities:

"'This is a secular age,'" replies Godwin. 'You cannot turn back the clock. You cannot condemn an institution for moving with the times.'

'By an institution you mean the university?'

'Yes, universities, but specifically faculties of the humanities, which remain the core of any university.'

The humanities the core of the university. She may be an outsider, but if she were asked to name the core of the university today, its core discipline, she would say it was moneymaking. That is how it looks from Melbourne, Victoria; and she would not be surprised if the same were the case in Johannesburg, South Africa."

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Websites Worth Visiting

Thursday, October 4, 2007
The Gaddis Annotations
(www.williamgaddis.org)
This post is the first in a series of Sobriquet Magazine weblog entries to highlight some of the best resources we have come across online. We start with a quasi-scholarly site devoted to an oft-overlooked giant of postmodern American letters, William Gaddis.

Although The Gaddis Annotations rather humbly describes itself as "[n]otes, sources, references for the works of the great 20th-century novelist," the website proves to be one of the most comprehensive single-author reference works online. In addition to comprehensive annotations for each of Gaddis's novels, the Annotations site offers a detailed scholarly bibliography, full-text critical essays and books devoted to the author, biographical information, interviews, reviews, and obituaries, as well as fan-oriented features such as a selection of reader-submitted reminiscences dubbed "How I Discovered Gaddis" and a list of Gaddis's appearances in fiction. In so effortlessly combining the fun with the academic, The Gaddis Annotations easily joins The Modern Word as one of the most impressive resources for students and lovers of postmodern literature to appear online.

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John Fowles -- The Collector

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The Collector, by John Fowles
A thoroughly engrossing psychological novel of the highest order, The Collector presents an unsparing chronicle of two idealists (one with a conscience, one without) struggling with one another to obtain the fundamentally unobtainable. On the most superficial level, the novel traces the story of the psychopathic Clegg as he kidnaps and imprisons Miranda Grey, an attractive, bohemian art student; the varied psychological crises of the confined girl as she alternates between accepting her dismal reality and rebelling against the primal injustice of the world, as embodied by her captor; and the strained, tenuous not-quite-friendship that develops between the two. As Clegg's refusal to grant Miranda the freedom for which she longs grows increasingly insurmountable, the girl's inability to provide her tormentor with the idealized romance he seeks corrodes what little compassion binds the pair and Fowles effectively shakes the rose-colored glasses off the eyes of his characters as well as those of his readers, revealing an eviler evil, a more hopeless hopelessness, and a more horrible horror than most people would want to acknowledge as a ubiquitous element of our collective (in)humanity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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