Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James My rating: 4 of 5 stars How did this 1898 novella become modern and postmodern literary theory's most inscrutable touchstone? According to Henry James's Notebooks—and scholars have disputed this, but then they dispute everything, as we'll see—he got the kernel of the novella, a ghost story, from … Continue reading Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

Benjamin Moser, Sontag: Her Life and Work

Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser My rating: 3 of 5 stars Who could begin an essay like Susan Sontag? "Great writers are either husbands or lovers," starts her piece on Camus; of Simone Weil, she announces, "The culture-heroes of our liberal bourgeois civilization are anti-liberal and anti-bourgeois." Or take On Photography's first … Continue reading Benjamin Moser, Sontag: Her Life and Work

Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch My rating: 3 of 5 stars This strange 1961 novel—which succeeded The Bell, a far more conventionally realist novel, in Murdoch's oeuvre—seems to have a cult following, as indicated by recent recommendations by Susan Scarf Merrell in The New York Times and Gabe Habash in The Millions. As Habash … Continue reading Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head

Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton My rating: 3 of 5 stars Strange the books one fails to read. The very fact that you are supposed to have read certain books makes you feel like you have already read them long before you read them, so you do not in fact ever read them. … Continue reading Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction

Anna Kavan, Ice

Ice by Anna Kavan My rating: 4 of 5 stars Jonathan Lethem begins his introduction to the new Penguin Classics edition of this 1967 novel, "Anna Kavan's Ice is a book like the moon is the moon. There is only one." Luckily, as he goes on he outgrows this meaningless blurb-babble (blurble?) and suggests Kavan's … Continue reading Anna Kavan, Ice

Bloomsday Notes: Jung on Joyce

The emergence of a literature which is predominantly concerned with the exploration of both a social reality and individual consciousness is a relatively recent phenomenon. Its first clear manifestations date from about the third quarter of the seventeenth century when the collective projection represented by the Christian "worldview" gradually began to break apart. Inevitably, this … Continue reading Bloomsday Notes: Jung on Joyce

C. G. Jung, Answer to Job

Answer to Job by C.G. Jung My rating: 3 of 5 stars The back cover advertises Answer to Job as "one of Jung's most controversial works." He wrote it toward the end of his life, in the early 1950s, and according to the introduction to the 2010 edition by Sonu Shamdasani, he composed it in … Continue reading C. G. Jung, Answer to Job

D. M. Thomas, The White Hotel

The White Hotel by D.M. Thomas My rating: 5 of 5 stars But he would have us remember most of all To be enthusiastic over the night Not only for the sense of wonder It alone has to offer, but also Because it needs our love: for with sad eyes Its delectable creatures look up … Continue reading D. M. Thomas, The White Hotel

Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, Nameless

Nameless by Grant Morrison My rating: 3 of 5 stars But did Grant Morrison deserve my bitchy crack about Coldplay toward the end of my review of Greg Carpenter's British Invasion? After being too pleased with myself for its cleverness, it occurred to me that I had not read a Morrison comic all the way … Continue reading Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, Nameless

Brigid Brophy et al., Fifty Works of English Literature We Could Do Without

Fifty Works of English Literature We Could Do Without by Brigid Brophy My rating: 3 of 5 stars I wanted to read this 1967 book after reading about it on Anthony's blog, and now, after having it shipped from the obscure storage facility where it resides to my main library, I have. The authors—English writer … Continue reading Brigid Brophy et al., Fifty Works of English Literature We Could Do Without