Archive for the ‘European Literature’ Category

Jean Genet (1910-1986)

August 10, 2016

Jean Genet (19 December, 1910-15 April, 1986) was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist.

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Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but he later took to writing.

Throughout his five early novels, Genet works to subvert the traditional set of moral values of his assumed readership. He celebrates a beauty in evil, emphasizes his singularity, raises violent criminals to icons, and enjoys the specificity of gay gesture and coding and the depiction of scenes of brutality and betrayal.

NOVELS:

By 1949, Genet had completed five novels, three plays, and numerous poems, many of them considered controversial for their explicit and often deliberately provocative portrayal of homosexuality and criminality.

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Our Lady of the Flowers (Notre Dame des Fleurs, 1943) is a journey through the prison underworld, featuring a fictionalized alter-ego by the name of Divine, usually referred to in the feminine, at the center of a circle of queens with colourful sobriquets such as Mimosa I, Mimosa II, First Communion and the Queen of Rumania.

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The Miracle of the Rose (Miracle de la rose, 1946) is a fictionalized autobiography which describes Genet’s time in Mettray Penal Colony.

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The Thief’s Journal (Journal du voleur, 1949) is also a fictionalized autobiography and it describes Genet’s experiences as a vagabond and prostitute, as he wanders across Europe.

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Querelle of Brest (Querelle de Brest, 1947) is the story of a murder set in the midst of the port town of Brest, where sailors treat life with brutal carelessness.

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Funeral Rites (Pompes funèbres, 1949) is a story of love and betrayal across political divides, inspired by the death of the narrator’s lover, Jean Decarnin, who was killed by the Germans during the Second World War.

PLAYS:

Jean Genet’s plays present highly stylized depictions of ritualistic struggles between outcasts of various kinds and their oppressors. Social identities are parodied and shown to involve complex layering through manipulation of the dramatic fiction and its inherent potential for theatricality and role-play.

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In The Maids (1947), the eponymous maids imitate one another and their mistress.

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In Deathwatch (Haute Surveillance, 1947), three prisoners are locked up in the same cell. One is to be guillotined. Confinement traps each of them in solitude and immense unhappiness, which lends them a certain dignity.

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Splendid’s (1948) is a full-length drama, and

Her (Elle, 1955) is a one-act play.

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In The Balcony (1957), the clients of a brothel simulate roles of political power before, in a dramatic reversal, actually becoming those figures, all surrounded by mirrors that both reflect and conceal.

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In The Blacks (1959), Genet offers a critical dramatization of what Aimé Césaire called negritude, presenting a violent assertion of Black identity and anti-white virulence framed in terms of mask-wearing and roles adopted and discarded.

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The Screens (1961), Genet’s most overtly political play, is an epic account of the Algerian War of Independence.

NON-FICTION:

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Genet wrote an essay on the work of the Swiss sculptor and artist Alberto Giacometti entitled The Studio of Alberto Giacometti (L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti, 1957).

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It was highly praised by Giacometti himself and by Pablo Picasso. Genet wrote in an informal style, incorporating excerpts of conversations between himself and Giacometti.

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Prisoner of Love (Un Captif Amoureux, 1986) is a memoir of Genet’s encounters with Palestinian fighters and Black Panthers. In 1970, he had spent two years in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. Visiting Beirut in September 1982, Genet found himself in the midst of the Israeli invasion of the city. He was one of the first foreigners to enter Shatila refugee camp after the massacre of hundreds of its inhabitants.

POETRY:

Genet also wrote several poems.

  • “The Man Condemned to Death” (“Le Condamné à Mort”) (written in 1942, first published in 1945)
  • “Funeral March” (“Marche Funebre”) (1945)
  • “The Galley” (“La Galere”) (1945)
  • “A Song of Love” (“Un Chant d’Amour”) (1946)
  • “The Fisherman of the Suquet” (“Le Pecheur du Suquet”) (1948)
  • “The Parade” (“La Parade”) (1948)

These poems have been translated into English by Jeremy Reed and George Messo and published as Jean Genet: The Complete Poems.

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Jean Genet developed throat cancer and was found dead on 15 April 1986, in a hotel room in Paris. He is buried in the Spanish Cemetery in Larache, Morocco.

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ca. 1980-1997, Larache, Morocco --- Jean Genet's Grave on the Coast --- Image by © K.M. Westermann/CORBIS

Jean Genet’s books are available at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jean-Genet/e/B000APBLYE

Follow R J Dent’s work on:

Website: http://www.rjdent.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/R.-J.-Dent/e/B0034Q3RD4

Blog: https://rjdent.wordpress.com/

twitter: https://twitter.com/RJDent

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rjdentwriter

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The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe by Nigel Humphreys

July 3, 2016

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A review by R J Dent

The Love Song of Daphnis and Chloe

by Nigel Humphreys

Edited by Catherine Edmunds

Published by Circaidy Gregory Press

ISBN: 9781906451882

 

 

Daphnis and Chloe (Greek: Δάφνις καὶ Χλόη, Daphnis kai Chloē) is the only known work of the 2nd century AD Greek novelist, Longus.

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The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe began when Nigel Humphreys read George Thornley’s 1670 English translation of Longus’ Greek novel, Daphnis and Chloe, written on Lesbos.

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Nigel Humphreys became obsessed with the task of re-interpreting Longus’ pastoral romantic novel into an epic modern poem that would appeal to twenty-first century readers and retain the beauty, charm, romance and humour of the original.

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First and foremost, The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe is the story of a boy (Daphnis) and a girl (Chloe), each of whom is exposed at birth along with some identifying tokens. A goatherd named Lamon discovers Daphnis, and a shepherd called Dryas finds Chloe.

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Each decides to raise the child he finds as his own. Daphnis and Chloe grow up together, herding the flocks for their foster parents.

And so it was preordained –

decreed by divine intercession –

that they raise them as their own.

And having shared their dreams…

they introduced their children

to their work as herdsmen…

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Inevitably, Daphnis and Chloe fall in love, but being naïve, do not understand what is happening to them.

Yet among them Daphnis

was unable to settle since

he had seen Chloe naked,

honeyed, tender, scented

and more lovely than Venus

in all her sensuousness.

Philetas, a wise old cowherd, explains to them what love is and tells them that the only cure is kissing. They do this.

All they saw was that kisses

had endangered Daphnis

and day-dreaming Chloe

in that mazy month of May.

Eventually, Lycaenion, a woman from the city, educates Daphnis in the skills of love-making.

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And so Lycenia…

finding him primed and greedy,

slipped slickly beneath him

and shepherded his limbs

to where they longed to be.

What followed came naturally…

Throughout the book, Chloe is courted by suitors, two of whom (Dorcon and Lampis) attempt with varying degrees of success to abduct her. She is also carried off by raiders from a nearby city:

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Yet Chloe was with her herd

and fled from the invaders

to the Nymphs’ Cave begging

them to spare her and her kin

in the name of the Goddesses.

And she is only saved by the intervention of the god Pan.

Oh, you most cruel dissolute

of mortals! … restore

Chloe to the Nymphs with all

her flocks. Awake therefore

and send the maiden ashore

with her sheep and goats,

and I will steer her home,

and guide her to her lands.

The story concludes with both Daphnis and Chloe being recognized by their birth parents, after which, the couple get married and happily live out their lives in the country. On their wedding night:

… the stars,

moon and planets hurrahed.

The married pair were squired

to their room in rush light

by pipes and flutes, and Daphnis

lay with Chloe skin against skin.

Cuddling tightly and kissing,

entwining and twisting…

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Nigel Humphreys’ The Love Song of Daphnis & Chloe is a beautifully written modern epic version of an Ancient Greek classic. Humphreys has taken Longus’ prose and given us a delightful poem of incredible warmth, wit and wisdom.

 From the back cover:

Bucolic shenanigans on the Island of Lesbos

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Poet Nigel Humphreys has done something unique and surprising with the ancient text of Daphnis & Chloe, taking a rambling 2nd century prose narrative and transforming it into an epic poem in the oral tradition of Ancient Greece.

Daphnis & Chloe is complemented in this edition by five new Daffyd ap Gwylim translations, which Humphreys has returned to the original cywydd form in order to recapture the colour and humour of the 14th century Welsh troubadour poet.

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THE LOVE SONG OF DAPHNIS & CHLOE

by Nigel Humphreys

Edited by Catherine Edmunds

Published by Circaidy Gregory Press.

ISBN: 9781906451882

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Follow Nigel Humphries:

Website:

http://nigelhumphreyspoet.webs.com/daphnis-and-chloe-2015

Circaidy Gregory Press:

http://www.circaidygregory.co.uk/nigel_humphreys.htm

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Song-Daphnis-Chloe-Dafydd/dp/1906451885

 

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lilith, translated by R J Dent

June 26, 2016

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Lilith

 

I died. The sycamores gave shade;

shutters were shut upon the dust

of the hot streets steamily teased

by the torrid Aeolus.

 

I slowly walked, and the fauns walked;

It seemed as though I recognised

the great god Pan in every faun.

Good. I must be in Paradise.

 

Shielding her face against the sun,

there stood a naked, slender girl;

her honeyed skin attracted me;

lilies were threaded in her curls.

 

She had the grace of a woman.

I watched her small nipples harden

and I recalled a sweet springtime

in another new-grown garden,

 

when through the trees by the river,

I had one time watched, emboldened,

the miller’s youngest daughter step

out of the water, lithe, golden,

 

with a damp wisp between her legs.

And now, still wearing the coat

I had on when murdered last night,

with a rake’s predatory gloat,

 

I advanced upon my Lilith.

She stared at me with her green eyes,

until my clothes burst into flame

and burnt to ashes in a trice.

 

In the room behind her I saw

a Greek divan, a spread-out shawl,

a table, pomegranates, wine;

some erotic art covering the wall.

 

With two fingers she shamelessly

took hold of my hot member’s head

with unselfconscious, childish glee.

“Now come along with me,” she said.

 

Without inducement or effort,

but slowly to extend delight,

like wings, she gradually opened

her soft sweet brown thighs to my sight.

 

How enticing, how inviting,

her moist pink rose! And with a wild

cry, she fell on my throbbing length,

slicker than that remembered child.

 

Snake in snake, vessel in vessel,

smooth-fitting parts, I moved in her

through ascending rhythms, feeling

unendurable pleasure stir.

 

But suddenly she flinched, and pushed

me off her, moved fast, stood over

me, grasped the shawl and twisted it

around her waist and up, covered

 

and strong again; with me about

to come, to spend, for me, nothing

left. A strange wind made me stagger.

I ran to the door. “Let me in!”

 

I shouted, noticing with horror,

that I stood outside in the dust

where loudly-yelling youngsters

were staring at my engorged lust.

 

“Let me come in!” And the goat-hoofed

crowd increased. “Quick, let me come in!”

“I am about to come…” I yelled.

 

The door stayed shut, the crowd watched, quiet,

as I spurted out my semen.

I knew then that I was in hell.

 

 

 

Lilith

by Vladimir Nabokov

 

Young-Nabokov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translated into English by R J Dent

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

 

 

 

Follow R J Dent’s work on:

Website: http://www.rjdent.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/R.-J.-Dent/e/B0034Q3RD4

Blog: https://rjdent.wordpress.com/

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Georges Bataille

November 20, 2015

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Georges Bataille (10 September 1897 – 9 July 1962) was a French intellectual and writer working in literature, philosophy, and the history of art. His writings included novels, essays and poetry. His subjects included eroticism, mysticism and transgression.

His fiction includes:

Story of the Eye:

Story of the Eye (L’histoire de l’oeil) is a 1928 short novel that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers. It is narrated by an unnamed young man looking back on his exploits.

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L’Abbé C:

L’Abbé C (1950) is a work of dark eroticism, centred on the relationship between two twentieth century brothers in a small French village, one of whom is a Catholic parish priest, while the other is a libertine. The novel explores issues of split subjectivity, existential angst and bad faith.

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Blue of Noon:

Blue of Noon (Le Bleu du Ciel) is a blackly compelling account of depravity and violence. It is an erotic novella in which the narrator travels from city to city in a surreal nightmare, experiencing squalor, sadism and drunken encounters that culminate in incest and necrophilia. Bataille completed the work in 1935, but it was not published until 1957.

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My Mother, Madame Edwarda, The Dead Man:

My Mother is a frank and intense depiction of a young man’s sexual initiation and corruption by his mother, where the profane becomes sacred, and intense experience is shown as the only way to transcend the boundaries of society and morality. Madame Edwarda is the story of a prostitute who calls herself God, and The Dead Man, published in 1964 after Bataille’s death, is a startling short tale of cruelty and desire.

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His non-fiction includes:

Eroticism:

Eroticism is a collection of essays on taboo and sacrifice, transgression and language, death and sensuality. Bataille examines these themes with an original, often startling perspective. He challenges any single discourse on the erotic. The scope of his inquiry ranges from Emily Bronte to Sade, from St. Therese to Claude Levi-Strauss and Dr. Kinsey; and his subjects include prostitution, mythical ecstasy, cruelty, desire and sexuality.

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Literature and Evil:

Literature and Evil is an extraordinary 1957 collection of essays, which begins with Bataille’s assertion that ‘Literature is not innocent.’ Bataille argues that only by acknowledging literature’s complicity with the knowledge of evil can literature communicate fully and intensely. The literary profiles of eight authors and their work, including Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal and the writings of Sade, Kafka and Sartre, explore subjects such as violence, eroticism, childhood, myth and transgression.

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Georges Bataille’s books are available at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=george+bataille

Details of R J Dent’s work is available at:

Website: http://www.rjdent.com/

Blog: https://rjdent.wordpress.com/

twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/RJDent

facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/R-J-Dent/344369095423?v=wall

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/rjdent69?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/CmnYHWJqQK4

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/R.-J.-Dent/e/B0034Q3RD4/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_nty_author_2gf4mb19VD5NN

On Translating Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal into English – by R J Dent

January 10, 2015

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One of the frustrations, the challenges, the problems – and probably the joys – of translating Baudelaire’s poetry is choosing the correct idiom to translate into.

Taking the words, sentences, phrases, lines, from the language of one country and translating them into the corresponding or equivalent language of another country is the type of work that can be done by almost anyone.

However, choosing the absolutely perfect cultural, social, geographical, spatial, historical, temporal and linguistic framework to put the translated words onto is another matter entirely, and will very much depend on the translator’s intentions and the receptive vocabulary of the proposed readership.

And when it’s poetry that is being translated, the task becomes even more complicated; the problems suddenly multiply. Read more…

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R J Dent says: ‘I found translating Charles Baudelaire’s influential poetry collection Les Fleurs du Mal from French into modern English to be a rewarding, but challenging experience. This essay outlines some of the challenges and joys of the translation process.’

 R J Dent’s English translation of The Flowers of Evil is available at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flowers-Evil-Artificial-Paradise-Nocturnal/dp/0979984777/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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On Translating Baudelaire

Copyright © R J Dent (2007 & 2016)

 

Follow R J Dent’s work on:

 

website: http://www.rjdent.com/

amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/R.-J.-Dent/e/B0034Q3RD4

blog: https://rjdent.wordpress.com/

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facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rjdentwriter

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The Blood Delirium: The Vampire in 19th Century European Literature

November 29, 2014

 

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‘R J Dent’s translations are fresh with an exciting raw sexual edge…’ (Candice Black)

 

The Blood Delirium is a definitive collection of 19th century European literature in which the vampire or vampirism – both embodied and atmospheric – is featured or evoked. Twenty-three seminal works by classic European authors, covering the whole of that delirious period from Gothic and Romantic, through Symbolism and Decadence to proto-Surrealism and beyond, in a single volume charged with sex, blood and horror.

 

The Blood Delirium contains a detailed introduction (by editor Candice Black) which not only examines these texts and their meaning, but which also charts the literary and cultural climate in which the new cult of the vampire was allowed to flourish.

 

The Blood Delirium includes texts by Bram Stoker, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Oscar Wilde, J.M. Rymer, Charles Baudelaire, Le Comte de Lautréamont, Paul Féval, Maurice Rollinat, Guy de Maupassant, Count Stenbock, Jean Lorrain, Théophile Gautier, Charles Nodier, John Polidori, J.K. Huysmans, Charlotte Brontë, Ivan Turgenev, Jan Neruda, Augustus Hare, Cyprien Berard and Léon Bloy.

 

Several of the texts in The Blood Delirium are translated by R J Dent into English for the very first time, including those by Cyprien Bérard, Paul Féval, and Maurice Rollinat.

 

 

The Blood Delirium is the definitive collection for literate vampire-lovers.

 

The Blood Delirium is available from:

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Blood-Delirium-European-Literature/dp/0983884285

 

or from:

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Delirium-The-Candice-Black/dp/0983884285

 

 

www.rjdent.com

 

Bookbuster – a great bookshop in Hastings

November 5, 2013

Bookbuster is a wonderful book shop in Hastings that is open 7 days a week.

 

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The proprietor of Bookbuster is Tim Barton, a St. Leonards-based cultural entrepreneur with many years experience in the book trade.

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Tim has opened his cheekily-named bookshop, Bookbuster, in premises formerly occupied by a gone-bust Blockbuster DVD rental store.

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Tim believes in bookshops and what bookshops offer customers: “I don’t think you can beat a physical bookstore, where you are free to browse,” he says.

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Bookbuster is generating a lot of interest among book-lovers. Tim says: “The fact that there has been so much interest so far is fantastic.”

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Although the shelves offer many new titles, the shop has an extensive and eclectic range of books that seem to appeal to all ages and interests.

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With new stock arriving daily, a calendar full of author signings, readings, poetry slams and other literary events, and an ambient soundtrack playing to ensure customers linger longer, Bookbuster is proving to be a valuable business that gives a great deal to the Hastings reading community.

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There is also a significant second-hand book section that – along with a selection with some well-chosen perennial titles – offers collectors the chance to obtain copies of rare editions and signed delights from Iain Sinclair, the late Iain Banks and Tom Sharpe, amongst others.

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BookBuster is an independent bookshop in Queen’s Road, Hastings. There is a huge range of stock. Bookbuster is full of literary treasures and, because of Tim Barton’s depth of knowledge regarding authors and books of every type and genre, the shop is something of a cultural oasis. It is very good news for Hastings and for book-lovers and bibliophiles.

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BookBuster is at 39 Queen’s Road, Hastings. Opening hours: 9.30am-5.30pm Monday to Saturday; 11-5 Sundays.

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There are author readings, author signings, lectures, poetry readings and live music at BookBuster throughout the year.

 

outdoors

BookBuster

39 Queen’s Road

Hastings

TN34 1RL

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bookbuster

BookBuster facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/BlueGreenEarthBooks

 

 

Follow R J Dent’s work on:

Website: http://www.rjdent.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/R.-J.-Dent/e/B0034Q3RD4

Blog: https://rjdent.wordpress.com/

twitter: https://twitter.com/RJDent

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rjdentwriter

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/rjdent69

James Joyce

June 2, 2010

James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish writer and poet, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Along with Marcel Proust, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, Joyce was a key figure in the development of the modernist novel. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922).

James Joyce

Joyce’s first published work was Chamber Music, a collection of poems published in May, 1907. The collection originally comprised thirty-four love poems, but two further poems (“All day I hear the noise of waters” and “I hear an army charging upon the land”) were added before publication.




One of the poems in Chamber Music was set to music by Syd Barrett. Entitled Golden Hair, it can be found on Barrett’s first (1970) album, The Madcap Laughs. Here’s an audio clip of Golden Hair, performed by Barrett:


In 2008, Fire Records released a two-disc compilation featuring all thirty-six poems set to music by some of today’s finest contemporary alternative acts, including Mercury Rev, Gravenhurst, Ed Harcourt, and Willy Mason.

 


Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories, first published in 1914. The fifteen stories were meant to be Joyce’s naturalistic depiction of the Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.




The collection as a whole displays an overall plan, beginning with stories of youth and progressing in age to culminate in The Dead. Here’s the finale to John Huston’s The Dead:

 

In Dubliners, great emphasis is laid upon the specific geographic details of Dublin, details to which a reader with knowledge of the area would be able to directly relate. The multiple perspectives presented throughout the collection serve to contrast the characters in Dublin at this time.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is Joyce’s semi-autobiographical novel, first serialised in The Egoist from 1914 to 1915, and published in book form in 1916.




A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man depicts the formative years in the life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter-ego of Joyce and a pointed allusion to the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology, Daedalus.


Exiles is Joyce’s only play. It draws on The Dead, the final short story in Joyce’s first major work, Dubliners.




Although Exiles was rejected by W.B. Yeats for production by the Abbey Theatre, its first major London performance was in 1970, when Harold Pinter directed it at the Mermaid Theatre.


In 1936, Joyce wrote The Cat and the Devil, a children’s story, originally written by Joyce for his grandson. It was published in 1978.



Ulysses is Joyce’s second novel. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. Considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature, Ulysses has been called “a demonstration and summation of the entire movement”. In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.


There are three versions of Ulysses, the 1922 edition:


The 1937 edition:



And the 1986 ‘corrected text’ version, which is considered controversial in that it has divided opinion as to being the best or the worst of the three versions:



Ulysses is renowned for its final chapter: Molly Bloom’s stream-of-conscious soliliquy. Here’s Part One:


 

And here’s Part Two:

 

After Ulysses came Pomes Penyeach, a collection of thirteen short poems.


Pomes Penyeach was written over a twenty-year period from 1904 to 1924, and originally published on 7 July 1927 by Shakespeare and Co. for the price of one shilling (twelve pennies) or twelve francs. The title is a play on ‘poems’ and ‘pommes’ (the French word for apples) which are here offered at ‘a penny each’ in either currency.

Finnegans Wake is Joyce’s third and final novel and a work of comic fiction, significant for its experimental style and resulting reputation as one of the most difficult works of fiction in the English language. Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, and published in 1939, two years before the author’s death, Finnegans Wake was Joyce’s final work.



The entire novel is written in a largely idiosyncratic language, consisting of a mixture of standard English lexical items and neologistic multilingual puns and portmanteau words, which many critics believe attempts to recreate the experience of sleep and dreams.


Here’s an audio clip of James Joyce reading from his masterpiece:


 

Owing to the work’s expansive linguistic experiments, stream of consciousness writing style, literary allusions, free dream associations, and its abandonment of the conventions of plot and character construction, Finnegans Wake remains largely unread by the general public.


Anthony Burgess edited Finnegans Wake into A Shorter Finnegans Wake, a masterful exercise in sleight-of-hand cutting and tactful editing. It’s still not an easy read, but it does make Joyce more accessible.


In 1991, Faber and Faber (who were once champions of Joyce’s work) published Poems and Shorter Writings. This included all of the poems, the epiphanies, Giacomo Joyce and the 1904 essay, Portrait of the Artist.


If you haven’t read anything by James Joyce, then try A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, or even Ulysses. They’re both very good novels.


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Here’s a look in R J Dent’s library at the works of James Joyce:

If you don’t fancy Joyce’s prose, you could try Chamber Music. The poems in that particular collection are ethereally delicate and beautiful, which probably means they’re worth reading, if nothing else.

www.rjdent.com




In Praise of Jeremy Reed

November 30, 2008

 

Jeremy Reed is one of the UK’s most prolific and skilful poets, yet he remains unknown to a great many readers. For some reason, Jeremy Reed’s work is often overlooked or ignored in favour of the work of far less talented writers.

Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed

Jeremy Reed has written a vast number of poetry collections, novels, short stories and non-fiction works. His music biographies include studies of Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Brian Jones and Marc Almond. His literary biographies include studies of Rimbaud, Genet and Anna Kaven, amongst others.

 

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He is a translator of great subtlety and versatility. He has translated key texts by Novalis; Rimbaud; Bogary; Genet; Cocteau; Montale – to name only a few.

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Reed’s poetry is some of the most beautiful and insightful poetry ever written, particularly the collections: Patron Saint of Eyeliner; Red-Haired Android; Kicks; Voodoo Excess, West End Survival Kit, and This Is How You Disappear.

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If you are unfamiliar with Jeremy Reed’s poetry, then start with a copy of Kicks or Patron Saint of Eyeliner.

 

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If you want to start with his fiction, then try reading his novel Diamond Nebula, or even Dorian, his sequel (of sorts) to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey.

 

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If you prefer non-fiction, then A Stranger on Earth – The Life and Work of Anna Kavan is a good place to start, as is Lou Reed: Waiting For the Man. Also worth looking at is Another Tear Falls – A Biography of Scott Walker; Born To Lose – A Biography of Jean Genet; and Delirium – An Interpretation of Arthur Rimbaud.

 

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Here is a partial bibliography:

NOVELS:

The Lipstick Boys

Blue Rock

Red Eclipse

Inhabiting Shadows

Isidore (a novel about Lautréamont)

Red Hot Lipstick (erotic stories)

When the Whip Comes Down (a novel about De Sade)

The Pleasure Chateau (an erotic trilogy)

Chasing Black Rainbows (a novel about Artaud)

Diamond Nebula

Dorian (a sequel to The Picture of Dorian Grey)

Boy Caesar

The Grid

Here Comes the Nice


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POETRY:

Target

A Long Shot to Heaven

The Isthmus of Samuel Greenberg (1976)

Saints & Psychotics

Bleecker Street (1980)

A Man Afraid

By the Fisheries (1984)

Nero (1985)

Selected Poems (1987)

Engaging Form (1988)

Nineties (1990)

Brigitte’s Blue Heart

Claudia Schiffer’s Red Shoes

Turkish Delight

Red Haired Android (1992)

Kicks (1994)

Sweet Sister Lyric (1996) 

Saint Billie (2000)

Black Sugar

Patron Saint of Eyeliner (2000)

Dicing For Pearls

Heartbreak Hotel (2002)

Duck and Sally Inside (2006)

Orange Sunshine (2006)

This is How You Disappear (2007)

Bona Drag (2009)

West End Survival Kit (2009)

Black Russian: Out-Takes 1978-9 (2010)

Piccadilly Bongo (2010)

Bona Vada (2011)

Whitehall Jackals (with Chris McCabe) (2013)

Nothing But a Star (2013)

The Glamour Poet Versus Francis Bacon (2014)

Sooner or Later Frank (2015)

Voodoo Excess (Rolling with the Stones) (2015)

Red Light Blues (2016)

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TRANSLATIONS:

The Coastguard’s House (Eugenio Montale)

Tempest of Stars (Jean Cocteau)

The Complete Poems (Jean Genet)

Praries of Fever (Ibrahim Nasrallah)

All That’s Left to You (Ghassan Kanafani)

On Entering the Sea (Nizar Qabbani)

The Sheltered Quarter (Hamza Bogary)

Hymn to the Night (Novalis)

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NON-FICTION

Heart on my Sleeve

Madness: The Price of Poetry

Angels, Divas and Blacklisted Heroes

Caligula – Divine Carnage (with Stephen Barber)

Dead Brides (Edgar Allan Poe) – Introduction 

Through the Looking-Glass (Lewis Carroll) – Introduction

The Songs of Maldoror (Lautreamont) – Postscript

Lipstick, Sex and Poetry (autobiography)

Bitter Blue (autobiography)

4 Poets & A Play (John Ashbery, Thom Gunn, John Weiners, Francis Bacon) (2012)

The Dilly – A History of Piccadilly Rent Boys (2014) 

 

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POETRY/PHOTOGRAPHY

Pop Stars (1995) – with Mick Rock

Big Orange Day (2010) – with Lisa Wilkerson

Exploding into Colour (2012) – with Lisa Wilkerson

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BIOGRAPHIES:

The Last Star (Marc Almond

Another Tear Falls (Scott Walker)

Waiting For the Man (Lou Reed)

The Last Decadent (Brian Jones)

Born to Lose (Jean Genet)

Delirium (Arthur Rimbaud)

A Stranger on Earth (Anna Kavan)

The King of Carnaby Street (John Stephen)

 

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Jeremy Reed collaborates with musician/dj/electronica maestro Itchy Ear on a performance poetry/music/spoken word project called The Ginger Light.

 

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The Ginger Light’s youtube channel is:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGingerLight

And here’s a fantastic promotional film of The Ginger Light in action – putting the fire back into poetry readings:

 

And here’s a link to The Ginger Light’s debut CD, Big City Dilemma, released by Cherry Red Records:

http://www.cherryred.co.uk/shopexd.asp?id=3884

I would recommend listening to The Ginger Light or reading one of the above books. Jeremy Reed is a unique voice in literature. His work seems to be a fusion of the decadent, the erotic and the surreal. He is definitely worth reading.

 

Jeremy Reed’s website is:

http://jeremyreed.co.uk/index.html

 

In Praise of Jeremy Reed

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

Photo of Jeremy Reed by John Robinson

 

www.rjdent.com

 

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Anna Kavan’s Nocturnal Language

October 19, 2008

 

Anna Kavan

 

Anna Kavan is a truly unique figure in English Literature. Her fiction  is a combination of the styles of Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, Anaïs Nin and Franz Kafka.

Kavan was admired by her contemporaries: Anais Nin was a great admirer of her work. In his introduction to Kavan’s My Madness: Selected Writings, Brian Aldiss described Kavan as ‘Kafka’s sister’. 

And Kavan’s fiction bears a strong resemblance to the works of Franz Kafka’s and the works of J.G. Ballard in several ways; notably the detached prose style that approaches being a ‘nocturnal language’; her preoccupation with the symbols of dreams and addiction and her obvious willingness to use the medical terminology of mental confusion, psychosis and alienation in her prose.

Anna Kavan’s best books are: A Horse’s Tale; Ice; Guilty; Sleep Has His House; My Soul in China and Who Are You?  Her other books are also wonderful. Her novels are like no other novels in existence; her short stories are surreal and haunting.

 

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Anna Kavan: Self-portrait

 

Here is a list of Anna Kavan’s books:

 

Asylum Piece (1940)

Change The Name (1941)

I Am Lazarus (1945)

Sleep Has His House (1948)

The Horse’s Tale (with K. T. Bluth) (1949)

A Scarcity of Love (1956)

Eagle’s Nest (1957)

A Bright Green Field and Other Stories (1958)

Who Are You? (1963)

Ice (1967)

Julia and the Bazooka (1970)

My Soul in China (1975)

My Madness: Selected Writings (1990)

Mercury (1994)

The Parson (1995)

Guilty (2007)

 

Here is the Wikipedia entry for Anna Kavan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Kavan

 

Here is the Anna Kavan Society website:

http://www.annakavan.org.uk/

 

Here is Anna Kavan’s Amazon.co.uk page:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anna-Kavan/e/B001HCX2PA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1422747288&sr=8-1

 

Here is R J Dent’s  short video on the books of Anna Kavan:

 

If you do decide to read Anna Kavan, it might be best to start with Ice or Guilty or Who Are You? and then move on to reading the others. You won’t be disappointed. But you will find yourself alone in a strange landscape with no recognisable landmarks. Enjoy the experience.

  

Anna Kavan’s Nocturnal Language

 

© R J Dent (2015)

 

www.rjdent.com

 

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