Prufrock: Paul Griffiths on Leaving Duke, Donald Winnicott’s Doodles, and the Machiavelli of Bird Photography

Reviews and News:

Paul Griffiths: “Why I resigned from Duke.”

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Ian Buruma named editor of The New York Review of Books.

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Don’t know what to read next? Check out Early American Serialized Novels, a free online collection of novels serialized in US newspapers and magazines from the 1780s to the 1820s, brought to you by Idaho State University.

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The romance of the eclipse: “In June 2001, physicist and self-styled ‘eclipse chaser’ Frank Close found himself at an isolated roadside stop deep in the Zambian bush, chatting with a small local boy. Close was trying to explain his purpose in being at this remote outpost, why he had traveled all the way from England—some 5,000 miles—to experience a three-minute total eclipse of the sun.”

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L’Étranger was an odd work for someone building a reputation as a humanist. While the novel evokes the disturbing life of a social marginal, Camus’s work as a journalist drew him increasingly into the public arena. In the summer of 1939 he had campaigned in Alger-Républicain against the conditions of desperate poverty then affecting the population of Kabylia and he was outspoken about colonial rule. In August 1944 around the time of the liberation of Paris, he was writing editorials for the newspaper Combat. Yet a decade later, the reality of life for Camus was one of growing social and political isolation. After his bitter falling out with Sartre in 1952 over L’Homme révolté – his controversial essay had presented National Socialism and Communism jointly as examples of state terror – Algeria’s slide into all-out war in the mid- to late 50s was another cause for despair. As someone viscerally tied to French Algeria, Camus now felt increasingly disabled as a writer. He was drying up.”

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Donald Winnicott’s doodles.

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Meet “the Machiavelli of bird photography”: “Richard and Cherry Kearton were foremost among the small coterie of British nature photographers working before the end of the nineteenth century. They took the first ever photograph of a bird’s nest with eggs, in April 1892, and three years later (with British Birds’ Nests: How, Where and When to Find and Identify Them) published the first nature book illustrated throughout with photographs. But their next project — photographing the birds themselves – would be fraught with difficulties.”

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The Canberra School of Poetry revisited.

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Essay of the Day:

In The New York Times, Alexander Nazaryan writes about listening to Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon on twenty tapes on a Sony Walkman WM-FX303:

“Returning to Mason & Dixon nearly 15 years after I had first stuffed it into my messenger bag was like encountering an old flame and wondering where the flame had gone. The novel thrums with genius, but I was more frequently impressed than entertained. I was even less frequently jolted with the kind of truths about our intractable nation I wanted — no, needed — to hear in this time of political tumult. Returns on investment should have been higher. It’s a crass way of putting it, but we live in a crass age.

“Listening to the book only magnified that frustration. There were times when Reese’s masterful narration had me standing with Pynchon’s heroes astride ‘the Boundary between the Settl’d and the Unpossess’d.’ Yet there were also times when I pulled the earbuds out, wanting to sweep the mac and cheese from the kitchen floor in silence.

“Technology dates when it is superseded by superior technology. But what dates a book is much harder to say. Nobody was reading Sinclair Lewis six months ago, but Trump’s victory brought renewed attention to his novel about American fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, yet I have no doubt that Pynchon is the superior thinker and craftsman. In the discussions of germane novels for the Trump era, however, Pynchon has gone unmentioned.”

Read the rest.

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Photos: The Dead Sea

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Poem: Yves Bonnefoy, “Passerby, These are Words”

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This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard

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