Admittedly, I did not read the entire book, but only the parts that most directly connected to what I'm currently studying. But what I read was quiteAdmittedly, I did not read the entire book, but only the parts that most directly connected to what I'm currently studying. But what I read was quite good. This book is so big and the essays are prone to overlap, repeating information (the essay "Modernist Drama: Wedekind to Brecht" repeats several points about German Expressionism already made in the essay specifically about that), but it still is a useful book, especially if you read it more topically rather than straight through. While much work on Modernism has been done since this book was first published in the 70s, this anthology still seems a valuable contribution to Modernism and the different movements contained therein. I'll get to the rest of the book another time....more
Solid critical examination. McCormick does a great job of showing Weimar in its complexity, contradiction and profundity. He's repetitive, but his oveSolid critical examination. McCormick does a great job of showing Weimar in its complexity, contradiction and profundity. He's repetitive, but his overview and critique of the critical literature is good and his contributions to the discussion are very thought-provoking. His analysis seems sound and detailed while eschewing any overbearing readings; the ambiguities and tensions within the examined works remain present and worth pursuing even further. ...more
Dennis Perry writes a nice book on the connections between Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Allan Poe. Many of the thematic parallels addressed by Perry havDennis Perry writes a nice book on the connections between Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Allan Poe. Many of the thematic parallels addressed by Perry have been fairly common topics of critical discussion for Hitchcock and Poe studies people. This book, however, is the first time the two have been talked about together, which might not be that interesting a thing for some. Fair enough. But the commonalities that Poe and Hitchcock share are interesting and show how the same topics of discussion - voyeurism, duality, the sublime, psychological fracture, etc. - have been addressed at different points in time by two different artistic mediums. In that way, it is fun to read about how Poe expressed through literature similar things that Hitchcock expressed cinematically. Well-read critics and scholars of Hitchcock and/or Poe might not gain much from this book; but for a class of undergraduates wanting to learn something about Hitchcock and Poe could really benefit from this book.
I particularly like how Perry uses Poe's Eureka to help guide his analysis. I'm less enthusiastic about some of the Jungisn psychoanalysis, but that is more of a taste issue. Perry shows an enthusiasm for Hitchcock and Poe, which is cool. This book provides enough interesting analysis to help any novice of Hitchcock and/or Poe studies. ...more
A nice little book. Short and easy to read, while being interesting and often thought-provoking. The danger with writers writing about writing is thatA nice little book. Short and easy to read, while being interesting and often thought-provoking. The danger with writers writing about writing is that sometimes it can come off sounding rather pretentious. Well, sometimes that's what happens here. Toni Morrison's essay, for instance (and she's not the only one guilty of this), ends on a rather annoying note of self-importance. But I guess when you're considered by many academics, panels and lists to be one of the most important writers/people living today it's tough not to consider yourself and your work pretty sweet. The danger with talking about your own art/profession is that you can begin making it important at the expense of other art forms, which is lame. I don't know if there are better art forms, just ones we connect with more than others, both as creators and consumers. But then we have Paul Auster, who acknowledges the value of other storytelling media, noting that what people need are not just novels, but stories in whatever form they might come in. I like that.
Toni Morrison has compiled a nice collection of diverse authors whose essay topics cover quite a range and aren't all saying the exact same thing, which would be really boring and worth no one's time. While not all of it is mind-blowing, there are enough thought-provoking bits to make you think about yourself, art and the world around you for a while after you're finished.
Excerpts from my favorite essays:
'Writing in the Dark' - David Grossman
"I can also tell you about the void that slowly emerges between the individual and the violent, chaotic state that encompasses practically every aspect of his life.
This void does not remain empty. It quickly fills up with apathy, cynicism, and above all despair - the despair that can fuel a distorted reality for many years, sometimes generations. The despair that one will never manage to change the situation, never redeem it. And the deepest despair of all - the despair of human beings, of what the distorted situation ultimately exposes in each of us.
I feel the heavy price that I and the people around me pay for this prolonged state of war. Part of this price is a shrinking of our soul's surface area - those parts of us that touch the violent, menacing world outside - and a diminished ability and willingness to empathize at all with other people in pain. We also pay the price by suspending our moral judgment, and we give up on understanding what we ourselves think. Given a situation so frightening, so deceptive, and so complicated - both morally and practically - we feel it may be better not to think or know. Better to hand over the job of thinking and doing and setting moral standards to those who are surely 'in the know'. Better not to feel too much until the crisis ends - and if it never ends, at least we'll have suffered a little less, developed a useful dullness, protected ourselves as much as we could with a little indifference, a little repression, a little deliberate blindness, and a large dose of self-anesthetics.
The constant - and very real - fear of being hurt, the fear of death, of intolerable loss, or even of 'mere' humiliation, leads each of us, the citizens and prisoners of the conflict, to dampen our own vitality, our emotional and intellectual range, and to cloak ourselves in more and more protective layers until we suffocate."
'Notes on Literature and Engagement' - Russell Banks
"We know things don't really change at the center; they merely get renovated. . . . Change occurs only at the edges, one human being at a time."
'Talking to Strangers' - Paul Auster
"Novels are not the only source [for stories:]. Films and television and even comic books are churning out vast quantities of fiction narratives, and the public continues to swallow them up with great passion. That is because human beings need stories. They need them almost as desperately as they need food, and however the stories might be presented - whether on a printed page or a television screen - it would be impossible to imagine life without them."
'The Sudden Sharp Memory' - Ed Park
"Basically it's a minority of adults trying to place restrictions on student reading, based on whether the books fit into their particular form of morality.
I mean it's stupid, right? Of course it is. But it's interesting how the book they chose to ban, I Am the Cheese, is about forbidden knowledge. What gets covered up, distorted. What we pretend does not exist. Today I read that absence into those gaps between the different narrative sections, and into those silences that blossom in the interview transcripts. It's like the censors had unconsciously found the perfect mirror to their censorship."...more
This introduction to literary theory is indeed an introduction. David Cowles serves as editor and writer of a couple chapters, with other academics pThis introduction to literary theory is indeed an introduction. David Cowles serves as editor and writer of a couple chapters, with other academics providing the other chapters. Each chapter focuses on a particular theoretical approach to literature. Some chapters are better and/or more interesting than others, since not all theories are cool and worth deep investment - though knowing about them all is quite useful for anyone into this stuff. The problem is that these introductory essays are sometimes so simplified that the theory becomes distorted - how do you sum up the history or Feminism, Marxism, etc. in a single chapter anyway? Some things just get left out and that's frustrating. But I also know jumping straight into the writings of Marx, Derrida, or Freud can be an awful ordeal and some preparation is valuable. ...more
H.P. Lovecraft writes a nice little history of horror and supernatural literature. It's easy to read and comes from someone who really likes horror l H.P. Lovecraft writes a nice little history of horror and supernatural literature. It's easy to read and comes from someone who really likes horror literature. I had hoped for a bit more analysis of the genre or authors/stories. A lot of the time he gives quick, spoiler synopses to tons of books and short stories that he really digs. With horror stories, I don't know if we want to be told the end before we read it. Oh well, the good thing is that he rattles off so many titles that there's really no way I'll remember them all. Plus, and this might be the most exciting/frustrating part, Lovecraft has now given me a whole load of new stuff to read. ...more
Card gives a very accessible and easy look at how to write and think about both (surprise) characters and viewpoint. It's cool stuff, if you like writCard gives a very accessible and easy look at how to write and think about both (surprise) characters and viewpoint. It's cool stuff, if you like writing. His tips are nice and useful, but some feel like the same stuff we've been hearing since high school creative writing. Maybe I just wanted more than can be expected from this type of book, but I did want more than I felt I got. That's probably more my fault than Card's. Either way, for people who like creative writing this can be a useful resource....more