Reading Thomas Hardy in Dorset

I am preoccupied with the nature of oaths and vows. How is it that we come to find promises binding? What is about words, about language, that utterances take on the status of fiat. There is the associated magic of the written word, the manner in which suddenly the affixed sign turns a dull document from insignificance, from an inert object to a living document that has power and authority.

Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken

This is the context then of When We Dead Awaken, a play that describes an encounter between a retired sculptor Arnold Rubek and Irena, a model who had sat for him. It is a reckoning of sorts, an accounting of the value of a life. And sadly, it concludes that the artistic life eschews living and is dead!

The Forest of Cedar

The Epic of Gilgamesh was written over 5,000 years ago. It is regarded as the first great work of literature. My interest today is not in the usual emphasis, that is placed, on the examination of the nature of friendship, the treatment of the duties of kings foreshadowing ‘mirrors for princes’ in the Epic. Today, I am preoccupied with the motif of journeys in literature. This theme is most explicit in Homer’s Odyssey and in Aeneas’ Aeneid. 

Victorian Lagos

There are vestiges of Victorian Lagos in Sefi Atta’s novels. Vestiges in the sense that these aspects of Victorian Lagos are quiescent and invisible, somewhat like the appendix, that is until inflamed. In The Bead Collector we have Regina Hernandes and Eugenia Hernandes both Aguda, Lagos Brazilian Catholics. Our heroine, Remi Lawal’s visit to Eugenia’s house is…

Alejandra Pizarnik: poet of mists and shadows

Reading Alejandra Pizarnick (1936-1972) is like standing by the drystone wall leading towards Hardcastle Craggs from Hebden Bridge in the darkening evening, just before Crimsworth Terrace. And looking up the valley, a valley draped in mist, a subdued greyness like a gauze hanging there with the surreal shadows of the hills, just about visible. And then, looking at oneself, a dense pith of darkness, there and not there, again just barely visible. That is what her poetry is like, all mist and shadows, slippery yet sharp as a knife edge, grazing against the sky, sometimes brushing the sky and at other times kissing it.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

I have to say, very clearly at the outset, that I am very afraid indeed. In fact, I am terrified at the prospect of what will happen in the United States, in the aftermath of the November elections. I am even more full of fright since Donald Trump’s failure to affirm, like any other leader…

Lies, Lies, & Alternative Facts

In Philip K Dick’s (1928-1982) Beyond Lies the Wub, we have a particular paradigm of lying, of deception. The Wub is described as “a huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds”. And, it was dirty and “flies buzzed about its flank”. Nonetheless, its physical appearance distracted from its intelligent ploy which was to replicate itself…