Posts Tagged: Tim Parks

Word of the Day: Oblivescence

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(n.); the process of forgetting;

“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”

–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”

This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them.

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Too Many Books

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…it’s hard not to feel that we are in an era of massive overproduction. Just when we were already overwhelmed with paper books, often setting them aside after only a few pages in anxious search of something more satisfying, along came the Internet and the e-book so that, wonderfully, we now have access to hundreds of thousands of contemporary novels and poems from this very space into which I am writing.

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Surviving Success

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Joyce relentlessly made things more and more difficult for readers, as if success actually prevented him from producing more of the same, so determined was he to be nobody’s servant. Hence the lucid and fluent Dubliners becomes the more difficult Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, then the far more difficult Ulysses, packed with passages that many felt were obscene, and finally, when that brought even more success, the completely indigestible Finnegans Wake.

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One and The Same

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Nosy readers often delight in sleuthing out the parallels between an author’s work and their life, as if an identifiable autobiographical source might change the meaning behind the words. So what happens when authors eliminate the boundary altogether?

By calling these books novels you might say that Coetzee is holding onto a fig leaf.

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Trapped Inside the Novel

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My problem with the grand traditional novel—or rather traditional narrative in general, short stories included—is the vision of character, the constant reinforcement of a fictional selfhood that accumulates meaning through suffering and the overcoming of suffering. At once a palace built of words and a trajectory propelled by syntax, the self connects effortlessly with the past and launches bravely into the future.

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