But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff?
Posts Tagged: Tim Parks
For the NYRB, Tim Parks meditates on writing in English through investigating various authors who made switches from native tongues to the more economically viable lingua franca, like Nabokov and Conrad—or who did the exact opposite, like Jhumpa Lahiri—all in effort to answer the question: Why write in English?...more
How do we reread and is it necessary? Tim Parks demystifies the art of going back to a text for the third, fourth and fifth time....more
(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....more
How is it possible that even when I know nothing about a novelist’s life I find, on reading his or her book, that I am developing an awareness of the writer that is quite distinct from my response to the work?
More banally we may stand at the luggage collection carousel watching endless bags tumble onto the belt. We hold in our minds a shadowy idea of our own bag. Then suddenly it is there and the effort of “visualizing” ceases. Perhaps we realize that the bag is not quite as we remembered it.
…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.
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.
While Tim Parks doesn’t want to be prescriptive, he offers his own techniques as inspiration:
Getting a sense of the values around which the story is organizing itself isn’t always easy; I might change my mind two or three times. But let’s say that the mere attempt to do that gives me something to look for.
For the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks writes about why we should read new books, when there’s so many “classics…available at knockdown prices”:
As a reviewer of books she would often pan, Virginia Woolf thought one of the pleasures of reading contemporary novels was that they forced you to exercise your judgment.
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.
Do video games undermine empathy? Or are they just a comfortable scapegoat for a violent culture?
Scientists search for an evolutionary reason for art. Spoiler alert: The answer is men and sex....more
The prospect of publication, the urgent need, as they see it, to publish as soon as possible, colors everything [my students] do….It will be hard for those who have never suffered this obsession to appreciate how all-conditioning and all-consuming it can be.
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.
At the New York Review of Books‘s blog, Tim Parks explores how authors might subconsciously get inspiration for their novels from unresolved personal conflicts.
Specifically, he reflects on the lives of Chekhov and Faulkner, making connections between their real-life hardships and the perils confronted by the protagonists in their work....more
Tim Parks writes on the tensions between lingua franca and vernacular—readers and writers don’t want to be confined to the limits of their national origin, while wanting to keep the vernacular-specific prose.
There’s always translation, but is there an English language bias changing the structure of foreign languages?...more
“What are the consequences for literature? From the moment an author perceives his ultimate audience as international rather than national, the nature of his writing is bound to change. In particular one notes a tendency to remove obstacles to international comprehension....more
“What seems doomed to disappear, or at least to risk neglect, is the kind of work that revels in the subtle nuances of its own language and literary culture, the sort of writing that can savage or celebrate the way this or that linguistic group really lives....more