Category: Fiction

  • Doubles, doppelgängers and split personalities

    It’s my turn to set the Culture Club agenda (we rotate this around the group). I’ve chosen as my theme: Doubles, Doppelgangers and Split Personalities, and we’re going to be looking at the following works: The Confessions and Private Memoirs of a Justified Sinner, by James Hogg (Novel) The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar […]

  • Thoughts on Tristram Shandy

    I have been reading and studying Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman for the past couple of months. It’s been a laborious task, and I’m afraid not a happy one. I’ve read around it and I understand the reasons why Tristram Shandy is considered a classic, but my problems with the […]

  • The Novel and Literary Form

    We’re reading a bunch of novels for this month’s Culture Club (Under the Volcano, The Power and the Glory, The Plumed Serpent). I love reading novels, but when studying them I’m invariably irritated by the lack of form. By ‘form’ I mean literary or artistic form, such as the 14 lines and strict rhyme scheme […]

  • Under the Volcano: The Death of Yvonne

    Under the Volcano is our main focus in this month’s Culture Club. In an earlier Penguin Modern Edition (I don’t have a link, as it’s no longer published) the introduction features a very length letter that Lowry wrote in 1946 to Jonathan Cape (the publisher) arguing against suggested cuts. He goes through each of the 12 […]

  • David Copperfield: Realism and Romance

    I have said in a previous post that David Copperfield is a defence of the poetic view of life (this was a quote from GK Chesterton). But to clarify, Charles Dickens’s great novel is more than this. It is one of the best examples in literary history of the fine balance between realism and romance. […]

  • David Copperfield and the Poetic View of Life

    David Copperfield is Charles Dickens’s most autobiographical work (see this short article on auobiographical elements in David Copperfield for some details). If we are to take the main character of David Copperfield as a representative of Dickens himself, we must take seriously his reflections on the nature of that character. There is one point in […]

  • Heart of Darkness in 8 Minutes and 27 Seconds

    John Crace’s column in the Guardian, The Digested Read, presents a satirical look at great literary works by summarising them in less than 10 minutes. Here he tackles Heart of Darkness. Sample quote: ‘Pray tell me his last words,’ the intended murmured. My heart trembled. She was only a woman, and therefore too dim to […]

  • Conrad’s Use of Language in Heart of Darkness

    In his critical text The Great Tradition F.R. Leavis is interested in Conrad’s use of the English language, in light of it being his third, possibly fourth language, after Polish, French and Russian. He recounts a conversation on the subject: ‘I remember remarking to Andre Chevrillon how surprising a choice it was on Conrad’s part […]

  • Free: 201 Stories by Anton Chekhov

    Constance Garnett translated and published 13 volumes of Chekhov stories between the years 1916 and 1922. This site, 201 Stories by Anton Chekhov, presents all 201 stories in the order of their publication in Russia.  Found via: Open Culture.

  • Beck Covers Le Grand Meaulnes

    The Guardian Unlimited Book section has a story on a new program of Penguin books, MyPenguin. The selection of novels sport ‘naked’ covers, enabling you to add your own designs. To promote the series Penguin has commissioned popular musicians to design the cover for a novel of their choice, and Beck, the American singer/songwriter, has […]