A surprising bit of trivia ends this introduction: he notes that collections such as this usually contain collected book reviews, but this one does not, because, he writes, Highly unusual. But Barth is like that. Unusual, but no iconoclast, bomb-thrower, or enfant terrible. He is unconventional but quite institutional, specifically re higher ed, where he has worked his whole adult life and where he has set much of his fiction. The first "proper" essay, written for one of those dorky assignments of the "Why I Write" variety by which periodicals hope to publish quick telling snapshots that reveal a writer to us, Barth sets about subverting with an intriguing reflection on language and being a twin.
This reminded me of the strange case of Poto and Cabengo , two twin girls who, left alone for most of their early years, created their own private language, organically and independently, speaking it until the age of eight. Barth states that for twins language itself is almost already a second language to the primary communication with one's other half, for whom so much goes without saying : "Language is for getting to know you and getting to unknow you. We converse to convert, each the other, from an Other into an extension of ourself; and we converse conversely.
It's difficult for me to imagine mentally constructing a World of Literature without a skyline dominated by the 19th century novel, especially given how modernism and post-modernism are so often contextualized as rebellious or revolutionary, counter to that dominant form.
How do those rebels look, I wonder, in a light unshadowed like that? It might be presumptuous to suggest that perhaps this is why Barth's attitude isn't contemptuous of convention--or of almost anything for that matter--but rather is generous and promiscuous, absent the pugilistic pose struck by so many experimentalists. In my own literary temperament, the mix of romantic and neoclassical is so mutable that I hold no particular brief either for or against programmatic experimentalism.
Passion and virtuosity are what matter; where they are, they will shine through any aesthetics.
The two main motifs of this book are sailing and Scheherazade, two topics the return to which does not always seem voluntary on Barth's part. At the edges of these essays are the rocky shoals and shallows of the Chesapeake Bay area, scene and setting for the birth not only of storyteller and teacher Barth; he is also a mariner. Scheherazade's model of the frame-tale narrative structure as a way of seeing the mind's way of making sense of a busy day is demonstrated by Barth in a description of the practical necessities of sailing, tasks within tasks within tasks, beginning with a ship's underside needing a new coat: beginning at the bottom, upturned.
Given how often sailing and Scheherazade came up I had started to wonder how he would bring the two together; it wasn't nearly as forced as I'd anticipated and came up unexpectedly in an address to a sci-fi conference in Boca Raton. The book ends with the most curiously obsessive piece in the collection, one in which intricate gestational and menstrual mathematics account for the magical number of Nights. Rather than summarizing such, I think I'll just leave it at that.
View all 27 comments. Dec 22, Mala rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Gregsamsa.
Recommended to Mala by: Nathan "N. Shelves: all-time-favourites , american-writers , lit-crit , non-fiction. Indeed, that they are the bottom of the world. Where do I begin! Mug up this book. The Friday Book Barth reserved his friday mornings to writing non-fiction in his pleasant red house off Chesapeake Bay.
Though most of the pieces assembled here were written over a period of thirty years, the later ones were composed following this calm friday morning rhythm: "if I could revise it to my preferences, the pieces here collected would all have been written on Friday mornings on Langford Creek; then The Friday Book, itself conceived and executed over a year's Fridays, would be my Friday book indeed.
Say it straight. Get on with it. And we are just warming up! For a list of neat lists take a look at this! This essay is a must-read for all Borges fans as it focusses heavily on some of his celebrated stories. Moving ahead the essays The Spirit of Place and The Literature of Replenishment , act as complementary pieces to this one.
That Is nothing. In day school, night school, high school, college, graduate school, correspondence school, summer school, prison school; in writers' colonies and conferences and camps and cruises, it is scribble scribble scribble scribble scribble scribble scribble. Within its barely three hundred pages, this book is densely saturated with a life-time of rich impressions, deep learning, and precious insights. I'm usually cagey about the book blurbs; taking them with not just a pinch, rather a bagful of salt but the Washington Post observation just nailed it: "Whether discussing modernism, postmodernism, semiotics, Homer, Cervantes, Borges, blue crabs or osprey nests, Barth demonstrates an enthusiasm for the life of the mind, a joy in thinking and in expressing those thoughts that becomes contagious.
The subject of literature, says Aristotle, is "human life, its happiness and its misery. That's why we object to the word experimental.
It suggests cold exercises in technique, and technique in art, we all know, has the same importance as technique in love: Heartless skill has its appeal; so does heartfelt ineptitude; but what we want is passionate virtuosity. If these pieces aren't also moving, then the experiment is unsuccessful, and their author is lost in the funhouse indeed.
It's called "The Heroical Curriculum"; what it consists of is a series of excerpts from The Floating Opera, The End of the Road, The Sot-Weed Factor, and Giles Goat-Boy, selected ostensibly to illustrate some of their common themes -- that self-knowledge is generally bad news, for example; or that if you don't look out, you may get pinched between two of the great axioms of Western civilization: Socrates's lesson that the unexamined life is not worth living, and Sophocles's lesson that the well-examined life may turn out to be unlivable.
In western literature since the Romantic period, twins and doubles, shadows, mirrors usually signify the "divided self," our secret sharer or inner adversary -- even the schizophrenia some neo-Freudians maintain lies near the dark heart of writing. Aristophanes, in Plato's Symposium, declares we are all of us twins, indeed a kind of Siamese twins, who have lost and who seek eternally our missing half. The loss accounts for alienation, our felt distance from man and god; the search accounts for both erotic love and the mystic's goal of divine atonement.
Your teller of stories will likely be responsive to his time; he needn't be responsible to it. So popular a teacher is he, I was told, it is the only hall on campus commodious enough to seat all the students who sign up for his courses. Donleavy has defined fiction-writing as "the fine art of turning one's worst experiences into money. Any authority I have to speak here comes from that "professional" examination, as the word authority itself comes from author. In North America and Western Europe excluding Portugal, Spain, and Greece these days I'm permitted to make it -- just as I'm permitted to practice my two professions -- because the interests and institutions I'm criticizing, who run these countries and govern so many aspects of our lives for their profit, are too secure in their power to take much notice of such criticism.
I prefer that condition to being silenced, as a man might prefer impotency to actual emasculation, and I am impatient with radicals who equate the two.
But it's irritating to be expected to be grateful for having been tolerated because rendered powerless. It transpires in the mind.
Part memoir, part natural history, part love letter to his home state, this engaging work by journalist Arax details the origins of his grape grower father to how current farmers in California are dealing with water rationing and alternating periods of drought and flood. Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker. I'm not sure how a failure to live up to stereotypes is a weakness for a character or a character weakness for that matter , or how feminism is advanced by insisting that female characters conform to certain readers' limited expectations about proper gender roles -- which is exactly what the criticism amounts to, as far as I can tell. Throughout the book her sexuality is at the service of those around her. And these days it feels like there are as many ways to consume science writing as there are fields of science. This might be easier to read if you A. And I was blown away by— I had no idea there were more than house flies.
It can't deal directly with qualities, sensations, emotions, actions, things; it can't even deal directly, as theater can, with imitations of actions and emotions. It can deal only with their signs, their names: pain, blue, courage, Venezuela, walking around, once upon a time. Writers who are also philosophers, like William H. Gass, have explored the metaphysical implications of this state of affairs. It is not speaking mystically to say that our dreams dream us; that our fictions construct us, at least as sub-contractors. I hear Madame Bovary replying, "Monsieur Flaubert, c'est moi.
View all 18 comments. Feb 04, Nathan "N. This is where it all started, almost.
The Friday Book Hardcover – October 26, John Barth (Author) Further Fridays: Essays, Lectures, and Other Nonfiction, The Friday Book (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) Paperback – January 22, A classic collection of essays now published in a new edition (with a new afterword by the author), The Friday Book was the first work of nonfiction by novelist John Barth, author of The Sot-Weed Factor.
Where it started was Further Fridays but only because it fell into my lap first. Gass and Gaddis just for beginners. So but this time around, the second through The Friday Book for me, was due to an itch I wanted to locate the location where I first ran across the name Christine Brooke-Rose This is where it all started, almost.
I wanted to locate the location where I first ran across the name Christine Brooke-Rose ; and thumbing through this book for that purpose I saw names and names and names and many a title roll off the page back into my lap and I could not resist revisiting its pages one at a time. Report :: Amalgamemnon is not in here. But lots of other stuff is.
That Is Nothing. Sure it is, in this metabolic mode: a novel in which characteristics take the place of characters.
On with the Fridays Friday Prayer is also a demonstration of Islamic equality. It gives the Imam a chance to advise all Muslims at the same time on urgent matters that face them. Friday Prayer is an obligatory Prayer for every adult male Muslim. However, those who are sick, blind or disabled, those on a journey, and women, are exempt from the obligation of attending the Prayer at the mosque.
They can join in the Prayer if they so wish, but if they cannot attend the Friday Prayer, they have to offer Zuhr Prayer instead, as the Friday Prayer is offered in place of Zuhr Prayer. There are two Adhans for Friday Prayer. The first Adhan is recited when the sun begins to decline and the second is recited just before the Imam stands up before the congregation to deliver his sermon. The sermon consists of two parts. The sermon can also deal with any other matter of importance.
This part of the sermon can be delivered in any language. After delivering the first part of the sermon, the Imam sits down for a short while, then stands up again and starts with the second part which is in Arabic and which reads as follows:. Man-yahdihillahu fala mudilla lahu wa man-yudlilhu fala hadiya lah. Wala Dhikrullahi Akbar. All praise is due to Allah.