Friday, 24 December 2010

stack of books

 I got lots of books in the mail last week, the plan is to get to read some of them during the holidays. From top to bottom:

  • César Aira: Ghosts
  • César Aira: The Literary Conference
  • Phillip Lopate: Notes on Sontag
  • Harry Mulisch: The Assault
  • John McGahern: Love of the World
  • Jenny Erpenbeck: The Old Child & The Book of Words
  • Jenny Erpenbeck: Visitation
  • Phillip Lopate: Against Joie de Vivre
  • Damon Galgut: In a Strange Room (Reading this one on my iPad, so the actuall book will go as a gift...)
  • Roland Barthes: The Preparation of the Novel
Last night I had a look in Lopate's Notes on Sontag, and in the introduction he clearly introduce her as a much better essayist than novel writer. Lopate is a reliant expert in the essay genre, and I have no doubt his judgement is right. But Sontag herself would definitely disagree (if she had had a chance - ). To her the novel always came before the essay.

On page 17 Lopate cites a rather harsh comment from Barthes on Sontag's work. Again I believe that it is primarily the fiction writing Sontag that are judged to not be strong enough. 

Isn't it both strange and a bit sad that she can't be satisfied with being an excellent essay writer? 

And isn't it also very interesting that this harsh critique comes from a man who himself was a great essayist wanting to become a novelist?!

I guess this is not the only question waiting for me in this stack of books ...

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