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Jan/Feb 2014

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Reviews & Interviews


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

 

Ann Skea reviews...

The Vampyre Family: Passion, Envy and the Curse of Byron
by Andrew McConnell Stott
 
It is in the Villa Diodati that the famous write-a-ghost-story challenge is issued and where Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was begun. It was here, too, that Polidori found, in some random notes of Byron's, the inspiration for his own novel, The Vampyre.

Granta 125: After the War
Edited by John Freeman
 
Because the magazine is dealing in various ways with historical events, recorded or remembered or re-told, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. This is not the case with Lindsey Hilsum's, "The Rainy Season," which is clearly factual. Hilsum was the only English-speaking correspondent in Rwanda when the genocide began. Returning to the country ten years later, she records her impressions of the "new" country now emerging.

 

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

The First Four Books of Poems
by W. S. Merwin
 
The ideal is not possible; language has only its poor words to offer, its astonishingly poor words. He begins to understand that the point is to approach description asymptotically. Enormous efforts are necessary in order to carry it the tiniest bit closer, that is to say, to make it "poetry."

Edward De Vere was Shake-speare: at long last, the proof
by Gilbert Wesley Purdy
 
Last night I read about Leonard and Virginia Woolfs' visit to the castle of the great essayist Michel Montaigne in the spring of 1931. As luck would have it, I had picked up my copy of Virginia's Diary from on top of my copy of Montaigne's travel journal. The latter makes a cameo appearance in the biography of De Vere I had just loaded up onto the Amazon Kindle platform, Michel having traveled through the same Italian landscape, only five years after the Earl, recording details of its cities and towns between obsessive comments upon his kidney stones and other bodily functions.

 

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