Sunday 29 March 2015


Illustration via The Guardian.

Tom McCarthy argues in The Guardian that if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google. "If, five years ago, you’d asked me to name the most important French mid-20th century writer, I’d have mentally dipped a hand into a hat in which names of contenders such as Camus, Genet, Duras and Robbe-Grillet had been tossed, and pulled one out at random. Not any more. Right now I’d answer without hesitation: Claude Lévi-Strauss. An odd choice, perhaps: an ethnographer by calling, Lévi-Strauss wrote neither plays nor novels. Yet, for my money, his work displays a richer, deeper literary sensibility than that of his “proper” literary contemporaries. Not only is his prose better than theirs (his lyrical descriptions of the “leprous crusts” of buildings or the “supernatural cataclysms” of sunsets and sunrises), it is also infused with meditations on the very act of writing – the blindspots that it opens up, the traps or pitfalls that it sets. Infused, too, with a sense of structure, pattern, system (the narrative of Tristes Tropiques, for example, zaps from culture to culture, continent to continent, as it remaps the entire globe along lines of association: between the layout, concentric or concyclic, of a village’s huts, the transgenerational rhythms of exogamy and endogamy of the tribe to whom these huts belong, and the symmetry or asymmetry of a caste system on the far side of the world). And infused, beyond even this, with a tantalising sense that, if only he could correlate it all, plot the whole system out, some universal “master-meaning” would emerge, bathing both him and his readers in an all-consuming, epiphanic grace." Read full article by Tom McCarthy in The Guardian. E.T.P. 8'

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