242. (W.H. Auden)

The conundrum of Auden’s poetry—the conundrum of how to compare its aims and achievements to those of his contemporaries and to earlier poets—consists of several parts and is best sustained by a comparison to Yeats and also to French verse. The parts in brief: 1) Auden’s sense of history is flat: the past is not absorbed into his poems as a foreign element, as alien … Continue reading 242. (W.H. Auden)

237. (Irad Kimhi)

I was alerted to Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being before its publication by way of a note in Sebastian Rödl’s Self-Consciousness and Objectivity, and though there are other ways of reading Kimhi’s short work—not least as an ambition to meet Parmenides’ challenge of how it is possible to think what is not, by restoring our understanding of Aristotle, Plato, and Wittgenstein—I found myself appreciating it … Continue reading 237. (Irad Kimhi)

236. (Christopher Ricks)

What is the appeal of criticism, of reading or doing it? It must rest in beguilement at judgment itself, and at the purity of judgment, as a form of thought, which art and literature represents, and which the literature of modernity, in Flaubert, in Proust, in Kafka, has fetishized, over-determined, and ironized to a remarkable extent. The possibility of judgment itself has become the occasion … Continue reading 236. (Christopher Ricks)

235. (Franz Kafka)

The resemblance between Kafka’s The Castle and the Alice books is obvious. But the differences are more telling. In Kafka’s novel, there is neither madness nor absurdity. Absurdity follows from a lack of reasons (reasons in the Alice books are offered, but they are arbitrary, temporary, nonce); madness from a lack of rationality. In The Castle, K. encounters a surfeit of both reasons and rationality. Everyone he encounters … Continue reading 235. (Franz Kafka)

233. (Samuel Menashe)

  The poetry of Samuel Menashe is illuminated by the thought that, even the smallest lyric poem, when successful, will be like the focal point on an hour glass, through which so much experience and time passes, an entire future and entire past opening out on either side of it. It will also be a reminder that history might not come to a reader direct, … Continue reading 233. (Samuel Menashe)