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Posts Tagged ‘William Butler Yeats’

On Epitaphic Fictions: Ben Franklin, W. B. Yeats

April 28, 2014 | by

The first in a three-part series on writers’ epitaphs.

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John Singer Sargent, William Butler Yeats, 1908

“In lapidary inscriptions, a man is not upon oath.” —Samuel Johnson

Got a brittle, expensive medium? Bring an elastic ethics.

Dr. Johnson understood that words on headstones provide cover stories. Acts of make-believe inscribed in stone may be as banal as an incorrect—or fudged—year of birth; the phrase “In Loving Memory” must be a fiction much of the time. On the other hand, great writers have composed words for headstones, real and imaginary, that offer us complex fictions in which we may dwell, as if in compensation for loss. For such writers, good grief is infused with imagination.

Witness this epitaph in the collection of the Yale Library, from an autograph manuscript composed circa 1728: Read More »

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Infinite Pagination, and Other News

July 1, 2013 | by

dfnumbers

  • “Today I broke through the chains of oppression. No longer will page numbers tyrannize my life. I … have taken action,” declares one impassioned Infinite Jest reader. Would DFW approve?
  • Meet Flaneur magazine, each issue of which is dedicated to a different street. In the words of the editors, “The magazine is aware of its subjectivity. It wants to say ‘This could be Kantstraße.’” 
  • Yeats, Austen, and Fitzgerald: all bad spellers. (Spellcheck will save contemporary authors from inclusion, presumably.)
  • What do you read when trapped on a spacecraft? Garcia Márquez, of course.
  • With audiobooks booming, actors start reading. Quoth the Times, “The field is so promising that drama schools, including prestigious institutions like Juilliard and Yale, have started offering audio narration workshops.”

 

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The Dogs of Men and War: Charlie Newman and His Lost Novel

June 14, 2013 | by

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It is best to dispense at once with the salacious stuff of Charlie Newman’s life: he was a drunk, a bastard, and a boor. His marriages did not last. His books did not bring fame. When not poisoning his liver or relations with both family and fellow writers, he taught college, smoked a pipe, and trained dogs.

Only the very last of these facts is relevant when reading In Partial Disgrace, a fantastically odd posthumous novel for those who like their beauty strange, their plots unruly, their ideas ambitious. It has been patched together by his nephew Ben Ryder Howe—a former editor at The Paris Review–and released this spring by Dalkey Archive Press. The book is set in a fictional European land called Cannonia, its history based on that of Hungary but its name quite clearly derived from the Latin for dog, canis. The main character, Felix Aufidius Pzalmanazar, is a dog breeder, and there are roughly 0.7 references to the canine species on each page of this gorgeous mess of a novel, which is what Pale Fire (a novel Newman adored) might have read like if given a heavy-handed edit by Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Millan. Read More »

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Fighting Words

June 13, 2013 | by

Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway. Once owned by W. B. Yeats

Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway. Once owned by W.B. Yeats

“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” —W. B. Yeats

 

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