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Category Archives: English

Joe Bensam, Batman and Wolverine: the Stories of the Superheroes

The recent opening of a much needed new comic bookstore in town has unleashed my latest ongoing superhero fever, which in full multimedia madness includes compulsive use of my comics apps and a sumptous run-through of the entire X-Men film franchise. In the middle of such activity, I began looking for something suitable to feed […]

E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops

“Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer. He had harnessed Leviathan”. The Machine Stops pictures a future in which humanity has abandoned the surface of the Earth, grown unable to breath the atmosphere, and moved underground in the so-called Machine: a planetary system of individual cells, each hosting a […]

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Random notes I took shortly after reading the book. The Impossible Cool. Truman Capote. Audrey Hepburn, beyond adjectives. Structure Capote has the best ear for dialogue since maybe Oscar Wilde, and a talent for the off-hand aphorism to match Andy Warhol’s. And please note the cleverness in picking my points of reference. Breakfast at Tiffany’s […]

Henry James, The Jolly Corner

Henry James’ last ghost story, and his finest since The Turn of the Screw, is also his final meditation on some of his most personal concerns: the international theme, the American who goes back after a long period spent in the Old World, and his impressions of a rapidly changing country that at the turn […]

Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle

Jamesian studies in my department were so strong that three courses of my curriculum dealt with Henry James, of which one was monographic and a second analyzed American history and institutions through the works of the James Bros. (I shan’t dwell). As a consequence I developed a barely-concealed and strong dislike for the novelist. On […]

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

‘A most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale’. – Oscar Wilde (being not a proper comment, just notes to be read after the story). I’ve always enjoyed the anecdote that inspired James to write this novella. On January the 10th, 1895, he was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson, at Addington Park (the […]

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The publishing of Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems in 1798 is usually regarded as the birth certificate of the Romantic movement in English litterae. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, deliberately breaking away from the common taste of the age, had underlined in the opening Advertisement the “experimental” and innovative character of their compositions. […]

Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

Ginsberg reading his poems, courtesy of the gorgeous UbuWeb. Scroll down to October 25, 1956 and May 4, 1995. I read the poem in preparation for the movie, I confess. Obviously I had already come across selections (everybody has) but never actually read it top to bottom (many haven’t). Allen Ginsberg was Walt Whitman reincarnated, […]

Paul Auster, Why Write?

I chanced upon this in the library catalogue of my department at uni and thought ‘nice, something by Paul to read on the train’. Collected non-fiction pieces from NY papers & magazines. Some of it looked familiar and must have passed through my hands earlier in some other form; but since there are admittedly only […]

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

A masterwork and a cornerstone. “Too bloody sixties”, say some. Do they also criticise 18th-century novels for being about horse carriages and evening balls? “Too bloody convoluted”, say others. Maybe it’s just me having (had to) read Henry James over breakfast at 26, but Pynchon, especially this one, doesn’t seem complicated to me at all. […]