- April 19th, 2017
The most generous writers give the reader something to do, respecting their capabilities. The least generous ones explain too much, reflecting credit on themselves. The Swiss writer Klaus Merz has engaged his readers in such a way that he is beloved among Germanophones who regard his 1997 novella Jacob Asleep as a contemporary classic.
- April 6th, 2017on Slight Exaggeration, an essay by Adam Zagajewski, tr. by Clare Cavanaugh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
One day in the late 1990’s while teaching in Houston, Adam Zagajewski received a call from his friend Czeslaw Milosz in Berkeley. Milosz was then in his mid-80’s.
- March 28th, 2017
In the wake of the Great Holy War of 2084, hundreds of millions of martyrs lay dead and vast regions are devastated, probably caused by atomic weapons. Now there is only Abistan whose residents worship the omniscient deity Yölah and his earthly messenger Abi who rules absolutely through his many ministries in the capital city of Qodsabad. How long ago did the great victory occur?
- March 26th, 2017
A slight fever, racing pulse, cramps, vague discomforts – what is ailing the musicologist Franz Ritter other than habitual melancholia and insomnia?
- March 14th, 2017on The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, convoluted by Jens Hoffmann et al (Yale University Press)
Hannah Arendt once described Walter Benjamin as among “the unclassifiable ones … whose work neither fits the existing order nor introduces a new genre.” But a new genre is exactly what he inspired: the cross-breeding of forms – journalism, citation, exegesis, philosophical asides, flashes of memory.
- February 26th, 2017
Zahia Rahmani was born in Algeria in 1962 just as that country’s eight-year war of independence from France was ending. Her father was counted among the “Harkis” – the 75,000 Algerians who fought alongside the French against their own nationalist countrypeople. Literally overnight, the French crept away leaving 20,000 Harkis to be pulled from their beds, massacred and imprisoned.