Tony Harrison is one of my favourite poets. His writing is muscular and forceful yet manages also to be moving and personal, with a palpable honesty to it; as if Hemingway had been reincarnated in Leeds with a love of Greek tragedy and an imperative to make amends. Harrison is also a dramatist and his latest play, Fram, is currently at the National Theatre in London. The play is about the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, described by Harrison as “extraordinarily handsome, a scientist, an artist, an adventurer who never felt fulfilled, and the first celebrity fundraiser.” He also believed that “the world will end in ice.” Over at More Intelligent Life Isabel Lloyd has a short interview with Harrison about it.
It’s been a grumpy old week over at Vulpes Libris, where the book foxes have been laying into literary classics. The results have been spectacular at times; so much vitriol in creatures so, well, so furry. Hemingway, Tolstoy, Jude the Obscure, and Mr. Rochester all come in for it:
We’ve all experienced it. You finally get around to reading that masterpiece of world literature or the modern work of genius that’s been at the top of the bestseller lists for weeks, and slowly … v-e-r-y slowly … it begins to dawn on you that you’ve read more rewarding bus tickets. What floats the boat of the reading millions simply doesn’t do it for you.
So here are a few highlights from “Hatchet Week”: The Old Man and the Sea , Kreutzer Sonata, and my personal favourite rant of the series, A Monster is Born, on Mr. Rochester. I quite like the sound of him myself. Now that Jane Eyre …
New York Magazine is also spoiling for a fight with its 40th Anniversary list of quintessential New York books. You won’t agree with the list, but you’ll feel compelled to look at it anyway and then you’ll feel affronted all day.