Monday, February 25, 2008


One of the delights of reading P G Wodehouse's "Jeeves" books are the quotations and casual literary references - some of which provided me with my first introduction to Robert Browning as a teenager. In the Telegraph A N Wilson explores the Shakespearean allusions that are scattered throughout the books, and asks "Was Bertie Wooster a silly ass or a wise man?"

"The device of using Shakespearean quotation throws into relief one of the central paradoxes of the Bertie Wooster books. Bertie as narrator insists on writing himself down as a silly ass. Yet his own use of metaphor, and his own recollection of great poetry, is as encyclopedic as - well, as PG Wodehouse's."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

May 68 and All That

Remember when IT stood for "International Times" rather a bit of electronic gadgetry? A Conference and Book Fair to celebrate May 68 will be held on May 10th at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London. Interesting talks from a wide range of speakers including Nick Wright, Esther Leslie, Ian Bone, Sheila Rowbotham, and Stewart Home and there will be poetry from Adrian Mitchell. There are also bookstalls from publishers, booksellers and many different organisations. The event website carries some great texts to keep you reading between now and May - including the best eye-witness account "Paris May 1968" by Chris Pallis.
Just one question - when does the demonstration start?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Breaking the Frame: Anarchist Comics and Visual Culture

Jesse Cohn situates the emergence of comics within the wider context of anarchist culture in an breathless and exciting essay that is rich in ideas and associations. From the French online magazine Belphegor:

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Ten-Cent Plague

David Hajdu looks at the moral panics and "inflamed passions" surrounding the publication of dime-store comics in the pre-internet age for Bookforum:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Literary blogs vs the Critics

William Skidelsky examines "an outbreak of agonising about the state of book reviewing" and the role of the literary blogs in the February issue of Prospect magazine:

"A battle for authority is being waged between the printed and the digital word, and this explains both the chippy, combative tone of many bloggers, with their talk of "people power" and it being "our turn now," and the defensiveness of many print journalists."

Friday, February 01, 2008

The War on Literature

News that the Arts Council has slashed government funding to a number of literature projects such as the publisher Daedalus Books and the London literature centre, Centreprise, comes alongside the announcement that the the amount paid to writers for Public Lending Right (PLR) is to be frozen - effectively reducing it by the amount of inflation. Taken with the wholesale withdrawal of books from public libraries (which in many cases are sent straight to the local tip) there is little doubt that the state is waging war on the whole idea of a literary culture.

Meanwhile the bloated establishment bureaucracies have managed to pull together an "aspirational" statement "What Young People Should Expect Library Services to Offer". It has taken representatives of 12 organisations and "extensive research and consultation" to produce a statement that is just 223 words long, stating the obvious that young people like everyone else expect libraries to be "warm safe and welcoming" and provide "up-to-date books and other information."

A progress report on the state of Library buildings might have been a more appropriate use of resources - a 2006 report revealed that 1 in 4 Library buildings failed to meet health & safety requirements. Have these all been put right?

Another interesting gem from the statement is that young people can expect to be involved in the appointment of library staff in future.

Arts Council Funding Cuts:,,2250784,00.html

Public Lending Right frozen:

MLA Press Release and Statement: