Saturday, April 08, 2006

Popular literary essays

I really don't understand why collections of good literary essays aren't more popular. Since the rise of the reading group, people not studying the subject at university are stuffing themselves with literature at a greater rate than they have done for years; and an intelligent piece of writing on the subject can illuminate not only the work, but everything round it. Just as these do.
Nicholas Lezard reviews Gabriel Josipovici's The Singer on the Shore.

He also says that it is a distinguishing [...] mark of Josipovici's sensitivity to his subject and his audience that - and I can't stress this too much - that you don't have to be that familiar with his subjects to get something out of what he says about them.

This is what surprised me so much about the collection. It opens with three short essays on the Bible that say more about modern fiction than most essays (by other writers) on modern fiction. But you can read Borges and the Plain Sense of Things, one of his essays on modern fiction, at RSB.


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