Monthly Archives: October 2011

SPORTS, THE UNIVERSITY & MONEY

October 28, 2011
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I read this morning the proposal that college athletes should now be offered $2,000 p/a over and above their scholarships. This of course is hardly current practice in the rest of the world. Can you imagine the students of Paris-Nanterre or La Sapienza or St Andrews paying their students to play games? No, you can’t.…

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THE BOTSFORD XXTH CENTURY NINETY-NINE+

October 25, 2011
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THE BOTSFORD XXTH CENTURY NINETY-NINE+

The criteria: a brief word. That the writer have a substantial oeuvre, that I have read him or her more than once and generally with greater pleasure. The list is international, by language (not nationality) and includes poets, novelists, essayists and memoirists, but not playwrights. Living writers under fifty are not included. Exclusions are, with…

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TV SERIALS & THE NARRATIVE TRADITION

October 24, 2011
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I read in the Guardian this morning that the entire broadcasting industry is paying close attention to a phenomenon which I have been following for more than a few years: the existence, hither and yon, of majestic series that have appeared in the boxed sets departments of DVD stores. These have a narrative drive that…

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MORAL TALES AND JACOB PICARD

October 24, 2011
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I suppose they can be called ‘moral tales’. There were such things once, off-shoots of Pilgrims Progress. They were supposed both to entertain and instruct. I would rather call these particular stories ‘wisdom tales’. A Matter of Conscience, by the prolific and largely untranslated Swiss-German writer Werner Bergengruen (1952), is the prime example in which sheer…

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MORAL TALES AND JACOB PICARD

October 23, 2011
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I suppose they can be called ‘moral tales’. There were such things once, off-shoots of Pilgrims Progress. They were supposed both to entertain and instruct. I would rather call these particular stories ‘wisdom tales’. A Matter of Conscience, by the prolific and largely untranslated Swiss-German writer Werner Bergengruen (1952), is the prime example in which sheer goodness is…

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THE POLITICAL NOVEL: Vasily Grossman

October 22, 2011
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The political novels on which my generation grew up — Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men remains the best on America, or Koestler — are all based on an odd mix of attraction and disillusionment. This has not changed. Genuinely important political novels remain rare, but Vasily Grossman’s magnum opus,Life and Fate, currently available on BBC Radio…

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THE DEATH OF DICTATORS

October 21, 2011
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Somehow I have a feeling that we’ve seen this all before. I only know that I’d rather not see it again. It is not merely that to celebrate death is vulgar and unfeeling, it is that the death of tyrants — if indeed Gadaffi was one — is too often the result of the Mob, and the…

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