Last week the ladies at –The Blue Bookcase, started a Bloghop covering work of a literary nature. They define this as
"literary" if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure.”
Now into its second week & we have another question which is,
Is there such a thing as literary non-fiction? If so, how do you define it?
When I first saw this, I blinked, looked again, then turned & ran. Because this looked, like a migraine waiting to happen, I mean we all know what’s understood by the term “literary” ‘ or do we? flitting around a few of my favourite blogs, I’ve learnt that it’s a mythical creature, something like a Chimera, you know, part goat, part lion, part serpent. A composite of various styles, genres, fictions (meta, post mod etc.) or it’s something approaching godhead, a high-falutin, pedestal sitting savant, peering through it’s monocle at the world below…So I ran and with my typical high level of bravado…..I hid.
After a few moments hiding, clutching my security blanket (I sat staring at my bookcase), I opened my eyes and starting thinking. What is Non-Fiction? I mean is poetry nonfiction?, because, it appears that’s what I’ve always thought. Then there’s the works of philosophy, would anyone who has read Nietzsche's “Twilight of the Idols” or Albert Camus’s “The Rebel” deny their literary merit .This left me with a dilemma, the opposite of that I started with, I now had more ideas for books than I had time to write about, so what do I choose, well, in the end, with a bit of juggling, swordplay & various other techniques I whittled it down to three.
After Babel – Aspects of language & translation
“Translation exists because men speak different languages. This truism is, in fact, founded on a situation which can be regarded as enigmatic & as posing problems of extreme psychological & socio-historical difficulty. Why should Human Beings speak thousands of different, mutually incomprehensible tongues…..”
First published in 1975, this book constituted the first systematic investigation of the theory and processes of translation since the 18century. Donald Davie of the Times Literary supplement wrote “He is saying great things we cannot afford not to take note of….I greatly admire the intellectual venture which the book represents”. But for me this book is a gateway, a door, a key, through this book I discovered a world of writers, poets, philosophers, authors old & new. This book, with it’s passion for its subject matter, the sheer bravado of vision, coupled with the intelligence shining from every page, makes this a literary gem.
My second book is, Gaston Bachelard’s
The Poetics of Space
Thirty years since its first publication in English, French philosopher Gaston Bachelard's Poetics of Space remains one of the most appealing and lyrical explorations of home. Bachelard takes us on a journey, from cellar to attic, to show how our perceptions of houses and other shelters shape our thoughts, memories, and dreams.
”Space that has been seized upon by the imagination cannot remain indifferent space subject to the measures and estimates of the surveyor. It has been lived in, not in its positivity, but with all the partiality of the imagination.”
This book comes across as a prose poem, celebrating mans relationship with space - whether wide open or the smallest room.
“Shells & doorknobs, closets & attics, old towers & peasant huts, all shimmer here, shimmer as points linked in the transcendental geometry…..The poetics of space resonates deeply, vibrating at the edges of the imagination, exploring the recesses of the psyche, the hallways of the mind. In the house Bachelard discovers a metaphor of Humanness”
Underground-Tokyo gas attack & the Japanese psyche, by Haruki Murakami is my third choice, and this is a book I have reviewed before
On the 20th of March 1995, 5 members of the Aum shinri kyo cult entered the Tokyo subway system & upon boarding the trains released a lethal gas.The method used was a chemical agent in liquid form, called Sarin, they each carried two packets or about 900mls ( a pinhead sized drop can kill an adult & their families), which were dropped on the train floors then pierced with sharpened umbrella tips. The 5 members then left their individual trains to meet with their accomplices & were driven off.
This act, by the Aum shinri kyo was, and to this date is still, the most serious terrorist attack in Japanese history. In a society that had been considered virtually crime free, this attack caused widespread fear & disruption on a scale that simply overwhelmed all concerned.
How do you write a book, that’s for the most part a series of interviews, & yet still have it instantly recognised as a book that could have been written by no one else, a book that has your persona written through its very spine. In writing this book Haruki Murakami, not only investigated the crime, but questioned the country (his motherland) in which this act of terrorism was committed.
Highlighting in the process a people lonely & alienated, trapped in a society enthralled by industrialisation & modernity. A people lost from their traditions, spirituality & the family ties of its past. In writing this book he questions all modern cultures?
Having entered both of the hops, I think it would be extremely remiss of me not to thank and mention the people behind this literary exercise, so I send a hearty thanks to the ladies of The Blue Bookcase –Connie, Ingrid & Christina.