Ramblings & ephemera

James Dickey on the personalities of poets

From Franklin Ashley’s interview of James Dickey in “The Art of Poetry No. 20” (The Paris Review: Spring 1976, No. 65): INTERVIEWER: You’ve known a great many poets personally. Do you find some common characteristic—in their madness, their vision, their discipline? DICKEY: I would have to put the answer in the form of a paradox. […]

Anthony Burgess on satire

From John Cullinan’s interview of Anthony Burgess in “The Art of Fiction No. 48” (The Paris Review: Spring 1973, No. 56): Satire is a difficult medium, ephemeral unless there’s tremendous vitality in the form itself—like Absalom and Achitophel, Tale of a Tub, Animal Farm: I mean, the work has to subsist as story or poetry […]

Anthony Burgess on artists dying young

From John Cullinan’s interview of Anthony Burgess in “The Art of Fiction No. 48” (The Paris Review: Spring 1973, No. 56): I think America likes its artists to die young, in atonement for materialist America’s sins. The English leave the dying young to Celts like Dylan Thomas and Behan.

William Burroughs on the term “heavy metal” & addiction

From Conrad Knickerbocker’s interview of William S. Burroughs in “The Art of Fiction No. 36” (The Paris Review: Fall 1965, No. 35): I felt that heavy metal was sort of the ultimate expression of addiction, that there’s something actually metallic in addiction, that the final stage reached is not so much vegetable as mineral. It’s […]

David Foster Wallace on Kafka

From David Foster Wallace’s “Laughing With Kafka” (Harper’s Magazine: July 1998, pg. 26): … the really central Kafka joke – that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.

Protected: Why we cuss

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Why David Foster Wallace used footnotes

From D. T. Max’s “Notes and Errata*: A DFW Companion Guide to ‘The Unfinished’” (The Rumpus: 31 March 2009): He explained that endnotes “allow . . . me to make the primary-text an easier read while at once 1) allowing a discursive, authorial intrusive style w/o Finneganizing the story, 2) mimic the information-flood and data-triage […]

John Berryman’s suicide note

From Steve Marsh’s “Homage to Mister Berryman” (Mpls St Paul Magazine: September 2008): Berryman’s last words to Kate came on that January morning—he told her he was going to campus to clean his office. He had never said that before, she says, but Kate, who was attending Al-Anon meetings at the time, was trying “not […]

The rules of conspiracy

From Claudia Roth Pierpont’s “The Florentine” (The New Yorker: 15 September 2008): 92: … the rules by which conspirators must proceed: confide in absolutely no one except when absolutely necessary, try to leave no one alive who might be able to take revenge, and, above all, never put anything in writing.

All stories have the same basic plots

From Ask Yahoo (5 March 2007): There are only so many ways to construct a story. Writers who believe there’s only one plot argue all stories “stem from conflict.” True enough, but we’re more inclined to back the theory you mention about seven plot lines. According to the Internet Public Library, they are: 1. [wo]man […]

1 Henry VI: Lucy lists Talbot’s titles

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 7): LUCY: But where’s the great Alcides of the field, Valiant Lord Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, Created, for his rare success in arms, Great Earl of Washford, Waterford and Valence; Lord Talbot of Goodrig and Urchinfield, Lord Strange of Blackmere, Lord Verdun of Alton, Lord Cromwell of […]

1 Henry VI: inhearsed

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 7): BURGUNDY: Doubtless he would have made a noble knight; See, where he lies inhearsed in the arms Of the most bloody nurser of his harms! inhearsed: laid as in a coffin

1 Henry VI: giglot

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 7): JOAN LA PUCELLE: Once I encounter’d him, and thus I said: ‘Thou maiden youth, be vanquish’d by a maid:’ But, with a proud majestical high scorn, He answer’d thus: ‘Young Talbot was not born To be the pillage of a giglot wench:’ giglot: A wanton; a […]

Talbot describes his son’s valiant death

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 7): TALBOT: Where is my other life? mine own is gone; O, where’s young Talbot? where is valiant John? Triumphant death, smear’d with captivity, Young Talbot’s valour makes me smile at thee: When he perceived me shrink and on my knee, His bloody sword he brandish’d over […]

1 Henry VI: mickle

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 6): TALBOT: If I to-day die not with Frenchmen’s rage, To-morrow I shall die with mickle age: mickle: Great. (If I don’t die today in battle, I’ll die tomorrow from old age.)

1 Henry VI: Talbot says farewell to his son

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 5): TALBOT: Then here I take my leave of thee, fair son, Born to eclipse thy life this afternoon. Come, side by side together live and die. And soul with soul from France to heaven fly. (Talbot’s son refuses to flee & leave his father, even though […]

1 Henry VI: buckled

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 4): SOMERSET: It is too late; I cannot send them now: This expedition was by York and Talbot Too rashly plotted: all our general force Might with a sally of the very town Be buckled with … buckled: encountered; To give way; collapse

1 Henry VI: moody-mad

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 2): TALBOT: If we be English deer, be then in blood; Not rascal-like, to fall down with a pinch, But rather, moody-mad and desperate stags, Turn on the bloody hounds with heads of steel And make the cowards stand aloof at bay: moody-mad: furious with anger

1 Henry VI: Talbot’s deer metaphor

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 2): TALBOT: He fables not; I hear the enemy: Out, some light horsemen, and peruse their wings. O, negligent and heedless discipline! How are we park’d and bounded in a pale, A little herd of England’s timorous deer, Mazed with a yelping kennel of French curs! If […]

1 Henry VI: Talbot threatens Bourdeaux with destruction unless it capitulates

From William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 1 (IV: 2): TALBOT: English John Talbot, captains, calls you forth, Servant in arms to Harry King of England; And thus he would: Open your city gates; Be humble to us; call my sovereign yours, And do him homage as obedient subjects; And I’ll withdraw me and my bloody […]