Ellis Sharp reports on what sounds like a fascinating talk given tonight by Gabriel Josipovici. According to Josipovici, he says, the vast portion of British writing "is carried out as if Kafka and Proust had never existed. Modernism is something which everyone knows exists but which most prefer not to think about." I've recently stepped up my efforts to better acquaint myself with the history of literature (by reading it, in case that wasn't clear). This is for two reasons. First, plainly, simply to read some good books (turns out Middlemarch is pretty good!). Second, to be able to recognize the kinds of thing that Josipovici is talking about. A post from Golden Rule Jones last week ended with this interpretation of something J.M. Coetzee said about young writers not reading: "you can’t be a serious writer if you don’t know the jokes." I take it as given that the same is true of being a serious reader.
Of course, I learned about Josipovici through Steve Mitchelmore (who briefly mentions the talk and Ellis' account here), and more via Ready Steady Book and Spurious. I've read one novel by Josipovici (In a Hotel Garden, which I wrote about here), and I was able to find two others when I was in Paris last Fall (Moo Pak and Now). I have his criticism high on my list of books to acquire (The Book of God: A Response to the Bible looks especially interesting). Ellis writes that he left the talk with his "faith in serious writing renewed".