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Personal Terms I
Series: Personal Terms
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Film, Memoirs
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
(Pub. Aug 2001)
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(Pub. Aug 2001)
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In 1951, when he was twenty, the novelist, screen-writer and homme-de-lettres-to-be Frederic Raphael bought a spiral-bound notebook from Joseph Gibert in the Boulevard St Michel and started keeping a curious kind of writer's journal. His purpose was 'to catch ideas and incidents on the wing' and 'to train myself to notice things as they were'. He continues this practice today, though the word 'things' has come to embrace more or less everything that matters in the writer's world. These notebooks are at once a detailed Biographia Literaria and a creative resource, not only for him but for other writers and readers.
Raphael includes reflections, sketches for stories and other projects, vignettes of people and places. Some entries are pages long, some are pithy aphorisms, all in one way or another illuminating the vocation of writer and the equally urgent and vital vocation of
reader. A writer's chief tools are watching, listening, guessing, keeping an open mind, reading the present and rereading the past to keep contact and faith with the works which until recent times constituted the imagination and critical discourse of our cultural
Personal Terms is a generous collation from Raphael's notebooks, beginning (as Alice advises) at the beginning, and continuing the intermittent story up to 1969, that year of political crisis and disillusion. By then the eighteen-year-old boy in the Bou' Mich had become the author of eight novels and much else for the page and screen. He still visited (as he does today) Gibert's shop to acquire his enabling notebooks.
'In these notebooks, Raphael shows himself alert to every vanity but his own, a shortcoming that, far from repelling a reader, becomes part and parcel of the their fascination. He is one of those writers who most reveals himself in his acerbic anatomy of others.'
Anthony Quinn, Telegraph 'Aphoristic, lapidary and sumptuously reflective by turns, Personal Terms is a joy to read both for Raphael's prose and mental powers. It is a book of iridescent intelligence, seductive charm, urbane temper and unflagging delight - indeed a minor masterpiece.'
Times Literary Supplement
Praise for Frederic Raphael 'A hilarious and disillusioned page-turner.'
Peter Green, The TLS
'Against the Stream offers many insights into Raphael's "double life". An American who made his career in Britain. A Jew who went to Charterhouse and Cambridge. A Hollywood script-doctor who read Ancient Greek for fun. Vain, sharp-tongued, but the sort of truth-teller Britain needed then and needs now.'
David Herman, Standpoint
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