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The Teller and the Tale

Essays on Literature and Culture 1990 - 2015

Gabriel Josipovici

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RRP: GBP 11.99
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ISBN: 978 1 784102 14 2
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: September 2016
320 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (EPUB), eBook (PDF)
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • ‘We seem to live, intellectually and emotionally, in sealed-off universes,’ writes Gabriel Josipovici in an essay on Hebrew poetry in medieval Spain, just one in a lively multiverse of writings gathered in The Teller and the Tale. The book draws on a quarter of a century’s worth of critical reflection on modern art and literature, Biblical culture, Jewish theology, European identity, the nature of beginnings, and the bittersweetness of writing fiction – to name but a few of the subjects upon which Josipovici’s ranging, pansophic attention rests. The author describes paths between these distant regions of space and time with characteristic warmth and ingenuity. Proust, Kafka, Woolf, Pasternak, Eliot, Spark, Valéry, and Beckett dwell here alongside Dante, Shakespeare, Sterne, Cervantes, and the Brothers Grimm. Each of these great writers is a point of departure for personal reflection, and a series of critical essays takes on a second life as a book of intimate recollections and fond remembrances, recalling departed friends and peers, evoking the pain and ecstasy of childhood, the personal struggle to be a writer, and the life-long project of becoming a person. Here is a snapshot of influences on one of the English language’s most distinctive voices, and an opinionated, sensual, and informed exposition on Western literature and culture.
    Gabriel Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940 of Russo-Italian, Romano-Levantine parents. He lived in Egypt from 1945 to 1956, when he came to Britain. He read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating with a First in 1961. From 1963 to 1998 he taught at the University of Sussex. He ... read more
    Awards won by Gabriel Josipovici Long-listed, 2019 The Republic of Consciousness Prize (The Cemetery in Barnes) Short-listed, 2018 The Goldsmiths Prize (The Cemetery in Barnes)
    Praise for Gabriel Josipovici 'Art demans a certain silence, when creating it and viewing it. Josipovici captures the essence of this silence in both the art and the artist himself in this deceptively complex narrative which he subtitles, "A Triptych after Pierre Bonnard"'

    Melissa Beck, The Book Binder's Daughter


    A 'subtle, disconcerting and remarkable novel'
    Volume, 2019

    'the novel shows its characters overwhelmed by the temporal medium in which everything takes place, and the characters are depicted not so much against light (contre-jour) as against time (contre-temps)... time is always the overwhelming, unresolvable problem.'

    Volume, 2019
    'The narrative is constantly destabilised, leaving us puzzling over what is and isn't 'true'... his debts to writers like Thomas Bernhard, Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet are obvious.'
    Simon Collings, Stride
    'Gabriel Josipovici is one of the outstanding writers and critics of the post-war period.'
    David Herman, The Jewish Chronicle
    'Josipovici's best fiction has always been able to turn silence and reticence into powerful emotions, producing stories of pain and sadness. Contre-Jour is Josipovici at his very best.'
    David Herman, The Jewish Chronicle
      'The Cemetery in Barnes, though outwardly modest, expands in the mind and then lingers there - a tribute to its author's rejection of the need to explain, his willingness to hint at all the ways in which life is a "labyrinth" without trying to say the last word about any of them.'
    Leo Robson, The New Statesman
    'The Cemetery in Barnes is a subtle, disturbing meditation on death and desire, on murder, suicide and arson glimpsed, as it were, out of the corner of the eye; an examination of a life lived in three locations and told - the cue being taken from Monteverdi's Orfeo - in three interweaving voices, whose total effect has the disturbing power of a bad dream.'
    Nick Lezard, Goldsmiths Prize Judge
    'A seriously amusing, at times amusingly serious novella... its artfulness partly lies in its temporary suspension of certainty' 
    Michael Caines, TLS
     'Concealed in this wry interview is an exhilarating "world tour" of music, and how it comes to be created. Music aficionados will recognise Infinity's central figure with delight; newcomers will learn all they need, and more, about an extraordinary composer, and the anguished musical era - the twentieth century - in which he lived and worked.'
    Judith Weir
     'Gabriel Josipovici is a deeply perceptive critic, always rewarding with a wide range of reference. The Singer on the Shore is a beautifully written and enjoyable book.'
    Dame Muriel Spark
     'A tour de force of straightfaced high-culture lunacy ... very funny, deeply serious, at once scathing about the sublime preposterousness of modernism and profoundly admiring of it. Infinity is that rare thing - a novel about a creative genius in whose artistry you are made to believe, and who, for all his monstrous egoism and crackpot theorising, you come to care about and finally applaud.'
    Howard Jacobson
     'A Doctor Faustus for our time. Like Thomas Mann's great novel, Infinity shows how a composer's times are reflected in the creative process of composing, and has the novel's structure itself parallel the composer's aesthetic. Books as insightful as these into the composer's world are rare indeed.'
    Jonathan Harvey
    'Josipovici is one of the UK's most distinguished and fearless writers... [Infinity] is a charming, sexy, modern and scholarly novel - an unusual mix but all the better for it.'
    Deborah Levy, Jewish Quarterly
     'Gabriel Josipovici's Infinity is a wondrous Mobius strip of a narrative that turns ideas of biography, memory and the making of art into a story that one reads with rapt attention, in one sitting.'
    Kirsty Gunn, Scotsman Books of the Year 2012
     'Gabriel Josipovici is a deeply perceptive critic, always rewarding with a wide range of reference. The Singer on the Shore is a beautifully written and enjoyable book.'
    Dame Muriel Spark
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