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The Singer on the Shore: Essays 1991 - 2004
RRP: GBP 18.95
ISBN: 978 1 847779 27 4
Categories: 21st Century, Jewish
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: March 2006
224 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), Paperback, eBook (PDF)
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The novelist Gabriel Josipovici's new book of essays ranges from writings on the Bible, Shakespeare, Kafka, Borges and the Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld to considerations of Rembrandt's self-portraits, death in Tristram Shandy, and what Kierkegaard has to tell us about the writing of fiction. From the title piece, which examines the relationship between artists' works and their beliefs, to the concluding meditations on memory and the Holocaust, The Singer on the Shore is unified by the twin themes of Jewish experience, with its consciousness of exile and the time-bound nature of human activity, and of the role of the work of art as a toy, to be played with and dreamed about.
Josipovici's explorations are informed by his own experience as a novelist. He is thus both authoritative and undogmatic. This volume, like a book of poems, rewards repeated reading: it not only illuminates the topics with which it deals, it also raises the large question of the place of art in life and of the possibilities open to art today.
The Bible Open and Closed
Singing a New Song
The Opinion of Pythagoras
I Dream of Toys
In Time: Rembrandt's Self-Portraits
Escape Literature: Tristram Shandy's Journey Through France
Kierkegaard and the Novel
The Wooden Stair
Listening to the Voice in Four Quartets
Borges and the Plain Sense of Things
Aharon Appelfeld: Three Novels and a Tribute
Andrzej Jackowski: Reveries of Dispossession
The Singer on the Shore
Memory: Too Little/Too Much
This Is Not Your Rest
Writing, Reading and the Study of Literature
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)
'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 Praise for Gabriel Josipovici 'To call it a "success" would be praise too simple for such a rich work. It is a book to be remembered and re-remembered'
Scott Beauchamp, The New Criterion
'As always, Josipovici asks big questions. Why, as a culture, are we fascinated by issues of forgetting? Is there something a little anxious about the injunction to "never forget"?'
David Herman, The Jewish Chronicle
'... a fascinating book of reflections on memory and forgetting... This mix of detailed readings has been typical of Jisopovici's critical work... It is what has made him one of the outstanding critics of our time.'
David Herman, The Jewish Chronicle
'On first read this slender volume of sixty pages is at once recognized as being among the highest quality of literature [...] Poetic, dramatic, and certainly lyrical.'
Rogue Literary Society
'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'
'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.'
'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
'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.'
'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
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