Sunday, August 10, 2008

A new favorite blog: A Journey Around My Skull

Thanks to Kevin for pointing this out even though he assumed I already knew about it, which maybe I should. He'd forgotten the name and when he was describing the book it's titled after I thought he was talking about Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness but instead it was something I'd never heard about before: Frigyes Karinthy's A Journey Around My Skull. Oddly (or maybe editorially) both have been reprinted by NYRB.

A Journey the blog is one of those with a "narrow" focus that just expands outwards, the world in a grain of sand and all that. In this case, it's a kind of edgy, psychologically dense, quasi-fantasy literature that doesn't attract the avantgardists (not as outwardly flashy) or The Academy (mostly non-canonical even for people who don't believe in a canon). It's work by writers who go in and mostly out of print, who form an almost subterranean literature that doesn't go in set directions but can emerge anywhere.

As an example check the reprint of Marcel Schwob's "imaginary life" of Cyril Tourneur. Now Tourneur can probably have little but imaginary lives since not much in the way of biography has come down and even his best-known play, The Revenger's Tragedy, is increasingly attributed to Thomas Middleton. Schwob's "To him both parents handed down their taste for nocturnal things, for a red glare in the night, and for blood" is altogether apt for The Revenger's Tragedy though Schwob is approaching Tourneur more as a poet than a critic, with more imagination than scholarship. I'd love to read more of this book (published by Avon of all companies) but while my library has a dozen of Schwob's books not a one is in English and the few copies of this book available go for wild money.