Gabriel Josipovici

Gabriel Josipovici is Reader in English at the University of Sussex. His new novel, The Echo Chamber, will be published next spring.

Jews’ Harps

Gabriel Josipovici, 4 February 1982

It is not often that a reviewer can say that the book under review has altered his entire conception of the past. Yet that is what I have to say about this book.

Story: ‘Steps’

Gabriel Josipovici, 3 December 1981

He had been living in Paris for many years.

Picasso and Cubism

Gabriel Josipovici, 16 July 1981

Le Mystère Picasso is how Clouzot entitled his famous film, in which the artist was seen at work before our eyes, and for most of its eight decades our century has been vainly trying to decipher that mystery. To talk about Picasso is to talk about the culture of our time, not just because his work has played such an important part in it, but because in the reactions to it we can discern nearly all the myths and clichés of the age. Picasso has been the butt of every anti-Modernist joke in a way Cézanne, for instance, never was, and he has also been our most celebrated artist. The paradox is only superficial, for both attitudes show little interest in the actual work of the hand.

A Human Kafka

Gabriel Josipovici, 5 March 1981

When Kafka died in 1924 not one of his novels had been published. He was known to a small circle – though Janouch’s testimony shows that that circle spread beyond his friends – as the author of a story about a man who turned into a beetle. Brod published The Trial in 1925, and followed it with The Castle (1926), America (1927) and a volume of short fragments and aphorisms, The Great Wall of China (1931). The first work of Kafka’s to be translated into English was The Castle, which the Muir brought out in 1930. In the twenty years following his death Kafka came to be known in Europe and America simply as the author of The Trial and The Castle. Those twenty years saw the destruction of the world Kafka had known, and his family with it, and they were years when it might have been thought Europe would have other things on its mind than the assimilation of the strange imaginative world of a Prague Jew writing in German. But it didn’t work like that. The very temper of those years made Kafka seem profoundly relevant and prophetic, and by the end of the war his reputation was as solidly established as that of Eliot or Joyce or Proust.

One day they found him under the bed curled tight, pressed against the wall. For as long as they could remember he had been in the habit of hiding objects in boxes, in drawers, in holes he dug in the garden. Sometimes, when they sat down to a meal after calling for him in vain, he would suddenly appear from under the table. But when they found him that day under the bed it was different. He wouldn’t come out and they had to pull the bed aside and haul him to his feet. His pockets were stuffed with objects: pebbles, a rusty spoon, two pen-nibs, a half-sucked sweet. When they asked him what he was up to he wouldn’t reply. They pleaded, threatened, cajoled. When they finally gave up he went back to his place under the bed.

Buckets of Empathy

James Wood, 30 March 2000

If innocence were a family business, a terraced saga like Buddenbrooks, our age would be the sickly generation that abandons the firm and takes up the piano. We would seem to have nothing left in...

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Bible Stories

John Barton, 16 February 1989

Hegel, says Kierkegaard, presents us with history seen in terms of its ends, as a story which we, from our privileged vantage-point, can decipher. But, says Kierkegaard, that leaves out of...

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Yak Sandwiches

Christopher Burns, 31 March 1988

John Murray’s fiction has always seemed to arise directly from the circumstances of his own life. At first, his work concentrated on his childhood and adolescence among the tiny, depressed...

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Graham Hough, 3 July 1986

Three African writers, from very different parts of the continent – Saro-Wiwa from Nigeria, Ndebele from South Africa, Macgoye from Kenya. My ignorance of all three regions being deep and...

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The Great Exhibition

John Sutherland, 6 September 1984

A prefatory note testifies that Empire of the Sun draws on its author’s observations as a young boy swept up by the Japanese capture of Shanghai, and his subsequent internment in Lunghua...

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As I begin to write this, innumerable other reviews are being born. Some are being word-processed in paper-free offices, others handwritten in the Club lounges of intercontinental jets and others...

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Mortal Scripts

Christopher Norris, 21 April 1983

In the present climate of polemical exchange one may doubt whether Gabriel Josipovici would take very kindly to being enlisted on the side of ‘literary theory’. Though his essays make...

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Words about Music

Hans Keller, 30 December 1982

My fairly extensive – and, analytically, intensive – writings about Stravinsky confine themselves to his music and the psychology of his creativity – to the products and the...

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On the Verge of Collapse

John Sturrock, 19 August 1982

The Siren’s Song is the first chance English readers have had to experience Maurice Blanchot. If it is the case, as Gabriel Josipovici pre-emptively asserts in his introduction, that...

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Graham Hough, 3 December 1981

It is a curious thing that while so many critics are busy telling each other that literature is a linguistic game, that novels are purely formal structures and that their pretensions to represent...

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Character References

Robert Taubman, 15 May 1980

‘Yvonne dear,’ his Aunt said, ‘won’t you do the introduction?’ ‘This is Nancy,’ Yvonne said. ‘This is Andy. This is Mildred. This is George....

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