* You are viewing the archive for May, 2012

Like Leaves: Alice Oswald’s Memorial


Memorial by Alice Oswald. Faber and Faber Ltd. 96 pp. £ 12.99 Hardback


This is an Iliad for our time, brilliantly updated by the sheer freshness of the writing, the simplification of situations to their timeless essentials, and constant subtle flashes of anachronism. But not “for our time” in any limiting sense. Oswald couldn’t be farther from the kind of cheap topicality that seems alive in the moment of writing and then dates as fast as newspapers go yellow. I think her poem will go on being contemporary and fresh for a long time to come.

Fundamentally she’s transformed epic into lyric, … Continue Reading

Italo Calvino, The poetry of Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno

My favourite single work by Calvino is the short story “L’avventura di una bagnante”. This is a mature work of immense subtlety and sophistication, full of irony and humour but also of sweetness and humanity.

I’m also particularly fond of his uneven but brilliant early novel, Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno. That this is a far sadder, bleaker, harsher work is not surprisingly, given its setting in the dying months of the German occupation of Italy when Italian partisans were fighting the Germans and the Italian fascists in the Ligurian mountains – as the young Calvino himself did. However, it too … Continue Reading