PDF × BOOK The Hall of Uselessness ☆ SIMON LEYS

EBOOK The Hall of Uselessness

PDF × BOOK The Hall of Uselessness ☆ SIMON LEYS ☆ ➵ The Hall of Uselessness Download ➾ Author Simon Leys – Dogsalonbristol.co.uk An essential collection of essays from an eminent criticSimon Leys’ cultural and political commentary has spanned four decades with no corner of the arts escaping his sharAll MOBI #8608 considers the intertwined nature of Chinese art culture and history alongside the joys and difficulties of literary translation The Hall of Uselessness is an illuminating compendium from a brilliant and highly acclaimed writer – a long time resident of Australia who is truly a global citiz Brilliant an excellent introduction to the thinking and writings of this rare polymath and genuine renaissance man It may seem a contentious thing to say in this day and age but you don't need to agree with all of Simon Leys' political or religious positions to appreciate and celebrate the brilliance of his mind and contribution to intellectual life

Simon Leys ç The Hall of Uselessness BOOK

Ina from the sea to literatureLeys feuds with Christopher Hitchens ponders the popularity of Victor Hugo and analyses the posthumous publication of Nabokov’s unfinished novel He offers valuable insights into Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the Khmer Rouge and discusses Orwell Waugh and Confucius He The H Way back in 1978 I got entangled in an argument with a hysterical seminary student I'd made some withering remark about the current chic fascination with Chairman Mao and my fellow student exploded that I had no right to judge to refer to freedom and civilization when people were starving I replied that even if this were true in China millions had starved precisely as a result of Mao's Great Leap Forward I was dismissedI recalled this incident when I picked up Simon Leys' new book of essays because my Comments of 1978 had been inspired by Leys' Chinese Shadows which I'd discovered through a review by Jonathan Spence in the NYRB Leys had pointed out the dark side of Mao which in the mid 70s even many sinologists were reluctant to acknowledge His philippic carried the charge it did because Leys passionately valued Chinese civilization and admired the character of the Chinese people – a passion that reappears repeatedly in these essays The Hall of Uselessness is a collection written over the past thirty odd years It's an uneven assortment A few pieces which expose Leys at his most curmudgeonly I would have been happy not to have read A few others most notably the first five essays on China are superb I'll cite only one extended passageFor a layman at first sight Chinese painting may appear rather limited and monotonous; landscapes for instance are invariably built on a combination of mountains and rivers organised on the basis of a few set recipes These stereotyped forumlas are themselves filled with conventional elements – trees rocks clouds buildings figures – whose treatment is standardised in painting handbooks that are straightforward catalogues of forms The range of poetry is eually narrow it uses a rigidly codified symbolic language a set of ready made images the song of the cuckoo that makes the traveller feel homesick; the wild geese that fail to bring news from the absent lover; the east wind with its springtime connotations; the west wind and the funereal feelings of autumn; mandarin ducks suggesting shared love; ruins of ancient monuments witnessing the impermanence of human endeavours; willow twigs exchanged by friends as a farewell present; moon and wine; falling flowers; the melancholy of the abandoned woman leaning on her balcony In a sense one could say that Chinese poetry is made of a narrow series of clichés embroidered upon a limited number of conventional canvases And yet such a definition although it would be literally accurate would nevertheless miss the point a deaf man could as well describe a Bach sonata for cello as a seuence of rubbings and scratching effected upon four gut strings stretched over an empty box 302 These essays echo decades of scholarly insight Any work of art – poem painting piece of music – plays the part of a 'fisherman's song' beyond the words forms and sounds that it borrows it is a direct intuitive experience that no discursive approach can embody For someone like me who sees both Du Fu's poetry and Bach's Cello Suites as works of art which constitutively alter the sense of life this is an enticing summaryOn the other hand some of the other essays on China are a bit tetchy Even if Leys has earned the right to crow at his detractors it isn't edifying – a risk he recognizes but cannot entirely forgo And do we really need another snide evisceration of Said's already snide Orientalism Leys' editor did him no favors hereSimilarly the essays on politics and literature are sometimes rich and provocative and sometimes ill tempered Throughout Leys' judgments are informed by his Catholicism which depending on your taste is either or a good or a bad thing In this respect he reminds me of another writer I greatly admire – John Lukacs Leys values Catholic writers G K Chesterton Simone Weil Paul Claudel even Evelyn Waugh far than I He's given to remarks such as For our true motherland is eternity; we are the mere passing guests of time This warmth leaves me coldI only mention this because he like Lukacs is so deeply skeptical of political illusions in the perspicuous manner of Albert Camus Raymond Aron George Orwell Leys offers an excellent aphorism from Orwell The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians For me Catholicism falls on the authoritarian side of this divide But this is merely an irritation in an original curious collection by a thoroughly intelligent writer Fittingly NYRB is scheduled to publish this book next June in its Classic Original series When I spotted this notice I hunted down the Australian edition I read – so it's only just to promote the NYRB edition

EBOOK ¶ The Hall of Uselessness ç Simon Leys

The Hall of UselessnessAn essential collection of essays from an eminent criticSimon Leys’ cultural and political commentary has spanned four decades with no corner of the arts escaping his sharp eye and acerbic wit The Hall of Uselessness forms the most complete collection yet of Leys’ fascinating essays from uixotism to Ch Critical RealityTwo approximate descriptions of the indescribable Simon Leys Harold Bloom without the arrogance or the Shakespearean idolatry; or Terry Eagleton with an understanding of Asian as well as continental culture With the wit erudition and style of both The uniue can't be categorised And Leys is certainly that a uniue literary and social criticFiction in fact all writing for Leys is depiction of reality as opposed to the expression of truth which is an entirely different matter science is after all fiction of a particular genre Poetry as the apotheosis of fiction is the grasping of reality the naming of what actually is Literary criticism is the poetic uncovering of a reality that even the author of the work criticised may be unaware of Since reality provides an infinite scope for story telling neither fiction nor its criticism has any obvious boundary and therefore leads to social commentaryThis view on the world produces lots of profoundly engaging judgements on European literature and the society that produces it Balzac displays the aesthetic sense of a prosperous Caribbean pimp Victor Hugo is a Trumpian but endearing figure of French literature Malraux is essentially phony sic The orientalist Edward Said is a Palestinian scholar with a huge chip on his shoulder Roland Bathes bestows a new dignity upon the age old activity of saying nothing at great lengthLeys's judgements of are perhaps even interesting for Europeans who are novices in Chinese literature the persistence in Chinese culture of spirituality within a landscape largely devoid of material ancient monuments the self expressiveness of writing per se as an artistic and uasi sacred frame for literary content the modernity of Confucian thought in its openness and adaptability China itself as a sort of recipe for cosmic order with the main ingredient as a virtue ethics that could come from Thomas Auinas the lethally seductive charm of Zhou Enlai Mao's complete lack of personal charisma Communist literature as rhinoceros sausage Simon Leys died just short of two years ago His legacy is profoundly rich

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