First appeared in CNQ magazine. I don’t buy cheap shoes. I buy expensive shoes. Cheap shoes aren’t good for your feet. They screw up your posture, wear out quickly, and hurt your toes. I buy expensive shoes, not due to any kind of extravagance, but rather because, on the contrary, they’re a better deal. They [...]

 How Neglected Literature can Yield Unexpected Treasures First appeared in LOGOS. by Nigel Beale. ‘Collect what excites you’ is the best piece of wisdom anyone who loves books can ever impart.  I’ve been doling it out for decades;  extraordinary, though, how long it’s taken for me to actually heed my own advice, or more accurately, [...]

First appeared in Rain Taxi Review of Books by Nigel Beale This book is best read by the light of another, John Carey’s What Good are the Arts? (Oxford University Press, 2006), a witty, truculent, masterful polemic which argues that a “work of art is anything that anyone has ever considered a work of art, [...]

First appeared in The Guardian. Photo Source: National Portrait Gallery, London. Tom Paulin’s minute analysis of Keats’s great poem is so suffused in his own ideology that he completely misses the poem’s very obvious subject Some may contend that Tom Paulin’s recent Marxist reading of To Autumn in the Guardian helped them to a richer appreciation [...]

First appeared in The Globe and Mail In Patrick Suskind’s novel Perfume, protagonist Jean Baptiste Grenouille is born on a stinking hot day in July, 1738, under a gutting table in a fish market in Paris. Abandoned amid the swarm of flies and offal and then orphaned, he subsequently legs his way through a succession [...]

Reports of the Critic’s death have been greatly exaggerated Contrary to what the title of Ronan McDonald’s new book may tell you, the critic is not dead. He’s alive and crowing on the Internet. Today we can get all the criticism ever voiced in history, on the Web. We also get what rankles right now, [...]

What the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment. The information business is being transformed by the Internet into the sheer noise of a hundred million bloggers all simultaneously talking about themselves. –Andrew Keen, The Cult of the [...]

First appeared in The Guardian Photo Source: Wiki: Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve By Nigel Beale Reading biographies of writers affects the way we read their books. And, unlike Proust, I think it does so for the better During the past several months there has been an interesting conversation ping-ponging back and forth between literary blogs, on the utility [...]

Wyndham Lewis’s thorny persona means grudges are being held beyond the grave and we still don’t recognise the extent of his talent “A hundred books of fiction every month are referred to by eminent critics in language of such superlative praise that, were it the work of Dante that was in question, it would be [...]

One can find fault with his showy, wilfully obscure style, but the world he predicted 50 years ago is the one we live in Fifty years ago, Marshall McLuhan was musing about how media served to extend the human brain. At the time, though some had an inkling of his genius, few understood what he [...]