If popular culture is culture for the millions, entertaining and easy to understand, many great readers and critics are well aware of the fact that this fundamental openness is not to be confused with shallowness or lack of sophistication.
History did not end after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and since 9/11 many new forms of historical consciousness as well as experiencing time and history have emerged, sometimes rather slowly, in the wake of theoretical efforts to restore the focus on our ever changing world, but occasionally also very abruptly and unexpectedly.
My apologies for the silly title of this review, which is the umpteenth variation on a worn-out cliché, but this time it perfectly does the job since the new book by Michael Kasper, a fascinating American book artist and essential middleman in the literary dialogue between Belgium and the US, is precisely anything but a translation.
The publisher calls it an “introduction” to the works, the authors, the currents, and the contexts of the European avant-gardes in the period 1905-1935 (three decades that in Anglo-Saxon criticism are often called “High Modernism”, a powerful streamlining of the exceptional dynamism and diversity of these years). But this is really not the best word to qualify the “portable guide” proposed by one of the leading voices in the field.
Le Château (“The Castle”) is a two hundred pages mute graphic novel by the Belgian artist Olivier Deprez. First published in 2002, this reinterpretation in expressionist black and white woodcuts of Kafka’s famous novel was immediately recognized as a masterpiece of modern graphic storytelling and had rapidly become a cult album.
Launched in 1959 by René Goscinny and Jean-Michel Charlier, partially in reaction to the unfair labor conditions offered by the then leading comics magazines, Pilote is considered today the publication that made the bridge between traditional children and adolescent comics magazines such as Tintin or Spirou and adult comic journals such as Fluide Glacial and Métal Hurlant (which will even develop a US sister publication).
A reading suggestion for the summer: Traversals: The Use of Preservation for Early Electronic Writing by Stuart Moulthrop and Dene Grigar and with foreword by Joseph Tabbi, described as “An exercise in reclaiming electronic literary works on inaccessible platforms, examining four works as both artifacts and operations.”