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.”
For many decades, scholars of adaptation studies have been quarreling on the flaws and merits of the so-called fidelity issue, that is the (biased) idea that the novel is always better than the film and that the value of a movie thus depends on its more or less faithful recreation of the original, whatever all these terms (recreation, faithful, original) may mean.
For many years, adaptation studies have been the core business of film and literature studies. The often sterile debates address issues of fidelity as well as the progressive opening of adaptation studies to other media than just film and literature.
This is not a new book and many readers may find it pathetically old-fashioned. Yet this collection of writings on art with a capital A by an author often discarded as typically WASP is doing what so much modern art criticism seems no longer “capable and willing” of doing, as we are asked by the air hostess when boarding the plane and being offered an exit seat:
In these days of globalization, including global culture, it might be useful to recall the old humanist ideal of “universality”, that of the uomo universale (and please do not read the term “uomo” in gender-biased terms) who develops his faculties in as many fields as possible and who manages to do so thanks to the general (that is: nonspecialized) education s/he receives and eventually implements in his or her life as scholar, artist, scientist, but also citizen.