She wished this were her last journey.This is the first line of Peter Handke's 472-page Crossing the Sierra del Gredos, as translated by Krishna Winston. My copy finally arrived today! I'm pleased to report the typeface is generous, certainly compared to the edition of Handke's last doorstop.
The sentence also begins the 500th post on this blog. I wish it too were the last. From the first entry in September 2004 (though not my first blog, that was Spike Magazine's Splinters, my contributions beginning in November 2000, followed by the year-lasting In Writing) I've tried to say something that would change the way people read. No matter how absurdly ambitious this is, and no matter how meagre my resources (there are many important books I've not read), I've wanted to define and share a particular experience of reading, one that tends to be ignored when literature is discussed on these islands; ignored not least by me. It's taken this long and I believe I still haven't defined it. If I have, I did so a month after the first blog in Struck by Death, an attempt to summarise Blanchot's short essay on the Lascaux cave paintings. It remains one of my favourites, though it drew little attention. (That's one of the oddest things about blogging. One works relatively hard on long posts, such as this one on Martin Amis and it receives no comments, yet one throwaway remark can provoke a storm).
Yet, if Blanchot is right in another essay, "What is the Purpose of Criticism?" (found in this book), then the continuation of this blog (and every other literary blog) is necessary to that experience:
Critical discourse is this space of resonance within which the unspoken, indefinite reality of the work is momentarily transformed and circumscribed into words. And as such, due to the fact that it claims modestly and obstinately to be nothing, criticism ceases being distinguished from the creative discourse of which it would be the necessary actualization or, metaphorically speaking, the epiphany.That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.