A Report on the Afterlife of Culture by Stephen Henighan

By Stephen Henighan

In this essay assortment, Henighan levels throughout continents, centuries and linguistic traditions to envision how literary tradition and our notion of historical past are altering because the international grows smaller. He weaves jointly bold literary feedback with front-line reporting on occasions reminiscent of the tip of the chilly conflict in Poland and African reactions to the G8 Summit.

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Extra resources for A Report on the Afterlife of Culture

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But it receded by contradictory fits and starts; fresh intellectual concepts and a renovated artistic language emerged slowly and awkwardly during the 1920s and 1930s. We sometimes have good discussions in my class after reading the essays, short stories and novels of Spanish American writers of this period, but at the end of each semester I discover that for a significant proportion of my students, the very notion of historical development is too foreign to be fathomed. Trained to perceive human culture as a flat, ahistorical plane, they struggle to assimilate a concept such as the evolution in mindset that occurred during the slow retreat of positivist thinking in Central and South America between 1898 and the 1920s or 1930s.

The 17th- and 18th-century buildings were replicated using original materials and were painted their original colours. Every window, cobblestone, eave and mantle was recreated exactly as it had been in 1939. The fact that this was achieved under a government installed by a foreign power determined to blemish Warsaw with gargantuan reminders of its own ideological dominance – a government that construed Polish nationalism as a threat – raised the feat to the status of a near miracle. In May 1989, the Stare Miasto felt removed from the turmoil that prevailed elsewhere.

The reader can hear the resonant opening sentence of The Go-Between – “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” – murmuring in his ears as he writes. The chronological disjuncture between the customs of the present and those of the past, the consciousness of how the present continues to be warped by past traumas, however, which Hartley takes such care to establish (his novel, set in 1900, is narrated from the perspective of the early 1950s), is precisely what McEwan struggles to capture.

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