The novelist Gabriel Josipovici's new book of essays ranges from writings on the Bible, Shakespeare, Kafka, Borges and the Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld to considerations of Rembrandt's self-portraits, death in Tristram Shandy, and what Kierkegaard has to tell us about the writing of fiction. From the title piece, which examines the relationship between artists' works and their beliefs, to the concluding meditations on memory and the Holocaust, "The Singer on the Shore" is unified by the twin themes of Jewish experience, with its consciousness of exile and the time-bound nature of human activity, and of the role of the work of art as a toy, to be played with and dreamed about. Josipovici's explorations are informed by his own experience as a novelist. He is thus both authoritative and undogmatic. This volume, like a book of poems, rewards repeated reading: it not only illuminates the topics with which it deals, it also raises the large question of the place of art in life and of the possibilities open to art today.
Gabriel Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940 of Russo-Italian, Romano-Levantine parents. He lived in Egypt from 1945 to 1956, when he came to Britain. He read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating with a First in 1961. From 1963 to 1996 he taught at the University of Sussex, where he is now Research Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities.
He has published over a dozen novels, three volumes of short stories and a number of critical books. His plays have been performed throughout Britain and on radio in Britain, France and Germany, and his work has been translated into the major European languages and Arabic. In 2001 he published "A Life", a biographical memoir of his mother, the translator and poet Sacha Rabinovitch (London Magazine editions). His most recent works are the two short novels "After" and "Making Mistakes" (Carcanet), and the critical book "What Ever Happened to Modernism?" (Yale University Press).