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The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays By Simon Leys,

  • Title: The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays
  • Author: Simon Leys
  • ISBN: 9781863955324
  • Page: 347
  • Format: Hardcover
  • An essential collection of essays from an eminent critic.Simon Leys cultural and political commentary has spanned four decades, with no corner of the arts escaping his sharp eye and acerbic wit The Hall of Uselessness forms the most complete collection yet of Leys fascinating essays, from Quixotism to China, from the sea to literature.Leys feuds with Christopher HitchenAn essential collection of essays from an eminent critic.Simon Leys cultural and political commentary has spanned four decades, with no corner of the arts escaping his sharp eye and acerbic wit The Hall of Uselessness forms the most complete collection yet of Leys fascinating essays, from Quixotism to China, from the sea to literature.Leys feuds with Christopher Hitchens, ponders the popularity of Victor Hugo and analyses the posthumous publication of Nabokov s unfinished novel He offers valuable insights into Mao s Cultural Revolution and the Khmer Rouge, and discusses Orwell, Waugh and Confucius He considers the intertwined nature of Chinese art, culture and history alongside the joys and difficulties of literary translation The Hall of Uselessness is an illuminating compendium from a brilliant and highly acclaimed writer a long time resident of Australia who is truly a global citizen.
    The Hall of Uselessness Collected Essays An essential collection of essays from an eminent critic Simon Leys cultural and political commentary has spanned four decades with no corner of the arts escaping his sharp eye and acerbic wit The Ha

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    1. All men know the use of the useful, but nobody knows the use of the useless Zhuang ZiThe Hall of Uselessness is a gathering of some decades worth of essays, reviews, and other jottings by the Belgian Sinologist Pierre Ryckmans, writing under the pen name of Simon Leys As you would expect, over a dozen of these essays are about China, its history, politics, and culture These are some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated pieces I ve ever read about China His treatments of calligraphy and poetry [...]

    2. Critical RealityTwo possible descriptions of the indescribable Simon Leys Harold Bloom without the arrogance or the Shakespearean idolatry Terry Eagleton with an understanding of Asian as well as continental culture With the wit, erudition and style of both The unique can t be categorised And Leys is certainly that a unique literary and social critic.Fiction, in fact all writing, for Leys is depiction of reality as opposed to the expression of truth, which is an entirely different matter science [...]

    3. I read this last year, and wrote a short essay about it that I then failed to have published anywhere I d forgotten about it Well, here are my thoughts about Leys and World Literature, and a few other things I haven t edited it When I was a teaching assistant for a class on world literature, we had our students define the subject in a short paper One freshman argued, or less, that world literature was invented by Goethe to exclude literature from outside Western Europe Precocious, but this real [...]

    4. Way back in 1978 I got entangled in an argument with a hysterical seminary student I d made some withering remark about the current chic fascination with Chairman Mao, and my fellow student exploded that I had no right to judge, to refer to freedom and civilization when people were starving I replied that even if this were true, in China millions had starved, precisely as a result of Mao s Great Leap Forward I was dismissed.I recalled this incident when I picked up Simon Leys new book of essays, [...]

    5. I bought this book on a whim, knowing nothing about Simon Leys not knowing, for instance, that Simon Leys was the pen name of a man actually named Pierre Ryckmans Now I feel like I know Leys very well for several weeks he has been a constant, endearing companion in my life.This collection covers a wide range of topics, but is unified by Leys own voice and personality, which are highly distinctive, if not exactly unique Indeed, Leys belongs to a very particular type although if the type has a nam [...]

    6. Towards the end of this book of essays, Simon Leys quotes the following, from a forgotten source Past a certain age, we read nothing perchance I must be of a certain age, for I picked up this book just at a time when I was falling into despair at the ignorance and stupidity that prevails in our time Simon Leys is one writer who is possessed of intelligence, wide learning, facility for the written word, and a clear minded logic that cuts through to the core of the matter.This book is a collection [...]

    7. With the witty and humble title of the book The Hall of Uselessness fun, intelligence, great writing, and entertainment are sure to ensue However, you wouldn t think that after reading the second part of the title, collected essays jesus, collected essays sounds boring than textbook at first glance this of course stirs up feelings of academic complacency With this conflicting dilemma of being boring and good at the same time, one is reminded of the old cliche you can t judge a book by its cover [...]

    8. I don t understand how it happened that the name Simon Leys never meant anything to me until about the time the man himself died this past August I missed out, I think But then perhaps I didn t, because the New York Review of Books 570 page collection of his essays, The Hall of Uselessness, makes the best imaginable introduction How often do you pick up a book of essays and find yourself unable to set it down again until you ve finished reading the whole thing Not often, I ll bet But this is wha [...]

    9. 180k words 5 hours Anthology of literature focused essays, highly miscellaneous Judged by wordcount and topic, it seems that Leys s focus is fairly narrow I would compare him to a lesser Borges, but Borges delighted too much in philosophical scientific ideas and speculation for the comparison to really work, while Leys is very much the consummate man of letters I was interested primarily in his comments on China, and was surprised the extent to which he fixates on French literature especially fo [...]

    10. Collection of erudite, witty and deeply human essays Leys is a brilliant reader insightful, irreverent, and deeply in love with the art of writing His essays on various writers and their work are a pleasure to read So are the essays about China, about seamen whether literary or real and about the state of higher education His protests against the oppression in China and in Cambodia come from a deeply humanist impulse His defense of Catholicism comes from the same impulse and thus is deeply sympa [...]

    11. Brilliant an excellent introduction to the thinking and writings of this rare polymath and genuine renaissance man It may seem a contentious thing to say in this day and age, but you don t need to agree with all of Simon Leys political or religious positions to appreciate and celebrate the brilliance of his mind and contribution to intellectual life.

    12. RIP Simon Leys 1935 2014An erudite, spirited collection of essays on Western literature with an emphasis on Belgian writers such as Simenon and Henri Michaux , China and the value of universities and the humanities Leys is unabashedly conservative, standing against new academic trends Edward Said and Roland Barthes come in for particularly harsh treatment and the dominance of pluralism over elitism, as well as standing up for his somewhat old fashioned religious principles an exchange of letters [...]

    13. Besides the exceptionally lucid prose, the most compelling quality Simon Leys has is that he s a genius reader He brings such depth of literature to every essay in this brilliant collection Leys has the most ferocious literary faith you re likely to find, and yet he delights as often with humour as with profundity Next time you re in a bookstore check out The Hall of Uselessness.

    14. Me tard m s de un a o en terminar este libro y, al final, creo que sa es la mejor forma de leerlo poco a poco Estoy segura de que me habr a gustado mucho menos si hubiese le do el libro sin pausar por semanas o meses porque muchos de los ensayos, adem s de tratar los temas que ya hab a le do en La felicidad de los pececillos, son repetitivos dentro de esta colecci n Pero bueno, pues lo le y as y tuve Simon Leys para muchas noches o d as en los que sent a que quer a leer algo pero no estaba segur [...]

    15. Leys gives an interesting collection of essays One of the first essays in this volume has to do with Don Quixote and is classified under the heading of quixotism In it he managed to rekindle my desire to re read Cervantes famous novel He also introduced me to Miguel de Unamuno s Our Lord Don Quixote , which I managed, after a long time, to obtain at a reasonable price The English translation of this work appears to be out of print and extant copies are usually very expensive According to Leys, U [...]

    16. As someone who seems to know every relevant piece of information and can assemble it into loose constellations that give light through their very conjunction, to be seen by the perspicacious reader, Ryckmans stands in the grand tradition of the literate Chinese essay Criticism this elegantly written is a good reminder in the days of internet publishing of what criticism is meant to be He s exceptional on China, and even when I disagree with his judgments which is often he is never disagreeable t [...]

    17. I would and shall go so far as to say that the comparative description of an elderly Edmund Wilson s journal entries on love making sessions with his wife reading as, the same way a zoologist would describe the laborious coition of elephants is itself worth the price of admission I mean, I haven t been caught off guard while drinking Lapsang Souchong with such a burst of laughter since I started reading Svejk just the other week I have laughed in the last two weeks than I had in two years I hav [...]

    18. I like the leisurely, conversational tone of essays, and I like the Simon Leys who emerges from this collection of his essays My favorite in this collection is The Imitation of Our Lord Don Quixote , because it speaks about the reality of fiction that it s value is that it conveys , not a message, but life The closer a book comes to being a genuine work of art, a true creation with a life of its own, the less likely it is that the author had full control over and a clear understanding of what he [...]

    19. Probably a review brought Simon Leys, the Belgian writer long resident in Australia, born Pierre Ryckmans, to my attention, though I long ago had heard of his Chinese Shadows and thought of him as, in his words, a Sinologist But he is much much , as this engaging collection of essays, enigmatically but enticingly and eventually humorously titled The Hall of Uselessness , reveals.Having spent a decade or so in Asia, I realized the essays on China might be less interesting to those without that ex [...]

    20. Simon Leys collection of essays is a brilliant survey of so many unique minds, voices, ideas, movements, observations, and personalities some well known than others throughout history The wonderful thing I found in his biographical sketches of people like Malraux, Andre Gide, and Chesterton, is his way of somehow allowing the subjects themselves to shine through, breaking through the confines of the biographic outline form to actually live and move for a bit as one reads.His journey with Gide i [...]

    21. Simon Leys or Pierre Ryckmans was a Belgian Australian writer, professor of Chinese literature at University of Sydney, translator, sinologist and, frankly, an all round man of the arts Over the two and a bit weeks I read this, I slowly felt myself becoming enriched, observant It was almost as if the sheer genius, wit and erudition of the man was rubbing off on me though I don t dare draw parallels between Leys and myself This collection is a collection of all of Leys finest essays on European [...]

    22. Simon Leys is an interesting writer Very wide rangingly well read, very playful and quite moral He holds strongly to a deep sense of right and wrong which, while I don t always agree with it or the conclusions he draws from it, is refreshing to read this perspective from such an intelligent and caring author Far too often I read pieces of heartless uninformed diatribe from uneducated pens This is not the province of Leys He takes informed stands when appropriate and wanders to and fro when possi [...]

    23. What pleasantly surprised me about this collection was the curation of great quotes Leys writes on a variety of matters in a non pretentious and sometimes ironic manner This is a book I will re read in a few years.

    24. A fantastic collection of thoughts on a wide variety of topics appealing to a reader There are introspections on literature, China, complete trashing of an author, universities and palpable Borges Loved it, even though some pieces are tedious and it took me very Long to get through it

    25. This book by Simon Leys not his real name has a beautiful title The Hall of Uselessness is a title of which, in the reading, you will come to understand as being references to high education and the necessity of time in which to Do Nothing.It has been a long time since I had read a real volume of essays At approximately 451 pages which includes the index , this is not a slouch of a read It is also hardly a tome indeed, it says about how much I read these days, than it does about the extent of t [...]

    26. Como un Montaigne moderno, SImon Leys tiene algo inteligente, asombroso, incluso divertido para decir sobre cosas tan aparentemente dispares como la vida familiar de Andr Gide, la falsedad de Malraux, la caligraf a china un arte mayor que nos puede pasar desapercibido , la traducci n un arte menor que no nos debe pasar desapercibido , la mentalidad del intelectual seducido por el poder totalitario y diez o veinte temas m s La curiosidad de Leys es insaciable pero al mismo tiempo contenida, conci [...]

    27. Simon Leys is a charming writer, and can enliven almost any topic I only wish I knew enough about ancient Chinese calligraphy for example to engage with his essays on the same level they are written As it is, I often felt like I was reading a review of a book I hadn t read in some cases, that s literally true , but I loved it all the sameturnreturnUnfortunately, on the one topic I did feel sufficiently knowledgeable about university funding I found Leys position to be marked by lazy thinking and [...]

    28. A collection of great essays, book introductions, reviews, addresses, with a wide range of topics from Don Quixote through George Orwell to Georges Simenon, from Chinese calligraphy to the Khmer Rouge and on and on I excerpted this book with a frenzy An erudite work which is very easy to read Here is a nice passage When two great civilisations, utterly foreign to each other, come into direct contact, it seems that, at first, they cannot exchange anything but trinkets and blows Cultural initiatio [...]

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