Researcher’s Notebook: ‘My First Encounter with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’

The writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-2013) has an extensive oeuvre. This includes 12 novels, one of which was the 1975 Booker Prize-winning Heat and Dust, along with 25 screenplays (22 of which are films), seven volumes of short stories, several plays, and other non-fiction writing. Her early novels, including A Householder (later also a film), Esmond in India and Get Ready for Battle are all set in India, where she spent 30 years. Her later novels, including Nine Lives: Chapters of a Possible Past and Three Continents, along with collections of short stories and publications in The New Yorker, were all written during the remainder of her life in the USA.

Her bequest to the British Library in 2013 mentions her wish to donate ‘all the papers relating to my prose writing to the British Library in London’, ‘in deep gratitude for my life (1939), the wonderful education they gave me, the English language itself, my great love of reading and trying to write, all of which sustained me throughout my life’.  The date refers to the year she came to England as a Jewish refugee from Germany. This statement was published in an obituary by Catherine Freeman on The Royal Society of Literature’s website. It also quotes Ruth saying, ‘The films are fun but […] I live in and for the books’.

Most people know about Ruth’s Academy Awards for best screenplay adaptations of E. M Forster’s A Room with a View in 1986, and Howard’s End in 1992, the nomination for Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day adaptation in 1993, and the BAFTA for Heat and Dust, adapted from her novel, in 1984. My aim was to highlight the significance of her prose works and to attempt to re-insert them into a wider scholarship. Continue reading

Issue 2 Launch Party: Saturday 25th February

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The Still Point Journal is celebrating the launch of Issue 2: The Researcher’s Notebook.

Join us for an evening of live readings and music at The Gallery Café, Bethnal Green, and pick up your free copy of the print edition.

Saturday 25th February

7:30-10:30pm

The Gallery Cafe, 21 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PJ

Join our Facebook event here for updates about the evening.

For Issue 2 of The Still Point Journal, we asked contributors to imagine that their submissions are part of a collective Researcher’s Notebook in both a literal, and a broader, metaphorical sense. The issue explores the idea of the journal as a space for spontaneous discovery or self-creation.

To whet your aesthetic appetite:

The Researchers Notebook includes contributions from Bihter Almac, Isobel Atacus, Liz Bahs, Leonid Bilmes, Tianmei Chen, Chiara Raffaella Ciampa, George Clayton, Oline Eaton, Daniyal Farhani, Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari, Annegret Marten, Penny Newell, Charlotte Northall, Romy Nuttall, Jon Paterson, Stuart Ruel, Matthew Shaw, Lavinia Singer, and Ruth Tullis, and is designed by Becky Healey.

We have a limited number of copies to gift to our launch party attendees, so come along to adopt your own.

The Still Point is a literary journal for Arts and Humanities researchers from institutions across London: featuring poetry, prose and visual artwork, it is a space for storytelling about the research process. Generously supported by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)/ Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Archives of Lost Voices: Patient Publications in Hospitals

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where this PhD project began, but it certainly grew out my involvement with the Graylingwell Heritage Project. This was a Heritage Lottery Funded community, heritage and arts programme which charted the history of Chichester’s Graylingwell Hospital. I worked as an administrator, voluntary researcher and oral history interviewer for the project while studying English and Fine Art at undergraduate level. I’ve had a life-long love for the historical, particularly the nineteenth century, and I found Graylingwell Hospital’s heritage absolutely fascinating. I didn’t anticipate the huge impact that this project would have on my work (and life), but now, as a PhD student, I can fully appreciate how it has shaped my career.

Built in 1896 as a mental health facility, the hospital was formerly known as the West Sussex County Asylum, and has had a significant impact upon Chichester’s local community as a place of employment throughout the last century. As a medical institution, Graylingwell Hospital has played an important role in the history of mental health treatment in the UK and the development of psychiatry in the 20th century. It is also noted for the important role it played in national history as a war hospital during the First World War, providing care for injured servicemen from 1915 to 1919. The hospital closed in 2001.

The Wishing Well, the magazine produced by the patients of Graylingwell Hospital, various dates.
The Wishing Well, the magazine produced by the patients of Graylingwell Hospital, various dates.

A student of art, English and history, I naturally became very interested in The Wishing Well, which was a magazine printed and distributed by Graylingwell’s Occupational Therapy department between 1946 until at least 1960. These magazines, which are currently held at the West Sussex Record Office, were a creative showcase for the patients of Graylingwell, and include prose, poetry, and written reports on every facet of Hospital life. Visual art features heavily in these magazines, including paintings, woodcut prints, and cartoons. Continue reading

Sound Series #3: Sound and Architecture

I finally found it. A real architectural structure of sound. Muttering and uttering voices, music and speech along with an ever-present echo of static.

There is nothing quite like a moment of inspiration. It is childish glee: Christmas come early. That moment you realise there is someone else who has made that same connection. Rather than worry about the lack of original thought, it is affirmation and excitement that sparks my brain into action. It is moments like this when I remember why I study.

IMG_3509 Recently, I have been playing with the idea of ‘visualising the invisible’, considering the architecture in Chaucer’s The House of Fame dream vision to be structures built of sound. It was Cildo Meireles’s Babel (2001) which – when I visited before the June re-hanging – was positioned in the centre of its own room at the Tate Modern, and sparked so many ideas.

Meireles’s piece explores ideas about the unity of humanity despite language barriers, paralleling the story of the Tower of Babel. The work is an imposing structure made of hundreds of radios tuned to different stations in many different languages. I was most struck by my reaction to take a picture of this architectural structure of sound. Pressing the shutter-button, I realised that this was not an experience to be captured as a still image.

The hearer/viewer moves around the structure; the eye is looking for something that is not there. I took in the barely audible noise, the music I recognised and started to hum too, the languages I cannot speak and wondered at this at once static and constantly moving piece of architecture, like the House of Rumour in Chaucer’s dream vision. It was a moment of connection, with the music and speakers, with those in the room moving around me and the tower. It was a moment that will never happen again. And yet a memory of it lives on in the sonic space of the room.

The sound is heard and disappears and it is held in the sonic structure. While Meireles is concerned with exploring ideas of overcoming barriers and unity, I question how do we deal with the transitory nature of sound? Do the radios demonstrate a fixity? Or simply a way of transmission? The room was almost overwhelming with the various sounds and yet most of the people around me where silent when experiencing Babel (2001). I, however, was speaking rapidly to my very bemused friend. Sound can become tangible in these moments, for language, for communication, for the artwork; adding another layer human radios.

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Charlotte Rudman is a second year PhD student in the Department of English at King’s College London, researching sound and sound representations in medieval dream vision poetry, @charrud.

Snow

Ning told Jing not to expect snow in London.

It would just be cold and grey as usual, said Ning, staring at her phone screen.

But what’s the point of being cold without snow? Jing asked, her body slightly leaning
forward.

Well, I don’t see the causality between being cold and snow. You really need to improve your logical thinking and knowledge in geography. Ning frowned. Ning’s patience was always quite transient, but it disappeared faster than usual when she spoke with Jing. Probably because she knew Jing was extremely stubborn, and reasoning with her was just a waste of time.

It’s fine, thought Jing. She still expected to see snow in London, but she didn’t think she was being stubborn. She just believed in miracles.

SNOW1

Continue reading

Notes to self: draft one

what is beowulf

THIS IS WHAT I\M DOING RIGHT NOW

This feels too big. I think because really I
can’t decide what it is exactly that I am trying to say// what it is I’m
trying to do here.
What ARe we dealing with here? Thinking alot about latour. The SOCIAL. SOCIAL SOCIAL STORIES
COMMUNITY YES.

What about words… ?

UNDERSTANDNG OF WHERE THE MIND IS. existing vs occurring.
this is why I’m
struggling.

‘storied knowledge, then is
neither classificatory nor networked. It is

meshworked’[1],, so how to describe or explore it linearly without
it coming out like utter fluff? aRGH THIS

THIS THIS. The ethnographic FRAGMENT, ‘that which can
be lifted and
taken away’.[2] SEE PAGE 19!!!
He includes a map. Map! Illustration!

THIS IS GOOD: WHAT DISCURSIVE STRATEGIES?
something to be said about the perceived
continuity that exists across time?
sHE’S
SAID IT ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHATARE YOU DOING TO ME

Find a nice storytelling quote please, and
do what he does here. Or some sort of performance
quote. Talk here about martin carver, GIllian overing
and tim… importantimportant this is

THE SITE, THE STORY,,,

NOTE HERE WHAT THE description says,. LOLOLOLol
there is no more work for me to do. She’s
now looking at everything
since 1939… p. 55-6.
don’t even think about _writing this yet ok.

[1] tim ingold, being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and description (London: Routledge, 2001)

[2] Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (fiND PLACE?: University of California Press, 1998)


Fran researches Anglo-Saxon texts and objects, and contemporary cultural and creative practices. She has conversations with her notes, but is usually careful to make sure these are confined to DRaft_sutton_Hoo_1.doc or some other appropriately named and carefully filed away document. This is a collection of notes-to-self from a very early essay draft, in the order they appear, edited only for layout.

#ResearchersNotebook

Fran notebook pic

The deadline for our current Call For Submissions approaches at the end of January…

For Issue #2 of The Still Point Journal, we ask contributors to imagine that their submissions are part of a collective Researcher’s Notebook in both a literal, and a broader, metaphorical sense. We want to explore the idea of the journal as a space for spontaneous discovery or self-creation/autopoeisis; whether this be through pages from an actual notebook filled with doodles, mind-maps and beautiful scrawls, or pieces which explore the researcher’s thought-process and the genesis of an idea over time.

… so to get everyone in the mood we asked Twitter folks to post pictures of their notebooks and beautiful scrawls with the hashtag #researchersnotebook to @stillpointLDN.

Here’s a flavour of the cute and the curious, kicked off by our chief editor… send in your own over the next couple of weeks and add to the collection.

Notes from Literary Events I attended in First Term

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24.09.2014

Adrian Henri at the Liverpool Biennial

(On the train back to London).

If I had the energy to write, I’d write about Adrian Henri and the Mersey Sound.

I’d write about the sounds of Liverpool and how these sounds and the chiming of Liverpuddlian, can be lyrical, sensual and richly musical.

I’d write about how you can stand in the research centre discovering Adrian Henri for the first time and overhear two Scousers talking about their own adventures with the Liverpool Scene, and about a singular meeting with the round, black-bearded and be-spectacled Henri himself.

Yes, if I had the energy, that’s what I’d write about.

04.10.2014

Alice Oswald- Tithonus

A poetic jig.
A foot tapping.
A fly.
But shouldn’t they have driven us out to some field at dawn?

I will reflect a little more later, I promise.

15.10.2014

Ali Smith: Living Translation

It began with Ali Smith’s ‘Provocation:’ a rolling, breathy work of sound and voice and soft (irresistible) accent.

Smith speaks like a poem. She holds her breath until she reaches the end of her thought-rhythm, before introducing the next etymological haiku. What genius it takes to craft a polemic into a sound poem: a rapid fire, perfectly formed stream of provocation.

Smith says that “translators are more writer than the original writer” for this is “a double layered writing, a twin responsibility, an osmosis of the self.”

Smith says that we should be learning languages when we are so young that “language structures sink into us like butter into toast.”

Smith says “the translator sees what the writer did not write – it takes that level of close reading.”

Smith says “look and all languages display relation.”

That’s all for now, I will write more later.

29.10.2014

Caroline Bergvall- Drift

The tking of the voice, almost the sound of a typewriter or a haptic phone dialling, signals a visual layering of type – a streaming of new letters sounded into illumination.

Understanding is a process of fluctuation.

Letters shrink into illegibility but become small islands of type, shifting land-masses of notation suggesting a map; or are they the lights of the distant city which Bergvall speaks of, the hallucination on the horizon which promises respite yet is not as solid as a land-mass, but is a gathering of sound in words: as material (or immaterial) as the voice which resounds in space until it fades away.

I will write more, later.

10.11.2014

The Joy of Influence: Paul Mason and Anne Enright on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow

This is all I wanted to note down from the event last night.

During questions at the end (this is more of a comment than a question), a Scottish man in the audience says: “I sped read the book again on the train down from Holyhead to London with some page notes I made in the 1970s. I finally think I know what the book’s about.”

Francesca Brooks is in the first year of her PhD at King’s College London, her research looks at multilingualism, translation, and aspects of orality in Old English manuscripts and the printed poetry of David Jones. Follow her @Frangipancesca