Here We Go Again

I’m back, and healthier than ever, thanks to the extraordinary staff at St Vincent’s Hospital.  I’m about to book rooms for the courses I had to cancel in August, to run from late January or early February.  Attached is the tentative schedule.  If there’s anything you’d like to attend but can’t on the proposed dates, let me know–I might be able to do a little adusting.  Also attached are the details of texts you’d want to acquire for the Canterbury Tales and or Mystery Plays units.

Recommended Texts Canterbury Tales and Mystery Plays

Proposed 2016 courses

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Steppin’ Out

I’m undertaking my first public lecture, for my friends at the Melbourne Free University, with an improvised fugue on our media-driven notions of the heroic versus one version of the real deal I happen to have been working with closely over the past few years.

Free admission in a nice pub.  All most welcome.


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Update and Looking Ahead to the New Year

Just to let you know, my recovery continues to leap from strength to strength.  Got some advanced phsyio/rehab to get through starting today, but I feel strong as an ox most mornings.  The trick will be to make that last all day!  I’m actually nearing the end of writing the first draft of my Beowulf-book, a very exciting prospect for me.  business cardI’m also laying plans to get my MLS courses and the Refectory lunch-time poetry sessions up and running in the new year.  Expect Refectory sessions to start up again in January, and 6- and 12-week courses to begin running from late January and early February.  Thanks so much for your continued patience.  I can’t wait to get started again.  One thing, however, at a time!  Cheers.

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All Is Well

I’m just home from hospital, where my op has exceeded expectations, and my recovery looks sets to break records too. Thank you all SO much for all your good will and support. I can’t wait to join you in Ross House again, but I’ll just need to make sure I pace myself properly.  I will probably not resume any teaching till January/February. I’ll get my book written, and then what fun we’ll all have!

Will talk again soon. Till then, be well and thanks so much again.

Warm regards,

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‘Socks of the Spirit’ : A Little Nietzsche

Just the pre-op thing, as my go-slow prep has allowed me time for reflection on all sorts of stuff past and present.  Stumbled on this in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in Walter Kaufman’s splendid translation:

On Scholars

    They are skillful and have clever fingers: why would my simplicity want to be near their multiplicity? All threading and knotting and weaving their fingers understand: thus they knit the socks of the spirit.

     They are good clockworks; but take care to wind them correctly! Then they indicate the hour without fail and make a modest noise. They work like mills and like stamps: throw down your seed-corn to them and they will know how to grind it small and reduce it to white dust.

Socks of the spirit!  We too easily miss how funny Nietzsche can be.  This nails why I am writing my determinedly non-scholarly book on Beowulf.  In a far smaller nutshell than my customary word-spray could ever manage.

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My Unplanned Sabbatical

upside down warwick

Negotiating a tricky passage

My bypass surgery’s been scheduled for 17 August, with my recovery and recuperation likely to take at least three months after that, so it looks as if this silly cardiac business is going to put a question mark over the rest of 2015.

I’m hoping still to be able to run a couple of six-week courses in November-December.  Perhaps the Kafka and the Wallace Stevens courses, and some further sessions in the Old English series for you dedicated souls who’ve stuck with it all this time.

If all goes to plan.  But for the moment we’ve got to assume everything will remain on hold till 2016.  Expect some notice one way or the other by October.  And thank you all again for your messages of sympathy and encouragement.  The outlook remains very positive, once I get through the physical challenge up front, and I’m looking forward to pushing on with a full schedule once I’m fighting fit again.

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2015 Courses delayed

Hi, all. I’ve had angiogram today that has revealed that I will indeed need bypass surgery shortly. I’m seeing the surgeon 27 July and hope the actual surgery will happen as soon as possible after that.

So, for the moment, all courses in the Melbourn Literature Seminars scheduled for 2015 that aren’t already under way will have to go on indefinite hold. The long courses on The Canterbury Tales and the English Mystery Plays will have to be postponed to 2016, though I do hope I’ll be able to run a smattering of six-week courses later in 2015 if all goes well. These will include the courses I’ve advertised on Kafka and Wallace Stevens, and I hope to come up with a few surprises as well.

I will also resume the MLS Refectory series of lunchtime poetry sessions later this year, as soon as possible after I recover from the surgery. I will get notices out about any resumption as soon as I’m able.

Fnally, the Old English course currently under way ought to be able to meet for its remaining sessions.

Thanks so much to you all for your good wishes. The prognosis is very good, and I should come out of this more energetic and digressive than ever. You have been warned.

All the best,

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How I Teach

I get asked this a lot, and a few stray responses gathered in my head yesterday, in a big enough murmuration of starlings that I tried to collect them on paper.  Here’s a PDF of the result.


Jim Carey making his exit as Truman Burbank in the finale of one of my all-time favourite films, The Truman Show. A very lecturely pose!

How I Teach

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Arena Magazine Reviews

Ishiguro The Buried Giant Review

the-buried-giantI was recently asked to review Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel for Arena Magazine.  Here is the result.


A few issues previously I reviewed Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake, a far less happy affair.  So you can read me urbane, or you can read me bitchy.  Or both.  Your call.


91_%20Paul%20Kingsnorth%20-%20The%20WakeKingsnorth The Wake Review

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Yeats’ A Vision

Yeats-The-Great-Wheel-81I gave a brief (for me!) talk on A Vision, the occult classic by W.B. Yeats, as part of the celebrations commemorating his 150th birthday.  I dressed for the occasion in a peackock-blue silk waistcoat (couldn’t find a pince-nez, so my ordinary readers had to do).  Audience and speakers alike contributed to an extraordinary day.  Here’s a link to a recording of the talk I’ve put up on soundcloud:




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