What We Are Reading Today: The Music of Time by John Burnside

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Updated 21 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Music of Time by John Burnside

Poetry helps us to make sense of our world, transforming what the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam called the “noise of time” into a kind of music. 

The Music of Time is a unique history of 20th-century poetry by one of today’s most acclaimed poets, blending incandescent personal meditations with rare insights about a broad range of poets who distilled the essence of the moment, gave voice to our griefs and joys, and shaped our collective memory.

Bringing together poets from times and places as diverse as Tsarist Russia, 1960s Harlem, and Ireland at the height of the Troubles, John Burnside reveals how poetry responded to the dramatic events of the century while shaping our impressions of them. 

He takes readers from the trenches of World War I to a prison cell in Nazi Germany, and from Rilke’s grave in the Swiss Alps to Dylan Thomas’s Welsh seaside. His luminous narrative is woven through with insights into the poet’s creative process as well as lyrical and thought-provoking digressions on topics ranging from marriage to the Kennedy assassination.

A spellbinding work of literary history, The Music of Time reveals how poets engaged with the most important issues and events of the 20th century, and bears personal witness to the beauty and power of an art form unlike any other.


What We Are Reading Today: The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt

Updated 06 April 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt

Author: Omnia El Shakry

In 1945, psychologist Yusuf Murad introduced an Arabic term borrowed from the medieval Sufi philosopher and mystic Ibn ‘Arabi—al-la-shu‘ur—as a translation for Sigmund Freud’s concept of the unconscious.
By the late 1950s, Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams had been translated into Arabic for an eager Egyptian public. In The Arabic Freud, Omnia El Shakry challenges the notion of a strict divide between psychoanalysis and Islam by tracing how postwar thinkers in Egypt blended psychoanalytic theories with concepts from classical Islamic thought in a creative encounter of ethical engagement.
Drawing on scholarly writings as well as popular literature on self-healing, El Shakry provides the first in-depth examination of psychoanalysis in Egypt and reveals how a new science of psychology—or “science of the soul,” as it came to be called—was inextricably linked to Islam and mysticism.
She explores how Freudian ideas of the unconscious were crucial to the formation of modern discourses of subjectivity in areas as diverse as psychology, Islamic philosophy, and the law.