There is something profoundly alluring about the manuscripts of great literary works. Whether the handwritten fair copy of “Ode to a Nightingale” or a stray page of Shakespeare, Kafka’s diary or the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, we are drawn to manuscripts as talismanic objects, revealers of secrets, at once precious and terribly fragile. They bear both a human and a miraculous imprint. In a secular age, such items can bring one closer to an understanding of the term “holy.”
There is still hope for the novel. In a climate increasingly hostile to fiction that does not adhere to the conservative parameters set by the publishing industry, some writers continue to work according to their own lights. Gabriel Josipovici is remarkable for producing novels that belong to the modern European tradition of Kafka and Proust, yet he writes not in German or French, but in English — and, more remarkably still, out of an English setting.