This book brings together some of Zulfikar Ghose's impressive lectures on language and literature delivered in recent years at universities in Pakistan, Canada, and the USA. The opening lecture, 'An Address to the University Students of Pakistan' (2008), offers valuable insight into the aesthetic issues that are at the heart of great literature. Maintaining the paramount importance of what he terms the 'aesthetic design' of a work of art, Ghose sets out some practical advice to young writers in 'A Short Guide to Writing Fiction' and Writers as Teachers'.
The little lecture, 'In the Ring of Pure Light', begins with a meditation on nature and divinity, muses on Sufi associations with English mystical poetry, discusses the relationship between language and reality, and concludes with a new understanding of shakespeare's tragic heroes, exemplifying the persuasive originality of Ghose's critical thinking with its extraordinary literary and philosophical understanding.
'This Intolerable Agitation of Soul' draws on texts by Milton and Poe, while 'Manufacturing Reality' and 'Sublime Nonsense' make remarkable connections between a wide range of writers from Rabelais to Beckett. The lecture 'Letters from Bryan', which Ghose delivered at the British Library, recalls the early years of his friendship with the great English novelist B.S. Johnson.
In the Ring of Pure Light will delight and instruct both the student who would be a writer or a teacher of literature as well as the general reader seeking a new understanding to enhance their pleasure.
Zulfikar Ghose was born in Sialkot, Pakistan, and has lived in England and the United States for much of his life. He received his BA in English and Philosophy from Keele University. After graduating, he lived in London where he worked as a cricket and hockey reporter for The Observer, and wrote for the Time Literary Supplement, The Spectator, and The Western Daily Press. He held the distinguished position of Susan Taylor McDaniel Regents Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He retired in 2007 and since then has been able to make an annual visit to Pakistan. He continues to live in Austin with his wife, the Brazilian artist Helena de la Fontaine.
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