By Jane Smiley

Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling writer Jane Smiley’s The Greenlanders is a captivating novel within the epic culture of the outdated Norse sagas.Set within the fourteenth century in Europe’s so much farflung outpost, a land of glittering fjords, blasting winds, sun-warmed meadows, and excessive, darkish mountains, The Greenlanders is the tale of 1 family–proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson; his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile; and his son Gunnar, whose quest for wisdom is on the compelling heart of this unforgettable ebook. Jane Smiley takes us into this international of farmers, clergymen, and lawspeakers, of hunts and feasts and long-standing feuds, and by way of an act of literary magic, makes a distant time, position, and folks not just actual yet pricey to us.

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This is a truly revolutionary hope, and it does not have to wait idly for its time to come, but rather can and must reach proactively into the future and bring it closer by beginning to realize its possibilities in the present. Apocalypse stands for the contradiction of all that is human and of every worldly order—Moltmann’s “contradiction of the given reality” (Widerspruch zur gegebenen Wirklichkeit)—by the advent of a higher power and authority. This “other” order is unspeakable within the present world order.

On the question of the negative essence of literature, see further Languages of the Unsayable: The Play of Negativity in Literature and Literary Theory, ed. Sanford Budick and Wolfgang Iser (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), in particular the contributions of Derrida and Kermode. 36. Maurice Blanchot, L’écriture du désastre (Paris: Gallimard, 1980), 14.  Especially instructive in this regard is Hans Blumenberg, “Ausblick auf eine Theorie der Unbegrifflichkeit,” in Schiffbruch mit Zuschauer: Paradigmen einer Daseinsmetapher (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1979), 75–93.

For Eugène Guillevic, the core of poetry consists in its halts and pauses, blank spaces and silence—“This silence gone off / in search of itself ” (Ce silence parti / À sa propre recherche) (“Un clou”). And Michel Deguy dwells upon the collapse of language’s power of purchase through figuration and, consequently, of the sense of sense: “the loss of credit in the figurative moon. That is the sense, and that has no sense” (la perte de créance en la lune figurative. 29 Of this sort of poetry that fights to avoid yielding its own or any meaning, one can say with John Ashbery, “These accents seem their own defense” (“Some Trees”).

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