Comic Self-Effacement




Taking artist Mick Peter's reading list as a starting point, critic and curator Isobel Harbison will led this reading group using extracts from The Magic Christian by Terry Southern and Why Have I Not Written Any of My Books by Marcel Bènabou to discuss comic self-effacement as a literary conceit and artistic methodology.

We will look at these two very different texts, in which the protagonists undermine their own roles to comic effect during the course of their respective narratives. We will look at this as a literary strategy and then ask how it might compare to Mick Peter’s approach in general, and specifically with regard to his work Pyramid Selling at Drawing Room.

Why I Have Not Written Any Of My Books by Marcel Bènabou is a humorous and largely autobiographical work about the author's difficulty in writing and following in the footsteps of great authors.  Full of self-deprecation, it addresses the tension between reading, writing and living and explores the challenges of creative endeavor. French writer Marcel Bènabou (1939-) is professor of ancient history at the University of Paris VII. The Magic Christian​ by Terry Southern is a satire of America's obsession with money, and follows the eccentric schemes of billionaire Guy Grand, as he sets out to prove his theory that everyone has their price. Terry Southern (1924-1995) was an American writer, screenwriter ('Easy Rider' and 'Barbarella') and counterculture legend.

Isobel Harbison is a London based writer, critic and curator.  Harbison recently curated Pre-Pop to Post-Human: Collage in the Digital Age for Hayward Touring. Harbison writes for a number of magazines and publications, including Frieze, Modern Painters and Kaleidoscope, and recently completed her PhD at Goldsmiths Art Department.  She is currently writing her first monograph supported by the Art Foundation Fellowship in Arts Journalism (2014).

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