These essays emerge from years of reading, writing, and teaching through the exemplary controversies, commitments, and atmosphere of the crises of modernism that accompany the author’s reading of European literature as a world literature. The author imagines the collection through the image of the Colporteur, who appears along the streets and waysides, walking the arcades of cities with books. One reads books, teaches them, speaks them, and they speak through us, then we write about them, and, if we are fortunate, we read them not just once but again and again. As a teacher of literature, the author is one of the fortunate ones. Untimely Passages is organized into “Dossiers,” which are the imaginary bridges over the literary river crossings. The collection shows a life in writing by crossing rivers to the “other shores.” While it is true, according to Heraclitus, that we can’t “step into the same river twice,” we can cross to the other shores and watch the rivers flowing, and even cross back again and again by rereading and writing by often posing the question of literacy: “Why Write?” The bridges become the authors we read, and we learn to listen to the noises coming from our bookcases.
About the author
Jerry Zaslove is a teacher and writer in the fields of comparative literature and the social history of art. His most recent work includes the installation The Insurance Man: Kafka in the Penal Colony and essays on the place of the university in society, exile and memory, and the city in history. He has taught at Simon Fraser University since its opening year in the Departments of English and Humanities and is the founding director of the Institute for the Humanities.