Issue 1.1 of The Scofield catches up to David Markson

If someone is merely ahead of his time, it will catch up to him one day.

From Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Translation by Peter Winch.

David Markson was ahead of his time.

I don’t know if David Markson read Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Culture and Value but it seems unlikely incredible improbable impossible unreasonable that he didn’t.

I don’t know what the “merely” means in that quote above—it seems pejorative, perhaps, no?

Wittgenstein’s original German being Wer seiner Zeit voraus ist, den holt sie einmal ein. 

Was David Markson “merely” ahead of his time?

And what would that mean?

Issue 1.1 of a new literary magazine, The Scofield, is available as a free pdf.

For our inaugural issue, we have chosen David Markson and Solitude. We chose David Markson, I must confess, because I have long been obsessed with his work, especially the late novels. Five years ago, just after his death, when his personal library was sold off at the Strand Bookstore, I collected hundreds of his books, posting scans of the pages with marginalia on my tumblr blog Reading Markson Reading.

From editor Tyler Malone’s introduction to the volume.

There are poems and essays and riffs and stories and art and comics and marginalia and older public domainish things in The Scofield 1.1.

And a cocktail recipe.

There are interviews: With Markson, with Ann Beattie, with Steven Moore, with others.

There are bits and pieces you might’ve read before,

There are tendencies towards imitating Markson’s style too, which I’ve lapsed into here my own goddamn self.

Evan Lavender-Smith doesn’t imitate Markson in the quartet of stories he contributes, including this one:

Screenshot 2015-08-18 at 1.36.56 PM

But still: Was David Markson “merely” ahead of his time?

By which ahead I mean the last four (anti-)novels, the so-called Notecard Quartet.

I’m reminded of some lines from Evan Lavender-Smith’s Marksonesque novel From Old Notebooks.

I count David Markson’s literary-anecdote books among the few things I want to read over and over again, yet I have no idea whether they are actually any good. They’re like porn for English majors.

No idea whether they are actually any good.

In his essay contribution to The Scofield, Matt Bucher writes:

I think this is partly what makes the Quartet novels so easily digestible: the names change in every paragraph, but the context stays the same.

So easily digestible. There’s a sustenance there, yes. But also a kind of rhetorical infection.

I think they, the quartet, The Notecard Quartet, those (anti-)novels, are actually very very good.

You can read the beginning of the last one, The Last Novel in The Scofield.

You can also read the opening of Wittgenstein’s Mistress in The Scofield.

Capture

Wittgenstein’s Markson.

Merely ahead of his time, as in, like, not transcendent of his time?

I have not read all of The Scofield 1.1 yet (it is very long, as these things go, despite an easy digestibility), but it makes a very nice catching up to David Markson, a recognition/performance of his impact and influence on writers and readers of this time, which was his to be caught up into.

I squander untold effort making an arrangement of my thoughts that may have no value whatever.

From Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Translation by Peter Winch.

and

W o r t e   s i n d   T a t e n.

3 thoughts on “Issue 1.1 of The Scofield catches up to David Markson”

  1. The idea of “merely” isn’t in the included original German. Perhaps it exists somehow in the sentences around the original, but the library I’m sitting in in Germany is an English-language library, so . . . Pech gehabt.

    Like

    1. I asked a friend who speaks/lives in Germany about it (after doing my own “bad” internet-based translation) and he said basically the same thing—my guess/intuition is that the translator is picking out something of the sense of the original—like, as you put it, in the text around the original.

      Like

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.