Tim Parks is the author of many novels, translations, and works of nonfiction, most recently Out of My Head: On the Trail of Consciousness and the novel In Extremis.
 (March 2020)

Follow Tim Parks on Twitter: @TimParksauthor.


The People’s Clowns

Dario Fo and Franca Rame, Milan, 1962

Dario Fo and Franca Rame: Theatre, Politics, Life

by Joseph Farrell
A biography of Dario Fo and his wife, Franca Rame, is inevitably a history of Italy in their lifetimes and particularly in the decades from 1950 to 1990, when their careers as playwrights, actors, and political activists were at their peak. Play by play, show by show, Fo engaged in …

The Prison of the Past

Fernando Aramburu, Madrid, November 2017


by Fernando Aramburu, translated from the Spanish by Alfred MacAdam
Everyone is captive in Fernando Aramburu’s novel Homeland. People yearn for freedom and independence, and find only entrapment and incarceration. It is also a novel packed with accidents and illnesses. One woman is paralyzed by a stroke. One suffers urinary incontinence. Another faces an unwanted pregnancy. Four cancers are reported, …

The Rabelais of Naples

Salma Hayek as a queen eating the heart of a sea dragon in Matteo Garrone’s film Tale of Tales (2015), adapted from a set of stories by Giambattista Basile

The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones

by Giambattista Basile, translated from the Neapolitan and with an introduction by Nancy L. Canepa, with illustrations by Carmelo Lettere and a foreword by Jack Zipes

Tale of Tales

a film directed by Matteo Garrone
It starts with an act of indecent exposure. An old woman, maltreated and insulted outside the king’s palace, lifts her dress to reveal “a woodsy scene.” A series of events is set in motion that ultimately induces the king to call together the best storytellers of the realm to tell …

How Mary Anne Became George

The Transferred Life of George Eliot: The Biography of a Novelist

by Philip Davis
A sonnet sequence is traditionally addressed to a lover and recounts a turbulent, romantic love. Mary Anne Evans, writing under the pseudonym George Eliot, is perhaps unique in having dedicated such a sequence to her brother, Isaac Evans. Published in 1869, when the novelist turned fifty, the poems focus on …


A Novel Way to Think About Literary Categories

Anton Chekhov in Yalta, 1900; Charles Dickens in daguerreotype by Antoine Francois Jean Claudet, London, circa 1852

I want to propose a different way of categorizing novels, or at least arranging the ones you have read on your shelves: something that came to me after reading Dickens and Chekhov in quick succession. At first glance, it might be hard to think of two writers who are more different. Dickens so expansive; Chekhov so economical—story after story unfolding in a few pages, sometimes only a few paragraphs. Cut, cut, cut, he told friends who showed their unpublished work to him. Yet I was surprised to find myself sensing a deep affinity between the two authors.

Pandemic Journal, March 17–22

Dispatches on the coronavirus outbreak from Madeleine Schwartz in Brooklyn, Anne Enright in Dublin, Joshua Hunt in Busan, Anna Badkhen in Lalibela, Lauren Groff in Gainesville, Christopher Robbins in New York, Elisa Gabbert in Denver, Ian Jack in London, Vanessa Barbara in São Paolo, Rachel Pearson in San Antonio, A.E. Stallings in Athens, Simon Callow in London, Mark Gevisser in Cape Town, Sarah Manguso in Los Angeles, Ruth Margalit in Tel Aviv, Miguel-Anxo Murado in Madrid, Tim Parks in Milan, Eduardo Halfon in Paris, Anastasia Edel in Oakland, and more.

A Translation for Our Time?

A print of Samuel Johnson walking with James Boswell, published in The Graphic, December 1884

What is exciting about translation, then, is not the notion that it has delivered a hundred percent, or that the entire world of human feeling can be made available to us in our own idiom—a fantasy that will only induce complacency—but its encouragement to move toward, or at least become aware of, what we do not know; translation as a wake-up call, and an instrument to spur us to more effort, not to have us sit back and applaud another successful worldwide publishing phenomenon.

The Dying Art of Instruction in the Digital Classroom

Illustration of a philosophy lesson, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, by Chretien Legouis, France, fourteenth century

This year will be my last year teaching at the university; I’ve decided to throw in the towel three years before retirement age. There are a number of reasons behind this decision, but one is definitely the changed situation in the classroom. Even at post-graduate level, it is getting more and more difficult to feel that one has the attention of students or that something really useful is happening during the lessons.