Saturday, August 26, 2023

Jerome Charyn

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Ravage & Son; Sergeant Salinger; Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin; In the Shadow of King Saul: Essays on Silence and Song; Jerzy: A Novel; and A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century. Among other honors, his work has been longlisted for the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award and PEN Award for Biography, shortlisted for the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award, and selected as a finalist for the Firecracker Award and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Charyn has also been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Recently I asked Charyn about what he was reading. His reply:
I am currently reading a biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein by Ray Monk. I intend to write a story about Wittgenstein, who served as a porter at Guy’s Hospital during World War II. This was his war service. My narrator, a young American caught in London during the Blitz, befriends Wittgenstein and the story is about their curious friendship.

Wittgenstein was the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century. He was also a Jewish homosexual who converted to Catholicism. He came from the richest family in Vienna and gave his entire fortune away.

Wittgenstein never read Aristotle, and didn’t believe in the history of philosophy. He was a poet who hurled himself into the world of mathematics. He was a musician; he could have played the clarinet in any orchestra. He was an architect who built a house for his sister without ever studying architecture. He was a genius who had nowhere to go. He was a professor of philosophy at Cambridge, who gave up his chair to live like a monk. He did not believe in anything other than the mysterious music of language.

Philosophy was a riddle that Wittgenstein knew he could never solve. He died trying to do so.
Visit Jerome Charyn's website.

The Page 69 Test: Under the Eye of God.

My Book, The Movie: Big Red.

Q&A with Jerome Charyn.

The Page 69 Test: Ravage & Son.

--Marshal Zeringue