edinburgh festival to recreate books
Last Updated : GMT 17:47:06
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Arab Today, arab today

Edinburgh festival to recreate books

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Edinburgh festival to recreate books

Edinburgh - Arabstoday

The hugely influential 1962 Edinburgh writers\' conference, where Norman Mailer and William S Burroughs locked horns with local writers, and where Hugh MacDiarmid infamously denounced Alexander Trocchi as \"cosmopolitan scum\", is set to be replicated in an event this summer. The Edinburgh International Book Festival and the British Council are teaming up to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1962 event, with 50 major international and Scottish authors coming together to debate the relevance of literature today and to attempt to build what organisers said would be \"the most complete picture of writing and its relationship to modern life ever attempted\". The modern incarnation of the 1962 event, which will take place in August, will be broadcast simultaneously online around the world. \"Half a century ago Edinburgh hosted a writers\' conference that was so influential it helped bring about the explosion of literary festivals as we know them today. Norman Mailer, Rosamond Lehmann and William S Burroughs were among the international authors who locked horns with celebrated Scottish writers in 1962, when over a five-day period 50 authors met to discuss how writing can help make sense of the world,\" said Nick Barley, director of the EIBF. \"It turned into an extraordinary stand-off between the old guard and the young turks, as each day a different topic was debated, from the future of the novel to if literature should be politicised. These relatively general topics prompted fierce and passionate debate, and it struck me that we could legitimately ask if these topics were still relevant today.\" The 1962 event launched the relatively unknown Burroughs on the world stage. \"He talked about his cut-up technique in 62 and by 63-64 he was widely published,\" said Barley. Burroughs brought Trocchi with him to the Edinburgh debates, and in a fierce discussion about Scottish literature Trocchi was called \"cosmopolitan scum\" by MacDiarmid. Trocchi then laid into MacDiarmid, criticising the whole atmosphere as \"turgid, petty, provincial, the stale-porridge, Bible-class nonsense\", while Mailer chaired an event at which he defended Burroughs and Trocchi. The 2012 Edinburgh World Writers\' Conference will see authors tackle the same topics which writers almost came to blows over 50 years earlier: style versus content and how we should approach writing the novel; what a national literature looks like; should literature be political; censorship today; and the future of the novel. Barley hopes that Jim Haynes and John Calder, who organised the original event, will be able to attend as guests of honour. \"We wanted to ask exactly the same questions 50 years on, and to bring together a similarly eclectic array of writers,\" he said. \"I don\'t want people to come to blows but I believe the debate will be just as fierce.\" The conversation will continue for the rest of the year at international literary festivals, with a distillation of views from around the world then published as a book in the autumn of 2013. Full details of the Edinburgh World Writers\' Conference will be announced in June.

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