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This book brings together some of Zulfikar Ghose’s impressive lectures on language and literature delivered in recent years at universities in Pakistan, Canada, and the USA. The opening lecture, ‘An Address to the University Students of Pakistan’ (2008), offers valuable insight into the aesthetic issues that are at the heart of great literature. Maintaining the paramount importance of what he terms the ‘aesthetic design’ of a work of art, Ghose sets out some practical advice to young writers in ‘A Short Guide to Writing Fiction’ and ‘Writers as Teachers’.The title lecture, ‘In the Ring of Pure Light’, begins with a meditation on nature and divinity, muses on Sufi associations with English mystical poetry, discusses the relationship between language and reality, and concludes with a new understanding of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes, exemplifying the persuasive originality of Ghose’s critical thinking with its extraordinary literary and philosophical understanding. ‘This Intolerable Agitation of Soul’ draws on texts by Milton and Poe, while ‘Manufacturing Reality’ and ‘Sublime Nonsense’ make remarkable connections between a wide range of writers from Rabelais to Beckett. The lecture ‘Letters from Bryan’, which Ghose delivered at the British Library, recalls the early years of his friendship with the great English novelist B. S. Johnson.In the Ring of Pure Light will delight and instruct both the student who would be a writer or a teacher of literature as well as the general reader seeking a new understanding to enhance their pleasure.
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