Shakespeare's World is a collaboration between Zooniverse and the Folger Library's Early Modern Manuscripts Online project. On the Shakespeare's World website anyone can contribute transcriptions of bits of manuscripts from Shakespeare's time. The project benefits not only Shakespeare studies, but also historians of the early modern period and the lexicographers of the Oxford English Dictionary. Roberta Kwok wrote an article about the project for the New Yorker.
LitHub suggests some top picks for "the" Great American Novel and offers rationales for each with links to articles arguing for them. [more inside]
“Has the American Dream Been Achieved At the Expense of the American Negro?” [YouTube] Historic debate between James Baldwin v. William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University. [more inside]
The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi Rozina Ali revisits the cultural legacy of Rumi in the West: 'The erasure of Islam from Rumi’s poetry started long before Coldplay got involved. Omid Safi, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at Duke University, says that it was in the Victorian period that readers in the West began to uncouple mystical poetry from its Islamic roots. Translators and theologians of the time could not reconcile their ideas about a “desert religion,” with its unusual moral and legal codes, and the work of poets like Rumi and Hafez. The explanation they settled on, Safi told me, was “that these people are mystical not because of Islam but in spite of it.” This was a time when Muslims were singled out for legal discrimination—a law from 1790 curtailed the number of Muslims who could come into the United States, and a century later the U.S. Supreme Court described the “intense hostility of the people of Moslem faith to all other sects, and particularly to Christians.” In 1898, in the introduction to his translation of the “Masnavi,” Sir James Redhouse wrote, “The Masnavi addresses those who leave the world, try to know and be with God, efface their selves and devote themselves to spiritual contemplation.” For those in the West, Rumi and Islam were separated.' [Rumi previously]
From Revolutionary to Normative: A Secret History of Dada and Surrealism in American Music is an overview by composer Matthew Greenbaum of music influenced by dada and surrealism, focusing on the American context, but by no means limited to it. You can hear some dada music over at UbuWeb. If you want an overview of dada itself, Alfred Brendel wrote about The Growing Charm of Dada. [First two links via Open Culture.]
Pardon Edward Snowden is not about Edward Snowden. A short story by Joseph O’Neill, in this week's New Yorker [more inside]
Speculating Futures looks at past speculative narratives, like those of Ursula K. Le Guin, and past attempts at creating technological utopia, like Chile's Cybersyn. [more inside]
Eidolon is a general-audience webzine about the Greco-Roman classics. Subjects covered include a comparison by modern American and ancient Roman foodie cultures by Ben Thomas, Alexander Hamilton's self-identification with Catiline by Joanna Kenty, re-queering Sappho by Ella Haselswerdt, classical references in rap by Dan-el Padilla Peralta, and the contemporary popularity of ancient stoicism by Chiara Sulprizio. But by far the biggest splash was made by editor Donna Zuckerberg's How to Be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor, about resisting the alt-right interpretation of Greco-Roman culture and society.
100 Notable Books of 2016 [The New York Times] The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. This list represents books reviewed since Dec. 6, 2015, when we published our previous Notables list. [more inside]
Kate Washington at LA Review of Books discusses her feelings as a caregiver prompted by Anne’s House of Dreams, the fifth book of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series.
It’s no accident that many people who appreciate VR and AR are also fans of scifi books, movies, and TV shows. Technology has imitated art and the other way around, with science fiction writers coining terms like “virtual reality” and “the metaverse,” and tech companies using science fiction writers as in-house futurists and advisers.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in books with significant AR and VR presence, this is the reading list for you. Also on Goodreads.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in books with significant AR and VR presence, this is the reading list for you. Also on Goodreads.
William Trevor, Watchful Master of the Short Story, Dies Aged 88. [The Guardian] “The Irish author William Trevor [wiki], one of the greatest short story writers of the last century, has died at the age of 88. Trevor, the author of more than 15 novels and many more short stories, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize four times, most recently for The Story of Lucy Gault in 2002, the same year he was awarded an honorary knighthood for his services to literature. He also won the Whitbread prize three times and frequently contributed short stories to The New Yorker magazine.” [more inside]
Prominent Authors Face Backlash Over Letter to UBC Over Steven Galloway Firing [Toronto Star] “A rift in Canada’s literary community has deepened after dozens of prominent authors called for an independent investigation into the University of British Columbia’s firing of Steven Galloway. Joseph Boyden wrote and circulated an open letter [UBC Accountable], signed by Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel and others, which raised concerns the university’s process to investigate “serious allegations” against Galloway was secretive and unfair. Galloway, who was chairman of the school’s creative writing program, was fired in June. The letter has sparked an online backlash, with former students who say they witnessed misconduct by Galloway and outside observers expressing concerns it would silence and intimidate complainants.” [more inside]
Tonight, the National Book Foundation will honor and celebrate some of the year's best American literature at the 2016 National Book Awards ceremony. Hosted by Larry Wilmore, the event will be livestreamed, or you can follow on Twitter at #NBAwards. If you can't wait for bookish goodness, the recording of last night's readings by the finalists is available; Young People's Literature finalist Nicola Yoon called it one of the most inspiring nights of her life. This season hasn't been without controversy, however: the various ways the awards reflect the current state of publishing have been criticized but also defended.
Laurie Scheck's "Dostoevsky’s Empathy" and Maria R. Bloshteyn's "Rage and Revolt: Dostoevsky and Three African-American Writers": two engaging articles made available online this week to commemorate Dostoevsky's birthday.
An Attempt to 3D Model Jorge Luis Borges’s Library of Babel [Hyperallergic] Programmer Jamie Zawinski has created a digital rendering of the infinite, hexagonal library that is the subject and setting of Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “The Library of Babel.”
The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin - "Ursula Kroeber was born in Berkeley, in 1929, into a family busy with the reading, recording, telling, and inventing of stories. She grew up listening to her aunt Betsy’s memories of a pioneer childhood and to California Indian legends retold by her father. One legend of the Yurok people says that, far out in the Pacific Ocean but not farther than a canoe can paddle, the rim of the sky makes waves by beating on the surface of the water. On every twelfth upswing, the sky moves a little more slowly, so that a skilled navigator has enough time to slip beneath its rim, reach the outer ocean, and dance all night on the shore of another world."
Homeric Singing - An Approach to the Original Performance is the website of Professors Georg Danek and Stefan Hagel. There they have a five minutes of their educated best guess of how ancient Greek bards would have sounded like, singing the epics of Homer accompanying themselves on a phorminx. [via Open Culture]
Welcome Back, SPY. [Esquire] “Then came the last year: the withdrawal of Stewart and Colbert from Comedy Central, the death of Gawker, the return of Hillary, and especially the rise of Donald Trump. SPY pioneered the exposure and ridicule of Trump back in its day, of course, always referring to him as "short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump"— and in this campaign, astonishingly, that epithet (and the general tiny-hand critique) resurfaced in a big way. As Trump became the Republicans' presumptive nominee, lots more people, pretty much every day, said to me, "SPY really needs to be rebooted, if only just for the election."” [more inside]
"Removed audio of a cat purring when headphone jack is plugged in" [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Banned Books Week Launches With Call to Read Books the 'Closed-Minded' Want Shut [The Guardian] ““But librarians would argue that the best way to guide your children’s reading is to read with them, and talk about what you read. For every parent convinced that a book is evil, there are two other parents who think it’s wonderful. So you have the right to guide your own children’s reading – but not to dictate or suppress someone else’s,” said LaRue. “The truth is, [these] issues are already a part of many children’s lives, and suppressing books about them doesn’t help anyone. In fact, these books may tell children that they are not alone, that what’s happening to them is not unique, and it can be survived. The world can be a dangerous place, but reading about it makes it less so.”” [more inside]
ARTS MacArthur Foundation Announces 2016 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners [The New York Times] This year’s winners of the MacArthur fellowships, awarded for exceptional “originality, insight and potential,” and publicly announced on Thursday, include writers, visual artists, scientists, nonprofit organization leaders and others, who are chosen at a moment when the recognition and money — a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years — will make a difference. [more inside]
Build your very own house for books to plant in your front yard, and become your neighbourhood’s Street Librarian.
W.P. Kinsella, author of ‘Shoeless Joe,’ dead at 81 [Maclean's Magazine] W.P. Kinsella, the B.C.-based author of “Shoeless Joe,” the award-winning novel that became the film “Field of Dreams,” has died at 81. His literary agency confirms the writer had a doctor-assisted death on Friday in Hope, B.C. The agency did not provide details about Kinsella’s health. [more inside]
On Not Reading by Amy Hungerford [The Chronicle Review] “The activity of nonreading is something that scholars rarely discuss. When they — or others whose identities are bound up with books — do so, the discussions tend to have a shamefaced quality. Blame "cultural capital" — the sense of superiority associated with laying claim to books that mark one’s high social status. More entertainingly, blame Humiliation, the delicious game that a diabolical English professor invents in David Lodge’s 1975 academic satire, Changing Places. ”
No, Alan Moore Isn't a Recluse [Publishers Weekly] “Speaking in intimidatingly long and thoughtful sentences, Moore is affable, relaxed, and eager to talk about his new novel, Jerusalem [Amazon], to be published in September by Norton’s Liveright imprint in the U.S. and Knockabout in the U.K. It’s a 600,000-word opus that has been lurking, Cthulhu-like, behind his last decade of work. Remixing the most-reader-challenging tricks of writers such as James Joyce, Roland Barthes, and Mark Z. Danielewski, Jerusalem is an astonishing collection of words and ideas that weaves a hypnotic spell.” [Previously] [Previously] [more inside]
A nine hour radio adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost, starring Linus Roache as Adam and Ian McDiarmid (Dragonslayer, Return of the Jedi) as Satan. [more inside]
This year, Somaliland is celebrating its silver jubilee (though there are concerns and disappointments), and recently held its 9th annual Hargeysa International Book Fair in the (unrecognized) country's capital. The theme this year was leadership, and its connection to art, culture, and creativity. HIBF is the biggest annual event in Somaliland, drawing 11,000 attendees this year, it's an advertisement for a republic that showcases itself as a kind of "anti-Somalia." [more inside]
New York City's Karen Barbarossa is reading the Biblioteca Adelphi catalogue, in order, from 1965 through now. All of it. That's 653 titles, to date.
One Third of Parents Avoid Reading Children Scary Stories, Study Finds [The Guardian] “A survey of 1,003 UK parents by online bookseller The Book People found that 33% would steer clear of books for their children containing frightening characters. Asked about the fictional creations they found scariest as children, a fifth of parents cited the Wicked Witch of the West from L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with the Child Catcher from Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang in second place. Third was the Big Bad Wolf, in his grandmother-swallowing Little Red Riding Hood incarnation, fourth the Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl’s The Witches, and fifth Cruella de Vil, from Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians.”
VictorianSerialNovels.org is a project by Dr. Robyn Warhol and her student Colleen Morrissey that helps you read Victorian novels in serial, as they would have been experienced by readers at the time. The site currently covers three time periods: 1846 - 1848, 1859-1861, and 1864-1866. Texts are sourced from project Gutenberg and Librivox (when available).
A series of pictures of food as eaten in world famous scenes in literature. Charles Roux creates these fictitious meals, photographs them and then eats them. His goal is to collect the photographs in a book, putting the meals back on paper, where they belong.
One hundred years ago, a soldier named Hector Hugh Munro was shot in the head as he crossed no-man’s-land. The night had been dark. Some of the soldiers accompanying him had lit up when they stopped to rest, and the glowing cigarettes attracted a German sniper’s attention. His last words were reported to be: ‘Put that bloody cigarette out!’ The soldier was perhaps the wittiest writer Britain had; his other name was Saki.–Ferrets can be gods, a short essay by Katherine Rundell on the Edwardian short story writer Saki. His stories are available online.
President Obama's Summer Reading List [The Guardian] The White House released [whitehouse.gov] Barack Obama’s summer reading list on Friday as the first family vacationed in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a mix of prize-winning novels and the memoir of a surfer who spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, something the president can appreciate. [Previously.] [more inside]
Of Thee I Read: The United States in Literature [The New York Times] Reporters and editors on the National Desk of The New York Times were asked to suggest books that a visitor ought to read to truly understand the American cities and regions where they live, work and travel. There were no restrictions — novels, memoirs, histories and children’s books were fair game. Here are some selections. Recommend a book that captures something special about where you live in the comments, or on Twitter with the hashtag #natbooks. [more inside]
The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams [The New York Times] The writer’s new story collection establishes her as one of the greatest chroniclers of humanity’s insignificance. [more inside]
A letter of thanks for an unusual gift, a poem about a dying queen (with audio of the poet reading it), and a short story about a devoted couple with a shocking secret (with an introduction by Edith Pearlman): all are from the pen of the English novelist, short-story writer, poet, musicologist, translator & biographer; feminist, lesbian & communist Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978). [more inside]
The Deaf Poets Society is an online literary journal that publishes poetry, prose, cross-genre work, reviews of disability-focused books, interviews/miscellany, and art by writers and artists with disabilities. Founded in 2016, our mission is to provide a venue for disability literature and art, as well as to connect readers with established and emerging talent in the field. [more inside]
When I became pregnant four years ago, I was writing a book about 19th-century British poetry and war while teaching classes about the history of war literature. I began to think about the discrepancy between how we narrate these experiences. We have a rich, challenging, and complex canon of war literature...The same cannot be said about a literature of pregnancy or childbirth or parenting, though these are also extreme experiences that stretch our understanding and push us beyond comfort or even comprehension. [more inside]
In 1909, Julian Hawthorne (Nathaniel H.'s dashing, reckless son) released a wildly eclectic anthology called The Lock and Key Library: ten shotgun blast volumes of mystery, detection, horror, suspense, crime, decadence, and romance, comprised of stories, novel excerpts, folktales, and memoirs gathered from Russia, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, Tibet, Iran, the Ottoman Empire, India, Arabia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Germany, France, England, Ireland and the United States. [more inside]
Man Booker Prize Announces 2016 Longlist: The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize is announced today. This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: Amanda Foreman (Chair); Jon Day; Abdulrazak Gurnah; David Harsent and Olivia Williams. It was chosen from 155 submissions published in the UK between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. [more inside]
On June 27 Google disabled Dennis Cooper's long-running blog and the associated Gmail account. The Blogger site, which Cooper has been frequently updating since 2002, was a gathering space for fans of experimental literature. [more inside]
The Strand Bookstore (NYC) has included a literary matching quiz in its job application form since the 1970s. Here are some quizzes from years past. Can you match the authors and titles? Beware of trick questions.
The Best Time I Pretended I Hadn’t Heard of Slavoj Žižek is a humorous essay by Rosa Lyster about driving people mad by pretending she doesn't know a common cultural touchstone, such as Žižek, Twin Peaks or The Beatles. This is her second essay for The Hairpin, after My Dad Reads ‘Wuthering Heights’ For The First Time, which is how her dad rediscovered a love for reading fiction. Her essays have been published here and there, and she writes an essay a week on her website. The latest essay is about Peanuts and being an older sister.
The Forbidden Words Of Margaret A. is a science fiction story by L. Timmel Duchamp, first published in 1990, describing a journalist's heavily-vetted meeting with a woman whose words have been declared illegal by the American government. [more inside]