The DNA of Litrature.
Between now and next July, The Paris Review will be putting all of its writers-at-work interviews online, starting with those from the 1950s, which include William Faulkner, Truman Capote and Dorothy Parker. Good stuff.
posted by liam
on Nov 15, 2004 -
is a website devoted to the writer Henry James
(1843-1916). It comprises electronic editions
of a selection of James’s works and also
* a textual note on the source and any amendments
required during editing
* annotations of the text explaining such things as references to real persons and places, references to other fiction by James, or in in his notebboks
* a summary and a detailed (chapter by chapter) synopsis of the plot, so you can easily find passages you remember, by what happens
* a bibliography including original publications, subsequent reprints
Interestingly enough, lately more than a few writers seem to have a bit of James-mania
: in June, Colm Tóibín
published "The Master
", a portrait of James recovering from his humiliating failure as a playwright. Now comes "Author, Author
", by David Lodge
, which is about James' humiliating failure as a playwright as well. These in turn arrive on the heels of Emma Tennant
", a novel about James' near-romance with Constance
, and Alan Hollinghurst
's "The Line of Beauty
", a BookerPrize-winning
novel in which James plays an important off-the-stage role.
posted by matteo
on Nov 1, 2004 -
One hundred years after Graham Greene
’s birth, the literary mosaic of books like Our Man in Havana
and Brighton Rock
is still riveting. But the author "carried anguish” with him: a moralist and, therefore, controversial, Greene’s clearly-worded works of suspenseful, or ethical ambivalence, border on a delicate balance — of both gloom and salvation. His novels are replete with a sense of foreboding
, and scrutinise self-deception, sin, failure. George Orwell sneered that Greene thinks "there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class nightclub, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only
And what remains is also, of course, the -- de riguer
of the biographies
: caring father
, fervent brothelgoer
, helluva guy
Anyway, among the institutions celebrating Greene's centenary: the British Library
, the Barbican Centre (scroll down the page).
And the Guardian just re-printed "The funeral of Graham Greene
", reported in the Guardian, April 9 1991. (more inside, with Shirley Temple)
posted by matteo
on Oct 3, 2004 -
Little Red Riding Hood's wayward past revealed:
"Once upon a time, (the story) was a seduction tale. An engraving accompanying the first published version of the story, in Paris in 1697, shows a girl in her déshabille, lying in bed beneath a wolf. According to the plot, she has just stripped out of her clothes, and a moment later the tale will end with her death in the beast’s jaws — no salvation, no redemption. Any reader of the day would have immediately understood the message: In the French slang, when a girl lost her virginity it was said that 'elle avoit vû le loup' — she’d seen the wolf."
posted by feelinglistless
on Sep 19, 2004 -
Greg Lindahl presents scans and transcriptions of several early modern texts at his website
: for example, there are partly-searchable facsmilies of John Florio's New World of Words
, an Italian-English dictionary published in 1611, and, from the same year, Randle Cotgrave's Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues
. Also, there are manuals on swordsmanship
posted by misteraitch
on Sep 16, 2004 -
Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
If you're a fan of Joe Lansdale (or wonder who came up with the idea for Bubba Ho-Tep
), this site's for you. A different short story is posted every Thursday. Most of the stories are from his early years.
posted by joaquim
on Sep 2, 2004 -
makes you want to pick up a great novel
and consume it in one long gulp. It’s a love letter to literature and literacy, a bibliophile’s dream film, dedicated to the joys of fiction and the passions of those who need books like they need food, water and air." (The Dallas Morning News)
posted by rushmc
on Aug 13, 2004 -
A man, just back from a trip abroad, went to an incompetent fortune-teller.
He asked about his family, and the fortune-teller replied: "Everyone is fine, especially your father." When the man objected that his father had been dead for ten years, the reply came: "You have no clue who your real father is."--that's one of the jokes from The Laughter Lover (Philogelos),
an ancient Greek joke book published in the 4th or 5th century AD. The New Yorker commented on it, and other old jokes here,
stating about one of the possible authors: ... there is some scholarly speculation that the Hierocles in question was a fifth-century Alexandrian philosopher of that name who was once publicly flogged in Constantinople for paganism, which, as one classicist has observed, “might have given him a taste for mordant wit.”
posted by amberglow
on Jul 10, 2004 -
Her name was Courage & is written Olga
"Olga" (.pdf file in main link)
is Olga Rudge
, first promoter of the Vivaldi Renaissance
, and longtime companion of the poet Ezra Pound
maintained a complicated and delicate balance
between the two most significant women in his life, Olga and his wife Dorothy Shakespear
(who, among other things, was the daughter of Yeats's mistress
‘‘Paris is where EP and OR met, and everything in my life happened,’’ Olga (listen to her voice here
) said later of the chance encounter with Ezra
at 20, rue Jacob
, in the salon of Natalie Barney
. They were together for fifty years
, through the dark-night
years of Pound's madness
(arrested in 1945 for treason
, deemed unable to stand trial and sent to an American mental institution, he once suggested to the UPI bureau chief in Rome that the United States trade Guam for some sound films of Japanese Noh plays
, asked Truman many times to make him Ambadassor to Japan or Moscow; Guy Davenport reports dining with him one evening and all Ez said was "gnocchi"
), until the poet's death in 1972
. She lived on for another quarter century
, turning up at conferences of Pound scholars
--as far afield as Hailey, Idaho
, Pound's birthplace, where she gave a lecture
in the local movie theater. "Write about Pound", she told publishers who asked her to write her autobiography. (more inside, with Cantos)
posted by matteo
on Jul 8, 2004 -
"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate
, is the only historical figure named in
the Nicene Creed
-- Coptic saint
or eternally damned
, his role in the greatest story ever told
has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine
, Dante Alighieri
, John Ruskin
, Mikhail Bulgakov
, Monty Python
. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence
about him. His role in the death
of a certain
healer and apocalyptic
preacher is still being debated today
and historians alike
. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator
, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France
. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession
through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus
can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)
posted by matteo
on Jun 24, 2004 -
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz
known also as Witkacy,
generally a prolific artist since about the age of 8
He lived from 1885 to 1939, and often has just the right mix of sharp wit, deep insight, and self-reflective irony.
posted by mdn
on May 29, 2004 -
What is the current state of American poetry?
Hank Lazer: Perhaps, contrary to the laments, we are now living through a particularly rich time in American poetry—an era of radically democratized poetry...In its anarchic democratic disorganized decentralization, poetry culture has developed in a manner parallel to the computer: the decentralized PC has beaten the main-frame. No one can pretend to know what is out there, or what is next. Who are some of the most notable American poets active in the beginning of the 21st century?
posted by rushmc
on May 27, 2004 -
In the newest issue of Bookforum
, critic Sven Birkerts ruminates on what he considers to be the regrettable rise of the snarky book review, taking as his starting example Dale Peck's hatchet job on Rick Moody, written in 2002. "Psychologically [the literary] landscape [is one that is] subtly demoralized by the slash-and-burn of bottom-line economics; the modernist/humanist assumption of art and social criticism marching forward, leading the way, has not recovered from the wholesale flight of academia into theory; the publishing world remains tyrannized in acquisition, marketing, and sales by the mentality of the blockbuster; the confident authority of print journalism has been challenged by the proliferation of online alternatives. [...] All of this leads, and not all that circuitously, to the question of snark, the spirit of negativity, the personal animus pushing ahead of the intellectual or critical agenda. Snark is, I believe, prompted by the terrible vacuum feeling of not mattering, not connecting, not being heard; it is fueled by rage at the same."
posted by Prospero
on Apr 4, 2004 -
(the author of such brawny reads as Choke
and Fight Club
) has an online writers' workshop
that has monthly assignments subject to peer review, essays on writing by Chucky P., and a real smoove interface. I'm not a big fan of the guy or his work, but his "distinction essays", which are only posted to the site for a limited time, do contain the kind of solid instruction you'd hafta pay money for at a real writers workshop. The quality of the submissions varies, but seems to me to be a bit better than most online freebie writers-circle-jerk sites. Just don't choke on the ego.
posted by BitterOldPunk
on Mar 30, 2004 -
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.
Holden Caulfield in Catcher In The RyeJ.D. Salinger
did not quite agree but then, if you can't hang out with his secretive self, or any other chosen literary icon, you can build her or him a fitting shrine or two or three. It's not quite Smoking Dope with Thomas Pynchon
posted by y2karl
on Mar 26, 2004 -
The Guardian has a nice interview with Ursula
K. Le Guin
about utopian science fiction, anthropology, ethnicity in Earthsea and the
differences between her two Earthsea trilogies. She also comments on the upcoming miniseries.
The Lathe of Heaven is a taoist novel, not a utopian or
dystopian one.... There
is an old American saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The novel
extends that a bit - "Even if it's broke, if you don't know how to fix
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Mar 11, 2004 -
Perversion for Profit linking pornography to the Communism
Citizens for Decent Literature: Sex Bad, violence Good!
I just thought this would be cool to revisit in light of the Mel Gibson, Orson Scott Card Debates.
Intersting what They shppw as to show you what YOU
should not be looking at.
Maybe (NSFW, maybe just NSF-Sanity)
posted by Elim
on Feb 26, 2004 -
Comrade, is Piglet revisionism getting you down? Don't be an enemy of the people. Brush up on your Maoist theory with the Mao of Poo
posted by alidarbac
on Feb 8, 2004 -
Remembrance of Books Past
, by Ray Bradbury
"Why not a sequel to 'Fahrenheit 451' in which all the great books are remembered by the Wilderness People and are finally reprinted from memory. What then?"
"Wouldn't it be,"
he continued, "that all would be misremembered, none would come forth in their original garb? Wouldn't they be longer, shorter, taller, fatter, disfigured, or more beautiful? "
[if possible, use the Wall Street Journal link - subsription required]
posted by MzB
on Feb 4, 2004 -
'Robert Burns: poet and balladeer, Scotland's favourite son and champion of the common people. Each year on January 25, the great man's presumed birthday, Scots everywhere take time out to honour a national icon. Whether it's a full-blown Burns Supper or a quiet night of reading poetry, Burns Night is a night for all Scots.'More
on the Robert Burns Tribute site.
posted by plep
on Jan 23, 2004 -
Books I Did Not Read This Year:
For novelty or perhaps for gleeful one-downmanship, Kieran at Crooked Timber shares a list of books he did not
read in 2003. Literary guilt
is hardly new, but some argue
our neuroses about unread books grows as our distractions multiply. Of course, this attitude (besides bordering on criticism of the glib, "pop lite" type) usually comes part and parcel with the common complaint that paper culture is dead. And one could easily make a distinction between neurotic englit-geek Guilt and the casual reader's mere missed opportunity. Without rehashing either of those discussions, what are the (presumably) best books (or any pieces of art) you didn't
consume in 2003?
posted by ifjuly
on Jan 17, 2004 -