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Possible second photograph of Emily Dickinson

The only authenticated photgraph of Emily Dickinson is of a 16 year old girl. Amherst College now believes that a privately owned daguerrotype shows the poet as a 28 year old woman - about the time she wrote the "Master" letters.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 5, 2012 - 33 comments

What Kind of Book Reader Are You?

What kind of book reader are you? More types of book reader.
posted by rollick on Sep 4, 2012 - 63 comments

Injury and the Ethics of Reading

Poetry Changed the World: Injury and the Ethics of Reading.
posted by homunculus on Sep 3, 2012 - 8 comments

The Drowned World

J.G. Ballard and the alchemy of memory
posted by Artw on Sep 1, 2012 - 24 comments

Chore list of Champions

From a January 26, 1947, contract between Kurt Vonnegut and his pregnant wife, Jane, to whom he had been married for sixteen months: "I, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., that is, do hereby swear that I will be faithful to the commitments hereunder listed..."
posted by daniel_charms on Aug 30, 2012 - 68 comments

Illustrated Aesop's Fables through history

Historical versions of Aesop's fables - text and pictures - collected by Laura Gibbs. She gives thousands of historic texts in English, Latin, and Greek, but even better, has Flickr sets of the historic illustrations (that page is sorted by artist) from editions by Rackham, Caldecott, and other artists going back to the 1400s. [more inside]
posted by LobsterMitten on Aug 30, 2012 - 11 comments

A kit for the pen-sucked flap-dragons in your life

Are the verbal pignuts nipping at thine clay-brained heels yet again? Does your dankish, knotty-ated mind quiver at scouring the bard's odiferous works for suitable defense? Then attend thee to the Shakespeare Insult Kit, where all manner of creations await your dullish wit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 29, 2012 - 5 comments

Magic realism: not fantasy. Sorry.

Magic realism: not fantasy. Sorry.
posted by shivohum on Aug 27, 2012 - 136 comments

Hysterical Literature

Clayton Cubitt's Hysterical Literature is a video project where women seem to reach orgasm simply by reading a favorite passage from a book. Session 1 features alt-porn star Stoya reading Supervert's "Necrophilia Variations", while session 2 features Alicia reading Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". Stoya's thoughts on the project, and Supervert's thoughts. (all NSFW)
posted by Joakim Ziegler on Aug 25, 2012 - 33 comments

A Compendium of Public-Domain Essays

Quotidiana is an ‘online compendium of 383 public-domain essays.’ [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Aug 24, 2012 - 2 comments

Cynthia Ozick on Henry James: The Lesson of the Master

Cynthia Ozick on Henry James: The Lesson of the Master: ...in earlier days I felt I had been betrayed by Henry James. I was like the youthful writer in “The Lesson of the Master” who believed in the Master’s call to live immaculately, unspoiled by what we mean when we say “life”—relationship, family mess, distraction, exhaustion, anxiety, above all disappointment.
posted by shivohum on Aug 21, 2012 - 7 comments

Anna Akhmatova

Akhmatova's work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry. Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the atrocities around her. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Aug 20, 2012 - 11 comments

"Very good, sir. Should I lay out your crazy adventure garb?"

What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
posted by The Whelk on Aug 19, 2012 - 50 comments

How to Read a Poem

Curious about poetry, but don't know where or how to begin? We've reprinted the first chapter from the book "How to Read a Poem" by Edward Hirsch. Its 16 sections provide strategies for reading poems, and each section has plenty of links to examples of poems in our archive to illustrate the points.
posted by Think_Long on Aug 17, 2012 - 34 comments

Seed a large prone turkey

How to Eat Like Your Favorite Authors
posted by superquail on Aug 15, 2012 - 45 comments

The Physics of physicality

WIRED has been running a fascinating series: Olympic Physics: Can Runners Benefit From Drafting?, Scoring the Decathlon, New [Swimming] Platform Is No Chip Off The Old Block [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 13, 2012 - 16 comments

Farewell, Pushcart Queen

Farewell Pushcart Queen: Jean Merrill has passed away from cancer. Many of her 30 books were young adult stories which followed underdogs in conflict with powerful interests. Her most well-known books were The Pushcart War, about a confrontation between New York pushcarts and the trucking industry, and The Toothpaste Millionaire, about a young African American entrepreneur who challenges big business. (previously) [more inside]
posted by honest knave on Aug 12, 2012 - 33 comments

Michal Ajvaz

“The beast sets me riddles every evening, and when I fail to guess them, it kicks and bites me. It is like a small leopard and in other circumstances I should say it looked quite charming. So far I haven't solved a single one of these riddles…”—Michal Ajvaz. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Aug 10, 2012 - 19 comments

return armada;

If Hemingway wrote JavaScript [SFW, despite the .xxx URL]
posted by brundlefly on Aug 6, 2012 - 35 comments

10 years of language hat

languagehat looks back on ten years of Languagehat: I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X.
posted by nangar on Jul 31, 2012 - 28 comments

Gore Vidal October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012

Gore Vidal, arguably one of america's greatest living post-war writers, died Tuesday at the age of 86. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 31, 2012 - 141 comments

James Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime"

James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime is one of those very rare novels that seems not so much to have been written as discovered. At its heart is a love story, an encounter, that transforms its relatively ordinary protagonists into beings around whom the entire cosmos shapes itself. The love story is delicate and ephemeral, put together out of bits and pieces, like a bird's nest. The vulnerable lovers tremble, in the most mundane circumstances, on the edge of catastrophe. Simply the way one of them moves across the room to meet the other seems miraculous and hazardous. Were they to become aware of themselves everything would be lost. But there is no danger of that. Oblivious, they tiptoe on a precipice. They do not and cannot know that their innocence cloaks them in a kind of divinity and infallibility. Actions and attitudes we expect to bring them down don't. They do things that seem so perfect, so poignant, without knowing they are doing anything at all. They arc beautifully across our path, and then vanish. - Michael Doliner (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Jul 31, 2012 - 8 comments

The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books catalogs the top ten favorite books of over 140 major authors and growing, including Louis D. Rubin, Jim Harrison, David Foster Wallace, David Leavitt, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, and many more. Here's the list of books rank-ordered by frequency and here are other lists compiled from the statistics.
posted by shivohum on Jul 28, 2012 - 40 comments

Neverending stories

Four Micro-Essays on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009 (contains spoilers), a look at the concluding part of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's 3 part LoEG: Century series in which the league face off against a headline grabbing villain (extreme spoiler warning) and which spookily presaged some of last nights Olympic opening. Previous Moore and O'Neill. Obligatory annotations from Jess Nevins.
posted by Artw on Jul 28, 2012 - 37 comments

RIP Margaret Mahy

Acclaimed New Zealand children's and young adult's book author Margaret Mahy died in Christchurch yesterday aged 76. [more inside]
posted by Start with Dessert on Jul 23, 2012 - 24 comments

"Because we’re a smaller outfit, we can take some risks—find authors and manuscripts that are trying to move the genre forward."

ChiZine Publications (CZP) is an independent Toronto-based book publisher that is single-handedly changing the face of genre fiction in Canada. Though CZP was founded just four years ago and put out just twelve books per year, they are responsible for four of the six nominees for the the 2012 Best Novel Prix Aurora (Canada's highest honour in genre fiction). CZP grew out of the self-styled "dark fiction" 'zine The Chiaroscuro which has been publishing free genre fiction online since 1997. Their most recent release is David Nickle's tale of cold war psionic operatives gone rogue, Rasputin's Bastards.
posted by 256 on Jul 19, 2012 - 6 comments

The story is about a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies.

"This is about a girl that goes mining. I don’t know why, but she looks like she would go mining, mining for gold. " Judging a Book by its Cover: A 6-Year-Old Guesses What Classic Novels are All About.
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 19, 2012 - 89 comments

Brautigan Salad

"In 1968 Richard Brautigan published 'Please Plant This Book' - poems printed on seed packets. I'm growing a living copy...."
posted by mippy on Jul 17, 2012 - 18 comments

It was a dark and pixellated night.

8-bit illustrations of opening lines to classic short stories by Kafka, Bukowski, Barthelme, and others. Oliver Miller, the creator of the series, writes: I... love short stories. I was an English major, and then I got an MFA in writing. Before that, I was a nerd who huddled in a basement, with his nerd friends, clicking with a mouse to play Bard’s Tale II. So basically, making 8-bit drawings of short stories encapsulates my whole life and, I hope, yours as well.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jul 14, 2012 - 9 comments

"Sometimes I cry because I feel like I'm losing him."

Gabriel García Márquez has dementia and can no longer write. According to his brother, Jaime, the Nobel laureate author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera is suffering side effects from treatment for lymphatic cancer that have accelerated the onset of dementia, which runs in his family. García Márquez has not written anything since his last novel, Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores, in 2007. Among the works left uncompleted will be the second half of his autobiography Living to Tell the Tale.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jul 13, 2012 - 40 comments

"There's none so blind as they that won't see."

Atlas for the Blind, 1837: "From the spectacular David Rumsey Map Collection, the 1837 “Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind“, embossed heavy paper featuring lines, letters and geographical symbols, destined to help blind children to visualise geography. Here’s the whole book with zoomable pages." [Via: Socks-Studio]
posted by Fizz on Jul 12, 2012 - 19 comments

Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury

Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year. Michael Cunningham on what it was like to serve on the fiction jury for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, when no prize was awarded. Part 2. (Previously.)
posted by OmieWise on Jul 12, 2012 - 63 comments

The WritersDiet Test Evaluates Your Writing

The WritersDiet Test, created by Dr. Helen Sword, allows you to enter a writing sample of 100 to 1000 words and have it graded from "lean" to "heart attack" on its level of excess verbiage.
posted by shivohum on Jul 11, 2012 - 39 comments

From Solaris to the Zone

Through a spasm of serendipity whose mechanism I cannot begin to fathom, two inarguable masterpieces of Eastern European science fiction - Solaris by Stanislaw Lem and Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - have recently been accorded fresh translations. In this posting I would like to briefly consider the virtues of these new versions [...] [more inside]
posted by smcg on Jul 11, 2012 - 51 comments

INTERVIEWER: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?" HEMINGWAY: "Getting the words right."

To Use and Use Not: [NYTimes.com] "In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” A new edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” which was originally published in 1929, will be released next week, including all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book."
posted by Fizz on Jul 8, 2012 - 19 comments

I prefer a ruin to a monument.

A liquor store in Amsterdam. A veteran in Bagdad. A family in Rome. A WWII veterans memorial in Berlin. A house in Oxford. Edouard Levé photographed towns in the United States that shared names with famous cities. He photographed fully-clothed actors reenacting scenes from rugby and pornography [nsfw]. He also wrote some novels, influenced by Oulipo. Autoportrait, describes his life in 120 pages of unordered vignettes and brief, declarative sentences—"The girl whom I loved the most left me. [...] I am uneasy in rooms with small windows." and so on. His fourth novel, Suicide, is a one-sided conversation between an anonymous narrator ("I") and his friend ("you"), who committed suicide twenty years ago. It's a painfully intimate meditation on the act and its fallout on its own merits—"Your life was hypothesis. Those who die old are made of the past. Thinking of them, one thinks of what they have done. Thinking of you, one thinks of what you could have become. You were, and you will remain, made up of possibilities."—but few will read Suicide unburdened with the knowledge that Edouard Levé killed himself several days after completing it, at the age of 47. [more inside]
posted by spanishbombs on Jul 7, 2012 - 7 comments

}}} so — ;;;;[blacked out ]] # # # – do you have my (keys)}} ?

Drunk texts from famous authors. (More good ones in the comments)
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 19, 2012 - 40 comments

Literature and porn stars

Consider everything here potentially NSFW, even if not marked. Lots of background and sidebar images that may offend.

Kayden Kross (NSFW) and Stoya (previously) aren't stereotypical porn stars. For the release of Adam Levin's Hot Pink, Kross interviewed Levin on the McSweeney's website. Stoya was featured (along with Paul Dano) in the book trailer for Adam Wilson's Flatscreen. And together Kross and Stoya discussed Chad Kultgen’s Men, Women & Children — a novel that mentions Stoya by name. Kross digs David Foster Wallace; Stoya digs some good stuff, too. Both keep (very NSFW) blogs (Kayden 1, 2; Stoya 1, 2) where they write about all kinds of stuff. Last November on Fleshbot (NSFW) Stoya did a five-part series on sex in Japan. And check out Stoya's guest post on Warren Ellis's blog. [more inside]
posted by skilar on Jun 17, 2012 - 52 comments

Smart Authors and Designers Discuss Their Covers

Talking Covers: authors and designers talk about the ideas behind their book covers. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Jun 13, 2012 - 9 comments

The heroine’s socioeconomic position and much of her character were determined by real estate.

For his 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence, about a man who obsessively collects objects associated with his beloved and eventually creates a museum of those objects in his beloved's old house, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has built a museum in a house in Istanbul containing the objects mentioned in the novel, including a half-eaten ice cream cone (made of plastic) and 4,213 cigarette stubs, complete with lipstick and ice cream stains. Elif Batuman reports on how the museum, which opened in April, came to be.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jun 6, 2012 - 5 comments

Language of Origin

"You are a junior spelling champion. Your parents have been teaching you at home since you were four." Bee: a choose-your-own-bittersweet-coming-of-age novella by Emily Short. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 5, 2012 - 36 comments

immenatizing the shrug

Both novels are ridiculously long. Both were largely ignored by the literary and educational establishments, due to their unmistakable whiff of madness (This fear of insanity is, of course, why the literary and educational establishments always miss out on all the good stuff.) They have both, however, found a devoted readership, been hailed as life changing, and have remained in print since publication. Between them, they explain much of our current twenty-first century world, from the underground anarchism of Anonymous and the shift from hierarchies to networks, to the Tea Party and neo-conservative hijack of American politics and the massive shift in wealth distribution towards the super rich.
posted by philip-random on Jun 4, 2012 - 126 comments

The A-Okay Gatsby

The goons at Something Awful have a field day photoshopping downgraded and cut-rate literary classics. Part 2.
posted by The Whelk on May 31, 2012 - 150 comments

Life in the mist

Tove Jansson's short stories about artistic creation are often chillingly cold. The artists she portrays have become lost in their isolated solitude, their creativity, which shuts other people out. Portraits of such loneliness are drawn in three short stories in the collection Lyssnerskan ('The listener', 1971), 'Ekorren' ('The squirrel'), 'Svart & vitt' ('Black & white') and 'Vargen' ('The wolf’), which probably frightened many readers - particularly those who knew and loved her Moomin books - away from Jansson's work. In their cosmos, warmth is unknown; their landscapes are frozen, just like the people who seek expression for their artistic dreams. [more inside]
posted by smcg on May 31, 2012 - 19 comments

Stan's Report

Stan's Report (a short story). Stan waited for me to ask him a question, hoping to tease some curiosity out of me, I suppose, though I don’t want to make assumptions about Stan’s intentions. Whatever his intent, I chose not to ask anything about it, not wanting to start my thinking down that road. It wouldn’t have been fair to B. to talk about him and what he said or meant since he wasn’t there to defend himself or to amend the tone or the full context. I preferred to turn my attention to my e-mail, but I didn’t want to ignore Stan or imply that I disapproved of his interest in sharing his news with me. He had a right to say whatever he wanted and it was up to me to choose how I’d deal with it.
posted by shivohum on May 27, 2012 - 24 comments

Goodbye to all That

Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory and winner of the first National Critics Award for Criticism, but who is probably best known for writing Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, is dead. [more inside]
posted by postcommunism on May 23, 2012 - 48 comments

Where Do We Go From Here?

SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks about the future of "big idea" Science Fiction: If SF's core message (to the extent that it ever had one) is obsolete, what do we do next?
posted by The Whelk on May 23, 2012 - 71 comments

What becomes a legend most?

In 1929, John Galsworthy won a Guardian poll as the novelist most likely to still be read in 2029. Three years later, he won the Nobel Prize, and the prices of his first editions skyrocketed. His reputation has since been on a 80-year wane that shows no signs of abating. The New Yorker asks Why is Literary Fame So Unpredictable? And who will they be teaching in literature class a century from now?
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 22, 2012 - 65 comments

Fresno

Fresno was a mistake from the beginning, a story by Michael Thomsen. Part of N+1 magazine City by City series.
posted by growabrain on May 22, 2012 - 52 comments

James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"

simply read Finnegans Wake. Since it is said to make more sense when recited aloud, you could start with this recording of James Joyce performing a passage from the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" section - which has been described as "one of the most beautiful prose-poems in English". [more inside]
posted by Trurl on May 18, 2012 - 40 comments

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