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Are those swans? | László Krasznahorkai: novelist

‘You will never go wrong anticipating doom in my books, any more than you’ll go wrong in anticipating doom in ordinary life’—László Krasznahorkai. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on May 16, 2012 - 7 comments

 

"Please don't go. We'll eat you up. We love you so."

Maurice Sendak, Children’s Author Who Upended Tradition, Dies at 83 [NYTimes.com] "Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn."
posted by Fizz on May 8, 2012 - 290 comments

O'Sullivan: Master of the Fallen Years

"As the Nazis approached Paris, the American Colony broke camp & abandoned the city like rats from a sinking ship. Behind them they left a frail, elderly, impoverished, homeless Irish-American who, as a young man, had been an heir to wealth, a close friend to Beardsley & Wilde, & the only important American in the 1890s Aesthetic movement of England & France. He was Vincent O'Sullivan, one of the world's great authors of horror fiction..." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 7, 2012 - 9 comments

“How do you know the moment when you cease to be human?"

We are the artistically creative authors of the truths we live by. We must then, if we are honest, live more tentatively in relation to the security and consistency we achieve through language. The effect of this conclusion, at least for me, at least most of the time, is bracing.

It is not bracing for everyone.


Scott Abbott examines the violent, funny, and philosophically distressing fictions of Brian Evenson, one of our most accomplished dark fantasists and genre-bending authors. [more inside]
posted by Idler King on May 2, 2012 - 6 comments

“They pay me absurd amounts of money,” he observes, “For something that I would do for free.”.

A Stephen King interview: by Neil Gaiman "I interviewed Stephen King for the UK Sunday Times Magazine. The interview appeared a few weeks ago. The Times keeps its site paywalled, so I thought I'd post the original version of the interview here. (This is the raw copy, and it's somewhat longer than the interview as published.) I don't do much journalism any more, and this was mostly an excuse to drive across Florida back in February and spend a day with some very nice people I do not get to see enough. I hope you enjoy it."
posted by Fizz on Apr 28, 2012 - 51 comments

Dark things in the closet, literal and figurative

The Vulture ranks all of Stephen King's books from worst to best.
posted by mightygodking on Apr 24, 2012 - 300 comments

Hand On The Shoulder

Hand On The Shoulder, a short story by Ian McEwan. My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with "plume"), and forty years ago, in my final year at Cambridge, I was recruited by the British security service.
posted by shivohum on Apr 23, 2012 - 17 comments

Spoiler Warning: He did.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, great-grandson of African nobleman and military strategist Abram Petrovich Gannibal, is well known for the tremendous influence his writings have had on both Russian and American literature. What is somewhat less known is that Pushkin, a notorious firebrand, fought in a total of twenty-nine duels in his youth.

Imagine how different the world would be if he had died as a result of one of them.
posted by 256 on Apr 20, 2012 - 46 comments

Only those in love would know what a town without pity can do

I prepared for my first-ever trip to Japan, this summer, almost entirely by immersing myself in the work of Haruki Murakami. This turned out to be a horrible idea. For his cover article on the novelist Haruki Murakami, Sam Anderson visited some key places from Murakami’s life and work. Murakami's Tokyo. The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Apr 20, 2012 - 49 comments

Reading Markson Reading

Reading Markson Reading: ‘Exploring the mind, method and masterpieces of David Markson through the marginalia found on the pages of the books in his personal library.’ (previously: 1, 2)
posted by misteraitch on Apr 20, 2012 - 4 comments

Marcel Proust's "A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu"

"The Threat to Proust" by Roger Shattuck: When Proust’s novel fell into the public domain in 1987, three Paris publishing houses were ready with new editions that had been in preparation for several years. They all carry the same basic 3,000-page text with few variations. The differences lie in packaging and presentation. Laffont-Bouquins chose to publish three fat volumes prefaced by elaborate historical and biographical materials. Garnier-Flammarion produced ten pocket-sized volumes competently edited by Jean Milly. The new Pléiade edition, published by the original copyright holder, Gallimard, made the boldest, most ambitious, and most expensive bid to claim the market. In a combination of editorial, literary, and commercial decisions, Gallimard proposed to influence the way we read Proust and, to some degree, the way we approach all great literary works. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Apr 19, 2012 - 32 comments

To read or not to read

How to read a paper is a series by Trisha Greenhalgh in BMJ, the British Medical Journal, that explains how to critically read and apply the biomedical literature. Deciding what the paper is about. Assessing methodological quality. Statistics for the non-statistician: parts I and II. Drug trials, diagnostic and screening tests, economic analyses, systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PDF), and qualitative research (PDF).
posted by grouse on Apr 19, 2012 - 14 comments

Leggete Nanni Balestrini

"An imprecation to read an avant-garde novelist is not something you often see written in spray-paint". And why should we pay attention? Because it "will fill your spine with gunpowder and light a match in your brain". Verso republishes Nanni Balestrini's The Unseen (with a brand new foreword by Antonio Negri), an epic monument to the struggle of the Italian Autonomia movement of the 1970s.
posted by hydatius on Apr 17, 2012 - 23 comments

“Hello old friend,” I whispered.

Writer and Interactive Fiction author Adam Cadre (previously) runs the Lyttle Lytton contest. A variation on the Bulwer-Lytton contest, the current incarnation of Cadre's contest has a 200-character limit per entry. Here are this year's winners.
posted by griphus on Apr 16, 2012 - 29 comments

Youths big plans and vague longings, the binges, crashes, and marathon walks and talks

Joseph O'Neill on the Dutch literary hero Nescio No one has written more feelingly and more beautifully than Nescio about the madness and sadness, courage and vulnerability of youth: its big plans and vague longings, not to mention the binges, crashes, and marathon walks and talks. No one, for that matter, has written with such pristine clarity about the radiating canals of Amsterdam and the cloud-swept landscape of the Netherlands. [more inside]
posted by joost de vries on Apr 15, 2012 - 13 comments

¶ THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOTE.

David Foster Wallace Writes to Don DeLillo: Among the many curiosities of this correspondence: “No offense intended” by the card’s image (a book cover from Sheldon Lord’s A Woman Must Love), the mention of Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker piece on William Gaddis, the brick shithouse of a palm tree, and a request to eyeball DeLillo’s “new novel” (Cosmopolis?). So many of the sentences create space for wondering what more there is to know. [Via: The Outlet] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 13, 2012 - 21 comments

What is the meaning of malady?

"As a career patient, I’ve learned one thing at least: the importance of clinging to the rag-end of your sense of self, however you define it—intellect, sense of humor, generosity of spirit, a stoicism worthy of Seneca or Mr. Spock, or, in a writer’s case, the mind that makes sense of itself as a reflection in the mirror of language. In the M.A.S.H.-unit chaos of the E.R.; in the nowhere, notime of the hospital room; in the O.R., where the euphoria of oncoming anesthesia and the doting attentions of apparitions in scrubs make you understand, in an instant, the perverse seductions of Munchausen’s Syndrome as you ride into the stage-light radiance on your gurney like the Son of Heaven in his sedan chair, feeling for all the world like a pathological celebrity—in these moments of inescapable embodiment, I’ve learned to float free in my head, a thought balloon untethered from the body on the sickbed or the operating table."
-A Season in Hell by (Mefite) Mark Dery [Previously]
posted by lemuring on Apr 13, 2012 - 10 comments

"You should say Dad."

'My son got a very low mark': Writer Ian McEwan describes the odd experience of helping his son with an A-level essay about one of his novels, Enduring Love, and finding his son's teacher disagreed with his interpretation of the novel. This is an excerpt from Ian Katz's interview with McEwan at the Guardian's Open Weekend festival on 24 March 2012. [Full Interview]
posted by Fizz on Apr 11, 2012 - 80 comments

Lit Videos on YouTube

YouTube does not have a "Literature" category. Yet. "Perhaps it can be argued that literature is "entertainment." But aligning literature with "entertainment" is disingenous. Literature is never merely "entertainment." [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Apr 9, 2012 - 17 comments

"The bed has become a place of luxury to me! I would not exchange it for all the thrones in the world."

Literary Style: 15 Writers' Bedrooms: Truman Capote, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Alexander Masters, William S. Burroughs, Slyvia Plath, Henry David Thoreau, Victor Hugo, Emily Dickinson, Miranda Seymour, Mary Roach, Marcel Proust, Michael Morpurgo, William Faulkner.
posted by Fizz on Apr 4, 2012 - 29 comments

"Bringing up the women’s question — I mean the women’s fiction question — is not unlike mentioning the national debt at a dinner party."

If “The Marriage Plot,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated? Certainly “The Marriage Plot,” Eugenides’s first novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Middlesex,” was poised to receive tremendous literary interest regardless of subject matter, but the presence of a female protagonist, the gracefulness, the sometimes nostalgic tone and the relationship-heavy nature of the book only highlight the fact that many first-rate books by women and about women’s lives never find a way to escape “Women’s Fiction” and make the leap onto the upper shelf where certain books, most of them written by men (and, yes, some women — more about them later), are prominently displayed and admired.
So begins The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women, an essay in the New York Times by novelist Meg Wolitzer. She was interviewed about her essay in the NYT Book Review podcast (mp3 link, interview starts at about 18:30). Wolitzer references the classic 1998 essay by Francine Prose, Scent of a woman's ink: Are women writers really inferior?, and further back in time you find Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which, as literary critic Ruth Franklin notes, still sounds fresh today.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 4, 2012 - 105 comments

"This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this spawn of the future, turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me." ~ John Steinbeck

Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America: The inspiration for this exhibition was the Library of Congress's collection of literary maps--maps that acknowledge the contributions of authors to a specific state or region as well as those that depict the geographical locations in works of fiction or fantasy. Throughout the exhibition, these colorful and varied maps reflect the contributions of authors to specific states or regions and locate their imagined people and places. Through these maps, authors' words, images, and characters, Language of the Land presents a tapestry of the impressions that endure in our collective imagination of the American land and its culture. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Mar 31, 2012 - 4 comments

Literature

The top 25 American writers, as determined by the amount of scholarship on them. Literary flowchart by Jimmy Chen.
posted by stbalbach on Mar 29, 2012 - 72 comments

The next night we ate whale

Go to bed, Tao Lin. Cole Styker, author of Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4Chan's Army Conquered the Web interviews and considers Tao Lin and 'trollgaze'. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on Mar 29, 2012 - 44 comments

Certainly not Hugh Hefner

Who Was Casanova? "Today, Casanova is so surrounded by myth that many people almost believe he was a fictional character. (Perhaps it’s hard to take seriously a man who has been portrayed by Tony Curtis, Donald Sutherland, Heath Ledger and even Vincent Price, in a Bob Hope comedy, Casanova’s Big Night [and many more].)" [more inside]
posted by Kirth Gerson on Mar 29, 2012 - 20 comments

R.I.P. Christine Brooke-Rose

Experimental novelist and critic Christine Brooke-Rose has died. The Guardian has an obituary and an appreciation. [more inside]
posted by twirlip on Mar 27, 2012 - 12 comments

Louise Fitzhugh's "Harriet the Spy"

In December 1974, there was a memorial service at St. James Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue for Louise Fitzhugh, author and illustrator of Harriet the Spy, the groundbreaking children's novel that has sold 2.5 million copies since its publication in 1964. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Mar 26, 2012 - 45 comments

Less Wrong: The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

For years, my self-education was stupid and wasteful. I learned by consuming blog posts, Wikipedia articles, classic texts, podcast episodes, popular books, video lectures, peer-reviewed papers, Teaching Company courses, and Cliff's Notes. How inefficient! [...] What if we could compile a list of the best textbooks on every subject? That would be extremely useful.
Less Wrong, a community dedicated to rationality, is compiling a list of The Best Textbooks on Every Subject.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Mar 25, 2012 - 49 comments

What will be the next possible trend in Dystopian Literature? Robotics? Climate change? Insect overlords?

The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC] .
posted by Fizz on Mar 24, 2012 - 91 comments

"Two years before Hannah Arendt declared evil banal, Vonnegut was staking it out for stand-up treatment."

In the spring of 1945, three weeks after VE Day, Private First Class Kurt Vonnegut, Jr wrote a letter home to inform his family that he was alive. His infantry unit had been smashed by Panzer divisions in the Ardennes; his unmarked POW train attacked by the RAF; miraculously, he and a handful of fellow prisoners escaped incineration by American and British bombers. "Their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden – possibly the world’s most beautiful city", Vonnegut wrote. "But not me."
- Survivor: How Kurt Vonnegut created a novel, a cult following and one of the most loyal readerships in American Fiction by Thomas Meaney in The Times Literary Supplement.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 11, 2012 - 85 comments

Old Books

Old Book Illustrations are vintage pictures that were originally wood engravings or woodcuts, etchings or metal engravings. Old Book Art is pictures, drawings, maps and other images from antiquarian, public-domain books and other old documents. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Mar 10, 2012 - 8 comments

Eat the bread everyone. Namaste.

“Aaliyah would have been on Twitter. It is fucked up that she is dead.” Poet and Twitter entity Patricia Lockwood talks with HTMLGIANT about Twitter, literature, twitterature, comedy, poetry, sexting, Aaliyah and Olive Garden. Lockwood suggests that there may be something substantial and heretofore unexamined rumbling in the bowels of certain Twitter communities and people (such as @graeyalien and MeFi's own @gregerskine.)
posted by naju on Mar 7, 2012 - 29 comments

The Great American Novel -- will there ever be another?

The Great American Novel -- will there ever be another? ...even if a new Melville or Twain, Faulkner or Fitzgerald were to appear in our midst, his work would fail to achieve the critical traction and existential weight of those earlier masters. We lack the requisite community of readers, and the ambient shared cultural assumptions...The diffusion or dispersion of culture brings with it a diffusion of manners and erosion of shared moral assumptions. Whatever we think of that process—love it as a sign of social liberation or loathe it as a token of cultural breakdown—it has robbed the novel, and the novel’s audience, of a primary resource: an authoritative tradition to react against.
posted by shivohum on Feb 22, 2012 - 126 comments

The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing

Barney Rosset, former owner of the influential Grove Press and Evergreen Review, boundary-shattering publisher of Tropic of Cancer, Waiting for Godot, and Naked Lunch, and U.S. distributor of I Am Curious (Yellow), died yesterday at the age of 90.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 22, 2012 - 30 comments

James Gould Cozzens' "Guard of Honor"

Noel Perrin, "The Best American Novel about World War II": Guard of Honor is a classic (I think), but it is a hard one to put in an American literature course. Why? Because [James Gould] Cozzens was not a romantic. ... Its rightful place is as one of the greatest social novels ever written in America. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 21, 2012 - 15 comments

You are, unfortunately, a fiction writer.

46 Things to Read and See for David Foster Wallace's 50th Birthday. The writer described as The Best Mind of His Generation would have turned 50 years old today. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Feb 21, 2012 - 26 comments

It's not plagiarism, it's a mashup!

Originality is a relative concept in literature. As writers from T. S. Eliot to Harold Bloom have pointed out, ideas are doomed to be rehashed. This wasn’t always regarded as a problem [more inside]
posted by Ruthless Bunny on Feb 14, 2012 - 37 comments

Stephen Vizinczey's "In Praise of Older Women"

In Praise of Older Women was condemned by some as some as pornography. In spite or perhaps because of that, it was a phenomenal seller. There is nothing pornographic about it. It is a beautiful and tender book, the semi-autobiographical tale of the amorous adventures of a young man who learns much, not only in matters of sex, from older women. It is a primer for men on the threshold of adulthood and a paean of elegant praise for older women. Unlike many male writers who write about women, there is no fear or hatred. In Praise of Older Women is warm and wise.*
posted by Trurl on Feb 13, 2012 - 34 comments

Writer To Writer: Burroughs VS Acker

On the advent of deceased author William S. Burroughs' first gallery showing in England, equally deceased author Kathy Acker sat down to interview him. Collected by weirdo website 'The End Of Being' in 3 filmed parts. [more inside]
posted by artof.mulata on Feb 13, 2012 - 6 comments

A visit to Dickens World

Five years ago, I flew to England to see the grand opening of something improbable: an attraction called Dickens World. It promised to be an “authentic” re-creation of the London of Charles Dickens’s novels, complete with soot, pickpockets, cobblestones, gas lamps, animatronic Dickens characters and strategically placed chemical “smell pots” that would, when heated, emit odors of offal and rotting cabbage. ... Today Dickens World survives largely as a landlord, collecting rent from the Odeon movie theater next door and the restaurants (Pizza Hut, Subway, Chimichanga) that surround it. (previously)
posted by Trurl on Feb 10, 2012 - 41 comments

The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them.

The Composites - Literary characters imagned using police composition software
posted by The Whelk on Feb 9, 2012 - 42 comments

World Book Night USA

Hey! Do you like books? (Yeah...) Do you like free books? (Yeah!) Do you like giving books to friends and strangers and whomever? (Hell yeah!) Are you American? (I just said "hell yeah" didn't I?) Then sign up here! (Then what happens?) You can select from one of thirty books. (And?) They'll send you a box with twenty copies of one book which you can give to friends, strangers or enemies. (What's the catch?) There's no catch, it's World Book Night. [British edition previously on MeFi]
posted by Kattullus on Feb 4, 2012 - 39 comments

Encarta Resurrected

"We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey..." -from the final three Diaries Of Robert Falcon Scott (p. 166/167) which are now available scanned, transcribed, and narrated in fully searchable form by the British Library. [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Jan 30, 2012 - 19 comments

"If someone comes in and says they read a little of everything, they want the romance section."

25 Things I Learned from Opening a Bookstore.
posted by jeremy b on Jan 28, 2012 - 140 comments

"these little songs, and many like them, were made for the comfort of my friends, in their sorrow, doubt and suffering"

An internet search, even in these days of abundant information, yields only that the pamphlets can be found in various library collections, and that they continued to be produced into the '70s. And that Edmund Wilson once sent one, "Mr. P. Squiggle's Reward," to Nabokov, calling it "one of the oddest of many odd things that are sent me by unknown people." He also got the title wrong, dubbing it "Mr. P. Squiggle's Revenge," which is probably significant. But that’s it: nothing about Volk or McCalib.
Epitomes was a series of pamphlets published by Elwin Volk and Dennis McCalib. Few traces of Volk's life are to be found, but he seems to have been a lawyer, and wrote at least a couple of pamphlets about law, which he self-published in Pasadena. McCalib is equally elusive. A man by that name contributed to an issue of One: The Homosexual Viewpoint in 1964. A Dennis McCalib also used the pseudonym Lord Fuzzy. The aforementioned "Mr. P. Squiggle's Reward" got a curt, two half-sentence dismissal in Poetry Magazine, otherwise these pamphlets seem not to have troubled the literary world. Someone donated their manuscripts to UCLA where they rest undigitized in fourteen boxes. But Library of Congress has scanned a total of twenty-six pages in high resolution.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 27, 2012 - 9 comments

Caroline Knapp's "Drinking: A Love Story"

Drinking: A Love Story, Chapter Six: Sex - by Caroline Knapp
posted by Trurl on Jan 26, 2012 - 36 comments

"There are many rights for which we should fight, but the right to protection from offense is not one of them."

Hari Kunzru: Reading The Satanic Verses in Jaipur: Why the novelist read from Salman Rushdie’s banned book The Satanic Verses to protest against the cancellation of Rushdie’s visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival.
posted by Fizz on Jan 23, 2012 - 8 comments

#27 Help win war — beat fascism

Lists of Note is a new site from Shaun Usher, proprietor of Letters of Note. It posts interesting lists, running the gamut from funny to poignant, mostly by famous people, though other sources crop up. Here's a sampling of lists: Johnny Cash, Walt Whitman, Eero Saarinen, Don Carman, Marilyn Monroe and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 21, 2012 - 9 comments

Day at Night, half-hour New York public television interviews from the 70s

Day at Night was an interview series on the public television station of the City University of New York that aired from 1973-4. CUNY TV is in the process of digitizing and uploading the 130 episodes that were produced, with 46 done so far. The episodes are just under half an hour in length. Among the people interviewed by host James Day are author Ray Bradbury, actress Myrna Loy, medical researcher Jonas Salk, singer Cab Calloway, writer Christopher Isherwood, nuclear scientist Edward Teller, comedian Victor Borge, tennis player Billie Jean King, linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, composer Aaron Copland, actor Vincent Price and boxer Muhammad Ali.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 16, 2012 - 6 comments

Sarah Orne Jewett

... [Sarah Orne] Jewett's gifts have always been recognized by a select few, and continue to be. [The Country of the] Pointed Firs, especially, was immediately recognized as a major achievement. Henry James called it, perfectly, “a beautiful little quantum of achievement.” Willa Cather listed it as one of her three great American novels...
posted by Trurl on Jan 13, 2012 - 13 comments

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