I have come to the conclusion that anyone who thinks about Kafka for long enough inevitably develops a few singular, unassimilable and slightly silly convictions. (The graph may be parabolic, with the highest incidence of convictions – and the legal resonance is invited – found among those who have spent the most time thinking and those who have spent next to no time thinking.) My own such amateur conviction is that the life of Franz Kafka reads like a truly great comedy. I mean this (of course) in large part because of the tragedies in and around his life, and I mean it in the tradition of comedies like the final episode of Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder, which, after episode upon episode of darlings and foilings and cross-dressings, ends in 1917 with our not exactly heroes climbing out of their trench and running towards the enemy lines.—What kind of funny is he? is an essay by Rivka Galchen on Franz Kafka's life, based on the recently translated three-volume biography by Reiner Stach.
Still Life with Animated Dogs is a witty and candid cartoon by Paul Fierlinger, animator of Sesame Street's Teeny Little Super Guy, recounting his life from being a dissident artist in 1960s Czechoslovakia to being a successful animator in the US. He tells his lifestory by talking about the dogs he's owned over the years, Roosevelt, Ike, Johnson and Spinnaker. Warning: Something may get stuck in your eye.
The influence of Edmund Spenser across two and a half centuries as traced through 25000 different texts
Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579-1830 is a mammoth database of English poetry and other writings that traces the influence of the great 16th-Century poet Edmund Spenser on English poetry across 250 years. There are roughly 25000 different texts on the site, over 6000 poems from famous classics to obscure ephemera, and further thousands of biographies and commentaries. Since it would take years to read all the material I am happy to say that there is a guide to navigating the database, an overview of its contents, a statistical summary and an essay on tradition and innovation. The immense database, which started life as a pile of index cards, was compiled largely by Virginia Tech Professor David Hill Radcliffe over the course of 17 years.
IDP Voices is a site that lets people who are refugess within their own countries tell their life stories – in their own words. "The narratives in these pages are valuable complements to the official information on conflicts which governments and international organisations offer. These stories deal with the real lives of real people. The narrators share their personal experiences, their sensations, hopes and dreams, and the impact for them of being forced from their homes. The first IDP Voices oral testimonies project took place in Colombia. IDP Voices from further countries will be added as the projects progress." The life stories are in English and Spanish and can either be read or listened to. You can download the whole book of life stories here.