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Down these mean streets a man must go

Full cast radio adaptations of The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The High Window, and three more Raymond Chandler mysteries. Starring Toby Stephens as Philip Marlowe.
posted by Iridic on Feb 5, 2016 - 32 comments

The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict

An expert in prison literature, Smith felt sure that the book was written by someone with firsthand knowledge of 19th-century correctional facilities. And if Haunted Convict was a genuine account, it would be groundbreaking: the earliest-known narrative penned by an African-American prisoner.
posted by a strong female character on Jan 31, 2016 - 7 comments

“may someday help in a more objective assignment of books...”

Scientists find evidence of mathematical structures in classic books. [The Guardian] James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has been described as many things, from a masterpiece to unreadable nonsense. But it is also, according to scientists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Poland, almost indistinguishable in its structure from a purely mathematical multifractal.
“The absolute record in terms of multifractality turned out to be Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. The results of our analysis of this text are virtually indistinguishable from ideal, purely mathematical multifractals,” said Professor Stanisław Drożdż, another author of the paper, which has just been published in the computer science journal Information Sciences.
posted by Fizz on Jan 28, 2016 - 28 comments

“I became weirdly obsessed with this novel years ago...”

‘2666,’ a Most Difficult Novel, Takes the Stage [The New York Times]
2666,” the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s darkly enigmatic, wildly digressive, sometimes densely philosophical and above all extremely long final novel, has awed, mesmerized, baffled and exasperated readers around the world since its posthumous publication in 2004. “It would take 45 minutes just to explain what the novel is about,” Mr. Falls, the longtime artistic director of the Goodman Theater here, said on a recent afternoon. But that hasn’t stopped him from turning it into a five-hour stage adaptation that begins performances on Saturday, Feb. 6, the culmination of what he describes as a nearly decade-long effort to wrestle Mr. Bolaño’s baggy monster to the theatrical ground.
Previously.
posted by Fizz on Jan 27, 2016 - 32 comments

Research integrity: Don't let transparency damage science

We have identified ten red-flag areas that can help to differentiate healthy debate, problematic research practices and campaigns that masquerade as scientific inquiry. None by itself is conclusive, but a preponderance of troubling signs can help to steer the responses of scientists and their institutions to criticism.
posted by infini on Jan 25, 2016 - 13 comments

“When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.”

No trolls allowed: Seattle advertises a writing residency … in a bridge. by Marta Bausells [The Guardian] The US city’s transport department offers $10,000 for a ‘unique’ residency in a bridge tower – in return for ‘an in-depth exploration’ of the space.
“The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) seeks a practicing, published poet, fiction, or creative non-fiction writer for a unique project-based artist residency in the northwest tower of the Fremont Bridge. The selected writer will undertake an in-depth exploration of the bridge and write a piece in response to the experience.”
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Jan 21, 2016 - 48 comments

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

The evolution of first lines of novels.
posted by Chrysostom on Jan 21, 2016 - 20 comments

Marriage is like money – seem to want it, and you’ll never get it

'Silver Fork' or Fashionable Novels are the largely forgotten English popular novels of the 1820s and 30s which depicted aristocratic life and scandals as a how-to guide for rising middle-class readers while also exploring growing political and class anxieties in the post-Regency. Advice on how to romance, eat, party and raise children like a member of the upper class from Silver Fork novels via Bizarre Victoria (previously).
posted by The Whelk on Jan 15, 2016 - 7 comments

Let me tell you about the equilibrium of bodies...

Published in 1913, a best-seller in the 1930s and long out of print, Physics for Entertainment was translated from Russian into many languages and influenced science students around the world ... In the foreword, the book’s author describes the contents as “conundrums, brain-teasers, entertaining anecdotes, and unexpected comparisons,” adding, “I have quoted extensively from Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Mark Twain and other writers, because, besides providing entertainment, the fantastic experiments these writers describe may well serve as instructive illustrations at physics classes.”
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 13, 2016 - 6 comments

The archetype is probably 'Lucky Jim' by Kingsley Amis...

"From a comic standpoint, anyone who’s every been to a cocktail party with university colleagues knows that even at the best of times it’s an ongoing comedy of manners, a ballet of awkwardness. There exist in university settings the following: Competition, ego, eccentric personalities. Sartorial affectation (berets, tweed blazers, brightly colored silk scarves, Trotsky-style beards, all manner of glasses). Bureaucracy and Machiavellian maneuvering. Snubs and indignities and inappropriate flirtations.

"All, as they say, ripe for satire."
[more inside] posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jan 12, 2016 - 35 comments

“A tear in this fabric is all it takes for a story to begin.”

Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories by Colleen Gillard [The Atlantic] Their history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.
If Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn were each to represent British versus American children’s literature, a curious dynamic would emerge: In a literary duel for the hearts and minds of children, one is a wizard-in-training at a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, while the other is a barefoot boy drifting down the Mississippi, beset by con artists, slave hunters, and thieves. One defeats evil with a wand, the other takes to a raft to right a social wrong. Both orphans took over the world of English-language children’s literature, but their stories unfold in noticeably different ways.
posted by Fizz on Jan 10, 2016 - 89 comments

“A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times.”

Obama as Literary Critic by Edward Mendelson [The New York Review of Books]
“Recently, while writing an essay on T.S. Eliot for The New York Review, I read or reread the work of many earlier critics, and was impressed most by two of them. One was Frank Kermode, who was ninety when he wrote, in 2010, one of his greatest essays, “Eliot and the Shudder,” [London Review of Books] a breathtakingly wide-ranging and sharply-focused piece about Eliot’s unique response to the common experience of shuddering. The other was a twenty-two-year-old college senior named Barack Obama, who wrote about Eliot in a letter to his girlfriend, Alexandra McNear, when she had been assigned to write a paper on The Waste Land for a college course.”
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Jan 7, 2016 - 30 comments

How fortunate you’re not Professor de Breeze

Given that it's no longer widely taught in even the most prestigious high schools in the US and UK, and given the current economic climate, Why should Millennials Study the Classics?
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 5, 2016 - 47 comments

“So many books, so little time.”

The Great 2016 Book Preview [The Millions]
We think it’s safe to say last year was a big year for the book world. In addition to new titles by Harper Lee, Jonathan Franzen, and Lauren Groff, we got novels by Ottessa Moshfegh, Claire Vaye Watkins, and our own Garth Risk Hallberg. At this early stage, it already seems evident this year will keep up the pace. There’s a new Elizabeth Strout book, for one, and a new Annie Proulx; new novels by Don DeLillo, Curtis Sittenfeld, Richard Russo and Yann Martel; and much-hyped debut novels by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and Callan Wink. There’s also a new book by Alexander Chee, and a new translation of Nobel Prize-winner Herta Müller. The books previewed here are all fiction. A non-fiction preview will follow next week. While there’s no such thing as a list that has everything, we feel certain this preview — at 8,600 words and 93 titles — is the only 2016 book preview you’ll need.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Jan 4, 2016 - 45 comments

Memory, Law, and Recording

Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
posted by The Whelk on Jan 3, 2016 - 58 comments

215 Of The Best Longreads Of 2015

215 Of The Best Longreads Of 2015 [more inside]
posted by triggerfinger on Jan 1, 2016 - 19 comments

“If creativity is the field, copyright is the fence.”

Public Domain Day: January 1, 2016 [Center for the Study of Public Domain] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jan 1, 2016 - 11 comments

Themed Guides to Translated Literature in 2015

Chad W. Post at Three Percent recently linked to World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2015 and went on a list-making tear to provide more structure and commentary: 7 books by women, 6 water-cooler fiction books, 6 university press books, 3 'funny' books, 4 books from underrepresented countries, and the best poetry I should read. The commentary often leads to further matters of interest, e.g. the Women in Translation Tumblr or Marianne Fritz and the translation challenges (scroll down) in her work.
posted by Wobbuffet on Dec 31, 2015 - 7 comments

Sci Sci Fi

Scientists on their favourite science fiction
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 30, 2015 - 60 comments

Is this a kissing book?

Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride - Jo Walton takes a look at William Goldman's (or if you will S. Morgenstern's) classic novel.
posted by Artw on Dec 26, 2015 - 38 comments

“Fiction is Truth's elder sister.”

An unexpected revival for the ‘bard of empire’. [The Guardian] ‘Vulgar rabble-rouser’, ‘rootless cosmopolitan’, ‘mouthpiece of the empire’ Rudyard Kipling has had his share of detractors. But, 150 years after his birth, interest in India’s greatest English-language writer is growing.
They are not alone. Kipling, the “bard of empire”, has always been difficult to place in the cultural pantheon. Britain, too, has done remarkably little to officially mark the sesquicentenary of its first winner (in 1907) of the Nobel prize for literature (and still the youngest ever from anywhere). Indian-born, yet British? We are already entering the muddy field of contradictions that sometimes bog down the reputation of this mild-mannered man. Yet it is these that make him uniquely appealing and that, belying top-level institutional indifference, are sparking an unexpected revival of interest in him, and in particular in his role as a commentator on the origins of an integrated global culture.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Dec 26, 2015 - 90 comments

"I’m getting to be a rather old Santa Claus. A little lonely as well"

In 1963 Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated a letter from Santa Claus for the Finnish post office, which was inundated with letters to Santa. It has now been scanned and posted by the Moomin company on its blog as part of its regular series of letters from Tove Jansson.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 24, 2015 - 5 comments

In my dreams, I was inventing literature

Gabriel García Márquez began writing Cien Años de Soledad—One Hundred Years of Solitude—a half-century ago, finishing in late 1966. The novel came off the press in Buenos Aires on May 30, 1967, two days before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, and the response among Spanish-language readers was akin to Beatlemania: crowds, cameras, exclamation points, a sense of a new era beginning. In 1970 the book appeared in English, followed by a paperback edition with a burning sun on its cover, which became a totem of the decade. By the time García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1982, the novel was considered the Don Quixote of the Global South, proof of Latin-American literary prowess. [...] How is it that this novel could be sexy, entertaining, experimental, politically radical, and wildly popular all at once? Its success was no sure thing, and the story of how it came about is a crucial and little-known chapter in the literary history of the last half-century.
The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude
posted by shakespeherian on Dec 13, 2015 - 12 comments

What poet should I fight?

the short answer is: every poet. but here’s a brief (ok, that’s a lie. this is really long) list i typed up during accounting instead of learning about accounting for inter-corporate investments
posted by sciatrix on Dec 13, 2015 - 41 comments

"Starving silences who you really are."

There Once Was a Girl. A work of criticism and of memoir on the false narratives surrounding anorexia in life and literature.
(Some may find the descriptions in this essay disturbing or triggering.)
posted by zarq on Dec 10, 2015 - 9 comments

NPR’s Book Concierge

Once again, NPR has organized their list of the year's best books into the Book Concierge, a recommendation engine with 29 categories - everything from It's All Geek to Me to The Dark Side to Eye-Opening Reads - available to mix, match, and sort.
posted by everybody had matching towels on Dec 8, 2015 - 11 comments

What began as theory persists as style

When Nothing Is Cool is an insider critique of English academia's culture of critique. [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Dec 8, 2015 - 38 comments

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”

Four-day marathon public reading of War and Peace begins in Russia. [The Guardian]
A marathon four-day Russian public reading of Leo Tolstoy’s vast classic novel War and Peace kicked off on Tuesday morning, with more than 1,300 people in more than 30 cities preparing to make their contributions to the record-breaking project. Coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya, and featuring a number of cultural luminaries including the Polish film director Andrzej Wajda, the readings are being streamed by Russian state television channel Kultura. One volume of Tolstoy’s fictionalised history of Russia during the Napoleonic campaign will be read each day.
posted by Fizz on Dec 8, 2015 - 17 comments

“...things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired,”

Debate erupts as Hanya Yanagihara's editor takes on critic over bad review of A Little Life. [The Guardian] The editor of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling novel A Little Life has taken to the pages of the New York Review of Books to defend his author from a review that claimed the novel “duped” its readers “into confusing anguish and ecstasy, pleasure and pain”. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Dec 4, 2015 - 30 comments

When Popular Fiction Isn't Popular

Genre, Literary, and the Myths of Popularity: The massively popular books are very rarely among the best, whether shelved as “genre” or as “literary.” Want to know what the best-selling book of the year has been? Go Set a Watchmen, a cash-grab novel that many have argued was unethical to even publish. The second? Grey, another cash-grab where E. L. James rewrote 50 Shades from a male point of view. (And, yes, Hollywood “reboot” culture is absolutely coming to the literary world in the near future. I mean, hey, it’s popular.) (Lincoln Michel for Electric Lit) [more inside]
posted by frumiousb on Dec 3, 2015 - 24 comments

“Everyone knows what a New Yorker story will look like.”

Marlon James, winner of this year’s Man Booker prize, believes that writers of color are “pandering to the white woman.” [The Guardian]
The 2015 Man Booker prize winner Marlon James has slammed the publishing world, saying authors of colour too often “pander to white women” to sell books, and that he could have been published more often if he had written “middle-style prose and private ennui”.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Dec 1, 2015 - 68 comments

You do unbend your noble strength, to think/ So brainsickly of things.

Why 'MacBeth' seems to play better onscreen than onstage.
posted by shakespeherian on Nov 29, 2015 - 18 comments

“Why can't people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?”

The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015 The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
posted by Fizz on Nov 27, 2015 - 27 comments

“Some books are clearly disappointing, however.”

Betting Big on Literary Newcomers [The Wallstreet Journal] The publishing industry’s hunt for the next blockbuster has given rise to an elite new club: the million-dollar literary debut.
The need to secure one of the few must-read books of the year has given rise to an elite new club: the million-dollar literary debut. At least four literary debut novels planned for 2016 earned advances reported at $1 million or more, a number agents say is striking in the world of highbrow fiction. At least three such debuts were published this year, and two in 2014. “City on Fire,” by first-time novelist Garth Risk Hallberg, came out last month amid a flurry of publicity after receiving a nearly $2 million advance from Alfred A. Knopf, one of the largest ever for a literary debut.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Nov 26, 2015 - 26 comments

“...[F]ull of conversations, ready to launch into the world.”

So Amazon opened a new bookstore, and Paul Constant covered it for the Seattle Review of Books and ended up writing an eloquent defense of independent bookstores. [more inside]
posted by touchstone033 on Nov 23, 2015 - 37 comments

“We actually met because of Russian literature.”

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Art of Translation No. 4 [The Paris Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 21, 2015 - 20 comments

Literature of the Strange

The 10 Best Genre-Bending Books - PublishersWeekly
20 Strange and Wonderful Books - cartania.com
10 Ultra-Weird Science Fiction Novels that Became Required Reading - io9
10 Weirdest Science Fiction Novels That You've Never Read - also io9
China Miéville's top 10 weird fiction books - The Guardian
The Weird: An Introduction - Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Weird Fiction Review
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 14, 2015 - 53 comments

“Thou dids’t not know my gaze was fixed on thee,”

Unpublished Charlotte Brontë story and poem discovered. [The Guardian]
The short story features a public flogging, embezzling from the Wesleyan chapel, and a “vicious” caricature of the Reverend John Winterbottom – a religious opponent of the children’s father. Winterbottom is “in the middle of the night dragged from his bed” and then “by the heels from one end of the village to the other”, writes Charlotte in the story. The poem features Mary Percy, the lovesick wife of the king of Angria Zamorna, and “one of the leading Angria characters”, said Dinsdale.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Nov 12, 2015 - 7 comments

“...the novella is not an immature or effeminate novel.”

The Novella Is Not The Novel’s Daughter: An Argument in Notes by Lindsey Drager [Michigan Quarterly Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 10, 2015 - 37 comments

“If something is going to happen to me, I want to be there.”

In honor of Albert Camus' birthday, Flavorwire has collected 30 quotes from absurdist fiction.
posted by holmesian on Nov 7, 2015 - 13 comments

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World

René Girard, literary theorist and religious historian, has died at the age of 91. The French-born academic and Immortel of the Académie Française first became famous for developing the idea of mimetic rivalry as a predominant theme in modern literature. Later, and more controversially, he argued for the centrality of violence and scapegoating in ancient religions, by which the sacrifice of a chosen victim restores peace in society. Most controversially of all, he argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition is unique in exposing and refuting this scapegoating mechanism. (Previously, previously)
posted by Cash4Lead on Nov 5, 2015 - 8 comments

"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail.

"Do you know the young lady?" I asked.
"My Mary? Impossible!"
"Witness: I should prefer not to answer.
"Let us
"I have heard of you, Mr. Holmes."
"I trust that I am not intruding." I am well acquainted with the accused.
Well, she was just a-biling.
"Was you in my Room?"
"I always give too much to ladies." I am!
'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

--I asked a computer to write a novel that it thought was similar to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 4, 2015 - 25 comments

They want to murder you in a well

In late December of 1895, the writer Stephen Crane—nervous, shabby, and all of twenty-three—attended the first annual dinner of the Society of the Philistines as its guest of honor. He little dreamed he was walking into one of history's first celebrity roasts.
posted by Iridic on Nov 4, 2015 - 8 comments

Hell—Nothing Less—And Without End

“The uprising,” we told each other immediately, like everyone else in Warsaw. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Nov 3, 2015 - 3 comments

Eyebrow game strong!

Charlotte Brontë sketch identified as self-portrait. [The Guardian]
A sketch of a woman’s head by Charlotte Brontë, previously thought to be of another pupil drawn while the author was at boarding school in Brussels, has been identified as a self-portrait. The literary biographer Claire Harman said the drawing, which she suggests shows Brontë looking into a mirror, preceded the novel Jane Eyre, in which the protagonist also draws herself in a similar fashion. The sketch dates from 1843, four years before Brontë published Jane Eyre, one of English literature’s great masterpieces, and when the young writer was suffering the agonies and insecurities of unrequited love.
posted by Fizz on Oct 27, 2015 - 13 comments

“That one is ridiculed by its fellow-birds for its stupidity”

The improbable emergence of Nell Zink.
posted by holmesian on Oct 25, 2015 - 9 comments

Digital poetry - Leaving the ivory tower

The challenge: if people would only know, hear, and see what poets did, then at least some of them would realize too how cool literature can actually be. - Three projects which engage in popularizing, mediating, and digitally archiving contemporary Hungarian poetry. [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Oct 25, 2015 - 0 comments

Perhaps she even wiggled her toes, just like Pippi.

Who was the woman behind Pippi Longstocking? Freshly released wartime diaries along with a new biography reveal Astrid Lindgren, author of some of the world's most beloved children's literature, to be as radical and determined as her best-known character.
posted by ellieBOA on Oct 22, 2015 - 21 comments

“the ideal often clashes violently with the truth”

Visual Literacy in the Age of Open Content by Allana Mayer [JSTOR]
We have similar stories all throughout history: the moment when a perception—whether a literal way of seeing or a figurative mode of thinking—is assaulted and fundamentally shifts, a non-reversible alteration, a displacement from one’s old ways. Western society has seen plenty of moments like these, moments where a perceptive or critical threshold has been crossed.
posted by Fizz on Oct 20, 2015 - 5 comments

“THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS, WHICH IS TO SAY, NOTHING MUCH.”

Camus' Web. by Jacob Eugene Horn [McSweeney's Internet Tendency]
Wilbur the pig was unhappy. In the two short months that he had been alive, Wilbur was certain he experienced the peaks and valleys of happiness and despair. When he was but a runt, he was free to prance about, but now that he was under the care of Farmer Zuckerman he was confined to a simple pig pen.
posted by Fizz on Oct 16, 2015 - 4 comments

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