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"If they’re watching TV, I ask, “Where are the brown girls?”"

Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens.
What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.

posted by Lexica on Jul 26, 2014 - 28 comments

A hard stare from a public bench bear

"London has become a literary playground: a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character." (The Guardian). The BBC report about the literary benches; the full list of benches from the Books about Town website. CNN has a slideshow that includes a nice photo of the Paddington Bear bench in use.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 25, 2014 - 11 comments

How Much Does "Does Poetry Matter" Matter?

This Weekend, The New York Times went all in for poetry. In addition to six — count ‘em — articles about poetry in the Review, the Times also included an entire panel in its “Room for Debate” section in which the mostly white and mostly male panelists responded to the essentially rhetorical question “Does Poetry Matter?” with some version of the expected answer: yes. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 25, 2014 - 38 comments

But then I suppose we have all read the reviews. We can talk about those

"So what is going on here? Should we be reassured that critics are sticking loyally by a work they admire regardless of sales, or bemused that something is being presented as a runaway commercial success when in fact it isn’t?" Tim Parks: Raise Your Hand If You’ve Read Knausgaard. [more inside]
posted by RogerB on Jul 25, 2014 - 33 comments

The truth is stranger than fiction

From behind the New Yorker's temporarily removed paywall, a postmodern murder mystery from Poland in 2007.
posted by ellieBOA on Jul 25, 2014 - 10 comments

“I think it was such a fluke that I got published at all,”

You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollmann: [The New Republic] Home to goddesses, dreams, and a dangerously uncorrupted literary mind.
posted by Fizz on Jul 24, 2014 - 27 comments

No one wants nothing written about what they’ve written.

Look: it’s not that I’m a dick when it comes to this stuff. It’s that I like to think that I have standards based on exposure to the interdependent duo of lit and life. But if I decide not to wuss out and instead uphold my particular notion of standards, I’m a dick, and being a dick could lead to dickish reviews of my own stuff from Shane Jones, his friends, and friends of the publisher. George Saunders told us all to “err in the direction of kindness.” But is this essay/review I’m writing unkind? Is it selfish? Is it generous? Is a kindness policy maybe too simple?
Lee Klein worries about small-press book reviewing in an ambivalent, lukewarm take on Shane Jones's new novel Crystal Eaters (excerpt) that others have, all the same, called cowardly and dickish.
posted by RogerB on Jul 23, 2014 - 38 comments

“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

The Decline of Harper Lee: [Vulture] The iconic 88-year-old author is involved in [another] messy tussle over a new biography. Does this mean she'll never tell her own story? [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jul 21, 2014 - 12 comments

Where there are no people

Animal Land where there are no people was a children's book released in 1897, written by Sybil Corbet, who was four years old, and illustrated by her mother, Katharine Corbet. "Animal Land where there are no People is quite near, only you can't see it... They live by the North Pole and in the leafy places near. It is always light there, always day, they climb the poles and always play." [more inside]
posted by dng on Jul 18, 2014 - 6 comments

Tozai Mystery Best 100

In 1985, the Mystery Writers of Japan (plus "508 people who love mystery novels") assembled two separate lists of the 100 best mystery novels: one each for the books of the East and West. A revised list came out in 2012. Both Western lists are remarkable for their comparative lack of overlap with the "100 best" lists produced by the American and British mystery writers associations. The Eastern lists are remarkable for the fact that fewer than a quarter of their entries have been translated into English. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 18, 2014 - 14 comments

Ex Africa semper aliquid novi

Kenya's Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, "My Father's Head." Many stories by other winners and nominees are available online. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 18, 2014 - 6 comments

The Headbanger's Library

The eleven best metal songs about literature. [more inside]
posted by gingerbeer on Jul 15, 2014 - 56 comments

24. A house designed by a three-year-old is built.

1. A book describes works that the author has conceived but not brought into being. 2. The world is drawn from memory. There are missing countries, altered borders. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 14, 2014 - 12 comments

Dance of life and death

On Sunday, July 13th 2014, Africa's Nobel Laureates in Literature balanced the eternal dance of life and death. On that day, Nigerian poet Wole Soyinka celebrated his 80th birthday with Presidents and paeans, even as South African author Nadine Gordimer passed away that night at age 90. Each, in their own way with words, took on the challenge of race and colour.
posted by infini on Jul 14, 2014 - 14 comments

'Death will not correct / a single line of verse'

Tadeusz Różewicz (1921-2014) was a renowned Polish ‘poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, satirist and translator.’ Reckoned by Seamus Heaney as ‘one of the great European poets of the 20th century,’ he died in April at the age of 92: Guardian obituary; NYT obituary. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Jul 14, 2014 - 6 comments

Seven roses later ... each rose opens like an ideogram, like a gate

In an essay reflecting on translation, Yoko Tawada reads the poems of Paul Celan as if he had written in Japanese. The essay's translator, Susan Bernofsky, offers context, and in an earlier piece, Rivka Galchen considers "Yoko Tawada's Magnificent Strangeness." More conventional introductions to Celan are available via the Poetry Foundation page on Celan, 14 poems from Breathturn, and a video of Celan reading "Allerseelen" (English sub.; alt. trans.). Tawada's own poetry includes "The Flight of the Moon" (video in Japanese). [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 13, 2014 - 1 comment

TREASURES!

A Piece of Monologue is a treasure trove of modern, contemporary, and avant-garde expression in literature, philosophy, art, design, painting, music, theater, and more. A smattering of insides: Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand. An online guide to the life and work of Samuel Beckett. Twin Peaks Behind the Scenes Photographs. Rare photographs of John Coltrane. And wow.
posted by whimsicalnymph on Jul 10, 2014 - 2 comments

"Ugliness, Empathy, and Octavia Butler"

Estrangement and unfamiliarity, particularly in relation to ugliness and the repulsiveness of the alien body, are central to her work. And this is what gets me. The non-human creatures she imagines make me cringe and their relationships with humans in her fiction are even harder to stomach. My first reaction to the Tlic race in Butler’s 1984 short story, “Bloodchild,” was disgust, made all the more unnerving because of the great care Butler seemed to take in the description of the strange species; the serpentine movements of their long, segmented bodies resemble giant worms with rows of limbs and insect-like stingers.
For The Hooded Utilitarian's roundtable on Octavia Butler Qiana Whitted looks at how Butler uses revulsion and disgust to make the reader work to find empathy with the Other. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jul 10, 2014 - 23 comments

What if Homer Simpson smoked weed? It's not that crazy to imagine.

For the last few weeks, the Twitter account @Homer_Marijuana has been publishing a bizarre piece of long-form fan fiction about The Simpsons, family, America's wars in the Middle East, and marijuana, vast amounts of all sorts of marijuana. Now, 5,015 tweets later, Marijuana Simpson has concluded, and is available to read on an easier-to-follow Scribd document.
posted by Small Dollar on Jul 9, 2014 - 28 comments

Big, Furry Asymmetrical Balls

"Bear", she cried, "I love you. Pull my head off." In 1976, the prestigeous Governor General's Literary Award went to Canada's arguably most controversial book: "Bear", by Marian Engel, describes a woman's "journey towards inner freedom and strength", via her erotic relationship with...a bear. [more inside]
posted by Omnomnom on Jul 9, 2014 - 107 comments

Everything Pasolini did, he did as a poet.

But what was it, precisely, that Pasolini did? In 1970, five years before he was murdered on a beach near Rome, and about a decade after his first movie, Accattone, had made him notorious as a filmmaker, Pier Paolo Pasolini sat down to write a preface to a new book of his selected poems.He called this little essay “To the New Reader,” and in it he wanted to explain to this new reader—who perhaps only knew him as a filmmaker, or novelist, or polemical essayist—why he was always, in fact, a poet. His first poem, he observed, was written when he was seven. His first collection had come out when he was twenty. The volume of selected poems was taken from three books: Gramsci’s Ashes, which appeared in 1957, when he was thirty-five; The Religion of My Time, from 1961; and Poem in the Shape of a Rose, which was published in 1964, the same year that his movie The Gospel According to St. Matthew came out. And so he had really made his films, he argued, “as a poet.” Not that a film and a poem were exactly equivalent, but still: “I think one can’t deny that a certain way of feeling something occurs in the same identical way when one is faced with some of my lines and some of my shots.” [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 7, 2014 - 14 comments

Trans Women's Lit

Trans women writers Jeanne Thornton, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin and Casey Plett read from their recent works for Talks at Google. [more inside]
posted by emmtee on Jul 6, 2014 - 11 comments

Cultural Cannibal: The journalism of Gabriel García Márquez

“Would I want to read the young García Márquez’s journalism if it didn’t happen to be written by García Márquez?” I asked myself while speedwalking toward Bocars Libros in the Barracas neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and again while shelling out 150 pesos for the three-volume Obra periodística with an introduction by Jacques Gilard. Back home, reading his work, my anxiety was quickly dispelled. Gabriel García Marquez (1927–2014) is known in the English-speaking world for his lyrical, densely descriptive novels, but as a journalist he was acerbically funny, charming, and slightly bizarre. The young García Márquez devoured what surrounded him. Everything was raw material for his newspaper columns—film adaptations of Faulkner, nudism, dancing bears, the letter X, a woman he saw in an ice cream parlor who may have been the “ugliest I’ve ever seen in my life, or, on the contrary, the most disconcertingly beautiful.” [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 5, 2014 - 7 comments

The Discovery of Oneself: An Interview with Daniel Mendelsohn on Proust

“What is the lesson you draw from your own existence?” This is the philosophy that Proust teaches us. Last year, the French magazine La Revue des Deux Mondes published an interview with Daniel Mendelsohn about his experiences reading Proust as part of a special issue on “Proust vu d’Amérique.” Translated from the French by Anna Heyward. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 2, 2014 - 9 comments

Alone, in an aqueous atmosphere where distant bells linger

Diseased Gardens offers a selection of 20th C. weird fiction from Belgium and France as well as a checklist of strange fiction in translation. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 1, 2014 - 4 comments

The modern American realist novel in a time of r>g

In the LA Review of Books, Stephen Marche reflects upon the Literature of the Second Gilded Age. In his recently published book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, economist Thomas Piketty argues that when r>g, that is, when an economy's annual rate of return on capital exceeds the economy's annual rate of growth, wealth inequality tends to increase, and that this condition has held both during the 19th century and since around the latter quarter of the 20th century. Unusually for an economics book, Piketty's work makes reference to several pre 20th-century works of fiction. Stephen Marche discusses role of this literature in Piketty's book. He goes on to critique the modern American social-realist novel. Although these books are not discussed by Piketty, according to Piketty's research they too pertain to a time in which r>g. Marche however accuses the more modern literature of being a "restrained, aspirational product" with "most of its sting removed".
posted by mister_kaupungister on Jun 24, 2014 - 15 comments

774-325-0503

Call Me Ishmael: call a number and leave a voicemail about a book you've loved and a story you've lived. Later, that anonymous voicemail will be transcribed and made into a short video for everyone to see.
posted by SkylitDrawl on Jun 22, 2014 - 8 comments

Tom Pynchon's Liquor Cabinet

Every drink in every(*) Pynchon novel. List of drinks by book. [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Jun 22, 2014 - 21 comments

"...only ragged odds and ends of my script had been used..."

Vladimir Nabokov’s Unpublished ‘Lolita’ Screenplay Notes
posted by brundlefly on Jun 20, 2014 - 6 comments

The Master of Darkness

The Shadow Paperback Book Covers by Jim Steranko...at least most of them... [more inside]
posted by Think_Long on Jun 20, 2014 - 9 comments

On the illusion of infinite happiness

For it is the future generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble...That growing affection of two lovers for each other is in reality the will to live of the new being, of which they shall become the parents...The lovers have a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but combined and united in one being, are perpetuated...Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself... Arthur Schopenhauer on the Metaphysics of Love.
posted by shivohum on Jun 17, 2014 - 11 comments

The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time

One man's favorite adventure novels published before the '80s. "Why does my Top Adventures List project stop in 1983? Primarily because I figure that adventure fans already know which adventure novels from the Eighties, Nineties, and Twenty-Oughts are worth reading; I’m interested in directing attention to older, sometimes obscure or forgotten adventures." (Hat-tip: DGStieber)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jun 14, 2014 - 29 comments

“Is it about a bicycle?”

Flann O'Brien: The Lives of Brian [VIMEO]: A documentary about Flann O'Brien aka Brian O'Nolan. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jun 13, 2014 - 13 comments

Avant-Garde in a Different Key: Karl Kraus’s The Last Days of Mankind

Act 1, scene 1. "The stage directions read, “Vienna. The Ringstrasse promenade at Sirk Corner. Flags wave from the buildings. Soldiers marching by are cheered by the onlookers. General excitement. The crowd breaks up into small groups.”[2] The newsboys with their “Extra Extra,” announcing the outbreak of war, are interrupted by a drunk demonstrator who shouts “Down with Serbia! Hurrah for the Hapsburgs! Hurrah! For S-e-r-bia!” and is immediately kicked in the pants for his mistake (LTM, p. 69). A crook and a prostitute exchange insults, even as two army contractors, talking of possible bribes the rich will use to avoid the draft, cite Bismarck’s words, in Neue Freie Presse (Vienna’s major newspaper at the time of the assassination of the archduke in Serbia), to the effect that the Austrians deserve kissing. One officer tells another that war is “unanwendbar” (of no use) when he really means, as his friend points out, “unabwendbar” (unavoidable) (LTM, pp. 70–71). A patriotic citizen praises the coming conflict as a holy war of defense against “encirclement” by hostile forces, and the crowd responds by making up rhymes (in Viennese dialect) denigrating the enemy (LTM, p. 72)." [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 10, 2014 - 9 comments

The Women's Prize For Fiction 2014

This year's Women's Prize For Fiction has been won by A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. [more inside]
posted by dng on Jun 6, 2014 - 7 comments

Unlike another HBO series based on novels, this trilogy is now complete.

Darren Aronofsky is developing Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy (Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam) as an HBO series. Atwood says on Twitter that she's "met+ brainstormed with the Team and they're terrific!" Aronofsky had signed on with HBO in January.
posted by davidjmcgee on Jun 4, 2014 - 75 comments

On Adam Phillips

Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge. When you think, I’m agoraphobic, I’m a shy person, whatever it may be, these are forms of self-knowledge. What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite. Psychoanalyst and writer Adam Phillips interviewed by The Paris Review.
posted by shivohum on Jun 4, 2014 - 21 comments

Doesn’t your life feel like his?

This week sees the publication of the third volume of “My Struggle,” the thirty-six-hundred-page autobiographical novel by Karl Ove Knausgaard, the Norwegian novelist. It’s hard to overstate the strangeness of the book’s success. The six volumes of “My Struggle” chronicle, in hypnotic detail, episodes from Knausgaard’s life. There is no plot to speak of, unless you consider real life a plot. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 3, 2014 - 31 comments

"Don’t Forget to Be Awesome"

The Teen Whisperer by Margaret Talbot [New Yorker] How the author [John Green] of “The Fault in Our Stars” built an ardent army of fans.
posted by Fizz on Jun 3, 2014 - 24 comments

A literary trick

From what I saw the plurality of students and faculty had been educated exclusively in the tradition of writers like William Gaddis, Francine Prose, or Alice Munro—and not at all in the traditions of Toni Morrison, Cherrie Moraga, Maxine Hong-Kingston, Arundhati Roy, Edwidge Danticat, Alice Walker, or Jamaica Kincaid. In my workshop the default subject position of reading and writing—of Literature with a capital L—was white, straight and male. This white straight male default was of course not biased in any way by its white straight maleness—no way! Race was the unfortunate condition of nonwhite people that had nothing to do with white people and as such was not a natural part of the Universal of Literature, and anyone that tried to introduce racial consciousness to the Great (White) Universal of Literature would be seen as politicizing the Pure Art and betraying the (White) Universal (no race) ideal of True Literature.
In the New Yorker Junot Diaz talks about MFA vs POC. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 24, 2014 - 114 comments

"Alistair was a great writer. Everyone knows that..."

Alistair Macleod, one of Canada's greatest writers, has passed away. With just one novel, and two collections of short stories to his name, Macleod left an indelible mark on Canadian, and modern, literature. Other writers share their memories at the National Post (skip the first, Joyce Carol Oates' completely bland and characterless effort). At the Globe and Mail, Steven Galloway shares his own stories with Alistair. [more inside]
posted by smoke on May 19, 2014 - 9 comments

Emily Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts

The Emily Dickinson Archive is a collection of high resolution digital images of Emily Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts. Here are, for instance, Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Tell the Truth but Tell It Slant, I Dwell in Possibility, They Shut Me Up in Prose and I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died. The whole collection is fully searchable and the images include the text of the poems as they were written down by Dickinson. The archive is a project of Harvard's Houghton Library but many other institutions provided manuscripts. Perhaps the best place to start is to simply browse the poems by title.
posted by Kattullus on May 15, 2014 - 10 comments

Discovering Literature through the collections of the British Library

The British Library today unveiled a major addition to its website: Discovering Literature, a portal to digitized collections and supporting material. The first installment, Romantics and Victorians, includes work from Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, and Blake, and forthcoming modules will expand coverage of the site to encompass everything from Beowulf to the present day.
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 15, 2014 - 6 comments

A Diet Coke and a George Saunders, please

Cultivating Thought: Cups and bags at Chipotle (previously) will now feature stories and essays by famous authors, including Toni Morrison, George Saunders, Steven Pinker, Sarah Silverman, and Jonathan Safran Foer, who came up with the idea for the series and will be curating it as well.
posted by Cash4Lead on May 15, 2014 - 74 comments

The acacia tree treatment

“If someone goes out on a limb and tries something different, and the book doesn’t sell, you know who to blame: the guy who didn’t put the acacia tree on the cover.” [more inside]
posted by Herr Zebrurka on May 14, 2014 - 67 comments

Happy 77th, Pynchon!

It's Thomas Pynchon's birthday today, and as usual they've done tasty work over at Biblioklept.
posted by mr. digits on May 8, 2014 - 8 comments

(picnic, lightning)

The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.
posted by kmz on May 6, 2014 - 38 comments

The novel is dead!

The literary novel as an art work and a narrative art form central to our culture is indeed dying before our eyes. Will Self on the future of the novel.
posted by dng on May 2, 2014 - 56 comments

18 Books That Changed How We Felt About Ourselves As Women

The Huffington Post does a surprisingly decent, nostalgic roundup of 18 books women readers say "shaped the way they thought about themselves as young women," from Jane Eyre to Tori Amos.
posted by DarlingBri on May 1, 2014 - 44 comments

It isn’t much, but you get quite a lot of vitamins in the malted milk.

From grilled kidneys to gruel to open faced sandwiches to sliced up grapefruits, photos of literature's most memorable meals.
posted by pravit on Apr 26, 2014 - 40 comments

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