For Aeon, Tiffany Jenkins writes on the importance of secrets in a person’s individual development. In addition to psychological and sociological research, Jenkins traces the vital role secrets and secret-keeping plays in classical children’s literature....more
Posts Tagged: literature
Literature continually reminds us that we are not alone and (to paraphrase Kundera) that things are not always as simple as they seem. With so many stories, histories, characters and figures populating a reader’s mind, it’s easy for us to take for granted the liberation that literature imparts.
For the New York Times‘s Bookends column, Rivka Galchen and Benjamin Moser muse on the question of which transgressions in literature are unforgivable:
For me, the unforgivable sin in literature is the same as that in life: the assumption of certainty and the moral high ground.
So while silence can most certainly be boring, unsettling, unbearable, it can just as certainly be an aid to concentration and thus free the imagination. It can quiet the mind and open it to divine influences. This seems to depend on whether we have chosen it or it has been forced upon us.
For those who start within the establishment, professional writing is likely to correspond to drudgery, and they’ll seek to escape it. For those on the outside looking in, it’s a mark of legitimacy.
The reasons behind why writers write is arguably broken into two camps: for art and as a profession....more
They have a swish sounding publisher. They write for the New Yorker or the Guardian. They’re overwhelmingly likely to have attended an elite university such as Oxford or Stamford. They have an MFA. It’s all indicative of one clear message: these people are smarter than you, so you should buy their book.
When a piece of art inspires you, it literally in-spires, breaths into you. It makes us want to create new art. Or, maybe it’s a more basic instinct. From the beginning of our lives, when we hear a good story, a story that as Winterson says becomes “talismanic” for us, what do we say?
Reporter and writer Svetlana Alexievich recently won the Nobel Prize for literature. In a piece for the New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch brings up some questions that this poses about the relationship between reportage literature and other forms—is one more necessary or relevant in our current times?...more
When a moving image is shorn from one of these videos…we are left with something that feels a little bit “real,” a little bit “fictional,” and a little bit neither.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how many words is a GIF worth?...more
The rapid rise of “trigger warnings” is starting to impact literature curriculums. For instance, Columbia University students lobbied to include warnings on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a core text in Western Literature syllabi. Columbia refused to include warnings, but essentially capitulated by expunging the text from its curriculum entirely....more
(adj.); intended to teach; related to teaching or education
“How did it come to be … that ‘those of us for whom English is a line of work are also called upon to love literature and ensue that others do so, too’?”
–Dora Zhang, “Love, Loot, and Lit.”
“We don’t expect,” writes Dora Zhang, “a molecular biologist to love bacteria in the way we expect an English professor to love Jane Austen.” It’s a valid point: when we talk about literature, it’s usually with undertones of awe, adoration and admiration for the craft of the writing, the words themselves....more
Requests by students at University of California Santa Barbara, Oberlin College, Rutgers University, University of Michigan, George Washington University, and other institutions for ““trigger warnings” on classroom literature has sparked an interesting debate.
The New York Times has the full story....more
Should art and literature be treated independently? The Paris Review Daily reports that the British Library has recently released an online collection of 1,200 Romantic and Victorian texts in the first phase of a plan to digitize various literary periods. Notably included is The Yellow Book, a literary quarterly that strictly distinguished between the two mediums....more
It happens every now and then that we find someone toasting (or mourning) the death of the novel—this time, it’s Will Self’s turn.
“How do you think it feels to have dedicated your entire adult life to an art form only to see the bloody thing dying before your eyes?” At the Guardian, the British writer answers his own question with the transcript of his Richard Hillary Memorial Lecture....more
According to Christopher Benfey, literature has a long history of writers including characters’ personal struggles in parentheses within the text. To learn how that worked in Nabokov’s “Lolita” or Virginia Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse” (and to discover that there’s an entire study on the subject), check out Benfey’s essay on the New York Review of Books‘s blog....more
Ever droll, Sadie Stein writes in the Paris Review about the reaction we’re (all) prone to have when people recommend literature based on our professed likes and dislikes:
When someone says I will like something, I tend to assume the something in question will be precious, tedious, and often aggressively eccentric.
What role can a knowledge of scientific concepts play in understanding literature? It comes as no surprise that “biological science remains more-or-less completely un-talked about in English seminar,” as M.M. Owen writes in a piece featured on The Millions, but does this mean that science should be ignored in discussions of literature?...more
The New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium is a weekly forum for discussing the tradition and future of text/image work. Open to the public, it meets Monday nights at 7-9 p.m. EST in New York City. Presentations vary weekly and include everything from historical topics and technical demonstrations to creators presenting their work....more