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Category Archives: literature

The Critic's Critic

by Harold Bloom from The New York Times It has been three centuries since Dr. Johnson was born, on Sept. 7, 1709. He died on Dec. 13, 1784, still struggling for the mixed blessing of more life. His Falstaffian vitalism is always my first thought when I reread, teach again or continue brooding upon the canonical critic [...]
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Mark Twain on the French Revolution

There were two ‘Reigns of Terror’, if we could but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passions, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred million; but our [...]
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Ayn Rand: The perverse allure of a damaged woman

by Johann Hari from Slate Ayn Rand is one of America’s great mysteries. She was an amphetamine-addicted author of sub-Dan Brown potboilers, who in her spare time wrote lavish torrents of praise for serial killers and the Bernie Madoff-style embezzlers of her day. She opposed democracy on the grounds that “the masses”—her readers—were “lice” and “parasites” who [...]
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Slavoj Žižek / Pordenonelegge Literary Festival 2009

Slavoj Žižek in conversation with Pierpaolo Antonello at the 2009 edition of ‘Pordenonelegge’, a Literary Festival held in Pordenone, Italy. September 2009. [youtube=]
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Secret Love in the Lost City

by Pico Iyer from The New York Review of Books The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely Knopf, 536 pp., $28.95 Istanbul, with its many signs of the time when it was the center of the world, becomes something of a museum in the work of Orhan Pamuk, a writer clearly in love [...]
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The Rise of the Neuronovel

by Marco Roth from n+1 The last dozen years or so have seen the emergence of a new strain within the Anglo-American novel. What has been variously referred to as the novel of consciousness or the psychological or confessional novel—the novel, at any rate, about the workings of a mind—has transformed itself into the neurological novel, wherein [...]
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A Dry Black Veil

by Brian Dilon from Cabinet By the last decades of the nineteenth century, an obscuring perplex of ideas regarding dust hung above the inhabitants of the European city like overlapping clouds, variously threatening or inspiring with the weight of knowledge, quantity of filth, or degree of infection they contained. London, especially—having only lately escaped a mid-century cholera [...]
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A Conversation With Gore Vidal

by John Meroney from The Atlantic At age 83, Gore Vidal remains a sharp provocateur, as irascible and irreverent as ever. Snapshots in History’s Glare, a new memoir by Vidal released this month, renews interest in this American literary and cultural icon—offering readers a pictorial look at his singular life, from his youth in the political and social [...]
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American Centaur: An Interview with John Updike

From THE NEW YORKER On October 21, 1978, John Updike was in Zagreb, Croatia, at the invitation of the Writers’ Association of Croatia and the American Information Center. In the afternoon, he gave a lengthy interview to Zvonimir Radeljkovi? and Omer Hadžiselimovi?, professors of English who specialized in American literature at the University of Sarajevo. In [...]
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From a Notebook that Never Was

by Fernando Pesoafrom the POETRY FOUNDATION I always acted on the inside . . . I never touched life . . . Whenever I began to trace an action, I finished it in my dreams, heroically . . . A sword weighs more than the idea of a sword . . . I commanded large armies, [...]
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Maurice Sendak tells parents worried by Wild Things to 'go to hell'

by Alison Floodfrom THE GUARDIAN Parents who think the new film of Maurice Sendak’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are is too frightening for children can “go to hell”, the author has said. Telling the story of a naughty little boy, Max, who is sent to bed without his supper only to journey by boat to [...]
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Procedure in Plain Air

by Jonatham Lethemfrom THE NEW YORKER Later, after the men in jumpsuits had driven up and begun digging the hole, Stevick would remember that the guy on the bench beside him had been gazing puzzledly into the cone of his large coffee and had tried to interest him in the question of whether the café’s brew [...]
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2009 Nobel Prize for Literature

from GRANTA Herta Müller, the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist, has won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. Müller, fifty-six, is internationally renowned for her portrayal of life under dictatorship. Announcing the 2009 award, the Swedish Academy praised Müller, ‘who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed’. Müller’s [...]
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Bristling with Diligence

by James Woodfrom the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS There is what seems an interesting slip early in A.S. Byatt’s new novel. It is 1895. A young working-class man, Philip Warren, has been adopted by a liberal upper-class family, the Wellwoods. At the Kentish country home of Olive and Humphry Wellwood, a glorious Midsummer Party is in [...]
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Jews for Jesus

by Kiera Feldmanfrom n+1 Another New York summer has passed: gone are the warm nights of stoop sitting; gone are the free concerts and outdoor movies and endless scrambles to claim picnic blanket space; and gone, too, are the Jews for Jesus. For the 36th straight year, Jews for Jesus traveled here for their “Summer Witnessing Campaign.” [...]
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Vladimir Nabokov discusses Lolita

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When Writers Speak

by Arthur Krystalfrom THE NEW YORK TIMES That’s Vladimir Nabokov on my computer screen, looking both dapper and disheveled. He’s wearing a suit and a multibuttoned vest that scrunches the top of his tie, making it poke out of his shirt like an old-fashioned cravat. Large, lumpish, delicate and black-spectacled, he’s perched on a couch alongside [...]
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Nietzsche / Wagner

Download and read here Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings on Wagner. Includes: I. The Case of WagnerII. Nietzsche Contra WagnerIII. Selected Aphorisms Translated ByAnthony M. LudoviciThird EditionT. N. Foulis13 & 15 Frederick StreetEdinburgh and London1911
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Lolita: Eros Between the Covers

by Francine Prosefrom LAPHAM’S QUARTERLY In the spring of 2001, on the final night of an unsettling German book tour during which I had become convinced that evening after evening I was reading to different groups of catatonics bused in from the local mental hospital, I was staying at an appropriately eccentric hotel on a hilltop [...]
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Posthumous Gratitude

by Michael Casperfrom n+1 After David Foster Wallace’s tragic death last September 12, while unburdening my shelf of his works to give them a good nostalgic thumbing-through, I remembered an LP in my collection—plucked several summers ago from the dollar bin of a liquidating Cambridge record store—by an artist with the same name as one of [...]
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