As Kelly Murphy tells us, “Sometimes we struggle to make a connection with history. Wars, timelines, dynasties, and aqueducts are rarely compelling. But take a deeper look at the mad men and fierce women of the days of yore and you uncover an alluring, powerful, and often wildly scandalous cast of characters who shaped our society today. What did they all have in common? An irresistible charisma.” … Read More
Although he denied his affiliation with the movement, critics are generally inclined to say that Albert Camus was an existentialist. Born 100 years ago today, the author is responsible for Nobel Prize-winning classics like The Stranger and The Fall that sit at the top of the “philosophical fiction” pile. … Read More
Conspiracy theories: they’re as fascinating as they are maddening. For every ridiculous idea that the stoner in your life insists on telling you about every time you see him/her, there’s another theory that sounds like it could just be true. Here at Flavorwire this week, we’re investigating conspiracy theories in pop culture: yes, it’s Conspiracy Theory Week! Don’t tell the Illuminati.
There are people who spend years trying to prove certain literary myths and conspiracy theories correct, but most never quite do it. Some of those theories are hilarious, a couple are totally pointless, others are impossible to prove right or wrong, while the most entertaining ones are borderline batshit insane. These are a few of our favorites. … Read More
There’s an entire world of literature out there if you just look beyond what was written in your native tongue. Major works in other languages are being translated into English all the time, meaning that there’s no time like the present for you to enjoy books from places like Russia, Egypt, Mexico, and other nations around the globe. So if you’re looking to get your literary passport stamped, here are 50 destinations to start you… Read More
We’ve all had great lines from literature stuck in our heads before. Some people choose to make the situation more permanent. Here, our favorite literary quote… Read More
In Shoey Nam’s Loved and Labored series, which we recently spotted over at Juxtapoz, the London-based illustrator depicts some of his famous writers in lovely delicate line drawings. Even more interesting is the fact that each portrait is at least two — and sometimes three — portraits in one, depicting the subject at various stages of their writing life or even just in opposing moods, often with one version of the writer peering over the shoulder of the other, reminding him of his presence. Nam writes, “I chose to illustrate a set of literature figures, as writers have the tendency to carry a certain haggardness and cynicism of the world on their faces, which are often reflected in their words…. I tried to focus on depicting the figures’ mannerisms, such as the look on the face when concentrated, the way one smokes, holds objects, as well as the lines/traces/marks formed on faces that suggest their habitual face expressions.” Click through to check out Nam’s portraits of famous writers, and then be sure head over to his website to check out a similar series of musicians, plus even more of his work. … Read More
Tomorrow is Bastille Day, or as the French call it, la Fête Nationale or le quatorze juillet, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, the flashpoint of the French Revolution that symbolizes the birth of the modern nation. So basically the French version of the fourth of July, only slightly bloodier and with more presidential garden parties. In honor of the French’s national holiday, we’ve put together a list of essential French literature to get anyone in the spirit. And obviously, there’s no way to distill the literature of an entire country into a ten point list, so these are just some of our favorites — chime in with your own in the comments. Vive la révolution! … Read More
Any bookworm can tell you that our favorite novels play an enormous part in making us who we are and shaping our relationships. Germany-based illustrator Simon Prades brings that formative influence into the physical plane in Our Books, a series of pencil drawings that represent both great works of literature and the people Prades feels connected to through them. Taking inspiration from J.D. Salinger, Albert Camus, Gabriel García Márquez, and more, the illustrations are deeply personal, driven more by what the artist associates with his subjects than the concrete details of the books themselves. See the series after the jump, and visit Prades’ Behance page to see more of his work. … Read More
As befits an obsessive writer, Beckett read everything he could get his hands on, and of course had opinions on everything. The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 2, recently published by Cambridge University Press, sheds light on Beckett’s correspondence from 1941 – 1956, and is, of course, fascinating. To whet your appetite (if you don’t have a copy of the book yet), CUP has published a partial list of books mentioned by Beckett in his personal letters, some even with a few choice words of derision or approval, so we can get an idea of what he was reading in those fifteen years. Click through to see Beckett’s reading list, and then make sure to pick up a copy of the book for even more. … Read More
Alexander Maksik’s new novel, You Deserve Nothing, is set in Paris and involves a dashing, charismatic teacher of romantic and existentialist authors who ends up starting a forbidden affair with one of his students. We thought he would be the perfect candidate to curate a list of 10 existential novels and one easily guessable play.
Maksik writes, “In the popular imagination, Existentialism is inextricable from left bank Paris café life – black turtlenecks, Les Deux Magots, Jean-Paul Sartre – but what I think of as the first great work of Existentialist fiction was written before Paris was even an idea. The Book of Job, the story of a man who suffers endlessly for no reason other than God’s whim. When Job has had enough and finally demands some explanation, God arrives and says, I’m paraphrasing here, Hey, did you make the world? No? Then sit down and shut up. Which is the biblical version of ‘because I’m the adult, I make the rules.’ So, in one way or another, the following novels all have their protagonists moving through similarly chaotic and unjust worlds, where there is no perfect logic, where there is no absolute morality, or reason and they are left to determine their own meaning in absurd and meaningless universes.”
If you’re in New York on September 10th, head over to Bar 82 for a round of Existentialist Trivia with Maksik. As always, send us your thoughts on classic existentialist texts in the comments section below. … Read More