Dreams — and nightmares — have offered an intimate wellspring of inspiration for generations of authors. From the ancient Greeks to contemporary surrealists, our subconscious meanderings have been regarded as perennially profound by the literati. Whether to celebrate their absurdity, candid insight, or liberation of repressed sentiments, these oblique visions have become inextricably woven into the collective dreaming of our cultural mythology. It’s clear that our slumbers liberate far more than just monsters from the id. Margaret Atwood revealed the inner workings of her own “psychic carburetor” in a New York Review article she penned earlier this week. We’ve shared her thoughts on dreams as inspiration past the break, along with a selection of other remarkable works that have been pollinated by their creators’ nighttime reverie. … Read More
Today is the first day of The Morning News‘s epic annual Tournament of Books, an excellent and wordy alternative (or supplement) to March Madness for all us literary types. To celebrate, we asked the ToB’s organizers — the venerable Rosecrans Baldwin, Kevin Guilfoile, John Warner, and Andrew Womack — to act as judges for a few imaginary literary match-ups. Because who doesn’t want to imagine the results of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky throwing down? After the jump, find out who would win in a fight — Mailer or Vidal, Hemingway or Faulkner, Dorothy Parker or anybody, and more. Don’t agree? Argue your literary hearts out in the comments, and then be sure to get in on the real-life highbrow smackdown here. … Read More
Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights. The Awakening. The Lifted Veil. The Yellow Wallpaper. What these books have in common is, of course, that they’re all 19th-century novels by women writers. Undoubtedly as a result, they all share an explicit or latent fixation with the domestic sphere to which so many women were relegated at the time — and with the psychological implications of that confinement.
These are the subjects of Julia Callon’s Houses of Fiction, a series of photographed models that depict rooms from these novels, exploring both their sedate surfaces and their chaotic subtext. “The dichotomous representation of women — mad or sane — is crucial to represent in this series,” Callon writes. “Therefore, each story is presented as a diptych: one image represents the passive, subservient woman, while the other represents ‘madness.’” Click through to see Houses of Fiction, which we spotted via Eyresses, and visit Callon’s website for more of her work and information on how to purchase the photos. … Read More
It’s no secret that we at Flavorpill are fascinated by the marginalia of our favorite artists’ lives — we swoon over their doodles, dig through their sketchbooks, and posthumously ogle their beach photos. Recently, aided by one of our favorite Tumblr destinations for literary ephemera, Fuck Yeah, Manuscripts!, we’ve indulged in a little more snooping, and put together this collection of a few of the notebooks, journals and diaries of some of our favorite creative minds — authors, artists, actors, musicians, scientists — so as to better get to know their inner selves. Click through to page through the notebooks of a few famous creatives, and let us know which one looks the most like your own in the comments. … Read More
Being the literary nerds that we are over here, we’re obsessed with everything about our favorite authors, and particularly the little scraps of writerly intention — things that give us a view into an author’s thought process and planning technique, or even just a peek at the way they see and order the world. Plus, we like to see that authors work out their thoughts with forced attempts at organization and scribbled-out ideas just like the rest of us. Writers often use plot charts to organize the threads of complicated stories, but they’ve also been known to crank out diagrams of the travels of other people’s characters, chart-style teaching tools, and even hand-drawn maps. Click through to take a peek at our collection of charts, maps, and diagrams hand-drawn by famous authors, and get a little story-plotting inspiration of your own. … Read More
The big news on the Internet today is that spoilers don’t ruin books — in fact, they actually increase the pleasure we get out of reading them. These scientific findings fly in the face of just about every other comment on every film and TV blog we’ve ever read, but we don’t actually find them terribly surprising. Some of Western culture’s best-loved a most-read books are, after all, ones whose endings are so widely known that most of us know them before we even pick up the book. After the jump, we’ve compiled — and revealed the outcomes of — ten classic works of literature that we read (and, in the case of plays, watch) even though they’ve already been “spoiled” for us. … Read More
Our friends at HuffPost recently put together a fascinating list of the literary characters their readers find sexiest. What we found most interesting weren’t the obvious picks — Mr. Darcy, Casanova — but the number of odd choices. James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus? We’re pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to be terribly attractive. And Victor Mancini from Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke? Really? We puzzled over the piece for a while before concluding that lust works in mysterious ways. “The heart wants what it wants” is a cliché for a reason. So, in that spirit, we’ve created a necessarily subjective list of unlikely literary crushes. From stalwart, seemingly asexual supporting characters to all-out weirdos to evil incarnate, ten book characters we find improbably sexy are after the jump. Confess yours in the comments. … Read More
In preparation for Celebrating 100 Years, the New York Public Library’s centennial exhibition, the curators at the library have been handling some unusual bounty in the stacks: a lock of Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley’s hair, for example. Macabre as it seems, bestowing locks of hair on friends, family members, and lovers was common practice in the 19th century, and locks of hair from many renowned writers accompany the NYPL’s vast collections of manuscripts, notebooks, and letters.
This prompted us to seek out other literary DNA at the NYPL. With guidance from Elizabeth C. Denlinger of the library’s Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley & His Circle, Isaac Gewirtz, curator of the library’s Berg Collection of English and American Literature, and Jennifer Lam, we present you with the following gallery. For the next few months, you can see Mary Shelley’s hair, along with other artifacts from the NYPL’s collection, in person. For now, get ready for a rather intimate look at some famous literary hair. And if you’re still harboring an interest in famous authors’ hair, check out this piece on male writers’ unruly hairstyles. … Read More
We all grieve when the protagonist of a novel dies, but how about when we mourn over characters who aren’t as prominent? They might be the friends, mentors, peers, and family members who share the spotlight at times but who either peripheral to the main action or because of other circumstances drift apart from the storyline at some point along the way, due to their untimely ends. From the unexpected deaths to the horribly slow ones, we offer you ten secondary characters who passed too soon but who will not be forgotten. … Read More