literature

The Secret Truce in the Literary Genre Wars

Should young-adult, science fiction, and fantasy novels be considered works of literature? Is The Hunger Games a work of art? Does anyone care? Over the last couple of years, a handful of authors have pitched their tents in the no man’s land between “genre fiction” and “pure literature.” But the more intense the genre wars become, the more difficult it is to understand what it’s all about. Is it a question of what we should read? Is it a critical discussion about what counts as “literary quality” writing? Or is it a war of words over which books should be published? … Read More

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10 Famous Poems That Appeared in Film

For decades, Hollywood has looked to the annals of literature for inspiration. Literary adaptations are more popular than ever, but poetry is still largely untapped. Films like Ken Russell’s Gothic and Jane Campion’s Bright Star center on famous poets, and there are some great movies based on poems, but we’re looking at the appearance of poetry in films — instances where characters and narratives are reflected in poetic works, recited in the movies themselves. Here’s a video scrapbook of poetry in movies. Feel free to continue adding to the list with your own video examples, below. … Read More

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Nostalgia for the Future: William Gibson on ‘The Peripheral’ and His Legacy

For an author who is arguably our greatest speculist of techno-culture, William Gibson hasn’t been spending much time in the future. His last novel to be set in the future, in fact, was 1999’s All Tomorrow’s Parties. It’s a rather extraordinary and rare event, then, that Gibson has set his new novel, The Peripheral, in not one but two futures. … Read More

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In Praise of Literary Failure

I’ll be honest: I’m baffled by the contemporary mania for the slogan “fail better.” Sure, in context, I appreciate Samuel Beckett’s famous line, but I can’t shake the notion that it comes from a piece called Worstward Ho. “Ever tried,” he writes, “Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The way it’s often used today, “fail better” implies that we’re lurching and stumbling, toddler-like, toward a better world. But the speaker in Beckett’s fiction isn’t moving toward success; he’s moving worstward. If we take the Oxford English Dictionary’s first-order definition of failure as a “lack of success,” we can appreciate that to fail better is to screw up more drastically, more spectacularly than ever before. To “fail better” is to lurch and stumble ever closer to the abyss. … Read More

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10 New Translated Books to Read Right Now

Next month, American readers will be able to suss out why Patrick Modiano (of all people) won the Nobel Prize, when Yale University Press releases Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas. In the meantime, here are ten amazing new (or fairly new, or about-to-be-published) translated works that demand to be read right now. … Read More

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Trolled by the Swedish Academy: Patrick Modiano’s Nobel Prize in Literature

This morning readers across America sighed with boredom and mild irritation as the Swedish Academy announced the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. Who? Patrick Modiano, a Frenchman who is definitely not J. M. G. Le Clézio or Michel Houellebecq. At first, I felt like I had been trolled by the Academy. If the winner was going to be a “surprise,” why not pick a younger writer? Kipling was only 42 when he won. Or, even better, why not award the Nobel to a writer on the basis of a single work? Hemingway won solely because of The Old Man and the Sea. Or just give it to Adonis already. … Read More

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“No Comment”: Getting to Know the Shadowy Oddsmaker for the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced tomorrow. Who will win? Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (7/2)? Haruki Murakami (9/2)? Bob Dylan (25/1)? I’m pretty sure it will be Adonis (10/1), but, then again, I’ve been saying that for years. Recent statements, like this from one of the judges, suggest you’d do well to put your money on an African or Asian writer. Or someone who has never enrolled in an MFA course in creative writing. Or just anyone who isn’t American. … Read More

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Conjoined Twins in Pop Culture

Earlier this week, actress Sarah Paulson teased a photo of her character for the upcoming carnival-set installment of American Horror Story, subtitled Freak Show. She’ll star as conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot in the series. Set in Jupiter, Florida at one of the last remaining freak shows of the 1950s, the struggling outsiders are forced to contend with the “evil forces” who do not understand them. It’s fantastic news for fans of the outrageous series (but somewhat bitter for those who wish Daniel Knauf’s Carnivàle was still on the air). Twins of all types have fascinated audiences for centuries, from the mythological figures of history to the vaudeville acts of the 1920s. But there’s something about conjoined twins that remains mysterious and potent for pop culture narratives. Their bodies are meshed, but their stories are unique. Here are eight instances of conjoined twins in pop culture that mesmerized and entertained. … Read More

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10 Snug and Stylish Ways to Cozy Up With a Good Book

We don’t need an excuse to cozy up with a good book and get lost for a while. After spotting a set of fun and comfy pillows inspired by literary classics, featured after the jump, we went searching for the most stylish and snuggle-worthy ways to read. Bookmark these comfortable, literary furniture pieces and design objects for those moments when you’re ready to be whisked away for a weekend of books and bliss. … Read More

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Mouth-Watering Photos of Literature’s Most Famous Meals

When Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes were first posted in June 2012, they caused an online stir, and that was no surprise. She styled, prepared, and shot elaborate recreations of some of the most iconic meals in literature, from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s open-faced sandwiches, or smørrebrød, to Proust and Swann and his very famous madeleines. You can find these charming images and many more in the new book Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, which features Fried’s photos, mouth-watering excerpts from the greatest meals in literature, and trivia. Here’s a selection of three meals, from Alice in Wonderland, Moby Dick, and The Great Gatsby. … Read More

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