Oscar Wilde was one of the greatest wits of all time, his quips and aphorisms as vital now as they were over a century ago. And since he also cut quite the flamboyant figure, dazzling and entertaining all of London society, it’s impossible not to imagine what it was like to be in the same room with the man as he announced, “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” While we can’t imagine any lost video footage of Wilde, who died in 1900, will be forthcoming, we’re grateful to Open Culture for locating an audio clip of the author reciting two verses of his poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Although the recording isn’t great, his voice is definitely audible enough to make out the Irish-born writer’s cultivated accent and his sly, whimsical inflection. Can’t you just hear him leaning in to some aristocratic lady to exclaim, “Oh, you are wicked!”? Click through to hear Wilde’s voice, which begins about 45 seconds into the video. … Read More
When we imagine the places where our favorite authors penned their greatest masterpieces, a jail cell usually doesn’t come to mind. But, whether their writers were prisoners of war or victims of bigotry, the solitude and lack of distractions have produced many a great book. From Oscar Wilde’s apologia on spiritual awakening to Thoreau’s thoughts on civil disobedience, we survey authors whose great mental escapes from incarceration resulted in some of their most insightful and profound works, after the jump. … Read More
“J’Accuse!” Writer Émile Zola fled France today 114 years ago to escape imprisonment after being convicted for libel. He defended the innocence of a Jewish artillery captain in the French army, Alfred Dreyfus. The L’Assommoir author directed his letter — published in newspaper L’Aurore — at France’s President Félix Faure and the government, citing anti-Semitism and judicial corruption in the unlawful jailing of Dreyfus for espionage. Zola quickly took off to London and later returned to see Dreyfus pardoned.
History has proven that honest, intellectual, and creative freethinkers can be deemed dangerous — demonized and ostracized by their own societies. Many have been banished, but some have left their native countries of their own accord. Oddly enough, the experience has been a catalyst for some of literature’s finest work. See what famous figures made our list of literary exiles below. … Read More
As you probably know, here at Flavorpill, we’re fascinated by just about every aspect of the lives of our favorite authors — including what happened after them. This week saw the release of Tigers in Red Weather, a sultry, pitch-perfect literary thriller penned by Liza Klaussmann, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Herman Melville. Though her novel reminds us more of Fitzgerald’s gilded sneaking than Melville’s brutal sea voyage, we were inspired by her success to look up a few more of our favorite authors’ modern-day descendants. Just, you know, to check in. If you’re as addicted to prying as we are, see what they’re all up to after the jump. … Read More
Here at Flavorpill, we love a good story. And while we generally get our fix from novels and short stories, sometimes the lives of the authors are just as fascinating as the lives of the characters they create (some of them even have biopics — or more than one — to prove it). After all, artists are prone to eccentricities, creative problem solving and, let’s face it, tragedy, all qualities that make great protagonists as well as interesting people. Click through to check out our list of authors whose true life stories we think would make fantastic novels (we’ve focused on those who haven’t written autobiographies or exact novelizations of their own lives), and then be sure to add to our list in the comments! … Read More
This week, we found out that Guy Ritchie is on board to helm a Warner Brothers adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s literary classic Treasure Island, a pairing that — given Ritchie’s gift for madcap, stylized adventure movies — we think is going to be pretty awesome. Inspired by this news, and given that we’re rather unsatisfied with many of the cinematic adaptations of classic novels that actually exist, we’ve come up with a dream list of some of our favorite classic novels and the filmmakers we think would be perfect to direct them. Click through to check out our list of book-director pairings that were totally meant to be, and let us know who you think should direct your own favorite classic novel in the comments. … Read More
Rupert Everett clearly has a thing for Oscar Wilde. He’s starred in two movies adapted from the fin-de-siècle author’s works, The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, and has been active in the restoration of his tomb. Now, Variety is reporting the news from Cannes that he’s directing and starring in… Read More
This week, Nell Freudenberger’s second novel, The Newlyweds hit shelves, and we’d say we’re pretty excited. The book itself is great, but the reappearance of the author reminded us of her past as a new kid on the block, part of that cyclical surge of young, attractive authors that always seem to take a lot of heat, especially from critics and other writers. After all, it’s not every author who is judged in the headlines to be “too young, too pretty, too successful,” but we like to think that with her newest novel, Freudenberger has pushed past that stigma to be taken a bit more seriously, and perhaps enjoyed with a little less jealousy. Others of her good looking brethren have done the same — or have fallen off the face of the planet. Click through to see our round up of a few authors that have been criticized, ridiculed, or simply condescended to for their looks or age, and how they’ve fared since. And no, we’re not going to get into the whole Franzen/Wharton thing. … Read More
Since we discovered an ongoing crowdsource project called Legacy Libraries, we haven’t been able to tear our eyes away from it. The organization gathers information about the libraries of historical people — authors, artists, scientists, and more. By compiling data from bibliographies, auction catalogs, library holdings, manuscript lists, wills and probate inventories, and from the personal verification of extant copies, Legacy Libraries is able to conjure a snapshot of the titles resting on famous bookshelves.
The group started out reconstructing the library of Thomas Jefferson in 2007, which has since been handed over to librarians at his Monticello estate. Since then, the database has expanded to include everyone imaginable, like Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe (at one point she was reading How to Eat Your Way to Glowing Health, Why I Am Not a Christian, and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment) and Tupac (who had a thing for books about psychics and enjoyed Henry Miller and Anais Nin).
We imagined the bookshelves of well-known authors also contained some fascinating reads, and we were right. Click through to see what books your favorite writers curled up with, in many cases offering an interesting view into their personal lives and mindset. Head to Legacy Libraries where you can create an account to see if your own library matches that of any famous faces. … Read More
When authors pen love letters, sometimes they can get a little scandalous. After all, we know that great authors can tend to be a little dirtier than your average swooner, and what better place to let their freak flag fly than in private correspondences they never dreamed would go down in history? If you’re lucky, this Valentine’s Day will bring a plethora of long, handwritten love letters for you to peruse by candlelight, but since you probably aren’t that lucky, we’ve collected a few of our favorite literary love letters for you to read by the soft glow of your computer screen. Some are flat-out obscene (Joyce, we’re looking at you) and some composed of more subtle and suggestive flirting, but all of them are titillating, romantic, and of course, exceedingly well-written. We’re not saying that you should necessarily pick up any tips for when you write tonight’s Valentine’s Day card from these, but then again, if your lady if a Flaubert fan, it might be exactly the ticket. Click through to read a few of our favorite scandalous correspondences between great authors and the objects of their affection — but reader be warned: as you might expect, colorful language abounds. … Read More