London’s “Books About Town” Turns Iconic Literary Works Into Public Art

As of yesterday, the citizens of London can take a breather on one of 50 “Books About Town,” a collaboration between the National Literacy Trust and public art organization Wild in Art. Each book-shaped bench is decorated with an artist’s rendition of works such as Alex Rider and War Horse, running the gamut from contemporary subway reads to longtime favorites. Click through for a sampling of our favorites, including tributes to Charles Darwin and Bridget Jones. … Read More

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The Torrid and Intriguing Tales of 10 Male Muses

English occultist Aleister Crowley’s reputation as the snarling cue ball-headed “Great Beast” has been shattered. A book of Crowley’s aching, lovelorn poems, inspired by his affair with female impersonator Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt, will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London this month. “The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanize him,” rare book dealer Neil Pearson said of the poems. The dark libertine’s muse didn’t share his appreciation for esotericism, and the relationship ended abruptly — but Pollitt did inspire verses that included lines like, “My passion splashes out at last.” We also felt inspired — taking it upon ourselves to dig up the torrid and fascinating tales of ten male muses. The men whose lives helped shape the works of great painters, writers, and filmmakers often take a backseat to their female counterparts, but they are no less intriguing. Meet the inspiring friends and lovers of ten cultural luminaries. … Read More

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The Memorable Last Words of Literary Characters

Today, we’re celebrating literature’s first detective story, which became a prototype for the greatest modern mystery tales and the analytical sleuths that investigated them. This weekend marks the 173rd publication anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which first appeared in Graham’s Magazine back in 1841. Protagonist C. Auguste Dupin, a Parisian man who becomes embroiled in a bloody case, solves the bizarre murder mystery surrounding two women without the help of the police force. The story’s final line comes from a puffed-up Dupin, who after ruffling the prefect of police’s feathers, snarkily states: “I like him especially for one master stroke of cant, by which he has attained his reputation for ingenuity. I mean the way he has ‘de nier ce qui est, et d’expliquer ce qui n’est pas.’ (‘To deny what is, and to explain what is not.’)” We felt inspired to look back on some of the most memorable last words of literary characters — those that mark a character’s journey, several closing quips, and a few dying utterances. Add your favorite quotes, below. … Read More

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Margaret Atwood, Jo Nesbø, Anne Tyler to Write Updated Versions of Shakespeare Classics

Pop culture loves a good Shakespeare modernization, from West Side Story to 10 Things I Hate About You to Baz Luhrmann’s… Read More

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Is the Shakespeare Resurgence Killing Serious Contemporary Theatre?

This fall, four new productions of Shakespeare’s classic tales hit the Broadway stage. The first, Romeo and Juliet, features Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad leading a mixed-race cast that adds a racial reading to the tale of the star-crossed lovers. Next month, Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry lead an all-male cast in Richard III and Twelfth Night, which will be performed in repertory. Later in October, Ethan Hawke steps into the title role in Macbeth, the second production of the Scottish Play to be on Broadway in 2013 (Tony winner Alan Cumming starred in a one-man production earlier this year). With a new film version of Romeo and Juliet due this out this fall and a modern-day version of Cymbeline (also starring Hawke) currently filming in New York, it seems that Shakespeare’s back! But did he ever go away? … Read More

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Our Favorite Fictional Butlers in Pop Culture

Despite an Academy Award-winning role in The Last King of Scotland, Forest Whitaker remains fairly underrated. His filmography is filled with plenty of misses — the terrible Battlefield Earth amongst them — but when he’s spot on, he blows us away. We’re looking at you Ghost Dog, The Crying Game, and Bird. Unfortunately, his latest film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler — loosely based on the real-life story of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who worked for eight presidents — was too heavy-handed for us. We decided to take a breather from Daniels’ “blatant Oscar bait” and look back on some of our favorite fictional butlers in pop culture. … Read More

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17 Amazing Stories of Lost and Found Films

Exciting news for silent comedy fans, movie buffs, and people who generally like things that are awesome: film historian Fernando Pena has discovered an alternate version of the classic Buster Keaton short The Blacksmith, featuring numerous never-before-seen gags and a new ending. The film, buried in a large purchase of European prints from eBay, is the kind of discovery that makes movie lovers’ hearts dance; there are so many great old films either lost entirely or no longer in their original form that these kind of finds in archives, collections, and odd spots make the impossible (the original cuts of Greed or The Magnificent Ambersons, say) seem possible. Here’s a few more exciting moments of cinematic archaeology. … Read More

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Celebrating Summer in Pop Culture

Presented by Reyka

June 21st marks the summer solstice — aka the official start to summer and the longest day of the year. It’s especially long in Iceland, where the sun shines for a full 24 hours. Reyka Vodka, from the first distillery in Iceland (which, let’s just be clear, filters the good stuff through freakin’ lava rocks to get that smooth finish), is celebrating the holiday by flying out one very lucky sun-worshiper to experience the island in all its summer glory. Here at Flavorwire, we’re taking a look at some of our favorite films, books, and music of the summer season. … Read More

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Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

We once again have your back here at Flavorwire if you’re in need of some nourishment to satiate your appetite for all things cultural. This week’s round of staff recommendations offers a diverse sampling of art, literature, and sport to keep your brows high and your mind engaged throughout the rest of the week. … Read More

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