10 Works of Art We Can’t Believe They Got Away With

In the context of our post last week on French yé-yé pop, we touched on France Gall’s “Les Sucettes,” an ostensibly innocent ditty written for her by Serge Gainsbourg, which came stuffed full of allusions to oral sex. The song’s questionable enough, but the video is all kinds of wrong — giant dancing phalluses, nubile teens sucking on very suggestive lollipops, and poor little France Gall, oblivious to it all. We still can’t quite believe Gainsbourg got away with it, but then, he made a career out of getting away with it. Anyway, the whole thing got us thinking about similar works of art with hidden meanings that somehow managed to slip under the radar — history is full of them, and we’ve put together a rather eclectic selection after the jump. We’re sure there must be heaps more, so let us have your suggestions in the comments section. … Read More

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Wrapped Up In Books: 10 Great Odes to Famous Writers

Here at Flavorpill, we’re huge fans of genre crossover, particularly when one artist we love pays tribute to another one we hold dear. This week, Vol. 1 Brooklyn pointed us towards a new song by Diehard called “Steinbeck,” after, of course, the famous author. After listening, we were inspired to dig up a few more sonic odes to famous writers — not just songs inspired by their works, mind you, though there are many of those, but songs actually devoted to or inspired by the authors themselves, which are a little less common. Click through to listen to ten songs we love about famous writers we love even more — or just stream the entire playlist here — and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorite sonic odes to authors in the comments! … Read More

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Bookish Brands: 25 Pieces of Awesome Literary Street Art

Graffiti artists aren’t particularly known for their bookishness. After all, when you spend your nights out on the street as a graphic art vigilante, you’re missing important time that could be spent snuggled up in bed with a book. So after we saw this spectacular Isaac Asimov portrait, we decided to go hunting for graffiti with a distinct literary bent — and in fact, the world abounds with bookish street art, from portraits of favorite authors to stenciled and scribbled quotes to representations of beloved characters. Click through to see twenty five of our favorite finds, from the reverent to the blatantly mocking, and let us know which author’s likeness you’d most like to stencil onto the walls of your city in the comments — or get out there and contribute to our collection. … Read More

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The 10 Most Expensive Books in the World

It could be a record-breaking afternoon in the book world. Today, Christie’s New York will auction off a copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which already holds the title of most valuable printed book in the world, having sold for about $11.5 million in 2010. In fact, according to The Economist, a true list of the ten most valuable single books ever sold would have to include five copies of The Birds of America. Though Christie’s is playing their cards close to the vest and estimating a $7 to $10 million sale, today could see a new record for the book. After all, the copy that sold for $11.5 million was estimated at less than the copy on auction today.

To help you brush up on your knowledge of the very old and very valuable, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most expensive books ever sold — no white gloves necessary. Click through for an overview, and then head upstairs to check your attics for any forgotten dusty tomes — you could be a millionaire and not even know it. … Read More

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15 of the Greatest Literary Mustaches

Happy birthday to Gothic lit god Edgar Allan Poe, whose chilling tales have influenced innumerable artists of every kind across the globe and have been a comfort for angsty teens everywhere. While the scribe’s life story is a fascinating one filled with madness and love, we’re celebrating the grim gentleman’s legacy by calling attention to one of his greatest attributes: his debonair mustache. Poe’s appearance has been well documented, citing that he traded long sideburns for his now-famous facial hair, which he first grew around 1845. An article in the 1878 copy of Scribner’s Magazine, “The Last Days of Edgar A. Poe,” describes the writer’s iconic stache more specifically:

“He wore a dark mustache, scrupulously kept, but not entirely concealing a slightly contracted expression of the mouth and an occasional twitching of the upper lip, resembling a sneer. This sneer, indeed, was easily excited — a motion of the lip, scarcely perceptible, and yet intensely expressive. There was in it nothing of ill-nature, but much of sarcasm … “

What other literary greats have memorable mustaches? Find out past the break, and let us know who you’d add to the list. … Read More

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Literary Mixtape: Lady Macbeth

If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: the woman pulling the strings — but dirtying her hands — Lady Macbeth. … Read More

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Authors Ranked by Beard Weight

The indispensable text for beard owners and lovers alike, Poets Ranked by Beard Weight, was published earlier this month, elucidating the various weights of poet beard (and thus, of course, poet) through an arcane system of magic and analysis. Though in our many studies we’ve found that on the whole, poets’ beards are heavier than their novelist equivalents, we felt that limiting the field to masters of verse was tantamount to cruelty, and so have applied Underwood’s theories to a handful of prose writers and a playwright or two, so that they might feel included. Click through to see our list of authors ranked by beard weight, all using UPI. That is: “Underwood’s Pogonometric Index, plotted by means of numerical values designating “poetic gravity” and relative “beard weights,” yields readings ranging from zero to a positive value of sixty. The normal range for the average individual is ten to twenty-four. For exceptional individuals, it can run to a value of forty and above.” Yes, it’s a very precise system. … Read More

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Amazing Literature-Inspired Jack-O’-Lanterns

With All Hallows’ Eve around the bend, a select series of crafters and artisans have decided to pay homage to our favorite novels, authors, poems, and fairy tales through the art of pumpkin carving. But the specimens below aren’t your regular, run-of-the-mill, home-carved jack-o’-lanterns. Replacing canvas with pumpkin and paint brushes with lino cutters, each piece presents a glowing portrait of an influential writer or a scene ripped from the pages of their works.Check out our gallery of mesmerizing jack-o’-lanterns that honor literary greats like Edgar Alan Poe, William Shakespeare, and the Brothers Grimm after the jump. … Read More

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What Pop Culture Can Teach Us About Dealing With Disasters

If you live on the East Coast, you may be in for some weather-related drama this weekend. Hurricane Irene is scheduled to whip through New York late tonight, so your faithful Flavorwire staffers are huddled up with our canned goods and bottled water, and of course, several piles of movies and books to keep us occupied. Since we specialize in culture and not weather-preparedness, we can’t give you any hurricane-proofing tips, but we can share a few lessons we’ve learned from the many natural disasters that have been immortalized in film, literature and mythology. Click through to see what the calamities of fiction can teach us, and get ready for the storm. … Read More

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Thus With a Kiss: 10 Spectacular Suicides in Literature

“Ah! it is but a little thing, death!” Not so little, Emma, but something that great writers of every generation have discussed and described at length, parsing and probing at the idea of death in all its many forms. For us, of all deaths in literature, suicides are often the most affecting, whether there is precise internal monologue or abject mystery surrounding the character’s intentions. Of course, we definitely do not endorse suicide in the real world, but in fiction, suicides can be beautiful, strange, and unbearably affecting, which are all things we love in literature. Many of the best works of literature include this kind of particular death, and so we scoured our shelves for the most notable suicides, choosing them based on the beauty of the prose, the strangeness of the circumstances, or the singular mindset of the character. Click through to see our list of ten spectacular suicides in literature, and let us know which of your favorites we’ve missed in the comments! … Read More

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