Virginia Woolf

For Love of an Author: The Value of Being a Completist

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I finished reading Jane Austen’s major works (and unfinished novels) in ninth grade, with Mansfield Park, and thereby officially became a completist, although I later read more of her juvenilia and claimed that title more firmly. Being a completist, or a near-completist, was nothing new to me then, coming towards the end of the era of full-on immersive early-teen reading.
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50 of the Greatest Summer Reads of All Time

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Summer reading lists: everyone’s got ’em. But what makes an ideal summer read? It sort of depends on who you are and what you’re doing, but here are a few suggestions: something light, something funny, something sun-drenched and atmospheric, something to travel with, something that will hold your attention no matter what’s going on around you, something exciting — but still literary.
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“An Endless Succession of Magnificent Possibilities”: Why We Love Vacation Novels

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“Something tells me we’re not going to like this place,” declares Rosemary Hoyt’s mother in the first spoken words of Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. “I want to go home anyway,” Rosemary replies. It’s a moment of exquisite irony, considering Fitzgerald has just spent 500 words describing the perfect isolation of the Hoyts’ French Riviera environs, where “the pink and cream of old fortifications, the purple Alp that bounded Italy, were cast across the water and lay quavering in the ripples and rings sent up by sea plants through the clear shallows.” It’s a traveler’s utopia, with all the romance of an undiscovered paradise and none of the touristic trappings — yet Rosemary, a follower in all things, doesn’t immediately see it that way. But with her unexpected introduction to Dick and Nicole Diver, models of cool elegance and social surety, Rosemary feels the sense of possibility she longed for in her travels open up. With one chance encounter, the promise of the trips unfurls itself. Dick’s voice “promised that he would take care of her, and that little later he would open up whole new worlds for her, unroll an endless succession of magnificent possibilities.”
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17 Pathbreaking Non-Binary and Gender-Fluid Novels

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Contemporary literature is an amorphous, expansive thing, and it isn’t always easy to pinpoint how or why it is changing or what it may become. But in the current moment, at least one promising development is certain: literary writing that challenges or refuses stable gender binaries is of increasing critical and aesthetic prominence. The last month alone has seen the publication and widespread critical acclaim of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, a moving, multi-genre consideration of gender fluidity (among other themes). At the end of April, too, American audiences were finally able to access Anne Garétta’s Sphinx — wonderfully translated from the French by Emma Ramadan — a novel that uses no gender markers to refer to its protagonists. With these books in mind, the list below contains a collection of novels that feature agender, bigender, or gender-fluid characters or …Read More

Why We Should All Be Spinsters: Writers Take on a New Feminine Mystique

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Over half a century ago, Betty Friedan called suburban kitchens “comfortable concentration camps” in the pages of The Feminine Mystique. Friedan and her fellow (largely affluent, white, and narrowly defined) second-wave feminists believed that loosening household strictures and upending the power dynamic of intimate relationships should be a primary goal of feminism.
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