Aldous Huxley

Deliciously Ugly Portraits of Famous Authors

Polish painted Feliks Topolski saw things in a very particular light — and not always a very flattering one. In 1960, after the Harry Ransom Center acquired a selection of his work that included an enormous portrait of George Bernard Shaw, Topolski was commissioned to paint portraits of 20 of the 20th century’s greatest British authors. The resultant series, Twenty Greats, was (quite understandably) not particularly well-liked by most of the authors in question, but we think the paintings are so devilishly ugly that they become beautiful again, drenched in sloppy expressive glory.  Click through to see some of our favorite portraits from Topolski’s series, and then be sure to head over to The Daily Beast to see the entire set — and find out what their subjects had to say about them. … Read More

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Awesome Photos of Writers Hanging Out Together

There’s something strangely inspiring about photographs of visionaries in the same room — we don’t know quite what it is, but the idea of (what we imagine to be) a profound meeting of minds captured on film always manages to get us excited. To that end, we put together a collection of some very excellent photographs of awesome musicians hanging out together a couple of months ago, but it’s not just musical types who like to gather in inspiring combinations. Writers, it seems, also enjoy each other’s company (whatever they might say to the contrary). Click through to see our photo roundup of writers hanging out with other writers, with a hat tip to the wonderful Tumblr Awesome People Hanging Out Together for inspiration and a few of the shots. … Read More

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15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels

There are some literary classics that are near unimpeachable. We’re thinking Lolita, Ulysses, The Great Gatsby: the best of the best. Except that they’re decidedly not unimpeachable — or at least they weren’t when they first hit bookshelves. These books and many others that are now considered masterpieces got their fair share of scathing reviews when they first came out, and in reputable publications no less. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but we can’t help having this to say to these brutal reviewers: ha, ha. Click through to read 15 harshly negative early reviews of classic novels, and feel free to register your outrage (or your agreement) in the comments. … Read More

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10 Novels That Deserve a Prequel

Today marks the US release of Skagboys, Irvine Welsh’s long-awaited prequel to his cult classic Trainspotting. Though in general we think the world has way too many prequels and sequels, we have to admit that we’re a little bit psyched to find out the origin stories of our favorite crew of tortured junkies. Welsh’s new book got us thinking about other classic and modern texts that we think could use a prequel — sure, it might be only to answer our own selfish lingering questions, but what else are prequels for? Click through to see the books we chose, and add your own suggestions in the comments — you never know, you just might get your wish. … Read More

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The First Edition Covers of 25 Classic Books

We try not to judge books by their covers — both proverbially and literally — but sometimes we just can’t help it. After all, the cover is your first impression of a book, and can inform the way you approach it. Plus, at least in our experience, any avid reader who carries a book wherever she goes has memories and feelings attached to it that can be instantly dredged up by a peek at the cover art. But of course, most book covers change over the years, whether minimally, correcting for modern fonts and colors, or maximally, going through radical change after radical change, each generation connecting (or not connecting) to a different design. With that in mind, after the jump, we’ve collected a few first edition covers of classic books, some of which may be familiar to you — a certain blue masterpiece will perhaps never fall out of favor — though some have been replaced by much more iconic imagery or fallen out of favor. Click through to reminisce over (or discover) 25 covers of classic books, and let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments. … Read More

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Shoey Nam’s Multi-Faceted Portraits of Famous Writers

In Shoey Nam’s Loved and Labored series, which we recently spotted over at Juxtapoz, the London-based illustrator depicts some of his famous writers in lovely delicate line drawings. Even more interesting is the fact that each portrait is at least two — and sometimes three — portraits in one, depicting the subject at various stages of their writing life or even just in opposing moods, often with one version of the writer peering over the shoulder of the other, reminding him of his presence. Nam writes, “I chose to illustrate a set of literature figures, as writers have the tendency to carry a certain haggardness and cynicism of the world on their faces, which are often reflected in their words…. I tried to focus on depicting the figures’ mannerisms, such as the look on the face when concentrated, the way one smokes, holds objects, as well as the lines/traces/marks formed on faces that suggest their habitual face expressions.” Click through to check out Nam’s portraits of famous writers, and then be sure head over to his website to check out a similar series of musicians, plus even more of his work. … Read More

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10 Fascinating Interviews with Legendary Journalist Mike Wallace

Just five months ago, the journalistic community lost 60 Minutes media personality Andy Rooney, and sadly Mike Wallace now joins him. The esteemed CBC reporter had an impressive career that spanned over sixty years, comprised of fascinating interviews with notable headliners. He spent decades asking tough questions, brazenly steering his interviews directly to the heart of the matter and getting answers audiences were dying to know. To share screen time with the legendary journalist could either signify your career’s high points, or it’s absolute lows. We’ve taken a look back at some of Wallace’s most memorable chats with famous faces. Whether on 60 Minutes, or one of the media giant’s earlier programs like The Mike Wallace Interview, these intriguing one-on-ones recall another era of journalism — with figures many of us would grapple at the chance to talk to — and Wallace was one of the best. Hit the jump to find out what the intrepid reporter asked of Malcolm X, Salvador Dalí, Ayn Rand, and others. … Read More

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The 10 Most Frequently Challenged Library Books of 2011

Coinciding with National Library Week, which kicked off yesterday, the American Library Association (ALA) has just released its 2012 State of America’s Libraries Report, including their annual list of the most frequently challenged library books of the year. A “challenge,” so we’re clear, is defined by the ALA as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness,” and there were a full 326 of them in 2011. Just like every year, there are some quasi-racy contemporary books on the chopping block, as well as some seemingly-random classics being attacked (honestly, who are these people still fighting Brave New World?). Click through to check out the most challenged books of 2011 — as well as the complaints leveled against them — and then celebrate Library Week by going out and borrowing one of the offensive tomes from your favorite branch. … Read More

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What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds In Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we were entertained by penguins. We read a Cannes film festival wish list. We thought Davy Jones looked stylish on Nerd Boyfriend. We learned how some breast cancer survivors turned to burlesque to help with their recovery. We were floored by the number of fakes… Read More

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Read Aldous Huxley’s Letter to George Orwell About ‘1984’

There may very well be two types of 20th-century English literature readers — those who think Brave New World is a more realistic dystopia and those who prefer 1984. While we’re fans of both novels, and see some of contemporary life in both of them, we tend to come out on Aldous Huxley’s side: medicated… Read More

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