Damon Young on Colette’s Life in the Garden
By Damon Young, April 13, 2020
By Damon Young, April 13, 2020
By David Barnes, April 17, 2023
In the playwright Simon Gray’s literary diary The Last Cigarette, there’s a moment where he struggles to recall the name of a particular figure. Gray keeps returning to the image of a strutting, bare-chested, big-bellied man on a boat, holding up a huge dead fish.
He has “a grey beard, a square bullish face, something stupid about it, and aggressive.” Who is it, Gray asks himself, who is this obnoxious, swaggering figure?
“Hemingway!,” he finally remembers.
For many writers, talking about Ernest Hemingway is like talking about an embarrassing ancestor. Hemingway comes burdened with baggage, lots of it; pugilistic metaphors and hard-drinking aphorisms, an obsession with a pure and “clean” prose, a brittle misogyny and a vainglorious narcissism. And then there are all the dead animals. There they are, heaping up behind the great man’s hulking physique: Key West marlin, and bulls, and elephants, and antelope, and lions.
Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…
By Eliza Smith, March 10, 2023
Sure, we’re a website about books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get in on the Oscars fun, too. (Exhibit A: If they gave Oscars to books, our 2022 nominees.) And while there are few adaptations in this year’s lineup, we’ll still be tuning in on Sunday to celebrate storytelling, judge the Academy’s taste, and perhaps witness some live drama. In the meantime, we’re recommending the books and films you should read and watch next for each Best Picture contender. Follow along with us on Twitter on Sunday at 8 pm ET!
By Dorothea, January 19, 2023
I’m sixty. I just took my pension after having worked in the Quebec health system for forty-two years. Yes, I survived COVID. I saw a lot of my old patients die, and I had to work under less than ideal conditions. We were forced to wear masks, scrubs and gloves all day.
Moreover, there was a lack of personnel because many employees got the bug. Therefore, the rest of us had to work like dogs but did not sleep like logs, afraid as we were of falling sick too. It was a time of distress.
So, I should feel joyous not going to work anymore, but not as much as I think I would. I’m telling myself that I will finally be able to finish and polish the sci-fi series of adventure novels I began years ago. However, in the morning I feel a little bit depressed. I have trouble believing that the whole time of each new day (or at last a big part of it) can be spent pursuing my heart’s desires.
It’s like Society is whispering in my utilitarian programmed brain: do something useful, start a garden, cook with your wife, find a part-time job, study theology, etc. How can you believe that what you write will interest anybody?
Should I read positive thinking books, although most of them are written by Republican car salesmen?
Thank you, Morning Hope, Morning Sadness
By Emily Temple, November 2, 2022
The days are dying, the plants are darkening, the books are crisp and the leaves are fascinating—the academic year is in full swing, for those lucky (?) enough to be on a campus during this most campus-y of seasons.
For the rest of us, there are only novels. So to keep you company as the cold weather descends, here is a list of the greatest academic satires, campus novels, and boarding school bildungsromans in the modern canon.
I limited my selections to one per author (though I made an extra note here and there, and a set or two may have slipped in) and I excluded anything written for children (or the magic schools would overwhelm), though boarding schools in general are allowed.
Finally, my obligatory caveat that not every campus novel that anyone has ever loved is included here, lists and time both being finite and literature being subjective, but please feel free to add on in the comments section.
By Damien Bador, April 8, 2021
JRR Tolkien disliked novels that tended toward autobiography, though he did not dispute the fact that an author has no choice but to use his or her own experiences in writing fiction. The Lord of the Rings is most assuredly not an allegory for the 20th century, nor are any of his protagonists a reflection of Tolkien himself. Yet, if there is a domain inextricably intertwined with the life of our author, it is linguistics: comparative philology, to be precise.
For Tolkien, language and literature necessarily go hand in hand; this is the only way to ensure proper understanding of a text, particularly in the case of ancient texts. Tolkien conveyed this point of view in his analysis of Beowulf, published in The Monsters and the Critics: And Other Essays, which combined philological rigor with literary appreciation at a time when critics generally saw the epic poem merely as a source of historical information distorted by myth.
The importance of language is easily discernible in Tolkien’s obsession with finding the perfect turn of phrase, even if it meant reworking certain sentences countless times. His preoccupation with linguistic detail also found its way into his stories themselves, focusing on the languages spoken by the various characters. No one who has read The Lord of the Rings can fail to have been struck by the passages in Quenya or Sindarin, the two main Elvish languages, and in perusing the novels’ appendices, it becomes clear to the reader that these are true languages, each with its own specific grammar and vocabulary, and that Tolkien also paid close attention to the evolution of these languages, and to their relationships to one another.