Literature

In Timbuktu with Jean Paul de Dadelsen

Two thousand and eleven, when palm trees without numberRustled, shading tomatoes and cucumbersAll around Timbuktu,And mental trees, planted by the town council,Offered orchards to every studious sibylAnd to sleepers too! This is the opening stanza of “The Orchards of Timbuktu” by Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, translated from the French by Marilyn

Continue reading…

In the Olive Orchard with Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello, the great twentieth-century Italian playwright, was also a maestro of the short story. In Virginia Jewiss’ introduction to her new translation of Pirandello’s short stories, she writes, “The Pirandello we meet here is a master storyteller, with an ear for dialogue, an eye for revealing details, and a keen sense of the crushing burdens of class,

Continue reading…

Deep Reading to Stay Alive

Harold Bloom— In what sense does deep reading augment life? Can it render death only another hoyden? Most literary representations of death do not portray her as being particularly boisterous. Why “her”? Is it the long cavalcade associating death and the mother? I have learned from Epicurus and Lucretius what

Continue reading…

Nothing is Where I Work

Eileen Myles— The second detail pertaining to the invite I received to give this talk is that I have been living in an apartment in New York for forty-two years so that’s where most of my life has occurred. My living, my thinking, my copying. It’s one of those East

Continue reading…

Trouble in Sant’Anna

Luigi Pirandello— Without knowing how or why, one fine day Jaco Naca found himself the owner of the whole sunny hillside below the city, from which there was a magnificent view of the open countryside, of hills and valleys and plains, and in the distance the sea, far away, after

Continue reading…

Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate

Alexandra Popoff— Vasily Grossman began Life and Fate, a powerful anti-totalitarian novel, when Stalin was still alive. Back then he had no prospect of publication. But after the dictator’s death, when the regime admitted half truths about Stalin’s crimes, there was a glimmer of hope. Despite knowing that the repressive

Continue reading…

The Lizzie and Its Founder

Walter Goffart— Yale’s Elizabethan Club was founded in 1911, a big year not just at Yale. A pandemic in Manchuria was an unpromising start. This pneumonic plague was fully checked by the wearing of cloth facial masks. A tragic note was struck again by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in

Continue reading…

A Lilac Sprig Dangling from a Horn

Kasia Boddy— In the last eighteen months of his short life, Richard Wright became obsessed with haiku. Since Wright was a self-declared “protest writer,” readers have struggled to reconcile these (4,000 or so) delicate experiments in verse with the hard-hitting naturalism of works such as Black Boy (1945) and Native

Continue reading…

The Verbal Imperialism of “Germany, Awaken!”

Karl Kraus— A literary man sensitive to fine writing might even understand my position and recognise that, in the journalism and rhetoric of the new creed, we have not seen or heard a single German verbal expression that has not belied its purported content. Among the many neologisms inspired by

Continue reading…

Travel-in-Place

Just because we can’t travel doesn’t mean our minds have to stay put. Here are some books to satisfy your wanderlust from the comfort and safety of your own home. A writer for whom the journey has always mattered reinvents the very form itself in this inviting collection of in-the-moment

Continue reading…