Literature

Remember What You Did?

António Lobo Antunes— My mother was their first cousin, meaning the first cousin of the father, not of the black son who was never his son though he treated him as a son and the black treated him as his father, the cousin of my mother brought him back from

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Do You Know China?

Patrick Modiano— At what point in my life did I meet Henri Marignan? Oh, I couldn’t have been twenty at the time. I think of him often. Sometimes he seems to have been one of my father’s multiple incarnations. I don’t know what became of him. Our first meeting? It

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Dead at Last

Máirtín Ó Cadhain— It was a ratty voice on the other end of the telephone, her sister calling from his house. ‘Aren’t you ashamed of yourself gallivanting around, and your wife just dead.’ ‘She is dead,’ N. said. ‘Yes.’ It was as much as he could think of saying. With

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What Is Literature?

Terry Eagleton— One of the things we mean by calling a piece of writing ‘literary’ is that it is not tied to a specific context. It is true that all literary works arise from particular conditions. Jane Austen’s novels spring from the world of the English landed gentry of the

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Winter Nights

Francis Spufford— Here comes the winter night. If we were our oldest ancestors, tucked into draughty recesses of caves with blue hands hugged around us as we slept, we’d be dreaming of summer: we’d be using our human freedom to step away from circumstances to wish that all mornings were

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Why Munch Painted

Karl Ove Knausgaard— I knew why Munch painted, I knew it so well that I could articulate it with a single sentence. And it resembles the sentence spoken by the author with his sweater tucked into his trousers. I write because I am going to die.  I paint because I

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Seduced by Characters—Q&A with Alberto Manguel

Yale University Press: What is your earliest memory of connecting deeply with a literary character? How old were you, who was it, and what do you remember feeling at the time? Alberto Manguel: Because I learned to read when I was about four, my earliest remembered stories are those of

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Why Jewish Writers Avoid the “Jewish Writer” Label

Adam Kirsch— Several years ago, I moderated a discussion between two novelists at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The setting seemed appropriate, since these were Jewish writers who wrote about Jewish characters and themes. But when I asked them if they considered themselves Jewish novelists, both answered emphatically

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Oppenheim’s Library: A Window into Jewish Culture

Joshua Teplitsky— In January of 2019, Netflix launched a new television program for audiences who had enjoyed previous “home improvement” style shows about living more efficiently with greater style and less clutter called “Tidying up with Marie Kondo.” The show’s primary goal was to help people get rid of unnecessary

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Understanding Literacy

Beth Barton Schweiger— The power of literacy’s hold on the modern imagination cannot easily be measured. One way to begin to comprehend it is to pose a question: who is against it? From local school boards to Capitol Hill to the United Nations General Assembly, the consensus that literacy empowers

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