Tag Archives: Literature

Underrated—Jonathan Swift

From Standpoint Magazine:

What is the greatest and most universally loved book ever written in Ireland — wilder than Wilde, more shocking than Shaw, more experimental than Joyce, more disillusioned than Beckett, more humane than Heaney?

The book is, of course, Gulliver’s Travels. Its author wrote his own Latin epitaph,  best translated by another Anglo-Irishman, Yeats: “Swift has sailed into his rest;/Savage indignation there/ Cannot lacerate his breast.” Jonathan Swift’s indignation against the follies of mankind was indeed so extreme that he has been savaged himself ever since, by critics who have seen his works as misanthropic and misogynist, the revenge of an embittered man thwarted in his poetical, political and ecclesiastical ambitions. Swift was so scandalous on every level — from the gruesome irony of A Modest Proposal to the scatological reductio ad absurdum of all that polite society held dear in The Lady’s Dressing Room — that his exile from literary London to the Deanery of St Patrick’s, Dublin, has been posthumously extended: hence his present neglect in our schools and universities. David Womersley’s definitive new edition of Gulliver’s Travels, the latest of 18 volumes of Swift’s works published by Cambridge University Press, is thus a major step towards his academic rehabilitation and even vindication.

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Harold Bloom Is (not) God

But he is a fascinating learned man—from the Tablet,

A conversation about literature, Judaism, and the Almighty with the great Yale literary critic

…where the article is titled, “Harold Bloom Is God.”


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Simenon and Inspector Maigret

From Today in Literature:

On this day in 1989 Georges Simenon died at the age of eighty-six. Most accounts of Simenon’s writing life begin with the numbers: some 500 books published, seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short stories in the world-famous Inspector Maigret series, a daily output sometimes as high as eighty pages, total sales sometimes figured as high as 1.5 billion.

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Navigating the World of Literary Agents

From The Millions:

If it sounds like I’m saying, “It’s all about who you know,” that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying. You can rail about how unfair that is, and how it makes publishing into an incestuous little club, and to a degree you would be right. But that’s the way the machine is built, people.

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Why Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, and Truman Capote All Failed to Write the Great American Novel

From PJ Media:

Many commentators have suggested that the passing of Gore Vidal at age eighty-six on July 31 marks the end of a remarkable generation of postwar American novelists the likes of whom we shall never see again.

When people speak of that generation of novelists, they are usually referring to exactly three people: Norman Mailer (born in 1923), Truman Capote (1924), and Vidal (1925).  All three made splashy literary debuts in the years shortly after the war.  All three were not just writers but celebrities.  Their arrival on the national scene was followed shortly by the advent of television and the TV talk show, on which all three excelled in their different ways at making an indelible impression.

But the author of this piece argues that they weren’t all that great as novelists.

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The Future of American Fiction

From Flavorwire, an Interview with Antoine Wilson.

I’m not at all certain that the future of American fiction has been clarified in this interview, but it’s a pleasant read.

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The History of Reading

From The Browser, an interview with Leah Price.

We can learn about the past not just through what was written but how it was read. The historian of books tells us about reading aloud in Roman times, Gutenberg-era marginalia, and Middle Age solutions to information overload

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‘Reading literary works is like bringing your brain to the gym’

From PaloAltoPatch, Fiction Books Give Boost To The Brain, Says Stanford Professor.

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