This American Lear

July 28th, 2014

In the wake of This American Life host Ira Glass commenting that he found Shakespeare's plays difficult to relate to, loisbeckett brings us This American Lear:

Bravo! Author! More! More!


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Dissident writer Alice Munro awarded Nobel for fiction critical of Canadian regime

October 11th, 2013

Nicely done:

GENEVA – Dissident writer Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature Thursday morning for her fiction critical of the Canadian regime.

While not overtly political, Munro is known for stories that capture the struggles of regular Canadians. Though tolerated by the government, her work is seen as a challenge to the country's rulers. She first gained international acclaim with her 1968 collection "Dance of the Happy Shades," which offered a tender portrait of life under the brutal reign of then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. […]

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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Another decade

January 7th, 2013

Phil Gyford on setting out for another decade-long stint of publishing the Diary of Samuel Pepys online:

As I wrote last week the Diary of Samuel Pepys project has kicked off again for another almost-decade of daily publishing. What's wrong with me? Or, more practically, what did I think about when starting a ten-year project all over again?

[As the process of adding all the hyperlinks was complete from the project's first run…] there wasn't much reason not to restart the diary from the beginning. Restarting only involves having the site's front page and RSS feed automatically update daily with "today's" diary entry.

Of course, I couldn't let it be that easy. […]

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Texts From Jane Eyre

July 9th, 2012

Texts From Jane Eyre:



where on earth would I wear that


that seems impractical

how would i even breathe on the moon?


Of course Mr Rochester is an ALL CAPS kinda guy.

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Orson has issues

September 6th, 2011

Orson Scott Card's rewrite of Hamlet1 reviewed:

Here's the punch line: Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately, a demonic and ghostly father of lies who convinces young Hamlet to exact imaginary revenge on innocent people. The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy – along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."

Hamlet is damned for all the needless death he inflicts, and Dead Gay Dad will now do gay things to him for the rest of eternity: "Welcome to Hell, my beautiful son. At last we'll be together as I always longed for us to be."

[Via James Nicoll]

  1. Yes, really.

1 Comment »

Minds. Blown.

August 30th, 2011

Kevin Kelly, quoting from Douglas Coupland's biography of Marshall McLuhan:

The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature. — Alfred North Whitehead

I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't believed it. — M.M.


Marshall describes Margaret Mead bringing several copies of the same book to a Pacific island. The natives had seen books before, but always different books, one copy of each. When they saw copies of the same book, their minds blew.

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Shortly thereafter, fireworks were lit all over the country

April 2nd, 2011

Malcolm Bradbury remembers the day he was informed that he was being considered for a place on the New Year Honours List:

The form attached presented me with two boxes: one to be ticked if you agreed to let your name go forward, the other to be marked if you wanted to hear no more of this product. Anyone who has ever at any time read the Guardian will understand the surge of anxiety, guilt even, that wells up at this moment. We all know the moral dangers of the baubles of office, the trappings of rank, the odours of power. On the other hand any sensible person will immediately realize that first sensations are of excitement and pure delight. In a liberal mind like mine, the result is utter confusion. Ten minutes after I had posted back the form, I could no longer remember which of the boxes I had ticked.

[Via The Essayist]

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Better Book Titles

November 30th, 2010

Better Book Titles cuts to the chase:

This page is for people who have trouble slogging through the information on book jackets or feel intimidated by the title and cover itself. How many times have you perused the cover of a novel only to rub your sore eyes and realize you've learned NOTHING from the book's title?!

This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!

See, for example, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or various works by Tom Clancy or Moby-Dick. Worth watching.

[Via The Bygone Bureau, via The Awl]

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Girls can't write books. Ha! Ha! Ha!

July 2nd, 2010

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls. Very silly. Rather good.

[Via London Review of Books]

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Chen vs Bak

February 20th, 2010

When I posted late last year about the Lolita cover contest I somehow failed to spot one of the very best entries. Happily, earlier today MeFi user nicwolff pointed out Justin Chen's entry.

I wouldn't quite go so far as to say that it's superior to the scrunchie, but it's certainly close.

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Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time!!!

November 7th, 2009

Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time!!! Terrific title, lovely content.

This website, now in its tenth incarnation since being launched on 06.1998, is an extension of a personal art collection of various artists interpreting their favourite literary figure/author/character.

A few of my favourites:

[Via Subtraction]

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The Scrunchie

October 12th, 2009

This unofficial Lolita cover contest attracted some fine work. Whilst I can appreciate the merits of the winning entry, I preferred the second-placed submission by Aleksander Bak, a.k.a. the scrunchie.

[Via The Bygone Bureau]

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Such, Such Was Eric Blair

February 20th, 2009

Julian Barnes on George Orwell, National Treasure:

One small moment of literary history at which many Orwellians would like to have been present was an encounter in Bertorelli's restaurant in London between Orwell's biographer Bernard Crick and Orwell's widow, Sonia. Crick dared to doubt the utter truthfulness of one of Orwell's most celebrated pieces of reportage, Shooting an Elephant. Sonia, to the delight of other clients, according to Crick, screamed at him across the table, "Of course he shot a fucking elephant. He said he did. Why do you always doubt his fucking word!" The widow, you feel, was screaming for England. Because what England wants to believe about Orwell is that, having seen through the dogma and false words of political ideologies, he refuted the notion that facts are relative, flexible, or purpose-serving; further, he taught us that even if 100 percent truth is unobtainable, then 67 percent is and always will be better than 66 percent, and that even such a small percentage point is a morally nonnegotiable unit.

[Via 3quarksdaily]

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Bulwer-Lytton 2008

August 18th, 2008

The Bulwer-Lytton results for 2008 are out:

Winner: Adventure

Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay — the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make.

Shannon Wedge
New Hampshire

[Via MetaFilter]

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Wait until tomorrow

August 1st, 2008

Haruki Murakami on running an ultramarathon:

Have you ever run 100 kilometres in a single day? The vast majority of people in the world (those who are sane, I should say) have never had that experience. No normal person would ever do something so foolhardy. But I did, once. I completed a race that went from morning till evening, and covered 100 kilometres. It was draining physically, as you can imagine, and for a while afterward I swore I'd never run again. I doubt I'll try it again, but who knows what the future may hold. Maybe someday, having forgotten my lesson, I'll take up the challenge of an ultramarathon again. You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring. […]


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