“Charles Dickens had orphanages and workhouses, the Brontë sisters had the wild moors, and modern writers have high school.” So begins L.A. Times television critic Mary McNamara‘s take on The Vampire Diaries, the CW’s answer to Twilight (premiering tonight at 8). The show is loosely based on L.J. Smith‘s books of the same name and McNamara gives it a qualified thumbs up. She concludes that this latest addition to the vampire canon is “pure froth, but it is very welcome froth, especially in a genre that seems sometimes in danger of taking itself a little too seriously.”
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries… reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)
In theory, the author of a great novel is invisible to the reader, letting her stories and characters speak for themselves. In practice, however, it can help for an author to make herself known, as explained by Tim Parks in this essay. Sample quote: “We have the impression that if someone ever did find the full story of his life, we would immediately recognize the person we had in mind.”
This one is for all you antiquarians out there. The oldest known draft of the most widely read work in all of English literature, the King James Bible, has been discovered in the archives at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge. William Shakespeare’s books have also sold a ton of copies, and here’s an essay from The Millions that imagines him as a kind of God, Himself.