Pevear and Volokhonsky (first names no longer needed, really…like Madonna or Cher) rap with The Wall Street Journal about their luminous (dare we say definitive?) new translation of Tolstoy‘s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories.
“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell’s autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.
“Desire is transformative, and transgressive: whether it’s an unpeeled onion or a noble lover, to want something, especially for women, can never be entirely benign.” Kristiana Willsey writes about folktales, fairy godmothers, childless queens and hunger in a piece for The Toast.
What happens if your town’s reputation was made by an author who hated it? Sinclair Lewis grew up in Sauk Centre, Minnesota and scathingly satirized it in Main Street (our Modern Library Revue of it), but it’s the town’s only claim to fame nearly a century later. At The Morning News, Matt Ray Robison visits.
Flavorwire has compiled a list of the best literary criticism of the year, ranging from Rebecca Solnit on Lolita to Elena Ferrante on literary publicity. Also check out this year’s most notable Millions pieces, from our star-studded Year in Reading to a literary reader for Lent.
Depending on your perspective, this is either the best or the worst pairing of speaker to content there is: Benedict Cumberbatch reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis for the BBC. As always with Cumberbatch, the reading is a nice complement to our own Elizabeth Minkel on Sherlock.
“Did you know that alcohol originally meant eyeshadow, clouds were rocks or that a moment once lasted precisely 90 seconds?” From The Guardian, 10 words that no longer mean what they used to. And if you enjoy that trip down etymology lane, you’ll probably also dig this week’s piece about the curse words of Charles Dickens.