Using the only known painting of Jane Austen to try to find out what killed her.
Are we now living in a golden age of the uncanny? The Millions contributor Porochista Khakpour suspects that we are, and she also suspects that our historical moment, populated as it is with alienating developments and surreal art, is key to understanding the work of Helen Oyeyemi. In the Times, Khakpour reviews Oyeyemi’s new novel. (You could also read both writers’ Year in Reading pieces.)
For Guernica, Tana Wojcznick explores the belief in populism in Shakespeare’s often-misread play Coriolanus. She writes, “Coriolanus criticizes the people he claims to want to represent not simply because they are a mob, but because as a single body they are too easily swayed in their opinion, too easily flattered.” Pair with this Millions essay on rewriting Shakespeare.
Libraries, if they hope to survive in the digital age, should do away with physical books and become sites of physical interaction instead, argues David A. Bell. For a starkly contrasting opinion, see Charles Petersen’s critique of the NYPL’s plans to do just what Bell recommends.