“Our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix,” the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris. On how Voltaire outsmarted one of the earliest lotteries and made a fortune. Also check out how Goethe became an amateur auction theorist.
New this week: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok; The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses; Shrink Thyself by the Letterman staff writer Bill Scheft; The Last Taxi Ride by A.X. Ahmad; and the Cambridge University Press edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Taps at Reveille.
Is that a severed prostitute’s nipple in my Mozart? At City Journal, Heather MacDonald mourns the rise of slick, irreverent productions of classical operas in Europe known as Regietheater (director’s theater), a theory of opera direction that holds the director’s take on an opera to be as (0r more) important than the artist’s text.
As of last night, the UK has a brand new literary prize, the Folio, which its founders describe as “a Booker without the bow ties.” The Independent chronicles the short history of the prize, which owes its existence to a controversy among Man Booker judges two years ago.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to take Kathryn Schulz’s book recommendations. However when she refers to something – in this case J.M. Ledgard’s Submergence – as “the best novel I’ve read so far this year,” you really ought to listen up. By the time she invokes Philip Gourevitch, Anne Carson, W. G. Sebald, and John Le Carré in her review of that book, you ought to be reaching for your wallet.