“When you think Franz Kafka, what comes to mind? Mitteleuropean gloom, perhaps… What you don’t think of is standup comedy.” Two young comedians are staging a new version of Kafka’s The Trial to hit the London stage next month.
Thanks to the Yale Open Courses program, you can watch all 26 of Amy Hungerford’s lectures on “The American Novel Since 1945.” Also from the program, I highly recommend checking out John Rogers’ series of lectures on John Milton and Paradise Lost, as well as Paul H. Fry’s “Introduction to the Theory of Literature.”
Who has a bigger vocabulary: Shakespeare or André 3000? It’s actually Outkast. Data scientist Matt Daniels created an infographic that charts 85 rappers’ unique vocabulary in their first 35,000 lyrics. Outkast uses 5,212 unique words; whereas, Shakespeare only uses 5,170. But Aesop Rock beats the Bard by more than 2,000 words with a count of 7,392 unique words.
“He taught me that poetry can be anything and with that comes great freedom.” Reminiscences by a former student of the poet John Ashbery upon his death. And for a contemporary take on the question of just what, exactly, poetry is and/or might be, see our recent conversation between Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder.
Over at Salon, Joel Whitney explains how The Paris Review worked with the CIA and “served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power.” While the possibility is certainly tantalizing, it’s necessary to read Whitney’s article alongside Carolyn Kellogg’s piece in the LA Times, which notes how “the threads of the article … become unsupportably tenuous” as it carries on.
“I grew up hearing my father digging into words for images that will stretch the limits of life for my siblings and me. In my father’s mouth, bitter, rigid words become sweet and elastic like taffy candy. His poetry shields us from the poverty of our lives.” Kao Kalia Yang for The Literary Hub on learning to understand her blue-collar father as a legitimate literary force.