Nearly 300 previously unpublished love letters written by Vladimir Nabokov to his wife Vera Slonim from 1923 to 1975 will be published next year by Knopf.
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
How has a spirit legally defined as being “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” flourished in today’s economic climate? Victorino Matus‘ Weekly Standard article explores the history and ubiquity of vodka. Perhaps this article is best paired with something from NPR‘s list of “Great American Writers and Their Cocktails.”
The last meal is a curious staple of modern executions, not least because it involves, in the words of one death-row inmate, “putting gas in a car that don’t have no motor.” At Lapham’s Quarterly, an essay on the ritual’s history, one that includes mention of famous last meals like terminally ill French President Francois Mitterrand’s final dinner of “Marennes oysters, foie gras, and two ortolan songbirds.”