“Given his devotion to empirical fact, it seems odd to think that Galileo’s most important ideas might have their roots not in the real world, but in a fictional one.” Galileo’s crucial contributions to physics may have come from measuring the hell of Dante’s Inferno.
Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
Max’s verdict in the opening round of The Morning News Tournament of Books has been posted. Which book did he pick, Gate at the Stairs or The Book of Night Women? Hop over to TMN to find out. And don’t miss the match commentary, which has some great additional discussion of both books.
We might mock romance readers for how much Kleenex they go through, but they’re more emotionally perceptive than others. A new study on the interpersonal sensitivity of readers found that romance readers are better at discerning facial cues and emotion than other literati. But don’t worry if you aren’t a Nicholas Sparks fan; reading any genre makes you more empathetic, as we’ve reported on before.