With Naipaul and Theroux making nice, the Times asks Christopher Hitchens what makes for a good literary feud these days: “A really first-rate bust-up must transcend the limits of ‘an entertaining side show’ and involve playing for high moral and intellectual stakes”
So does literature really have the power to bring liberals and conservatives together? Probably not. Either way, this is still a fascinating study: “The ‘most startling result was this: it was conservative — not liberal — readers who are most active in producing this space of cultural compromise.’ Basically, within this sample size, conservative readers tended to exude more generous praise for ‘bridge books’ and did so with a vernacular considered to be ‘less heated or emotional.’ Grammatically, they also expressed ‘more complex thoughts.'”
Are you embarrassed about your lack of literary inheritance? You’re not alone. Here’s a great piece by Annie Liontas at The New York Times on those first, lonely forays into the literary world: “But I see my experience as an immigrant into the world of letters as a blessing. Being an outsider is the origin of my imagination; it gives me the constant consciousness that my perspective is only one of many and that there are myriad ways of being in the world. It grants me the gift of being attuned to the voices in the room, as well as all of those shut out of it.”
“Inspired by her governess, the radical feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret King cast aside her immense privilege, cross-dressed as a man to go to medical school, and inspired a new generation of women to push against the rigid conventions of their era.” Meet Margaret King at Longreads.