“If Gothic literature had a family tree, its twisted gnarled branches chock-full of imperiled, swooning heroines and mysterious monks, with ghosts who sit light on the branches, and Frankenstein’s monster who sits heavy, with troops of dwarves, and winking nuns, and stunted, mostly nonflammable babies, at its base would sit Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.” Carrie Frye writes for Longreads about the history and personality behind the first Gothic novel, which turns 250 this year.
Haven’t heard of Teffi? You can blame that one on the Bolsheviks. The early-20th-century Russian poet, playwright and journalist, whose fans included (oddly enough) both Vladimir Lenin and Tsar Nikolai, had to flee a Moscow in turmoil to avoid persecution as a dissident. Now, several publishers are reprinting her memoir of exile, for which The New Statesman has details and a short biography.
The Naipaul Question, as Morgan Meis calls it, is simple: is V.S. Naipaul too offensive to be taken seriously? His recent biography includes scenes of abuse and moments of straightforward racism. But Meis thinks the issue is more complicated than whether Naipaul is a monster — the author is, in his phrasing, too “protean” to be pinned down.