The British Library is launching a new iPad app that will eventually feature over 60,000 19th century books.
"It soon emerged that there is a uniquely British brand of feeling, a blend of distress and composure marked by a touching compulsion to keep up appearances in the face of interpersonal dissolution. For all its prevalence and subtlety, this mode of engagement is difficult for the uninitiated to decipher or even to discern, and I would have remained oblivious of it if not for the works of Dame Iris Murdoch, a connoisseur of British emotional life in all its baffling permutations." On Iris Murdoch and the British brand of distress and composure.
Chekhov never published an autobiography, but he did once write a letter in which, in Chekhovian fashion, he summed up his life in a paragraph. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the Constance Garnett translation of this letter in full. You could also check out Brendan Mathews on reading Chekhov for self-improvement.
A couple weeks ago, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll argued in a Salon piece that David Foster Wallace, who wrote an essay about the television and irony back in the early ‘90s, presciently diagnosed the danger of snark in our own age. Now Peter Finocchiaro, a senior editor at Salon, argues instead that we need irony more than we ever have. You could also read A-J Aronstein’s notes from the DFW Symposium.
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer's piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things -- complicated geopolitical matters, for example -- must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer's assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.
The Guardian has a beautiful multimedia feature in celebration of John le Carré's new memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, including an exclusive excerpt, original notes from the author's archives, and readings of his novels by Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Damien Lewis et al. Read also: our own Emily St. John Mandel on using le Carré for literary cover.