For over twenty years, from the thirties through the fifties, a group of Oxford writers who called themselves The Inklings met weekly to drink, exchange ideas and read aloud their drafts. Though J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were easily their most famous members, the group had other notable figures, among them the language historian Arthur Owen Barfield. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, a history of the group.
“I am sitting at the open window (at four a.m.) and breathing the lovely air of a spring morning. Life is still good, and it is worth living on a May morning – I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything! … In a word, there are many thorns, but the roses are there too.” These excerpts from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s letters are just gorgeous.
Before his death of natural causes in 2008, Henry Gustave Molaison had the world’s most famous brain. At 27, Molaison permanently lost the ability to form new memories, which led to him spending the rest of his life in “thirty-second loops of awareness.” In the LRB, Mike Jay reviews a new book on Molaison, Permanent Present Tense.