“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.
In her review of Joe Wright’s cinematic adaptation for Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Amanda Shubert writes, “Anna Karenina (2012) is, in fact, a mess. But it’s the kind of mess probably only Wright could make.” She goes on to look at how Wright has adapted work by Jane Austen and Ian McEwan, and how he has continued to face the problem of representing literary style (and form) on the screen.
“Storytelling is an indispensable human preoccupation, as important to us all—almost—as breathing. From the mythical campfire tale to its explosion in the post-television age, it dominates our lives. It behooves us then to try and understand it.” On the inherent sameness of stories with John Yorke from The Atlantic.
Summertime, another work of fictionalized autobiography (following Boyhood and Youth) from Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee arrives this week. Also, new this week is Psycho Too, an illustrated travelogue collaboration between Will Self and Ralph Steadman. Of the book, PW says “Self is far from a reliable tour guide, but his eye for seldom-trod byways and offbeat insights make him a diverting travel companion.”
“[C]an we finally be bold and listen to the artists and the outsiders and the radicals and the freaks and the avant-garde and the base and the youth and the anarchists and all those who don’t want to do business as usual with the limousine liberalism of both the elite Democrats and Republicans? Can we listen to the dreamers instead of the doubters?” Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen has some big, important questions in The Los Angeles Times.
Fun Fact: “Literature” was an Olympic event until 1948. In fact, several other events were also listed under the umbrella of “Sporting Art,” as Olympic historian John MacAloon points out to NPR. For example, W. B. Yeats’ brother, Jack Butler Yeats, won the “Mixed Painting” silver in 1924; some people even won “Medals for Making Medals!”
“Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it’s in the details that everything happens.” Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)