Illuminated manuscripts such as bestiaries and bibles, prayer books and propaganda, histories and stories, each owned and annotated by kings and queens, go on display at the British Library in London. (“The Genius of Illumination”, November 11-March 13)
Selections from Open Yale Courses are headed to print. As program director John Donatich explains, “At first glance, you might look at it skeptically and ask why would anybody pay for something that you can get for free. But on second glance you realize that it’s actually not the same thing at all.”
“This is a tricky novel to review. I’m not even sure it is a novel. And I’m not certain as to whether its fragmentary nature belies an organic structure of astutely sewn intention or is merely a disingenuous device to conceal a let’s-get-something-out cobbling together of unpublished material lying around the writer’s desk. What I can tell you is this: I was powerfully engaged and richly entertained by Sergio De La Pava’s Personae.” (Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote a profile of De La Pava.)
Were you aware there’s a new BBC2 show about the lives of the Bloomsbury Group? There is, and it’s called Life in Squares, a reference to a quote that says the group “lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles.” In The New Statesman, Rachel Cooke sits down with the series. You could also read Alexis Coe on Virginia Woolf and Downton Abbey.
“It turned out that the most successful Christmas records tended to have two common qualities: catchy, upbeat melodies and imagined unlikely scenarios for anthropomorphized yuletide characters.” Move over, Frosty! It’s beginning to look a lot like … an unseasonably warm December. Here is a brief history of Christmas songs and of their often-surprising rise from corny kitsch to global sensation.