Giles Harvey discusses the ways in which Anton Chekhov’s characters — as dramatized in his stories and a new stage production — “long to express their innermost desires … but instead they find themselves saying things like, ‘Why did I go out to lunch?’ “
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
Thanks to the Yale Open Courses program, you can watch all 26 of Amy Hungerford’s lectures on “The American Novel Since 1945.” Also from the program, I highly recommend checking out John Rogers’ series of lectures on John Milton and Paradise Lost, as well as Paul H. Fry’s “Introduction to the Theory of Literature.”
Infographic of the Week: Famous authors had day jobs, too. Check out this infographic from Adzuna to find out what J.M. Coetzee, George R.R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and more did before (or while) they published novels. Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about the struggle to balance a day job and a creative life.