Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.
“What people call you shapes how you see yourself, and teaches you how to navigate the world. But the moment you name something, you limit the possibilities of what it can be.” Marie Elia, who was trained as a cataloguing librarian, argues that our biases affect the way we describe books at Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Pair with our essay on “A Library of the Mind.”
Over on LARB, Marie Rutkoski traces the geneology of Cinderella and explores the theme of nature that runs through the classic fairytale’s many iterations. It’s also well worth revisiting Kirsty Logan’s piece exploring how contemporary authors have revisited the story of Snow White.