Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
Tolstoy has a new book out. No, not that Tolstoy — Sofiya Tolstoy, wife of Leo Nikolayevich. Her long-lost novella, which languished for years in the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, has finally been published, as part of an expanded edition of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata. At Slate, Ron Rosenbaum praises her story, calling it “graceful, emotionally intuitive and heartbreaking.” Related: 8 experts on whether Leo Tolstoy is better than Dostoevsky.
Charles Dickens turns 200 in February, which is one good explanation for two new biographies (Charles Dickens: A Life) and (Becoming Dickens) appearing just in time. But even more importantly, why is now the perfect time to read him? Here’s one hint: the man’s vast social imagination.