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.
The New York Public Library’s research collection will be moving to an impressive concrete bunker beneath Bryant Park (instead of the much protested option—New Jersey). Our own Michael Bourne writes about how the subway car, once a rolling library, is transitioning to digital.
What do you get when you combine Jorge Louis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Pablo Neruda, and W.H. Auden? You get a list of the losers of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize was won by the controversial Soviet author Mikhail Sholokhov, who had spoken out against granting the Nobel to Boris Pasternak a few years earlier. Not such bad company on the losing side, there.
What can we learn from anachronisms? That mistakes are “ultimately unavoidable – the best you can hope for is to keep them to a minimum and noticeable only by a tiny coterie of demanding experts” – and that if those mistakes are big enough, they can eventually turn into “enduring ideological constructs.”
Recommended Reading: Oliver Burkeman on a new group of optimistic thinkers.