“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children’s book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain’s self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
“As for the charge that [Constance] Garnett writes in an outdated language, yes, here and there she uses words and phrases that no one uses today, but not many of them. We find the same sprinkling of outdated words and phrases in the novels of Trollope and Dickens and George Eliot. Should they, too, be rewritten for modern sensibilities? (Would u really want that?)” It’s shaping up to be a day of passionate defenses. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Janet Malcom urges readers to put down their Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Russian classics and pick Constance Garnett’s back up again.
Year in Reading alum Laura van den Berg has a new book out this week, as does Amy Tan. Also out: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks; Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield; and a memoir by YiR alum Rob Delaney. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.