Got a smartphone? Check out the new Sonnets by William Shakespeare app to receive 154 poems, scholarly annotations and criticism, as well as special sonnet performances from such notables as Sir Patrick Stewart. Revisiting The Bard of Avon’s verse will prove so pleasurable; you’ll probably forget altogether that he was a self-plagiarist way before Jonah Lehrer.
“It’s strange to keep confronting, in these stylistic ways, how you were constructed. What you were constructed to be in the world.” Margo Jefferson sits down with BOMB Magazine to discuss feminism, class, and her memoir, Negroland. Our own Michael Bourne writes on the art of memoir.
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her “catastrophic” summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death in “a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano and Woody Allen’s Sleeper.” The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story “literature’s first dystopian epistolary romantic satire.” And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.
Thomas Hardy was one cold dude. Read some of these excerpts from his letters and find your day ruined. Highlights include a critique of a prime minister’s funeral and his excitement at the hanging of Elizabeth Martha Brown, accused of killing her husband. Here’s a Millions piece on the difficulties of teaching Hardy in 21st-century Florida.
Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)