Kory Stamper, one of the lexicographers responsible for Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, describes the pleasures and poetry to be found in the Third Edition’s “color definitions.” Take vermillion for example, which is listed as “a variable color averaging a vivid reddish orange that is redder, darker, and slightly stronger than chrome orange, redder and darker than golden poppy, and redder and lighter than international orange.” (Related: how colors got their names; who names colors what.)
Why do some ideas only come to you when you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure? At the Ploughshares blog, S. Hope Mills reflects on the importance of deadlines, which may explain (according to Guardian columnist Robert Crum) why Dickens chose to serialize his novels.
Over at Full Stop, Scott Cheshire mulls the concept of Armageddon, or, as he calls it, “The Other American Dream.” Meanwhile, a French photography team is traveling the world to take pictures of cities “without signs of life.” Perhaps the fascination isn’t so American after all.
What happened to the literature of clothing? Writers like Balzac and Proust wrote philosophies of clothing, but nowadays there seems to be a wall between literary writing and fashion. In Public Books, Mary Davis reads Women in Clothes, a collection which reveals a lot about how much our views of fashion writing have changed. FYI, Rachel Signer reviewed the book for The Millions.
ICYMI: After Hachette writers banded together behind their publisher (piles of tweets, an author petition (pdf), a perplexing Malcolm Gladwell YouTube clip, and of course our own Edan Lepucki in Stephen Colbert’s pre-order campaign), Amazon proposed giving authors “100% of proceeds” from ebooks — that’s including Hachette’s share — while they hashed things out. You gotta admire that gumption. Halfway around the world, a French court order just banned free delivery for discounted book orders–so Amazon now charges one cent. Also: they’ve got drones. The Times concludes that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
This week in book-related infographics, round 2: Lapham’s Quarterly takes a look at the day jobs of famous authors, among them T.S. Eliot, who was responsible for processing reports on German debt, and Charlotte Bronte, who had laundry fees deducted from her pay. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s essay on “Working the Double Shift” and “all the strangely varied occupations that a person accumulates when the primary objective is not to establish a career, per se, but just to pay the rent while they’re working on a novel.”
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