Listen to Seamus Heaney read his translation of Beowulf on the BBC’s website. For what it’s worth, Heaney’s version gets my vote as the best one out there. Consider this passage for some Wednesday inspiration.
When The New York Times tried to ask Jhumpa Lahiri what immigrant fiction inspired her, she smacked the question down by saying there is no such thing as immigrant fiction. "If certain books are to be termed immigrant fiction, what do we call the rest? Native fiction? Puritan fiction? This distinction doesn’t agree with me. Given the history of the United States, all American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction."
“Every sense cleared about three hundred percent and stood up on its hind legs waving its feelers.” Eighty years ago, James Agee got an assignment that entered him into history, though not during his lifetime. Let us now celebrate Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. See also: our essay on famous artist-writer collaborations, like Agee's with Walker Evans.
"Start with the novel’s climax (often the first thing you know about it, its most striking moment) and work backward, asking why-why-why. Then write forward." Nell Zink at The Lithub on how to become a novelist in 10 easy steps. See also our interview with Zink from last week.
When Electric Literature tells me that Jonathan Lee has "unleashed a literary bombshell of a novel," I set aside my skepticism of the hyperbolic and give it a look. Lee's High Dive "asks us to look at the plethora of thought and self-indulgence—that beautiful minutia—that flourishes in an unharmed life, and to consider how much generous freedom there is in nonviolence."
"I have wasted my life." Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring takes a look at James Wright's "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota" and the many interpretations readers have brought to its famous last line. Among those readers is David Mitchell, who wrote about the same poem in an essay for The Atlantic's By Heart series earlier this year.
Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda will compile never-before-seen poems from Pablo Neruda’s archives. “Forrest Gander, the Brown University professor who translated the poems into English, likens the discovery to finding a trove of new sketches by Michelangelo.” Visit Neruda’s home with Luke Epplin.