Over at The Atlantic Wire, Jen Doll catalogues the many words first coined by Geoffrey Chaucer, which includes such everyday staples as “dotard,” “fattish,” “caterwaul” and “twitter.”
“He is a man who has written a lot about politics and knows something about expectation-setting — set the bar low, and it’ll be easy to top it.” The Awl rounds up its review series of online Masterclasses with such esteemed personages as Aaron Sorkin, James Patterson, and Werner Herzog. See also: our own Sonya Chung‘s review of Sorkin’s film The Social Network.
Looking to get into Philip Roth? Not sure where to start in the perennial Nobel favorite’s massive ouevre? Thankfully, the novelist Gabriel Roth is here, swooping in with the only guide you’ll ever need. He explains why Portnoy’s Complaint made the splash it did, why Goodbye, Columbus put Roth on the map, and why the character of David Kepesh is critical to understanding Roth’s legacy. Related: Keith Meatto picks out ten lessons from the author’s work.
We’re super jazzed about a new (and free!) app called ToposText that pairs the entirety of ancient Greek and Roman texts with GIS mapping data, allowing travelers to pull up history’s classics in the places in which they were written. Developed by a relative of our own Lydia Kiesling, ToposText correlates to a map of nearly 6,000 ancient places and includes 570 ancient texts in English translation, with hyperlinks to the Greek or Latin original. And for a more modern context to the Homeric epic The Odyssey, consider our piece comparing its journey to that of Toni Morrison‘s own classic Beloved.
The Oxford University Press blog has a never-before-published poem by Dorothy Wordsworth. She constructed the piece in 1839 while suffering from arteriosclerosis and dementia because “there was a therapeutic dimension both in creating and ‘performing’ poetry,” writes Lucy Newlyn.
To commemorate publication of the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, New Directions has asked ten contemporary writers to “create new exercises in homage to Queneau.” Over at The Rumpus, you can check out Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise, as well as one of Queneau’s twenty eight “never before translated” exercises making its English debut in the new edition. Bonus: read our own Mark O’Connell on the “radical claims about the relationship between form and content” in Queneau’s writing.