“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I've been able to find...The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño's (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions...Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)...The NBCC features Yu Hua's Brothers...Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt...Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez's "inventive and intricately plotted" The Informers...The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.
If you’re looking for some great poetry, check out these classic poems that will change your life, from Robert Frost’s “This Man Stops By Woods On a Snowy Eve… You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” to Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool… and You Can Be Too After These 5 Easy Tricks.” Pair with this Millions piece on poetry for people who hate poetry.
We once wondered if Lionel Shriver is America's best writer, and she once shared with us her love for William Trevor. In an interview with The Atlantic, she talks about not having kids and says the adaptation of We Need to Talk about Kevin "is a far better film than I had any reason to expect them to be able to make."
Eric Bulson remarks on the expiration of the European copyright in James Joyce’s oeuvre. The “vast sea of Joyceana,” Bulson writes, “will … have the effect of flooding the market, making it even more difficult for readers to decide which edition to buy.” Meanwhile in Japan, writes Dustin Kurtz, “an expansive and anticipated group” of writers will have their work enter the public domain this year.
In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews the new edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations, a compendium of quotes from notable black writers dating from ancient times to the present. Among other figures, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Cory Booker all have quotes in the book.