“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.
Is envy really the worst form of pettiness, as Kierkegaard suggested? Maybe. The great Roman philosopher Cicero had his own, fairly radical thoughts on envy — namely, that “compassion and envy are consistent in the same man; for whoever is uneasy at any one’s adversity is also uneasy at another’s prosperity.”
Rumors of John Cheever’s death? Greatly exaggerated.HarperCollins sets out to test the proposition that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.BHL rips Valkyrie and Tom Cruise.Maud lauds Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women.The New York Public Library names Millions guest contributor Sana Krasikov a finalist for its Young Lions award. Congratulations, Sana!More Intelligent Life interviews Jon Fasman, another Young Lion in waiting and author of The Unpossessed CityAlso at MiL: Lorin Stein wants a stimulus plan for book critics. (Hear! Hear!)Millions-fave Paul Theroux interviewed by the Boston Globe: “People say to me: How can I become a writer? I always say: one, leave home; two, tell the truth.”xkcd takes on the Kindle.”Jack Kerouac’s ‘lost’ novel The Sea is My Brother, which he wrote during his years as a merchant seaman, is to be published in its entirety for the first time.”Soon there will be a literary prize for everyone: “The St. Francis College Literary Prize is designed for a fourth published book of fiction.” ($50,000!)The strangest title shortlistVia Gwenda, the Wikipedia find of the week: “A book curse was the most widely-employed and effective method of discouraging the thievery of manuscripts during the medieval period.”The best reasoning yet for why the Kindle/”Text-to-Speech” uproar is dumb. Meanwhile, Amazon backs down.”I”, “we”, “two” and “three” the oldest English words.A resourceful group of Chinese enthusiasts creates bootleg translations of every issue of The Economist.Shark-jumping: “HarperCollins Pays Big Advance For A Book Of… Tweets“Stuff White Readers Should Like
Out this week: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting; The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick; The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins; The Tower of the Antilles by Achy Obejas; Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco; and Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Over at The New Yorker, Roa Lynn recalls going to Pablo Neruda’s home and getting him to write her a poem: “Would he read a few of the poems that I had brought with me? To my delight, he said that after lunch he would take his customary nap and after that he would read our poems. If he liked them, he would write something for our book.” Pair with this Millions essay about Neruda’s house in Isla Negra.