“Nowadays, we tend to place spies into a cold war narrative: East vs. West, intrigue around the Berlin Wall, Graham Greene’s Vienna, and George Smiley’s London. But the first and most successful Soviet spies emerged much earlier.”
“Thoreau did kill, cook and eat a woodchuck that was eating his beans. But he decided that was a lousy way to treat a woodchuck and he never did it again.” In celebration of his bicentennial, NPR sets straight five myths about Henry David Thoreau‘s diet, including the pernicious canard that he stole pies from neighbor’s windowsills. See also “My Summer with Henry,” on reading Thoreau’s Cape Cod on Cape Cod.
“[A]n audio odyssey through fiction, archival tape, interviews, and late nights with the likes of James Baldwin, Dorothy Parker, and the cutting-edge writers of our time. Featuring readings from LeVar Burton, Stockard Channing, Jesse Eisenberg, Marc Maron, Eileen Myles, David Sedaris, Dick Cavett, Dakota Johnson, and more!” Did you know The Paris Review has a new podcast? See also: our interview with current TPR editor Lorin Stein.
“But every time I sat down in my desk, my heart raced. I forgot the words, my sentences sounded wordy, unnecessary, ugly.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes about anxiety and writer’s block for Ploughshares. Pair with her Staff Pick for The Millions, Juan Goytisolo’s Count Julian.
Recommended viewing: Open Culture has tracked down two animated adaptations of Dostoevksy‘s work. There’s one of his short story “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” “in full-on existentialist mode,” and slightly more ambitious (though dramatically abridged) short film of Crime and Punishment.
Translating is notoriously difficult work, and translating Proust even more so. The Boston Review has published a very thoughtful piece about the history of In Search of Lost Time in English, the trouble with annotations, and the general “tension in translation between the spirit and the letter.” We highly recommend you take the time to read it, even if you don’t have time for Proust just yet.