“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.”
Max’s verdict in the opening round of The Morning News Tournament of Books has been posted. Which book did he pick, Gate at the Stairs or The Book of Night Women? Hop over to TMN to find out. And don’t miss the match commentary, which has some great additional discussion of both books.
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
In the pages of the Washington Post, the venerable Miss Manners responds to an English department secretary who feels “besieged by fringe ‘academics’ who are very adamant that we are part of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was Shakespeare.”
If the idea of Rachael Ray as queen of the food world shivers your timbers, read no further: Gourmet magazine, until now stewarded by the excellent Ruth Reichl, will cease publication with the November issue, the NY Times reports. Condé Nast also gave the axe to Cookie, Elegant Bride, and Modern Bride. The print media mass grave fills apace…
Valentine’s Day may be all about happy couples, but the most memorable love stories in literature are tales of doom, from Oedipus to Romeo and Juliet to the many dysfunctional partnerships that populate contemporary literature. The Guardian offers a literary lovers’ quiz for the lovelorn.
“As a speaker of a small language, it can be alarming to hear the rapidly increasing influx of new words from a dominant force. Back in 2000, linguistics researcher Sylfest Lomheim caused upheaval by claiming the Norwegian language wouldn’t survive the next century. Is this the beginning of the end?” On the Anglicization of Norwegian.