In 1908, Leo Tolstoy sent “A Letter to a Hindu” to Tarak Nath Das, a leader of the Indian freedom movement. In it, Tolstoy made the case for nonviolent resistance as the only way for India to gain independence from Britain. You can read the letter, along with Mohandas Gandhi’s introduction, over here.
“With thirteen other diners, the two professors of English first prepared and then made their way through eight courses, including beef broth, haddock, steak, mutton, chicken, and chocolate profiteroles….The dinner was a recreation of one eaten 132 years earlier, in one of England’s grandest country houses. Among the guests at this first dinner was George Scharf, founding director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, a man not especially famous in his own day and virtually unknown in ours.” Love Among the Archives brings us into the world of George Scharf, a bachelor affectionately deemed “The Most Boring Man in the World.”
Willard Spiegelman’s provocative essay in the VQR’s recent State of American Poetry issue, “Has Poetry Changed?” incited quite a few responses. One of the better rejoinders came from William Childress, whose response, “Is Free Verse Killing Poetry,” raises some excellent points. “Poetry needs readers, not writers,” writes Childress. “But how many poets read any poetry but their own?”
There was an article in the New York Times on cook book ghostwriters, and it called Gwyneth Paltrow out for not writing My Father’s Daughter. Then the actress cum gourmand denied having worked with a ghostwriter in a tweet. Now Sari Botton, a frequent ghostwriter, has tried to clear the whole thing up in an essay on The Rumpus on why ghostwriting is such a fickle business, and a tricky term.
Three cheers to the return of storied magazines! This month, The Baffler and Collier’s made triumphant returns after lulls of 2 and 55 years, respectively. Meanwhile, over at Johns Hopkins Magazine, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein explains why “literary magazines still matter.” And, if you know anyone with some extra cash, they could become the next owner of Variety.
Calling all undergrads and grad students! McSweeney’s is holding their first-ever Student Short Story Contest. The grand prize — $500 and publication in their 51st issue — will go to the student who sends in the best story before the last day of August. Get cracking, but don’t go beyond their 7,500-word limit.
The Common will be celebrating its first year of publication later this month at NYU’s Carter Journalism institute. The celebrations will include a reading from Stephen O’Connor and a performance by the Dog House Band, aka that literary rock group consisting of Sven Birkerts, James Wood, and other writerly musicians.