“Every evening we spent an hour and a half in the drawing-room, and, as far back as I can remember, he found some way of amusing us himself…many of the great English poems now seem to me inseparable from my father; I hear in them not only his voice, but in some sort his teaching and belief,” Virginia Woolf wrote of her father for his biographer, but who was Leslie Stephen, exactly?
In the sixties, when he was a student at Cambridge, Stephen Greenblatt came across a book of Persian art. The book inspired a lifelong interest in the region, which in part explains why, after the University of Tehran invited him to give the keynote address at the first annual Iranian Shakespeare Congress, he packed his bags and headed over to the Middle East. In The New York Review of Books, the Harvard professor and Swerve author writes about his experience.
This year is all about #readwomen2014 and #weneeddiversebooks. Faint Promise of Rain, the debut novel from Anjali Mittar Duva, satisfies all these criteria. The book is just out from SheWrites press and is set in the turbulent, caste-driven setting of the Mughal empire. Read an excerpt over at Bloom.
“She was furious about the way the female college students of the next generation had been programmed to regard getting an MRS. degree as the be-all and end-all of their experience in higher education. She was enraged by the way the psychiatric profession regarded housewives’ unhappiness as a symptom of an out-of-whack libido. She was angry at the way the economy appeared to see her entire sex as simple consumption machines who built national prosperity by buying new appliances for the kitchen and searching madly for the perfect laundry detergent.” Betty Friedan’s second wave classic The Feminine Mystique turns fifty.
St. Patrick’s Day is over but there’s always cause to celebrate Irish storytellers. (Plus March is Irish-American History Month!) In this video from Open Road Media, you can listen to Edna O’Brien, Joseph Caldwell, Ken Bruen and T.J. English discuss the components of Irish storytelling that make for such good craic. Also you can check out the Poetry Foundation’s collection of St. Patrick’s Day poems for additional (belated) Irish writing.