“One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.” Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann’s Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)
Like writing personal essays? Want to get one published on The Hairpin? Sign up for the Skillshare class Writing Personal Essays that Get Read (taught by Friendship author and Year in Reading alum Emily Gould) and you might have your essay chosen for a feature on the site. The class is included with Skillshare membership ($10 per month). Better yet: the first 50 readers of The Millions to click here can sign up for free.
Having grown up in Russia, New Republic senior editor Julia Ioffe is in a uniquely good position to cover the Sochi Olympics, which is why she’s writing regular dispatches from this year’s Winter Games. On Saturday, she published a piece about one of the sadder (yet more predictable) developments of the Games: foreign journalists are bombarding gay residents of Sochi with questions and requests for interviews. (She’s also manning the magazine’s Instagram feed.)
Recommended Reading: Thomas Dylan Eaton on the Austrian writer Peter Handke.
Thomas Hardy was one cold dude. Read some of these excerpts from his letters and find your day ruined. Highlights include a critique of a prime minister’s funeral and his excitement at the hanging of Elizabeth Martha Brown, accused of killing her husband. Here’s a Millions piece on the difficulties of teaching Hardy in 21st-century Florida.