“The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. And on almost equal terms; for it is one of the qualities of this kind of writing that the thing that makes people read it never goes out of style.” Raymond Chandler’s 1950 essay, “The Simple Art of Murder” is a real gem.
In the mid-aughts, Jonathan Gottschall pioneered “literary Darwinism,” a new form of analysis which applied evolutionary theory to works of literature. It was part of a wider upheaval in English departments across the country. Now, more than ten years later, we can make an assessment: how’d it work out for Gottschall? The answer: not well. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
In September of 2013, Paula Meehan was appointed Ireland’s Professor of Poetry, and the transcript from her first lecture is available online [PDF]. You can learn more about Meehan in her interview with the Wake Forest University Press, and you can check out a video of one her readings over here.
After the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska died fighting in the trenches, Ezra Pound wrote a book about his work, inspiring a wave of interest that brought the sculptor to prominence. The book came out in 1916, a year after Gaudier-Brzeska’s death, and kicked off a succession of great books that tackle his sculptures. Yasmine Seale writes about their legacy in the LRB.
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.