“A coroner’s pronouncement of suicide (felo da se) resulted in forfeiture of the deceased’s goods and property to the state, often leaving any surviving relatives destitute. So the increasingly common verdict of temporary insanity (non compos mentis) may suggest a change in how people understood the act of self-destruction: no longer construed as a demonic temptation, it came instead to be viewed as a symptom of lunacy.” On the prevalence of suicide in eighteenth-century English literature.
Megaupload’s demise has the internet in an uproar, but the shutdown of the sharing site is unlikely to put a dent in online piracy. Still, sites such as FileSonic, FileServe, and and Uploaded.to have taken matters into their own hands by disabling sharing access in the United States, and MediaFire’s CEO has issued a preemptive statement on the matter. None of this is particularly surprising, though, which is why it’s so refreshing–for all fans of Schadenfreude–to learn that Kim Dotcom, Megaupload’s “Goldfinger”-esque founder, plans on releasing an album in the near future.
“It only took me 10 years to get the verb tenses right!” Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the process of updating his debut novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, recently reissued in a new edition by Knopf. See also: our interview with him on the occasion of the release of his blockbuster City on Fire.
“These are terrific diversions, but their status next to the book is a little ambiguous. Isn’t using animation to advertise a book a little like using sculpture to promote poetry?” asks Lindesay Irvine in this article about book trailers in The Guardian. If you’re looking for a diversion, this video short based on César Aira‘s Ghosts is certainly worth watching.
“‘I just want to be normal,’ she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with.” At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg lists flaws only a protagonist could have.
Thanks to NASA, three poets will have a chance to boldly go where no poets have gone before: Mars. Indeed, an online contest is currently open in which users can submit haiku to accompany the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission, which is scheduled for launch in late 2013. The MAVEN project will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. More details about sending poetry into outer space can be found here.
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James’s “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon