“The author, whose novels thrum with ironic recurrences, might have been perversely pleased with this: thirty-six years after his death and twenty-two years after the fall of the Soviet Union with all its khudsovets, Vladimir Nabokov is, once again, controversial.”
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Amber Sparks investigates why short stories are overlooked. She writes, “Most people really don’t like short stories. And that includes lots of critics, who often seem to regard short story collections as a warm-up for the real thing.” Pair with Paul Vidich’s Millions piece about the future of the short story.
Recommended Reading: Elisa Gabbert at Guernica on the relationship between ideas and language. “How can the name come after the concept if you need the name to understand the concept? This problem of circularity always made me resistant to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its strong version, which states that our thoughts are bound by the restraints of our language.”
Amidst all the sad tales of great bookstores going under, the Strand remains a fixture of the New York lit scene. At Vulture, Chris Bonanos explores the many reasons why the Strand is still afloat, among them the store’s increasing sales of new books. You could also read our own Janet Potter on her lifelong infatuation with bookstores.