Frankenstein was originally a philosophical novel, Michael Saler reveals in his review of The Annotated Frankenstein. Mary Shelley used her monster to comment on the terrors of the French Revolution, patriarchy, social justice, and slavery, he writes.
“The Dares. We’d been at them all summer: making each other do stuff, alone or together, just for the fun of it. Girls like us, with high GPAs and not a single boy looking our way, needed a little danger to get us through the summer.” Our own Edan Lepucki has a short story, “Ambulance of Boys,” on Storychord.com.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
The New York Public Library’s research collection will be moving to an impressive concrete bunker beneath Bryant Park (instead of the much protested option—New Jersey). Our own Michael Bourne writes about how the subway car, once a rolling library, is transitioning to digital.
Out this week: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff; The Blue Guitar by John Banville; Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt; Sweet Caress by William Boyd; The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck; The Marvels by Brian Selznick; Scrapper by Matt Bell; and The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
Today’s edition of Book Reviews Worth Reading: Kathryn Schulz‘s first official outing as the book critic for New York Magazine (on the late Anthony Shadid‘s House of Stone) and Anti-Matter author Ben Jeffery‘s take on Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory. (While you’re at it, you might as well read Elaine Blair nailing Houellebecq at the NYRB (in the second-best possible way)…or our own Bill Morris‘ défense.