Jonathan Dent offers a fascinating look at one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most challenging assignments for the Oxford English Dictionary. Apparently as a young philologist, Tolkien was tasked with tracing the etymology of “walrus” – a tricky word “of disputed origin that had all but entirely replaced the earlier English name morse since its first appearance in English in the late 1600s.”
Flushed with cash after the runaway success of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the Harvard University Press has decided to offer a 20% discount off two dozen works on capitalism and its discontents. Get to it while the gettin’s good.
"I think if a woman is absolutely happy with herself, that goes a long way in getting others to accept her choices. But it’s hard to be absolutely happy with yourself, whoever you are. I mean, what kind of maniac is that?" What kind of maniac are you? This interview with Mary Gaitskill from Guernica Magazine is fantastic.
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author's collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”