John Sunyer checks in with Franco Moretti at the Stanford Literary Lab. Moretti, a 63-year-old professor of English, is the author of Distant Reading – a book in which he lays out his long-held belief that “literary study doesn’t require scholars to actually read the books.” Rather, he believes in a “new approach to literature [that] depends on computers to crunch ‘big data,’ or stores of massive amounts of information, to produce new insights.”
Do you ever find yourself skimming novels looking for exciting words and hyperlinks? You aren't the only one mixing up the digital and print reading worlds. Neuroscientists believe we are developing new brain circuits for skimming online information that are rewiring how we've approached reading for centuries. Pair with: Our essay on how writing is also changing to fit our fragmented attention span.
There’s a certain narrative voice with an unspoken aim to exonerate the speaker from wrongdoing. It occurs in novels, though it’s most common in monologues, especially those which take up the entirety of a play. At Bookforum, Lurid and Cute author Adam Thirlwell lists a number of examples, including Hunger by Knut Hamsun and Wars I Have Seen by Gertrude Stein.
“[Christa] Wolf was a committed dissident in the GDR (East Germany) and a forceful voice resisting Western triumphalism after reunification. It would seem like some sort of explanation was owed to the public. Yet how does one give an account of oneself when the link to the past, to the psychological and cultural backdrop of such fateful decisions, is not even subjectively available?” On City of Angels: Or, the Overcoat of Dr. Freud.
James Baldwin couldn't be more relevant, but he is fading from America's high school classrooms. His controversial writing, censorship, poor student reading habits, and absence from the Common Core are all to blame for the lack of Baldwin in the curriculum. Pair with: Our essay on why Baldwin's work still resonates.
“For a man who is making his living as a critic to write about Scott Fitzgerald without mentioning The Great Gatsby just means that he doesn't know his business. Many people consider The Great Gatsby one of the few classic American novels. I do myself. Obviously such a judgment is debatable.” The New Republic digs up a tribute by John Dos Passos.