Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist’s chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)
Who was it that came up with the idea that a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters would eventually, with their random keyboard smashing, type William Shakespeare's complete works? Well, you can give the experiment a try here (link from the CC). And while you're waiting for your monkeys to finish typing Love's Labor's Lost, check out some book excerpts I found:Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick -- excerpt, NYT review, SF Chronicle reviewChain of Command by Seymour Hersh -- excerpt, CS Monitor reviewThe Double by Jose Saramago -- excerpt, NZ Herald reviewThe Fall Of Baghdad by Jon Lee Anderson -- excerpt, WaPo review
On the London Review of Books blog, Kaya Genç makes the case that the similarities between the successful Turkish author Elif Şafak's work and Zadie Smith's books is a fact of Turkey's shifting cultural values rather than plagiarism: "Istanbul, the city Shafak returned to after writing her book in London and the setting for many of her earlier novels, resembles London more and more." For a bit of context, here's Lydia Kiesling's rundown of the initial scandal.