The real origin of the Mark Twain pen name might be a burlesque sketch in the 19th century humor magazine Vanity Fair. If you’re still trying to come up with the perfect nom de plume, Bill Ferris has some advice.
"Without any clear and agreed upon sense for what to be aiming at in a life, people may experience the paralyzing type of indecision depicted by T.S. Eliot in his famously vacillating character Prufrock; or they may feel, like the characters in a Samuel Beckett play, as though they are continuously waiting for something to become clear… or they may feel the kind of “stomach level sadness” that David Foster Wallace described…" Sean D. Kelly navigates past nihilism for the New York Times.
Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry in a house in Amherst. Mark Twain wrote many of his best works on his estate in Connecticut. And Geoffrey Chaucer, it turns out, wrote in a cramped bachelor pad, nestled in the east side of the wall surrounding London. In The Spectator, a reading of Paul Strohm’s Chaucer’s Tale, which describes a pivotal year in the poet's life.
Dan Piepenbring writes at The Paris Review on judging a book by its cover in the Weimar Republic and the sheer mastery of some of the early twentieth-century German cover designers. Two related pieces from The Millions: our own Bill Morris on the pleasures of the typewritten book cover and Matt Allard on reimagining some popular cover art.