Now that the Library of Congress is shut down, it’s as good a time as any to remember why we have it in the first place. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova looks through a collection of vintage catalog cards, two of which include early entries for A Room of One’s Own and Ulysses.
One night in 1937, Avies Platt decided to attend a meeting of the Sex Education Society, held at London’s Grafton Galleries. When the meeting was over, she ended up driving none other than W.B. Yeats to the afterparty. In the LRB, she recalls her encounter with greatness.
Michael Cunningham, who alongside Maureen Corrigan and Susan Larson sat on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for for fiction, gives the clearest account yet of how the award process works and defends the three shortlisted titles. His letter is in two parts, he also addresses the function of judgment and begins to build a poetics of literary greatness.
“Everywhere in the language of this collection is the deliberate and sustained glorification of the human. Long after his 11 months in what he calls the Lager (Auschwitz III), as a survivor, Primo Levi understands evil as not only banal but unworthy of our insight – even of our intelligence, for it reveals nothing interesting or compelling about itself.” Toni Morrison on The Complete Works of Primo Levi in The Guardian.
You’ve probably heard it before: never end a story with the phrase “it was all a dream.” Unfortunately for the person who taught you this rule, many classic stories (including Anna Karenina) take place at least partially in dreams. In the NYRB, Francine Prose investigates the trope in fiction.
“Robinson resists the notion of love as an easy antidote to a lifetime of suffering or solitude, suggesting that intimacy can’t intrude on loneliness without some measure of pain.” Leslie Jamison reviews Marilynne Robinson‘s latest novel, Lila, which was recently longlisted for the National Book Award.