In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
"Chekhov’s contemporaries wondered: What sort of Russian writer was he? He had no solution to the ultimate questions. With no 'general idea' to teach, wasn’t he more like a talented Frenchman or Englishman born in the wrong place?" (And our own Sonya Chung argues that personal character was in fact his "general idea.")
Amazon created an "Election Heat Map" to tally the number of "red" and "blue" books sold across the nation, and the count is updated hourly. The results are somewhat surprising to those who believe liberals read more than conservatives. (Perhaps liberals frequent more independent bookstores?) At the time of this writing, "red" books are favored by a margin of 7%.
"John Milton—poet, free speech advocate, civil servant, classics scholar—was arguably a forefather to Asimov, Bradbury, Delaney, and the rest. Their outlandish other worlds owe a debt to his visionary mode of storytelling; their romance—characters who go on quests, encounter adversaries at portals, channel the forces of light and dark—is his, too." Over at Slate, Katy Waldman makes the argument for Milton as sci-fi author. Pair with our discussion of his epic Paradise Lost as part of this piece about difficult books.
Meet the Bosavi woolly rat, a new breed of giant rat recently discovered in the forests of Papua New Guinea. Weighing in at over three pounds and measuring more than three feet long, it's thought to be the largest known species of rat on the planet.
"Biography, even those of intellectual figures, assumes a general reader, a reader who does not understand or want to understand the ideas of its subject. The biography of a philosopher magnifies this approach, turning its attention simply to the 'significant events' in the life of the philosopher." Derrida: the impossible biography?