When did Samuel Beckett’s “fail better” become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell traces the history of the phrase. “Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to ‘think different’ or ‘work smarter’ or ‘just do it.'”
At The Guardian, the intriguing case of historian Orlando Figes and his wife’s savage Amazon reviews of her husband’s rivals’ books. The case begs the question: should Amazon allow anonymous reviews?
Shakespeare conspiracy theorists might still wonder who the real playwright was, but we do know what he would’ve sounded like. Linguist David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal, demonstrate the original pronunciation of the Bard’s best. Bonus: An interview with Ben on the research behind the pronunciation.
In the new Granta, Adam Johnson writes about the mind-bending experience of traveling to North Korea, an experience which informed his Pulitzer-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son. Perhaps the saddest anecdote — and there are a lot of sad anecdotes — is the one about the North Korean tour guide who couldn’t believe the author didn’t want to buy knockoff goods.