If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
Writing for Banned Books Month on the PEN American Center’s blog, our own Lydia Kiesling discusses Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a book many have “lobbied vigorously to pry … out of the hands of enthralled youth since 1975,” Kiesling writes, which should prove that such lobbyists “weren’t very good readers” in the first place.
“Writing about film applies pressure to how ekphrastic writing can be possible, let alone evocative–and further, highlights questions that pertain to all kinds of writing, from honing poetic imagery to composing entire fictive worlds: how can writing engage or transform the fidelity of its subject(s)? How do you write about something so simultaneously ephemeral and fabricated, and yet intuitively, enduringly ‘real’?” For Ploughshares, Veronica Fitzpatrick on writing about film. Pair with this Millions piece on literary magazines in film and TV.
“It’s funny how as an author, I rarely notice what seems so obvious to other people: that I have obsessions and will write about them endlessly. Sad, lonely, self-loathing guy? Mid-20th and 21st century literature loves to write about that guy, and so do I. Reckless, self-aggrandizing, narcissist man? I like to write about him, too, though of course they are the same person. A person whose energy compels people to orbit him—family, friends, underlings, women.” The Rumpus talks with Woke Up Lonely author Fiona Maazel (who’s written for The Millions).
Shakespeare is required reading for the would-be literary scholar, yet with so many articles, books and monographs on the Bard in circulation, it might be time to ask: have English professors finally said all there is to say?
It seems almost silly to mention it since the book’s been on shelves and discussed in the book pages for a couple of weeks now, but the “official” release date of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King is this Friday. (Our review was published today.) Meghan O’Rourke’s grief memoir The Long Goodbye is out this week. And another look at our culture through the lens of our technology is now out, Steven Levy’s In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.