Just because Beowulf‘s influence on Tolkien isn’t news doesn’t mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation of the epic poem this week isn’t exciting. But while Tolkien’s name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien’s love of the epic poem.
“I believe that just as much as teens fear time, adults do as well. It would be selfish of us to think that they can understand and accept our evolution into adulthood much easier than we can. Maybe in reality, teenagers and parents are scared of the same things.” The LARB runs a 15-year-old reader’s honest review of The Fault in Our Stars.
“To say that late Victorian poetry is bleak would be akin to remarking that Wilkie Collins had a decent knack for plotting a novel. These poems are freighted with Gothic overtones, and it is not uncommon for some supernatural phenomenon to intrude upon what had started out as a seemingly harmless quatrain. We often encounter Death himself—or the Devil—who is something of a literary celebrity for the decadent poets. But what marks the best of these poems is that the outré is in service to something that we can think of as more desperate, and, wouldn’t you know, human.” Over at The Boston Review, an online-only essay looking at the peculiarities of Victorian decadent poetry.
“This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.” John Jeremiah Sullivan investigates more mysterious musicians in The New York Times Magazine. Bonus: You can listen to their music as you read. For more of Sullivan’s music journalism, read his piece on the origins of ska.
John Clare, “the peasant poet,” wrote wide-ranging poems on rural themes, distinguishing himself from his peers in the 19th-century literary scene in England. In 1830, in the midst of an episode of depression, he wrote a long polemic against the first-person pronoun, in the form of a letter to his friend Eliza Emmerson. In The Paris Review Daily, an excerpt of the letter.
Japanese director Satoshi Kon died last Tuesday at the age of 46. His last words, a rambling text that his family uploaded to the Internet following his death, have just been translated to English: “Everyone, thank you for all the truly great memories. I loved the world I lived in.”