In her short history of executioners, Stassa Edwards notes that the decision to replace “the traditional punishment” of drowning people “in a sack in a local river” was actually quite pragmatic: it was “more economical” to go with a simple beheading.
The Austen Project, launched last year, asks prominent contemporary writers to reimagine Jane Austen's classics in modern times. (Thus far, we've seen Joanna Trollope's Sense and Sensibility and Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey.) In perhaps the most significant adaptation yet, Curtis Sittenfeld has announced that her Pride and Prejudice will feature a 39-year-old Jane Bennet. After all, Jane (23 in the original novel), is "pretty much teetering on the edge of spinsterhood."
In the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, Ice Trilogy author Vladimir Sorokin looks at the current events related to Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea, and notes that “the Russian state’s ‘vertical power’ structure” (which is to say “monarchical structure”) is what keeps the Russian people held “hostage to the psychosomatic quirks of its leader.”
Emily Witt checks out Melville House's new Hybrid Books for The New York Observer. The publisher says they are “an innovative publishing program that gives print books the features of enhanced eBooks.”
“If you’re doing an assignment for some Luddite professor who insists on originality – and probably uses typewriter ribbon – keep in mind that I only offer phrases from hard-to-trace sources. Just today I was slipped some primo stuff from an English teacher in Simonton, Iowa who’s been advising the high school literary magazine for decades. This woman, her voice is as smooth as creamed corn.” Confessions of a metaphor merchant.