It’s easy to forget that traders and travelers a millennium ago were as tongue-tied in foreign countries as college backpackers are today. How convenient for Silk Road travels, then, to have had a phrasebook translating between languages like Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Mandarin Chinese.
At Page-Turner, our own Mark O’Connell notes “a thrilling obscenity” in the works of Gonçalo M. Tavares, a Portuguese writer whose recent novel, Jerusalem, depicts a character with schizophrenia. A lesser-known symptom of the illness, apparently, is a tendency to treat inanimate objects like conscious (and social) beings. (We wrote about Tavares back in March.)
Happy Hunger Games! To celebrate the release of Catching Fire, read Ben Blatt’s textual analysis of the most popular adverbs, adjectives, and sentences used by Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games trilogy, Stephenie Meyer in Twilight, and J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. Unsurprisingly, the most popular sentence in Twilight is, “I sighed.” We’re sighing, too. Pair with: Our essay on how teen fantasy heroines need to grow up.
A true genius is someone who’s talented and accomplished enough to work in the publishing/literary crucible of New York City, but who’s also smart enough to know that working in New York City is nothing compared to working in Key West, Florida. That’s right: the Key West Literary Seminar is hiring.
“I realized that there was something wrong with an arrangement whereby a relatively affluent person such as I had become could afford to write about minimum wage jobs, squirrels as an urban food source or the penalties for sleeping in parks, while the people who were actually experiencing these sorts of things, or were in danger of experiencing them, could not.” Barbara Ehrenreich on writing about poverty.
The Guardian reports that the British Library has made its archive of world and traditional music available online. And it’s free for everyone. What might you hear? “There are Geordies banging spoons, Tawang lamas blowing conch shell trumpets and Tongan tribesman playing nose flutes. And then there is the Assamese woodworm feasting on a window frame in the dead of night.” You might also check out the British Museum’s free online image database. Here you’ll find thousands of images of paintings, etchings, drawings, and artifacts from every country and era of human history, easily searchable by era, country, artist, or subject. In using the database for dissertation research, I also found copyright permissions relatively easy to acquire.