“In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” Zadie Smith's remarks upon accepting the 2016 Welt Literature Prize on November 10th, and the question of whether "multiculturalism" is a failed experiment. Read our review of Smith's latest novel, Swing Time, here.
In Florida, legislators are wondering whether or not they should raise tuition costs for students studying the humanities, or really anything other than STEM fields. Likewise, James Dyson (yes, the vacuum guy) bemoans Britain's abundance of "students choosing to read humanities at university." As a rejoinder, one New Statesman blogger notes that the study of humanities does not inhibit technological innovation, and that as a bonus, "we gain from having people who reshape our cultural landscape and put things in new contexts."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released almost 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collections. Among them are thousands of illustrations from bygone days when "picture books" were not for children alone. Pair with Buzz Poole's reviews of contemporary works of visual literature in The Millions archives, from hand-drawn self-help quotes to politically-charged images of transit in Tehran.
Courtesy of fake-news juggernaut The Onion, a new viral website honest about its purpose: "I think we see the ideal ClickHole reader as a hollow shell who exists purely to click on our content and then share that content with other hollow shells." (Also: the same technique on headlines, applied to books.)
Harold Bloom turns eighty-five this year, which makes it all the more impressive that his forty-fifth book, The Daemon Knows, comes out this week. At Vulture, Amy Bloom (no relation) has tea and scones with the Yale professor, who talks about Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and why a critic called his new book “an invectorium.” You could also read Matt Hanson on his last volume of criticism.
The British critic, essayist, and novelist John Berger died yesterday at his home in France, reports The New York Times. Probably best known for his book of art-criticism-as-philosophy Ways of Seeing, which was turned into a popular BBC series and sold more than a million copies, Berger also won the Booker prize for G. in 1972 and was nominated again in 2008 for an epistolary novel, From A to X. The Guardian has rounded up some of his quotes, including the apt-feeling "[h]ope is not a form of guarantee; it’s a form of energy, and very frequently that energy is strongest in circumstances that are very dark.”