If the first paragraph – and really, the entirety – of Jay Jennings’s piece about retracing the True Grit trail doesn’t make you want to drop what you’re doing and hit the road, then you and I are fundamentally different human beings.
“Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always.” James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
“He represents a failure of empiricism — an unreliability arising not from the absence of rationality, but from the stubborn complexity of perception. This, I would argue, is precisely how the 2016 election went down.” In an article for The Los Angeles Review of Books, Aaron R. Hanlon argues that Cervantes’ classic provides the perfect framework for understanding contemporary America, concluding that “Don Quixote is such a player in US politics that he might as well run for office.” Our own C. Max Magee read Quixote not long after founding the site, deeming it “essential to all who wish to understand ‘the novel’ as a literary form.”
In 1817, the painter Robert Benjamin Haydon invited several guests over for what he called an “immortal dinner.” Why the bombastic name? The guests included Keats and Wordsworth, whom Haydon wished to introduce to each other. In the WaPo, Michael Dirda takes a look at The Immortal Evening, a new book about the event by Stanley Plumly.