“I don’t start with disorder; I start with the tradition. If you’re not trained in the tradition, then deconstruction means nothing.” On Derrida, Foucault, and the deconstructionist defense of the canon.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Out this week: Labor of Love by Moira Weigel; Little Labors by Rivka Galchen; Unforbidden Pleasures by Adam Phillips; Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore; Letters to Kevin by Stephen Dixon; and The Fat Artist and Other Stories by Benjamin Hale. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Amidst the tragic news that Iain Banks has cancer, The Telegraph responds with a headline for the ages: “Iain Banks taught me that books can be a hand grenade“