Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
Shakespeare was an insult master, as were Churchill, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and… Cézanne? Apparently so. In The Irish Times, Colm Tóibín reads through the painter’s letters, one of which includes a gripe that “Pissarro is an old fool [and] Monet is a wily bird.” (You could also read Claire Cameron’s Millions review of Tóibín’s latest novel.)
If you enjoyed the profile of Anne Carson in the latest New York Times Magazine – fictitious “ice bats” notwithstanding – you’re going to really love Parul Sehgal and Nathan Huffstutter’s two takes on Red Doc>. The work, Sehgal writes, is “suspended between what it is and what we want it to be.” And also, writes Huffstutter, it’s a work that “courses with a wit shot through with intelligence and humility.”
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
As you may have heard, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Sylvia Plath. It also, not coincidentally, marks the release of two new biographies: American Isis (the first to draw material from the recently-opened Ted Hughes archive) and Mad Girl’s Love Song (which looks at the poet’s relationship with her “big, dark, hunky boy”). Emma Garman weighs the impact of all this new scholarship at Salon.
Two full-length trailers for much-anticipated films dropped this week. First up is Pixar’s Brave, which will hit theaters this June. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, fans get to see Robert Pattinson star as Eric Parker in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis.