Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
“There are writers we instinctively, permanently dislike: not only will we never read them, we will quietly relish the not-reading, finding in it a pleasure that can occasionally rival reading itself.” Dan Piepenbring explores the advantages of not reading for the The Paris Review. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on the art of not finishing books.
If you’re a professor or mentor, it’s the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. “He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends.” Even if the government didn’t like Whitman’s work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne’s essay on the power of Whitman’s poetry.
“This is a story about a woman who was erased from her job as the editor of the most famous literary magazine in America.” For Longreads, A.N. Devers writes about Brigid Hughes, the second editor of The Paris Review, who has been all but scrubbed from the magazine’s history. See also: Dever’s 2011 Year in Reading entry.
“Some psychiatrists say that music has therapeutic powers and can even restore fluidity and mental structure for a moment in some patients – music is the opposite of chaos. It may be that heavy metal, the music his parents blamed in part for this entire catastrophe, is the only thing that gives order to my cousin’s worn-out brain. No one knows, except him.” On trying to seek refuge from schizophrenia in heavy metal.
In anticipation of their 30 Below Story Contest, Narrative Magazine is highlighting work published on their site by writers under 30. Today my story, “I am the Lion Now,” has been added to the list.