When, in 1921, a young French writer working as a translator for James Joyce asked the writer to reveal his schema for Ulysses, Joyce balked, saying that “If I gave it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality.” What he meant, at least in part, is that he wanted his opus to be relevant in perpetuity. At Full-Stop, Dustin Illingworth reads Ulysses on Twitter and asks: can the book survive the transition from the page to social media? Pair with: Josh Cook on The House of Ulysses by Julian Rios.
Johnny Depp’s latest film, Black Mass, which casts the star as Whitey Bulger, hit theaters on September 18th. At Publishers Weekly, author T. J. English argues that Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him is necessary to the canon of literature on Bulger, even if it's the 16th book about the mobster.
Good news! According to Vinson Cunningham’s new essay in The New Yorker, beauty merely “masks and perfumes ... it freezes moral categories in place,” whereas ugliness, on the other hand, “is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.” Wait, is that good news? Bonus: Vinson wrote a Year in Reading piece for us.
What is the price of diversity? Colleen Muir asks this question at The Rumpus in relation to the hefty cost of writers’ conferences. A piece of her essay: “I’m not claiming that Breadloaf [sic] lacks for talent, or that its writers don’t have interesting things to say. But it certainly lacks for diversity in at least one significant way, because most attendees share a privileged experience of the world.” Pair with Gail Gauthier’s essay on working in the kitchen crew at Bread Loaf.
In its treatment of the poor, Britain may be “going back to the Middle Ages,” says Booker repeat winner Hilary Mantel. Indeed, she explains, “In some respects … Cromwell lived in a more enlightened time.” And she’s not the only high profile UK author to come to the side of government welfare these days. In a two-part interview for The Daily Show, J.K. Rowling notes that she couldn’t have written her first books without government “benefits.”