“Shelley once called poets the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world,'” but has the social role of poetry changed since Shelley’s time?
“Eleven years later, the Atlantic Monthly editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, made a similar request to an obscure, retiring poet named Emily Dickinson who had written a letter asking if her verses ‘breathed.’ Her response was much like Melville’s, if typically elliptical: ‘Could you believe me—without? I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur—and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves—Would this do just as well?'” The age-old problem: how writers deal with publicity.
Tolstoy has a new book out. No, not that Tolstoy — Sofiya Tolstoy, wife of Leo Nikolayevich. Her long-lost novella, which languished for years in the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, has finally been published, as part of an expanded edition of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata. At Slate, Ron Rosenbaum praises her story, calling it “graceful, emotionally intuitive and heartbreaking.” Related: 8 experts on whether Leo Tolstoy is better than Dostoevsky.