“We all read from different places, different backgrounds, and my meeting with Proust or Woolf, or Lydia Davis or J. M. Coetzee, will not be yours, nor should it be. On the other hand I do believe reading is an active skill, an art even, certainly not a question of passive absorption. … [so] there must be techniques and tools that everyone can use or try, even if we use them differently.” Tim Parks explains how he reads for The New York Review of Books.
In October 2011, Hannah Gersen convincingly argued that the Occupy Wall Street protests bore more than a few similarities to Bartleby, The Scrivener. Now, amid the political demonstrations going on throughout Turkey, Millions contributor Kaya Genç draws a similar parallel between Istanbul’s “Standing Man” and Herman Melville’s famous protagonist.
Sex ed for teenagers is a famously knotty subject, which explains why Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman, wants to eschew sex ed classes in favor of literature courses. “It is unacceptable to allow things that could corrupt children,” he said in a television interview. “The best sex education that exists is Russian literature.” (No word yet on what he thinks of Crime and Punishment.) (h/t The Paris Review)
It is a truth universally acknowledged (and recently addressed in Barclay Bram Shoekmaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog) that literary translation is an imperfect art, and this list of mistranslated “literary moments” only offers more evidence for the claim. But for every serious blunder there’s also a truly ridiculous one (or more). For example, the French translated the title of Animal Farm as Animals Everywhere!, which sounds a lot like a charming children’s book and not at all like Orwell.
“‘I can hold my own in the bedroom and the boardroom,’ she said to no one, and to everyone. ‘You should never underestimate me.’ She took off her blonde ponytail and shook her hair loose; there was another blonde ponytail underneath it.” There’s no better time than now to revisit Mallory Ortberg’s classic, unbelievably funny piece “A Day in the Life of an Empowered Female Heroine” from The Toast.