Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
What should you do if, horror of horrors, you find yourself appearing as a character in someone else's book? Michelle Huneven shares her experience being fictionalized in an essay for The Paris Review. Her advice? "Don’t read too much into it. Cultivate lightness." Pair with our profile of Huneven, "Not Lost, Just Rearranged."
In a head-scratching piece of writing for the New Statesman, Dave Eggers (whose novel The Circle just cracked our Top Ten) reflects on a cross-country drive he took from Jeddah to Riyadh. The journey, and in particular a comment made by his chauffeur, caused Eggers to ponder the significance of his nationality, his ability to perceive danger, and the intentions of others. The short of it: Some people from other countries are nice. Who knew?
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is the NFL’s unofficial librarian. According to his teammates, Luck is a voracious reader who regularly recommends books in the locker room. The genre is unimportant; Luck reads everything from books on concrete architecture to Love Life by Rob Lowe. Where is the Football Book Club when you need them?