In literature and film, there are epic heroes, Campbellian heroes, romantic heroes and tragic heroes. Less well-known is the Byronic hero, whose personality is rakish, extravagant and otherwise similar to Lord Byron. At the Ploughshares blog, a literary blueprint of the archetype. You could also read Jennifer Egan on Byron’s Don Juan.
Recently, both Batgirl and the Norse god Thor (as conceived by Marvel) have been updated to suit the times. While DC Comics simply gave Batgirl sensible, combat-appropriate clothing, inspiring happy fan art; “female Thor” has met a mix of excitement and bewilderment. Fittingly, a new piece out at Aeon explores our conflicted desire to see male protagonists in fiction — the Harry Potters and Bilbo Baggins’ of the world — reimagined as women. (Also, because no roundup of imaginary characters is complete without fake social media updates, here’s Thor lamenting the loss of his hammer on Facebook.)
Out this week: The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee; Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li; Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez; Running by Cara Hoffman; The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan; Last Day On Earth by Eric Puchner; and The World to Come by Jim Shepard. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
In conversation with New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino, Swing Time author Zadie Smith explained why she doesn’t engage in social media: “I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it,” according to the the Huffington Post. Read Sarah Labrie‘s essay on social media anxiety from our archives.