Those of you with more than a passing familiarity with the Brothers Grimm will know that classic fairy tales were often dark and macabre. They’re considerably more frightening than the sanitized versions we read to our children today. At Salon, Maria Tatar talks to Laura Miller about her translation of The Turnip Princess, a new collection of previously undiscovered fairy tales. Sample quote: “There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms.” You could also read Kirsty Logan on the trouble with fairy tales.
"If [Langston] Hughes and Cullen were competitors, of sorts, for the prize of principal African American poet of their generation, Cullen may have had an early lead, and during the later 1920s and early 1930s they were often discussed in tandem." At The Boston Review, Major Jackson takes a look at the career and legacy of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen.
For most people, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is the beginning and end of mafia books, the sole notable entry in a sparse and little-known genre. That’s why it’s helpful that Roberto Dainotto, in The Guardian, published this list, which includes The Godfather, Eric Hobsbawm’s Primitive Rebels, and Alexander Stille’s Excellent Cadavers, among other picks.
The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries -- many of them relating to their own personal traumas -- in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.
“What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.”