Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
In the Boston Review, Jess Row wades - slowly, interestingly, not always coherently - into the perpetually roiling waters of Theory of the Novel, taking on the canon wars, realism vs. the avant-garde, etc. Is it really "a safe bet that your average well-informed critic today has never read a single work of criticism by a writer of color?" Probably not, even granting Row's exception. But possibly worth arguing about. If you like that sort of thing.
Out this week: M Train by Patti Smith; Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell; 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore; The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks; The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra; Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe; and Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
In 1970 The American Scholar published a list of works that "distinguished men and women" deemed neglected. Now, inspired by a LitHub essay on "10 Great Writers Nobody Reads," the Scholar's editors are revisiting those neglected books to see if anything's changed. Pair their efforts with Claire Cameron's look at the unlikely rise of the once-neglected Stoner.