How did Ian Fleming come up with James Bond? It’s easy to think, considering the political context of his era, that Fleming tailored his superspy to be the ideal hero of the Cold War. Yet there’s another, more prosaic explanation — was the author simply having a midlife crisis?
Los Angeles Review of Books managing editor Evan Kindley reviews Michael Szalay’s Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party, and says it “reminds us of a time, not long ago, when literary intellectuals set great store by mainstream political parties, and vice versa.”
“Life is worth less than a line of Baudelaire’s poetry.” These two lyric essays by Chen Li over at Asymptote Journal are economical and well-worth the read. Though Chen Li is from Taiwan, he writes in Chinese; this syllabus of Chinese writing and the “New China” from Casey Walker at The Millions pairs quite nicely.
When, in 1921, a young French writer working as a translator for James Joyce asked the writer to reveal his schema for Ulysses, Joyce balked, saying that “If I gave it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality.” What he meant, at least in part, is that he wanted his opus to be relevant in perpetuity. At Full-Stop, Dustin Illingworth reads Ulysses on Twitter and asks: can the book survive the transition from the page to social media? Pair with: Josh Cook on The House of Ulysses by Julian Rios.