“Yes, it’s easy to laugh at the lawyers. But what if the lawyers were right? For the question that still needs to be answered, I think, is whether the arguments over the novel’s obscenity and obscurity were just temporary historical effects or whether they point to the essence of Joyce’s originality.” A longform look at why we should still find Ulysses scandalous.
Chad Post ran the numbers to calculate “the state of literature in translation today,” and in so doing he found that AmazonCrossing has been publishing more works of fiction and poetry in translation than any other press except Dalkey Archive. Additionally, the “overall number of works of fiction in translation being published in the U.S. is growing pretty nicely.” To get a full account of what’s coming out this year, check out his 2013 Translation Database.
What happened to the literature of clothing? Writers like Balzac and Proust wrote philosophies of clothing, but nowadays there seems to be a wall between literary writing and fashion. In Public Books, Mary Davis reads Women in Clothes, a collection which reveals a lot about how much our views of fashion writing have changed. FYI, Rachel Signer reviewed the book for The Millions.
What is it like to work for a major book publisher? In an excerpt from the new reprint of her My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum discusses the myth of the glamorous editorial job, one in which no time is wasted reading self-help books and unauthorized biographies of cable stars. As she explains it, “We’re secretaries fully versed in Derrida, receptionists who have read Proust in French.” Also check out our own Hannah Gersen’s review of Daum’s latest essay collection The Unspeakable.
New this week: A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball; Lovers on All Saints’ Day by Juan Gabriel Vásquez; The Kindness by Polly Samson; a new book of correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and Apollo in the Grass by the Russian poet Aleksandr Kushner. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“Our contemporary analogues to the personal notebook now live on the web — communal, crowdsourced and shared online in real time.” Jenna Wortham writes on how archiving the Internet would change history. We’ve written about the implications of the Internet more than once.