This week in Fascinating Archive Picks: The New Statesman dug up a Philip Larkin essay from 1962. Kicking off with an eccentric fantasy of hearing Shakespeare’s voice on vinyl, the essay delves into the importance attached to a poet’s voice, which impels Larkin to regret that early record producers didn’t think to record Thomas Hardy. Related: Leah Falk on reading poems aloud.
Much fuss was made about Barack Obama’s ex-girlfriends this week, as an excerpt from David Maraniss’ forthcoming Barack Obama: The Story was published in Vanity Fair. Of course, we sophisticated book readers care less about the man’s old flames than we do his literary pursuits, right? That’s why Mr. President’s analysis of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” is so interesting.
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children's book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain's self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
Over at The Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced sequel of Pride and Prejudice. The book by Terri Fleming will focus on the life of Mary Bennett, a character who is deliberately neglected by Jane Austen. As Jones puts it, “Lizzie only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not. Even beautiful Jane is a bit insipid – a fact Austen knowingly plays with, as her eventual engagement to Bingley is briefly threatened by Jane’s reticence.”