This week in beautiful books: Eugène Delacroix once illustrated Goethe’s Faust, and Goethe himself claimed the resulting lithographs “surpassed my own vision.” A full version of the work is now available online. And in a slightly more light-hearted vein, English Russia has found and scanned a delightful Soviet version of The Hobbit, complete with a Gollum straight out of Dr. Seuss.
“Internet reading takes up my time without my setting that time aside for it, and fills me with images and thoughts that I don’t perceive going in, like radiation… In these online minutes or hours, I drift along with my mouth open, absorbing whatever’s floating by, never chewing or even swallowing, just letting it all seep pre-chewed into me”: an elegant argument against reading about books before you read the books in question at Electric Literature. (But we hope you’ll continue to read The Millions anyway.)
Why do some ideas only come to you when you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure? At the Ploughshares blog, S. Hope Mills reflects on the importance of deadlines, which may explain (according to Guardian columnist Robert Crum) why Dickens chose to serialize his novels.
Infinite Jest may have “really taken on a foothold as the ‘novel of ideas’ of the late 20th and early 21st centuries” but now it’s also a “novel of legos,” courtesy of Kevin Griffith and his 11 year old son, Sebastian.
In 1945 and 1946, the FBI began keeping tabs on Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The Cold War was just around the corner, and the Bureau suspected their new targets were secretly agents of Communism. However, FBI agents who followed the French writers evolved in the course of their spying: they became, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, “philosophical policemen.” (h/t Slate)