In his lifetime, Vladimir Nabokov travelled widely, logging many years each in St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Ithaca, New York, where he wrote Lolita while teaching at Cornell. His peripatetic history explains why few people know he spent a summer in Utah, during which he spent a lot of time chasing butterflies and fishing in the streams. In The American Scholar, an excerpt of Nabokov in America, an upcoming book by Richard Roper. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
At the Missouri Review blog, our own Tess Malone writes about the supposed death of the English major, which has lost a considerable amount of popularity in the last forty years in favor of “practical disciplines.” Among other things, she links to New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier’s Brandeis commencement speech, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.
In 1998, Matthew Stokoe kicked off his career as a novelist with Cows, a stomach-turning book set largely in the confines of a slaughterhouse. Now, Stokoe has written a book with a somewhat ironic title, considering it dials down the obscenity in comparison to his early work. Drew Smith interviews the author over at Full-Stop.
Shakespeare may have had a son who later became the poet laureate of England. Find out more about him in Simon Andrew Stirling’s new book, Shakespeare’s Bastard: The Life of Sir William Davenant. Pair with Stephen Akey’s reflections on Shakespeare as God.
The British critic, essayist, and novelist John Berger died yesterday at his home in France, reports The New York Times. Probably best known for his book of art-criticism-as-philosophy Ways of Seeing, which was turned into a popular BBC series and sold more than a million copies, Berger also won the Booker prize for G. in 1972 and was nominated again in 2008 for an epistolary novel, From A to X. The Guardian has rounded up some of his quotes, including the apt-feeling “[h]ope is not a form of guarantee; it’s a form of energy, and very frequently that energy is strongest in circumstances that are very dark.”
“There are times it’s happening multiple times a day. Not too long ago, we had two in the same restroom at the same time. We call security, security calls paramedics. Of course they always find somebody lying there.” Samantha Sanders writes for Catapult about the epidemic of opioid overdoses in public libraries, and what some librarians are doing to respond. And ICYMI, here is Corinne Purtill in our own pages about British libraries under austerity cuts.