Peg Plunkett was an 18th-century Dublin courtesan who decided one day to make some money by publishing a series of memoirs. Now, over two hundred years after Plunkett sketched out her life story, Professor Julie Peakman has rewritten all three volumes for a modern audience. In a piece for The New Statesman, Sarah Dunant reviews her edition of Plunkett’s oeuvre.
“After scanning across this listing while doing cursory research for something else, I instantly became obsessed with the idea of the zebra skin in the library. What, exactly, did it look like? How was it stored amongst his papers? Why had he owned it? What was it doing in the special collections of an academic library?” On looking through the archives of William Gaddis.
Time for an update on the Bob Dylan-Nobel Prize beat: While Dylan still won’t attend the award ceremony in Stockholm this weekend, he has submitted a speech to be read on his behalf, reports The New York Times. Patti Smith will also be on hand to perform one of Dylan’s songs. We bet Brian Burlage would say that suits him perfectly.
In the latest issue of Harvard magazine, Nathan Heller writes about Arion Press, the last remaining “full-service letterpress in the United States.” Apparently Arion, which has “an in-house foundry where lead is melted into ingots,” sells editions of canonical titles (like Ulysses) that retail for thousands of dollars. (h/t our own Kevin Hartnett)
I hope you had your Wheaties this morning, because this one is a doozy. Scientists at Poland’s Institute of Nuclear Physics have discovered complex “fractal” sentence patterning in classic works of literature that is nearly identical to “ideal” mathematics. Maybe Finnegans Wake does make sense, after all.
Momina Mela writes on the gendered misconceptions about confessional poetry. As she puts it, “In comparison to female confessional poets, male confessional poetry has been regarded with less ridicule as accusations of being merely therapeutic. This is often due to the detachment which occurs with the adoption of personas, even though female poets such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and even Sharon Olds integrate the use of personas in their work as well.” Also check out this Millions essay on the poetry of mental unhealth.