Anyone who’s read The Divine Comedy knows that rivalries and petty grudges are timeless. To further prove the point, Mallory Ortberg provided this list, which details the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Sample quote: “Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and knowledge?”
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.
Millions writer Sonya Chung has a trenchant essay up at Huffington Post on the topic of writing and motherhood: "Art Before Life: Questioning the Parenthood Question."
Mama Hope, a group that works with local African organizations "to connect them with the resources required to transform their own communities," has released a great promo featuring four young men who are tired of Hollywood's African stereotypes. Their complaints are reminiscent of those enumerated in Binyavanga Wainaina's classic essay "How to Write about Africa," and also in Laura Seay's great article from last week, "How Not to Write About Africa."
The new book Robert Musil and the NonModern offers David Winters a chance to revisit The Man Without Qualities. (While you're at it, check out the essay on literary theory Winters wrote for us in September...and Matthew Gallaway's piece on Musil from January.)
In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the "bleak precise nature" of Philip Larkin's poetry (what Stephen Akey called "The Poetry of Mental Unhealth" in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. "In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack."
Missed the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend? The paper has some great short pieces on the panels that took place, including this one on an event called "Whimsical Visions, " in which rising star Etgar Keret imagined Wikipedia as written by future squids.