We tend to assume that life stories, in mentally healthy people, are concrete things, assembled from events that are hard to twist or distort. Yet all of us shape our own stories in ways we can’t always see. At The Atlantic, Julie Beck explores the idea that life stories, as we construct them, form integral parts of our personalities.
Victor Hugo, when asked about the other parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that aren’t the widely-read Inferno, had this to say: “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.” Ouch. Is this why so many of us haven’t even read Dante, despite his being a kind of cultural icon?
In Zadie Smith’s introduction to the Writers Bloc series, she writes that the program sought essays “that were not only pious, charitable or analytical but also readable, engaging, exciting.” The essays published by Guernica certainly meet this criteria. I particularly recommend Aleksandar Hemon’s essay on first graders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain have done us all a serious solid by assembling a syllabus of readings around “what many simply call ‘Trumpism’: personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.” The self-directed course contains readings from more than 100 scholars – including Audre Lorde, Aziz Ansari, and Ta-Nehisi Coates – and aims to “introduce observers to the past and present conditions that allowed Trump to seize electoral control of a major American political party.”