Recommended Listening: Esquire has a new podcast on classic stories from their archive. The latest installment features Nick Flynn on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up, which first appeared in the magazine in 1936.
John Clare, “the peasant poet,” wrote wide-ranging poems on rural themes, distinguishing himself from his peers in the 19th-century literary scene in England. In 1830, in the midst of an episode of depression, he wrote a long polemic against the first-person pronoun, in the form of a letter to his friend Eliza Emmerson. In The Paris Review Daily, an excerpt of the letter.
Two years ago, Allison Parrish produced a diary of an expedition through “fantastical places that do not exist.” The twist? The diary was generated by a computer program, which extracted more than 5,700 sentences drawn from Project Gutenberg and later recombined at random by “switching out grammatical constituents.” An extract of the finished work, interspersed with Parrish’s nonfiction essay, can be read here.
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
Among the better Tumblr memes is Read to Me Tuesday, which is exactly what it sounds like: people choose a passage from a book, call in and read the passage over the phone. The resulting posts are compiled under the hashtag #RTMT and often re-blogged by rtmt.tumblr.com. As we see increased interest in social reading experiments like bookglutton.com, RTMT shows how the web might make social connection through reading aloud a possibility for the first time since, well, story time. Plus it’s really, really fun.
As you might expect, the literature of England is characterized by a fair amount of rain, but what’s interesting is that the Victorian era had the rainiest literature of all. In The Guardian, a look into the history of downpours and drizzles in English narratives. (via Arts and Letters Daily)