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 Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
“The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm.” Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson‘s The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote “Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist … did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”
George Bernard Shaw had a strange relationship with Nietzsche. Alternately envious and dismissive of the German philosopher, Shaw once said he wanted to be an intellectual in Nietzsche’s mold, though he also felt Nietzsche’s thinking was addled and self-absorbed. In an essay for The New Statesman, Michael Holroyd tries to make sense of Shaw’s views.
Ralph Waldo Emerson called him “the jingle-man.” Henry James called his work “decidedly primitive.” Yet Edgar Allan Poe, nearly two centuries after his death, is now acclaimed as a writer on par with his best contemporaries. How did his reputation evolve? In the Times Literary Supplement, Marjorie Perloff reviews a new study of Poe by Jerome McGann.