Recommended Reading: Jenny Diski on our lost words. “So I had a thought about writing a book for the elderly, the old. Those who have lost their words more comprehensively than the friends around our lunch table, but haven’t lost themselves entirely. A book about where all the words go, where after a time they find the others and collaborate to make sentences.”
Recommended reading: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the new modesty of literary criticism and the complicated relationship between texts, critics, and politics. For more on the balance between art and politics, look no further than Jonathan Clarke‘s Millions essay, “Alive with Disagreement and Dissent.”
“He sat on a shelf of our one-roomed apartment for a while, and then one day when I was sitting in front of my typewriter staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering what to write, I idly tapped out the words ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’ It was a simple act, and in terms of deathless prose, not exactly earth shattering, but it was to change my life considerably. … Without intending it, I had become a children’s author.” Michael Bond, creator of the Paddington Bear series, has died at 91, reports NPR. We’d like to think that Bond might have appreciated our own Jacob Lambert‘s series, “Are Picture Books Leading Children Astray?” – in particular this entry questioning the moral fiber of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
P. G. Wodehouse is enjoying a popular revival thanks in part to W. W. Norton re-releasing some of his books with nice, attention-grabbing covers. Of course the British author has long had his supporters. Among them? George Orwell. Elsewhere, The Guardian compares Wodehouse’s correspondence to Ernest Hemingway‘s.
We’re a little late to The Guardian‘s Families in Literature series, which includes essays on everyone from the March sisters to the Moomins and has been running for the last few weeks. A particular favorite is Moira Redmond‘s look at Brideshead Revisited‘s Flytes and the strange but true power of falling in love with an entire family, which pairs well with our own Lydia Kiesling‘s Modern Library Revue of the novel.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.