Mairead Small Staid writes on the history and poetics of the ampersand, “a logogram masquerading as a letter, a letter that is also a word—like a and I and even o, but no—a letter that is only a word, the plainest word of all.”
Here are the first lines of the new David Mitchell novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, forthcoming in July: “‘Miss Kawasemi?’ Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. ‘Can you hear me?’ In the rice paddy beyond the garden, a cacophony of frogs detonates. Orito dabs the concubine’s sweat-drenched face with a damp cloth.”
As part of their Literary Ladies Cage Fight series, The Butter pitted two of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters against each other, staging contests between Hamlet’s Ophelia and Romeo and Juliet’s Juliet. Who won, you ask? Only one way to find out. You could also read Stefanie Peters on women and Shakespeare’s plays.
“Literature is the record we have of the conversation between those of us now alive on earth and everyone who’s come before and will come after, the cumulative repository of humanity’s knowledge, wonder, curiosity, passion, rage, grief and delight. It’s as useless as a spun-sugar snowflake and as practical as a Swiss Army knife.” Dana Stevens and Adam Kirsch discuss whether literature should be considered useful.