Who was Constance Fenimore Woolson? It’s about time everybody learned about this late nineteenth-century woman of letters who was a close friend and contemporary of none other than Henry James.
Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato reflects on her position living between languages. “I learned English out of necessity and that comes with its own problems—aesthetic and political ones. With childhood in one language and a writing life in the other, I’m standing both inside and outside my mother tongue and my stepmother tongue.” Pair with a piece on the important role of translators in literature.
Were you aware there’s a new BBC2 show about the lives of the Bloomsbury Group? There is, and it’s called Life in Squares, a reference to a quote that says the group “lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles.” In The New Statesman, Rachel Cooke sits down with the series. You could also read Alexis Coe on Virginia Woolf and Downton Abbey.
“In my adolescence people spoke of ‘café intellectuals,’ not with the respect due to a sect that transmits ideas within the cramped space of a table but with the contempt reserved for those who turn their backs on reality and take refuge in vain speculation.” Juan Villoro on the writing life in Mexico City’s cafés as part of the “Writing Life Around the World” series for Electric Literature.
Somehow we knew that Gary Shteyngart had a pretty interesting childhood. As Andy Borowitz explains in a review of Little Failure, the author’s new memoir, the elder Shteyngart regaled his son with “outlandish” stories, most notably “a sci-fi saga about a Jewish planet under constant attack by volleys of pork.” You can learn what the author likes to read today in his Year in Reading piece.