Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story’s insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
In November, Matt Kish will write a series of guest posts for Tin House’s Open Bar Blog. He’ll be “exploring some of the ideas and processes behind five of [his] Heart of Darkness illustrations.” Over on his personal blog, however, he’s asking for readers to help him select which five pieces he should discuss. Kish, who has previously illustrated the pages of Moby Dick, was recently mentioned in our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
Shakespeare conspiracy theorists might still wonder who the real playwright was, but we do know what he would’ve sounded like. Linguist David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal, demonstrate the original pronunciation of the Bard’s best. Bonus: An interview with Ben on the research behind the pronunciation.
“One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.” Salon looks at what Amazon, the Penguin-Random House merger, and the imposition of capitalism to culture might mean for literature at large.
“Rather than presenting a single, definitive story—an ostensibly objective chronicle of events—these books offer a past of competing perspectives, of multiple voices. They are not so much historical as archival: instead of giving us the imagined experience of an event, they offer the ambiguous traces that such events leave behind.” On the role of realist historical fictions.