It seems like we’re always directing you to Shakespeare-related literary curiosities, but that’s just because there are so many of them! Head over to Electric Literature and watch as some of the Bard’s more famous plays get a beautiful new redesign.
On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. Also, Franz Kafka went swimming. Moreover, the Metamorphosis author mentioned both events in his diary, writing simply and strangely that “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Was this odd phrasing intentional or a sign of the author’s self-absorption? In an article for Open Letters Monthly, Robert Minto reads all three volumes of Reiner Stach’s new biography.
Did David Foster Wallace predict our anxiety over selfies? At The Wire, Danielle Wiener-Bronner argues that Wallace was prescient in Infinite Jest. Although videophony, his concept of video-chatting, isn’t the same thing as a selfie, the paranoia over looking good is strikingly current. “This sort of appearance check was no more resistible than a mirror. But the experience proved almost universally horrifying. People were horrified at how their own faces appeared on a TP screen.”
In response to the Bookends question, “What is the Best Portrayal of a Marriage in Literature?,” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes movingly about the poetry of Jack Gilbert and concludes that “this is marriage: not knowing one’s wife but constantly relearning her, not possessing her but rediscovering her, constantly finding a new beloved within the already familiar spouse.” For a slightly different perspective on marriage in literature, look no further than our own Matt Seidel‘s “Survey of Literature’s Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals.”
In 1913, Ambrose Bierce, at the age of seventy-one, rode a horse from California to Mexico, where he planned to cover the ongoing Revolutionary War. At some point, he disappeared and died, though accounts vary as to what exactly killed him. At The Paris Review Daily, Forrest Gander recounts the many deaths of the Devil’s Dictionary author, which include a public burning, death by disease and executions at the hands of Mexican soldiers.