Victor Hugo, when asked about the other parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that aren’t the widely-read Inferno, had this to say: “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.” Ouch. Is this why so many of us haven’t even read Dante, despite his being a kind of cultural icon?
To get a full sense of the legacy of William Blake, you need to see his paintings alongside his famous poems. The Wordsworth contemporary did much of his best work — including the covers of his own collections — with a brush. At the New York Review of Books blog, Jenny Uglow pays a visit to a new exhibition at Oxford.
Now this is the kind of fellowship an author can really get behind: The Standard, East Village, has teamed up with The Paris Review to offer a free hotel room to a writer in need of “three weeks of solitude in downtown New York City.” The deadline for applications is November 1. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. Of course the fellowship will conclude with a swank cocktail party.
A couple weeks ago, Brian Ted Jones reviewed The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which “takes place on the margins of a grand, cosmic struggle.” Not long afterwards, at The Rumpus, Woody Brown offered a somewhat negative take on the book, arguing that Mitchell makes it too difficult for the reader to suspend her disbelief. You could also read Brown’s Millions review of Haruki Murakami’s new novel.
“We don’t have to look at Iraq for an analogue to Missouri,” writes Elif Batuman. “We can look instead at Missouri, or elsewhere in the United States.” Indeed for many ordinary Americans, as Jabari Asim echoes in his poem inspired by the recent events in Ferguson, “It’s more than time we had that talk / about what to say and where to walk, / how to act and how to strive, / how to be upright and stay alive.”
From The Things They Carried to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, veteran literary fiction has always been popular, yet women are almost nowhere to be found in war literature. At The New York Times, Cara Hoffman argues that leaving women out of combat literature makes returning from war even more isolating. “They would be made visible if we could read stories that would allow us to understand that women kill in combat and lose friends and long to see their children and partners at home.”