“After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” You’ve seen the quote on Pinterest and Tumblr, so why not dig a little deeper into Aldous Huxley’s ideas about the transcendent capabilities of music?
“Melville fell in love with the dashingly handsome older author the first time they met, and his forbidden passion drove him to create the symbol of impossible longing that now represents American literature to the rest of the world: the white whale.” On Herman Melville’s love for Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pair with a review of Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun.
Azar Nafisi thinks the best way to pin down a culture is to take a look at its canonical works of literature. In The Republic of Imagination, as Adam Begley details in a review in the Times Literary Supplement, she examines a few of America’s classic novels, including Babbitt, Huck Finn and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark’s review of the book for The Millions.
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.
This week we have new on shelves: Julie Orringer’s hotly anticipated debut novel The Invisible Bridge; Meghan Daum’s memoir of real estate addiction Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House, Private Life by Jane Smiley, and The Singer’s Gun by our own Emily St. John Mandel.