“How had no one ever told me about (Othello‘s) Emilia, who, in only a couple of lines, brings down one of the most conniving, merciless villains in all of Western literature? How had no one told me about this fantastic female character who defies not one but two sword-wielding men in order to make sure Desdemona, her mistress and friend, receives justice? I wanted to rip up my diploma. I wanted to start over as a freshman and devote my entire undergraduate career to the Gospel of Emilia.” On Othello’s Emilia and her refusal to be silenced.
"I wish all this telling women alcohol is dangerous was a manifestation of a country that loves babies so much it’s all over lead contamination from New Orleans to Baltimore to Flint and the lousy nitrate-contaminated water of Iowa and carcinogenic pesticides and the links between sugary junk food and juvenile diabetes and the need for universal access to healthcare and daycare and good and adequate food. You know it’s not. It’s just about hating on women. Hating on women requires narratives that make men vanish and make women magicians producing babies out of thin air and dissolute habits." Rebecca Solnit on the passive voice, mysterious pregnancies, disappearing men, and the Center for Disease Control. Pair with this Millions review of Solnit’s book The Faraway Nearby.
The cuddle trumps sodomy! At The New York Times, the controversial post-feminist Katie Roiphe explores the difference between the descriptions of sex in the last generation of American male novelists (Philip Roth, John Updike, Norman Mailer) and the current generation (David Foster Wallace, Benjamin Kunkel, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer).
I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story "River So Close": “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.
Last Tuesday, I wrote about an article in the Literary Review that shed light on the daughters of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Now, in the LRB, Tim Parks reviews a new biography of the children of Charles Dickens. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Mr. Parks’s new book.)
The Guardian asked: what childhood reads inspired authors like Margaret Atwood, Sue Townsend and Doris Lessing?