The archives of the British Library have been digitized, and among many other gems is this rejection of George Orwell’s Animal Farm by none other than T.S. Eliot, himself: “And after all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact, there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue), was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.”
“For our readers, time is the precious commodity they invest in every book they decide to purchase and read. But time is being ground down into smaller and smaller units, long nights of reflection replaced with fragmentary bursts of free time. It’s just harder to make time for that thousand-page novel than it used to be, and there are more and more thousand-page novels to suffer from that temporal fragmentation.” Tor.com on why novellas are the form of the future.
Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann’s Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)
Celebrate today’s arrival of John Irving’s new novel Last Night in Twisted River by seeing where it falls on Wikipedia’s John Irving recurring themes matrix. Also new today is Paul Auster’s Invisible and a new collection of Paris Review interviews (including, among others, Marilynne Robinson, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth). Speaking of Roth, his new novel The Humbling came out last week.
Learn more about Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Cao Wenxuan. “China has given us so many heartbreaking stories. How can you avoid writing about them? I can’t sacrifice my life experience in order to make children happy.” Pair with Edan Lepucki’s piece on the grown-up counterparts to children’s stories.
The Olympics Opening Ceremony this year sure was… something. Thankfully, folks more eloquent than I are here to parse its craziness for us: Jenny Diski and Rafil Kroll-Zaidi on what it was, plus Alex Shephard and the Full Stop bunch on what it should have been.