“One of the most rewarding parts of reading Jane Eyre as a thirteen-year-old Midwesterner is taking a wild shot in the dark at the meaning of all of the untranslated French passages.” Mallory Ortberg at The Toast takes a shot at translating some of Jane Eyre’s trickier passages. Bonus: here are a bunch of reasons why Mr. Rochester is a creep.
The long-awaited follow-up to Yann Martel’s Booker-winner Life of Pi is out: Beatrice and Virgil. Also new, Elegy for April, a thriller by John Banville alter ego Benjamin Black; David Lipsky’s already much discussed interview with David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself; and, apparently hitting shelves ahead of its official release date, a book of philosophy by Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind.
“It is the persistent, damning mischaracterisation of Zelda as ‘insane’ that most needs undoing. The trouble lies in the diagnosis she was given in 1930: ‘schizophrenia’. While today we know it to mean severe mental illness requiring delicate and often lifelong treatment with medications, therapies, and sometimes institutionalisation, in Zelda’s time it was a catch-all label for a range of emotional difficulties.” Reexamining the life and reputation of Zelda Fitzgerald.
The last meal is a curious staple of modern executions, not least because it involves, in the words of one death-row inmate, “putting gas in a car that don’t have no motor.” At Lapham’s Quarterly, an essay on the ritual’s history, one that includes mention of famous last meals like terminally ill French President Francois Mitterrand’s final dinner of “Marennes oysters, foie gras, and two ortolan songbirds.”
Jennifer Egan recently spoke with Willing Davidson, fiction editor of The New Yorker, as part of Rewiring the Real, a yearlong series of podcasts with writers about the interplay of literature, technology and religion. Rachel Hurn, a former Millions intern, was there and noted Egan’s ambivalence towards “personal writing.” [Updated to correct the quote] “If writing necessarily meant writing about myself, then I’d rather do something else,” Egan said.
“The specter of the confessional haunts all first-person writing, and women’s writing in particular,” but perhaps “the instinct to insert [the self] comes from a place of saying, ‘I’m not an expert, I’m just a person; let me show you where I’m situated here in this thing I’m telling you about.'” Our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Meghan Daum, Lena Dunham, Leslie Jamison and the confessional impulse in nonfiction for Salon.