“Macbeth has a twist that sets it apart from every other Shakespearean tragedy: Macbeth murders his voice. Mad with fear that Banquo’s heirs will seize the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed. After that, our antihero is on his own. There is no one left to verify what is real and what is not … When Macbeth’s voice dies, everything else disappears, too. Macbeth is alone.” This excerpt from Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare touches on everything from sexuality in Singapore to The O.C. fan-fiction.
A couple weeks ago, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll argued in a Salon piece that David Foster Wallace, who wrote an essay about the television and irony back in the early ‘90s, presciently diagnosed the danger of snark in our own age. Now Peter Finocchiaro, a senior editor at Salon, argues instead that we need irony more than we ever have. You could also read A-J Aronstein’s notes from the DFW Symposium.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
HTMLGiant is running a cool series of interviews with readers who recently finished long or difficult books. Check out their takes on Lee Child’s Echo Burning, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and William Gaddis’s The Recognitions over here, here, and here, respectively. Also, while on the topic of difficult books, check out Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg’s round-up of their ten top picks.