To be or not to be, that is the question about British politician Boris Johnson’s long-awaited biography of Shakespeare, Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius. Initially slated for release this October, publisher Hodder & Stoughton has just announced that — amid reports of last-minute, desperate pleas for help from prominent Shakespeare scholars — the book has been put on ice indefinitely.
“What we call them is entirely irrelevant: emigrants, migrants, refugees, exiles—we all know to whom we refer. Refugeedom is our common cultural meme. It is the story with which Christian civilization begins. We bear the imprint of the furious index finger God used to banish Adam and Eve from Eden.” Dubravka Ugrešić writes about displacement and the refugee crisis for the Literary Hub. Pair with Arnon Grunberg's Millions essay on Ugrešić’s legacy.
To get a full sense of the legacy of William Blake, you need to see his paintings alongside his famous poems. The Wordsworth contemporary did much of his best work -- including the covers of his own collections -- with a brush. At the New York Review of Books blog, Jenny Uglow pays a visit to a new exhibition at Oxford.
“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it's too interior or there's not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don't know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, "Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?"
“I lived alone for three years in Brooklyn, paying $1,700 a month ($61,200 all told) for a pretty but small one-bedroom within eyeshot of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway. I also spent $400 a month on health insurance. At one point I thought I would find another full-time job after finishing the book, but then I must have convinced myself that teaching yoga part time would better enable my writing.” Emily Gould on poverty and the writing life.