Sam Jordison asks us how Heller’s Catch-22 became a bestseller. “Yossarian’s kept a lasting grip on our collective psyche; he’s the ultimate moral rebel. To object to him would be to put yourself on the side of stuffed shirts, those who kill for profit and in the name of absurd patriotism.”
Thanks to recent advancements in digital scanning technology, it looks like the Herculaneum scrolls will be made legible after some two thousand years. The new technique allows for close study of the scrolls without causing irreparable damage to the papyrus via exposure to the moisture in the air, an issue which had dogged scholars for centuries. If the impermanence and tenuousness of writing is more your speed, here’s a bit on Twitter, instead.
Despite recently winning the Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson writes a list of his favorite novels about failure for the WSJ: “This category is, of necessity, a crowded one. Novelists are drawn to failure. Those who prosper, or expect to prosper, in the world as it is have no need to re-imagine it.”