Recommended Viewing: 1958 footage of the unveiling of Moscow’s six-meter high monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky. And while you’re at it, read his poem, “An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage,” which features one of the best closing lines in literature.
You’re only supposed to consume oysters in months with the letter “r” in their English (and French) names. This is because oysters in the Northern hemisphere are more likely to spoil during the warmer months of May, June, July, and August. So if you can’t eat ‘em, you might as well hear about ‘em instead, right? Presenting this video of Seamus Heaney reading his poem, “Oysters” (Text here).
Having grown up in Russia, New Republic senior editor Julia Ioffe is in a uniquely good position to cover the Sochi Olympics, which is why she’s writing regular dispatches from this year’s Winter Games. On Saturday, she published a piece about one of the sadder (yet more predictable) developments of the Games: foreign journalists are bombarding gay residents of Sochi with questions and requests for interviews. (She’s also manning the magazine’s Instagram feed.)
The New York Times profiles MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates as one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. His book We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (which we have been anticipating for months) is released this Tuesday.
For Guernica, Tana Wojcznick explores the belief in populism in Shakespeare’s often-misread play Coriolanus. She writes, “Coriolanus criticizes the people he claims to want to represent not simply because they are a mob, but because as a single body they are too easily swayed in their opinion, too easily flattered.” Pair with this Millions essay on rewriting Shakespeare.
“We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate.” The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, “what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters.”