Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, died today at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his publisher. Pirsig’s work explored a system of thought called the “Metaphysics of Quality,” which has been defined as “a thesis that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought.”
A while back, I linked to a contentious letter between Saul Bellow and Jack Ludwig, written not long after Bellow found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife. Now, here’s a (somewhat) less angry piece of correspondence, sent from Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym. Sample quote: “Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy?”
In every country except France, the copyright for The Little Prince expired at the end of last year, which explains why Turkish publishers chose the first two weeks of January to publish a huge number of new translations of the book. At the LRB blog, Millions contributor Kaya Genc writes about the flood of new editions, remarking on the significance of a passage about a Turkish astronomer.
Recommended Listening: Part One of Jhumpa Lahiri’s conversation with Paul Holdengraber at Lit Hub. “You know, tell me about something I don’t know. Tell me about a musician I’ve never heard of. Tell me about a poet I should be reading. Tell me something about the world, a situation that someone can explain to me in more detail.”
If your interest in Siri Hustvedt’s work was piqued by Hannah Gersen’s review of The Blazing World this week, then you’ll be thrilled to learn that the Kindle version of Hustvedt’s earlier novel, Summer Without Men, is available through 4/8 for the low, low price of $3.99.
This one is for all you antiquarians out there. The oldest known draft of the most widely read work in all of English literature, the King James Bible, has been discovered in the archives at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge. William Shakespeare’s books have also sold a ton of copies, and here’s an essay from The Millions that imagines him as a kind of God, Himself.