Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
Are you familiar with JT LeRoy (or rather, Savannah Knoop … or wait, Laura Albert), perpetrator of one of the greatest literary hoaxes in recent memory? Author: The JT LeRoy Story is a new documentary by Jeff Feuerzeig that asks questions about whether or not existence is predicated on real-world physicality — LeRoy’s books exist, so doesn’t LeRoy exist by association?
Gerrard Winstanley’s 1649 “The True Levellers Standard Advanced.” The True Levellers were a radical Protestant sect that founded a commune in Surrey during the English Civil War. In this rather astonishing and neglected declaration, Winstanley argues that God intended the earth to be a common treasury for all and that disparities in property and power between the rich and the poor are unholy and need to be abolished. (Billy Bragg has a song on Back to Basics called “The World Turned Upside Down” that’s based on the Diggers’ Song, also written by Winstanley.)Bookride documents the surprising desirability of W.G. Sebald books among collectors. “At one point his books were making exceptional sums on Ebay and people wanted ephemera, posters, recordings and anything to do with his legendary walk from Lowestoft to Boulge.” The Rings of Saturn is coveted in particular. Only a few hundred copies of the English first edition were printed and they mostly turn up in East Anglia.Many a freelance journalist has pondered the idea of an online marketplace for writing in recent years, one that might ease the inefficiencies and frustration of pitching articles. Attempting to fill that gap is Reporterist, a journalism marketplace. One of the founders offers up details of the project in an interview with the Online Journalism Review.
The Hunger Games raked in $155 million in its opening weekend. That makes it the highest-grossing non-sequel debut of all time. Over at Salon, Laura Miller tracks the steps that led to the blockbuster’s mammoth success.
Laila Lalami recently wrote about “How History Becomes Story,” but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that “it is your job to force your facts into narrative form.”
A striking photo of the Brontё sisters is not, in fact, a photo of the Brontё sisters. The women in the photo look a lot like them, but their hometown didn’t have much in the way of photography in the 1840s, and there isn’t any record of the Brontёs getting their photo taken. So how did the picture become known for being something it isn’t? At the LRB’s blog, Alice Spawls explains why. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki on Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester.