Most people know Alexandre Dumas for his classics (usually assigned as required reading for class) The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, but fewer people are aware of what he considered his masterwork: Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine. This giant tome was part memoir, part encyclopedia, part cookbook. Rohini Chaki at Atlas Obscura describes the project as “more than a cookbook. Dumas meant it to be a formidable inquiry into both gustation and gastronomy, utilized by enthusiasts and culinary professionals alike.”
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
According to a new biography of Richard Pryor, the legendary comedian kicked off his career as a teen in Peoria, Illinois, when he starred in a play based on Rumpelstiltskin and “broke the other kids up.” At The Nervous Breakdown, nine choice passages from the book.