For the Guardian, Lulah Ellender reflects on her own (imagined) literary rivalries and looks at famous competitive pairs throughout history, including Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote, and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield. “In classical stories of rivalry, revenge is enacted violently, often ending with a morally justified death. In the literary world things don’t usually get that far,” Ellender notes, “though Richard Ford shot a hole through one of Alice Hoffman’s books after she gave him a bad review, and Marcel Proust and Jean Lorrain had an actual duel.”
“Some of the most impassioned conversation in the literary world has been devoted to highlighting what it lacks: voices of people of color, of gays and lesbians, of those marginalized or oppressed or simply ignored. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice this conversation focuses on race and gender while paying less attention to a demographic category that’s arguably just as determinative: class.” Adam Fleming Petty on the marginalization of working class lit.
“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Charles Dickens wrote about opium smoking in their novels. But if you read the way they describe opium smoking, without a doubt these people never saw the real thing. It’s laughable…What we see in movies, even to this day, with the obligatory London opium-smoking scene is complete fiction.” Interview with a modern-day opium addict.
In her new book, Hard-Core Romance, Eva Illouz has published the first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey. The critically-panned Fifty Shades trilogy, originally a Twilight fan fiction, has sold 32 million copies in the US so far. At The New Republic, William Giraldi seizes the opportunity for a brutal send-up of author E. L. James and the “dreck” she represents. “At least people are reading,” he writes, “You’ve no doubt heard that before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people are eating.” Pair with The Millions’ essay on literary predecessors in published fan fiction.
The Toast has compiled a list of 18th century book titles and they’re almost funny enough to make us wish people still wrote books like them. Standout titles include Astonishment!!!, The History Of A Dog. Written By Himself, And Published By A Gentleman Of His Acquaintance. Translated From The French., and the mysterious The Polish Bandit; Or, Who Is My Bride?