Doppelgängers ran rampart in literature long before the Internet made identity theft a daily occurrence. For the Guardian, Laurence Scott recounts the best books featuring doppelgängers, from Shakespeare to Agatha Christie and Philip Roth to Joanna Kavenna. “There are many ways to steal a face, and not all of them rely on the supernatural,” Scott writes. “The string of murderous misadventures in Patricia Highsmith’s 1950s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley depend on Ripley’s ability to impersonate the privileged Dickie Greenleaf. Here, a lack of technology perpetuates the hoax. In a world before it was possible to verify someone’s identity online, a passing resemblance to Greenleaf’s passport photo and a knack with signatures allow Ripley to draw money from his account and take over the dead man’s life.”
“Every evening we spent an hour and a half in the drawing-room, and, as far back as I can remember, he found some way of amusing us himself…many of the great English poems now seem to me inseparable from my father; I hear in them not only his voice, but in some sort his teaching and belief,” Virginia Woolf wrote of her father for his biographer, but who was Leslie Stephen, exactly?
What happens when you put one of the biggest literary egos together with music’s biggest ego? A movie. Bret Easton Ellis is working with Kanye West on a film. “He came and asked me to write the film,” Ellis told Vice. “I didn’t want to at first. Then I listened to Yeezus…I thought, regardless of whether I’m right for this project, I want to work with whoever made this.” This is an interesting pairing because Kanye definitely isn’t a reader.
“Our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix,” the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris. On how Voltaire outsmarted one of the earliest lotteries and made a fortune. Also check out how Goethe became an amateur auction theorist.
“Books can be dangerous objects–under their influence people start to wonder, dream, and think.” In “celebration” of Banned Book Week, the New York Public Library has a quiz for you to find out how much you know about the freedom to read. See also our tribute to The Bluest Eye, one of the United States’ most challenged books.
Jonathan Franzen spent the first half of his life thinking about literature, now he plans to devote the other half to birds. It looks like Freedom is becoming reality as he puts on his bird-watching binoculars again to discuss the “appalling” songbird hunting in the Mediterranean for National Geographic.