Though it’s still taught in classrooms and studied by scholars to this day, Virgil’s Aeneid is less popular among readers than Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Mark Robinson makes a case for the Roman epic in a vivid animated video featured in Open Culture. “The Aeneid is a foundational epic in the Western literary tradition because of Virgil’s undeniable poetic skill in adapting classical Greek forms into Latin, and because of its influence on hundreds of poets and writers for hundreds of years after. […] Maybe the poem has also ‘survived to ask questions about the nature of power and authority ever since’ it was first published, to instant acclaim, in 19 BC.”
It’s hard to get a better glimpse of the postwar white male American writer than the essays of William Styron. In My Generation, a new book of collected nonfiction, Styron writes about a raft of his contemporaries, including but not limited to Philip Roth, James Baldwin and Truman Capote. In the NYT, Charles Johnson reviews the collection. You could also read Alexander Nazaryan on a book by Styron’s daughter.
“The clash of genre values is fundamental to the novelistic experience. That’s how we ought to be thinking about our books. Instead of asking whether a comic book could be “as valuable” as King Lear, we ought to ask how the values of tragedy and romance might collide.” Joshua Rothman writes about the coming “collapse of the genre system” and our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s National Book Award short-listed Station Eleven for The New Yorker.
Over at The Atlantic, Lydia Millet argues for the power and legitimacy of The Lorax’s moral message. Millet believes that the heavy-handedness of activist-minded fiction like The Lorax is powerful partly due to “its shamelessness. It pulls no punches; it wears its teacher heart on its sleeve.”