It seems fitting that the author of the first book explicitly banned in the United States should have the nickname the “Lord of Misrule.” At Atlas Obscura, Matthew Taub recounts the story of Thomas Morton, an English businessman who had a knack for riling up Puritans. “[Morton] revived forbidden old-world customs, faced off with a Puritian militia determined to quash his pagan festivals, and wound up in exile. He eventually sued and, like any savvy rabble-rouser should, got a book deal out of the whole affair. Published in 1637, his New English Canaan mounted a harsh and heretical critique of Puritan customs and power structures that went far beyond what most New English settlers could accept. So they banned it—making it likely the first book explicitly banned in what is now the United States.”
Recommended Reading: This jarring, surreal “amalgamation of three different pieces” on Hannah Arendt by Bobbi Lurie over at 3:AM Magazine. Arendt, herself a political theorist, would likely have appreciated this piece from The Millions on the life and afterlife of literary theory.
Readers of the 1960s and 70s ran into many people who worried that writers were learning from television. In 2015, the concern is slightly different — are writers taking cues from video games? At the Ploughshares blog, Matthew Burnside tackles the game-ification of books.
Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story’s insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
Didn’t get a chance to show off your Tolstoy and sexy frames at the last I Like Your Glasses: Literary Speed Dating? Don’t worry because CoverSpy and Housing Works Bookstore Cafe will be hosting another event on October 23 at the store. This time bookworms are restricted to ages 21-39. Tickets are $15 (including a free drink), but to encourage more gents, Millions men can get their tickets for $12 if they use the promotional code “MILLIONS.” Pair with: our essay on attending the first I Like Your Glasses.