If you find yourself rereading Virginia Woolf‘s Mrs. Dalloway while in lockdown, you’re not alone. For The New Yorker, Evan Kindley examines why the novel acts as a balm for anxious readers. “At a time when our most ordinary acts—shopping,” Kindley writes, “taking a walk—have come to seem momentous, a matter of life or death, Clarissa’s vision of everyday shopping as a high-stakes adventure resonates in a peculiar way. We are all Mrs. Dalloway now.”
The VQR‘s last issue, “The Soviet Ghost,” was one of the most heart-wrenching reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. Now it’s got a series of video interviews with Chernobyl workers to seriously depress (and also greatly inform) you all over again.
Lots of publications — The Millions included — have tackled the differences between reading e-books and physical books. It’s hard to know just what these differences mean for the future of literature. In the Chicago Tribune, John Warner proposes a novel argument (registration required) for why physical books will live on.
Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist’s chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)