June 22, 2010

The News on Tues

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Oxford so don't be surprised if my posts are a little less frequent than usual for the next two weeks. You can always count on regular Tuesday updates, though.
  • Nobel laureate José Saramago died.
  • Joshua Cohen, author of Witz, lists 12 novels often considered to be the Ulysses of their respective countries, including Past Continuous, which I have discussed at length on this blog. Under the Volcano, however, is not on the list, probably because it is difficult to link it to a specific country (taking place in Mexico and providing a stunning image of the country, but written in English, with a British Consul as the protagonist, and written by a British writer that Canadians often like to claim as their own).
  • You should turn to this week's New Yorker if you wish to know what Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens discuss over dinner, or what some famous writers wrote in the margins of books they've read. Not included among them is Flannery O'Connor's scribble in the margins of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - "Awful. I wouldn't read this book." (Written when she was 12).
  • "Somewhere a dog barked" may be the most commonly used cliché in literature.
  • Authorities in Moscow are concerned that the recently opened Dostoyevskaya metro station might attract suicidal readers influenced with the great writer's works. The station is decorated with grey and black mosaics depicting scenes from Dostoevsky's best-known novels:
One controversial mural re-enacts the moment when the main character in the novel Crime and Punishment murders an elderly pawnbroker and her sister with an axe. Another shows a suicide-obsessed character in Dostoevsky's novel The Demons holding a pistol to his temple. If that was not enough to darken the mood, shadowlike characters are shown flitting across the cavernous new station's walls and a giant mosaic of a depressed-looking Dostoevsky stares out at passengers.
  • Michael Levenson tries to rescue E. M. Forster from being viewed through the single lens of his homosexuality. 
  • Only Words to Play With has yet another wonderful essay on Russian literature, this time discussing Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls.

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