If you’re looking to smash the patriarchy and read some fantastic poetry at the same time, I have got some great reading recommendations for you.
The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.
Infinite Jest (1996), David Foster Wallace.
If you were an unmarried young woman in the Victorian age and you didn’t have a fortune of your own, working as a governess would be one of the few ways you could earn your living. They would be hired by a wealthy family to live in a house that wasn’t theirs and look after other people’s children, with no leisure time and few possessions to call their own. It was hard and often thankless work – and many of these women found themselves wishing for a way out, for something more.
Since we’re all eagerly awaiting the return of Hannibal this summer, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of books to tide you over.
It should go without saying that these books are not for the faint of heart.
Proceed with caution.
After discussing Downton Abbey and class differences in my review of the RSC’s 2014 production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the quintessential English estate in literature. They have become an object of nostalgia, a romanticised vision of a time gone by when men were gentlemen, women were ladies, and life was all beautiful gowns and dancing with handsome counts at the ball. Or was it? …No, of course not. And in a future post on the Merchant-Ivory film adaptations of the works of E.M. Forster and the heritage industry under Margaret Thatcher, I will tell you how these buildings became the chosen icon of a glorified British past and the old world order.
For now, here is an overview of some of the most famous fictional estates in British literature.
Look for the cracks in the wall.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to spend the winter holidays than curling up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and a good book? Here is a list of works to get you in the christmas spirit, ranging from familiar classics to more recent publications.
Artificial intelligence is a source of both excitement and fear for writers. Yes, we all dreamed of having our very own Iron Giant as a child, but what if our robot friend turns on us? What if he gets out of control and we can’t stop him? What if he turns on us completely? What if all that cold logic results in a lack of empathy? We fear that our creation will ultimately be our destruction, much like in Frankenstein, and that we will powerless in the face of what we ourselves have put together. In effect, we fear our own hubris and dread the day that science will finally cross that line, with no going back and no one but ourselves to blame.
…So naturally we can’t get enough of these stories!
Having covered poetry and non-fiction, we now move on to the final post in my series of World War One reading lists: fiction. These works range from barely disguised autobiographies by authors who had actually fought in the war themselves to books from a curious early 1990′s wave of well-received novels set during the Great War (if you have a good theory as to why WWI inspired so many literary classics in those years, let me know!).
The second installment in my series of World War One reading lists (see: poetry and fiction). These non-fiction works range from interviews and letters to memoirs and diaries, written by both established writers and ordinary people, trying to figure out how to live in a world that was crumbling underneath their feet.
Inspired by this year’s centenary events and wave of media attention, I have spent the last few months diving into works from the Great War and encountered some true gems along the way. It is a fascinating era where artists struggle to put unspeakable horrors into words and try to find meaning in the chaos. For everyone who wants to get into WWI literature, I have put together three reading lists with suggestions, ranging from the big names of the period to lesser known publications that I think deserve more attention. The first post in the series deals with poetry (see: non-fiction and fiction), both from the era itself and by contemporary authors looking back.