Essays on Literature
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Essays on Literature
A selection of essays on literature available online
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View of Delft (1660) By Johannes Vermeer

View of Delft (1660) By Johannes Vermeer | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

There are works in which a single detail steals the show. Leonardo's Mona Lisa is famous for that smile. Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam is famous for those hands. And Vermeer's View of Delft – well, not quite so famous. But among readers of Proust, at least, the painting can't be recalled without a mention of one particular bit.

 

 

(Also, for and expanded view of the "Le petit pan de mur jaune...", clik here: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/proust/proust.html)

 

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10 Contemporary American Essayists You Should Be Reading Right Now - Flavorwire

10 Contemporary American Essayists You Should Be Reading Right Now - Flavorwire | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

Today marks the release of celebrated novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson’s newest collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books. We’ve been excited about this book for a while now, so if you’ve been reading our books coverage with any regularity you probably already know we think it’s something worth picking up. Great as it is, Robinson’s collection only whet our appetites for more essays by contemporary writers, so in case it does the same for you, we’ve put together a list of contemporary essayists we think everyone should be reading right now (or, you know, whenever you finish watching Downton Abbey). We’ve tried to stick to authors who are still alive — so David Foster Wallace and Christopher Hitchens are off the table, though they both would have made this list with flying colors were they still with us — and limited ourselves to American writers, but even with those caveats, there is enough in these writers’ oeuvres to keep you up and thinking for weeks on end

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The Book Bench: Worst College Essays 1989

The Book Bench: Worst College Essays 1989 | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it
Looking back, I can’t help wishing that I had spent more of my seemingly infinite free time reading actual books, instead of books that denied the existence of books.

Read more of Alex Ross' essay.

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http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/when-to-stop-working-on-your-novel_b39762 - Summify

Before publishing his new novel Mule, novelist Tony D’Souza made the toughest decision a writer ever has to make. He stopped working on a novel after years of work and started from scratch with a new book.

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An Academic Author’s Unintentional Masterpiece

An Academic Author’s Unintentional Masterpiece | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it
Michael Fried’s genius is to manage to tell you what he is not doing, what he has not done and what he is not going to do.
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Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms - By George Saunders

Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms - By George Saunders | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

"Let us consider Daniil Kharms, the Russian writer often described as an absurdist, largely unpublished in his lifetime except for his children’s books, who starved to death in the psychiatric ward of a Soviet hospital during the siege of Leningrad, having been put there by the Stalinist government for, among other reasons, his general strangeness. Kharms gave flamboyant poetry readings from the top of an armoire, did performance art on the Nevsky Prospect — by, for example, lying down on it, sometimes dressed as Sherlock Holmes — and was a founder of the Union of Real Art, an avant-garde group also known as Oberiu. His brilliant, hilarious, violent little stories, written “for the drawer,” are now being discovered in the West through translations by Neil Cornwell (collected in “Incidences”) and by Matvei Yankelevich, whose anthology “Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms” (Overlook, $29.95) has just been published."

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Two Paths for the Novel by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books

Two Paths for the Novel by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

"From two recent novels, a story emerges about the future for the Anglophone novel. Both are the result of long journeys. Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill, took seven years to write; Remainder, by Tom McCarthy, took seven years to find a mainstream publisher. The two novels are antipodal—indeed one is the strong refusal of the other. The violence of the rejection Remainder represents to a novel like Netherland is, in part, a function of our ailing literary culture. All novels attempt to cut neural routes through the brain, to convince us that down this road the true future of the novel lies. In healthy times, we cut multiple roads, allowing for the possibility of a Jean Genet as surely as a Graham Greene."

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Poets and Money by Charles Simic | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Poets and Money by Charles Simic | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

"In a country that now regards money as the highest good, doing something for the love of it is not just odd, but downright perverse. Imagine the horror and anger felt by parents of a son or daughter who was destined for the Harvard Business School and a career in finance but discovered an interest in poetry instead. Imagine their enticing descriptions of the future riches and power awaiting their child while trying to make him or her reconsider the decision. “Who has recognized you as a poet? Who has enrolled you in the ranks of poets?,” the trial judge shouted at the Russian poet Josef Brodsky, before sentencing him to five years of hard labor. “No one,” Brodsky replied. He could have been speaking for all the sons and daughters who had to face their parents’ wrath."

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Great American Losers by Elaine Blair | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Great American Losers by Elaine Blair | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

In American novels, we have a tacit set of conventions for writing about romantic losers. Houellebecq squarely violates them. This is one reason that The Elementary Particles (2000), his first novel published in the US, seemed (to some) so exciting and revelatory or (to others) completely repellent. We American readers immediately notice that he is covering familiar territory, but in a crucially different way from our own youngish novelists.

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The Millions : How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Write ‘The Marriage Plot’

The Millions : How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Write ‘The Marriage Plot’ | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

Appropriately, The Marriage Plot arose from an act of literary adultery. In the late 90s, during an impasse in the writing of Middlesex, I put the manuscript aside. (I hadn’t fallen out of love, exactly, but I wasn’t sure where the relationship was headed.) Over the following weeks I began flirting with another novel, not a comic epic like Middlesex but a more traditional story about a wealthy family throwing a debutante party. At first, the new novel seemed to be everything I was looking for.

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Just Kids

Just Kids | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it
Jeffrey Eugenides insists his new novel is not a roman à clef. But it might have been: The writers of his generation had youths tangled enough for ten novels.
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Does the Novel Have a Future? The Answer Is In This Essay!

Does the Novel Have a Future? The Answer Is In This Essay! | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

A certain literary discourse, about what others should or shouldn’t be doing with their art, will probably always exist as a distraction from writing novels. I discerned this afresh while studying said discourse for my addition, arguably, in terms of “the future of the novel,” to the discourse. My addition–herein, itself a distraction from the composition of my third novel–summarizes part of the discourse I’ve studied, then asks, “What different kinds of novels actually exist?” and “What, then, is the future of the novel?” and can be read, in entirety, as an effort, while distracted, to encourage myself (by first discerning what exists in the absence of distractions and if I desire that) to be less distracted in the future.

 

Tao Lin

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James Wood writes about Tolstoy's War and Peace

James Wood writes about Tolstoy's War and Peace | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

“Alive, and very much so,” Tolstoy’s diary entry for November 19, 1889, begins. That is how it feels to be caught up in the bright sweep of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”: alive, and very much so. It is to succumb to the contagion of vitality. As his characters infect each other with the high temperature of their existence, so they infect us. Count Rostov dances the Daniel Cooper at a ball, and “all who were in the ballroom looked with smiles of joy at the merry old man."

 

Read James Wood 2007's essay published on the New Yorker online.

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Paris Review - The Empty Room, Jonathan Lethem

Paris Review - The Empty Room, Jonathan Lethem | Essays on Literature | Scoop.it

"Earliest memory: father tripping on strewn toys, hopping with toe outraged, mother’s rolling eyes. For my father had toys himself. He once brought a traffic light home to our apartment on the thirty-somethingth floor of the tower on Columbus Avenue. The light, its taxi yellow gone matte from pendulum-years above some polluted intersection and crackled like a Ming vase’s glaze where bolts had been overtightened and then eased, sat to one side of the coffee table it was meant to replace as soon as my father found an ­appropriate top. In fact, the traffic light would follow us up the Hudson, to Darby, to the house with the empty room. There it never escaped the garage."

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