Literary Imagination
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Literary Imagination
A curatorial extravaganza of the centrality of literature in human thought, action, and creative life.
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Farewell

Farewell | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
After 16 years of stories that raised as many thoughts and ideas as animals and pets, this is the last installment of The Rural Life.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I've enjoyed this column, managing to imbibe from it a quiet sense of peace and good rhythm that comes from being connected to nature.  Thank you, Verlyn Klinkenborg.

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and Its Ties to Chelsea

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and Its Ties to Chelsea | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
A reader asks whether Clement Clarke Moore, known for a famous holiday poem, was indeed the primary developer of the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I especially love that the writer of this famous poem kept " A Visit from St. Nicholas" a secret lest it sully his repuation as a serious academic.  Oh, the secrets we keep...

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Kelmscott Press, a Thing of Iron Musculature, Is to Be Sold

Kelmscott Press, a Thing of Iron Musculature, Is to Be Sold | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The 1891 press that produced “The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer,” among other late-19th-century books, is to be auctioned by Christie’s on Friday.
Judith Robertson's insight:

There is nothing like a good old-fashioned printing press to get an artist's heart beating harder.  Well known for fostering aesthetic miracles (think of William Morris's stunning visuals), as well as psychological relief (think of Virginia Woolf type-setting for the Hogarth Press in her Meckelridge Street basement with Leonard), the printing press has served long and well, making the world a brighter and more humane place.  David Dunlap elaborates in the NYT, with reference to William Morris's massive Kelmscott Press, shortly up for auction:

 

"His monument, “The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer,” is a 556-page volume, with illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones. It was laboriously printed, two pages at a time, from 1894 to 1896 at Morris’s Kelmscott Press in the Hammersmith district of London. Each page is roughly 17 by 11 inches. Many are encircled by decorative borders with so much plant life that they are almost aromatic.

To say that the Kelmscott Chaucer is ornate is like saying that a peacock has tail feathers; true enough, but something of an understatement.

“It is intended to be essentially a work of art,” Morris declared. And so it is."

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Fascinating tales from vibrant life

Fascinating tales from vibrant life | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Cardinal Newman said not to trust a recent convert.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I am chagrined that I had not heard of Penelope Fitzgerald until reading this wonderful review of a new biography about her life, penned by the illustrious Hermione Lee.  Here's a snippet from reviewer Michael Alexander's column in The Herald Scotland:

 

"Penelope Fitzgerald's story is, then, an encouraging one, and not only for writers. Things did not go well for her in the middle of her life, which may be why her first book - a life of the painter Edward Burne-Jones - appeared only in her 60th year. Her subsequent biographies, The Knox Brothers and Charlotte Mew And Her Friends are as rich and rewarding as any novel. But as she turned more to fiction, her novels became more carefully organised, and both graver and funnier.

She writes about mismatched love and the mishaps of life, though not in a miserable spirit. She uses the economy of comedy to deal with material which involves tragic surprises. She preferred, she said, not to insult the reader by explaining too much.

Offshore won the Booker Prize in 1979, but she never had a popular readership. Only with her last and most miraculous book, The Blue Flower, did she have a hit (in the US, not the UK) and make money. Frank Kermode, AS Byatt and Julian Barnes liked her books, but the sales reps found them hard to put across. It did not help on the promotional circuit to have been born in 1916, to favour William Morris pinafores and to be a lady. Interviewers found her modest, self-deprecating, elusive; some failed to notice the intellectual steel."

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James McBride on His Novel ‘The Good Lord Bird’

James McBride on His Novel ‘The Good Lord Bird’ | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
James McBride, the surprise winner of the National Book Award for “The Good Lord Bird,” was instantly elevated to a level of literary celebrity that he has yet to enjoy throughout a long career in writing.
Judith Robertson's insight:

A new title for the ever expanding wish list.   This one moves to the top.

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Poets Remember Seamus Heaney

Poets Remember Seamus Heaney | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Paul Muldoon, Lucie Brock-Broido and Paul Simon were among those who read from Mr. Heaney’s work at Cooper Union’s Great Hall.
Judith Robertson's insight:

A proper tribute and send off for one of the mighties.

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Poetry Profiles: Copper Canyon Press

Poetry Profiles: Copper Canyon Press | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The first installment of a new series about the work of poetry publishing houses.
Judith Robertson's insight:

"Many smart people say they’re panic-stricken by poetry, as if it were an iambic migraine to be ducked. One purpose of these occasional profiles in poetry is to educate readers who might be tempted by the art, but who aren’t sure where to start. We mean to gradually create a guide to the vast archipelago of independent-press poetry publishing." (Michael Wiegers, Copper Canyon)

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Fail first, then fly high - News | The Star Online

Fail first, then fly high - News | The Star Online | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
So you’ve won the Booker Prize before you’re 30. Now, what about the rest of your career as a writer? One literary critic weighs in on peaking too early.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Nicholas Lezard from the Guardian writes that it's not good for genius to peak too early.  Well....okay.

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Monk's House, the garden that inspired Virginia Woolf - Telegraph

Monk's House, the garden that inspired Virginia Woolf - Telegraph | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Monk’s House, at Rodmell in Sussex, was cherished by the writer Virginia Woolf and offers glimpses of one of the greatest joys of her life
Judith Robertson's insight:

“I had so much of the most profound interest to write here – a dialogue of the soul with the soul – and I have let it slip – why? Because of feeding the goldfish, of looking at the new pond, of playing bowls… happiness.” (Virginia Woolf)

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Bookmarklet | Scoop.it

Bookmarklet | Scoop.it | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Shine on the web
Judith Robertson's insight:

Banksy - amazing.  S/he gives me courage and inspiration. Art + politics + integrity.  You can't beat it.

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Rescooped by Judith Robertson from Women and Art: Contextualizing women's individual artistic output within the crossings of international history, social belonging, and political intent.
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Where is the Great American Novel by a Woman? NYT, Oct. 15, 2013

Where is the Great American Novel by a Woman? NYT, Oct. 15, 2013 | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Judith Robertson's insight:

What's interesting to me (as a Canadian female writer reading this article about US novelists) is that we have so many truly talented great female writers in Canada, as Alice Munro's latest coup indicates.  Obviously, the notions of freedom and gendered voice in Canada (as in any geo-political domain) assume vastly different shades from the US ideologically, based on our distinctive histories, collective commitments, dreams and common values.  I'd like to think that Canada's fault-lines simply allow for greater expressive possibilities for women, but that may just be my biases showing through.  What do you think?

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Judith Robertson's curator insight, October 15, 2013 1:45 PM

What's interesting to me (as a Canadian woman reading this article about US novelists) is that we have so many truly talented great female writers in Canada, as Alice Munro's latest coup indicates.  Obviously, the notion of freedom in Canada (as in any geo-political domain) assumes vastly different shades ideologically, based on histories, collective commitments and common values.  I'd like to think that our fault-lines simply allow greater for greater expressive possibilities for women, but that may just be my biases showing through.  What do you think?

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Margaret Atwood, Sheila Heti, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Other Writers on Alice Munro

Margaret Atwood, Sheila Heti, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Other Writers on Alice Munro | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
We asked a number of writers what Alice Munro’s fiction has meant to them. Here’s what they said.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Some of Canada's finest writers dish on the jewels in the crown of the one and only Alice Munro.

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Frida Kahlo / Diego Rivera: Art in Fusion opens at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris

Frida Kahlo / Diego Rivera: Art in Fusion opens at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
If Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is today one of the best known and most popular figures of 20th century Mexican art, it is undoubtedly because of her perso
Judith Robertson's insight:


I wish I could be in Paris to see this exhibit.  Seeing these images of paintings by Kahlo brings back these lines: “Then there was a silence he had never before experienced: in it, you could hear the years.” ― Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

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Brazil's Most Pathetic Profession

Brazil's Most Pathetic Profession | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Being a teacher or a philosopher is pretty bad. Just don't tell anyone you're a writer.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I'm not surprised to read this analysis. Just sad.

 

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Obama’s Purple Crayon

Obama’s Purple Crayon | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
A literacy advocate says a president can learn from a beloved children’s book.
Judith Robertson's insight:

A great letter to a president.

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The Books Of 2013 - Online Exclusives

The Books Of 2013 - Online Exclusives | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Herald writers reveal what's provided their reading pleasure this year.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Many of these books have now made it onto my must read list, thanks to the persuasive annotations of these Herald Scotland writers and reviewers.

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Arnon Grunberg Is Writing While Connected to Electrodes

Arnon Grunberg Is Writing While Connected to Electrodes | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The Dutch author Arnon Grunberg, and his readers, are the subject of a study that aims to track the physiology of writing and literary appreciation.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Writer and creativity enthusiast Arnon Grunberg wants to know what happens neurologically when people write.  To this end he is conducting a scientific experiment of his own writing process, with 28 electrodes hooked up to his scalp for company.  They hurt.  They intrude.  They need to be watered in order to conduct energy.  Nevertheless, the writer is convinced that he is on to something big.  Next phase of the experiment will involved readers who are similarly connected, whilst reading Grunberg's prose.  Will similar parts of the brain light up? 

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Canada Reads 2014: Meet the Top 10 | canadareads with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio

Canada Reads 2014: Meet the Top 10 | canadareads with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
What is the one novel that could change Canada? That's the question we put to you, Canada, earlier this year. And you answered! Thousands of recommendations poured in from across the country.
Judith Robertson's insight:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's list of Canada's top 10 reads, based on surveys with Canadian readers.  I have my work cut out for me - have only read one of these picks.

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‘Want Not,’ by Jonathan Miles

‘Want Not,’ by Jonathan Miles | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
In this novel, Jonathan Miles explores varieties of waste and decay in a consumer world.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Dave Eggers reviews "Want Not" and leaves me longing to read this deeply humane and philosophically robust story of 6 characters whose lives converge narratively around questions of desire, materiality, necessity, and time.

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‘Brave Genius’ Is a Story of Science, Philosophy and Bravery in Wartime

‘Brave Genius’ Is a Story of Science, Philosophy and Bravery in Wartime | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The philosopher Albert Camus and the scientist Jacques Monod, active in the Resistance, forged a lasting and deep friendship.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I hadn't know about the electricity between men that can fire a writer (like Camus) and a scientist (like Monod) ever onwards toward symbolizing new mysteries.  Until now, and I want to read the book.

 

"Monod’s discoveries, Dr. Carroll writes, helped provide the intellectual scaffolding for understanding “one of the greatest mysteries of biology: the development of a complex creature from a single fertilized egg.” In his 1970 book “Chance and Necessity” (a best-seller in France second only to Erich Segal’s “Love Story” for much of that year), Monod explained those discoveries for a popular audience, explicitly tying them to his friend’s existential philosophy.

“Molecular biology,” Dr. Carroll writes, “had brought Monod full circle to Camus’s territory of the absurd condition — that contradiction between the human longing for meaning and the universe’s silence.”

“Chance and Necessity” took its epigraph from Camus’s “Myth of Sisyphus,” thus repaying an earlier compliment from Camus that readers of “Brave Genius” may not find at all absurd: “I have only known one true genius: Jacques Monod.”



 

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The Pure Gold Baby

The Pure Gold Baby | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
NPR coverage of The Pure Gold Baby.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Margaret Drabble treats us to another new novel, even after her recent pledge of having retired from writing.  This one opens a window on a mother-daughter relationship between an academic woman and her disabled daughter who bears the illustrious moniker of the pure gold baby. I didn't know how I was going to get through the next bit of time without reading something new from Margaret Drabble.  I am grateful for this gift of her wisdom. 

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How to Read a Novel: The 5 Best Books of Criticism, Picked by John Freeman

How to Read a Novel: The 5 Best Books of Criticism, Picked by John Freeman | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
John Freeman, the critic and former editor of Granta, knows his literary reviews—he has written for almost 200 publications around the world. He picks his favorite books of criticism for us.
Judith Robertson's insight:

John Freeman, who teachers writing at Columbia university, waxes on voice, excavation, beauty, and the marvel of artistry in argument in this lovely short list of writers who are masters of the form of essay review.

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‘The Compatibility Gene’ Offers Insights to Immunology

‘The Compatibility Gene’ Offers Insights to Immunology | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Daniel M. Davis writes with an insider’s perspective, not only on how our immune systems do and don’t work, but also on the scientists who study them.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I love the idea that our immune system talks to our neurons, and that a lethargic immune system is as problematic as a hyped up one.  Also that the immune system is at work in mate choices, and that famous immunologists have some pretty poignant behaviours: like the scientist who wrote his wife weekly letters for years after her demise.  It probably boosted his immune system, as only he could have known best.

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Canada’s new architecture school: Inspired by nature to fuel a northern spirit

Canada’s new architecture school: Inspired by nature to fuel a northern spirit | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Canada’s first new architecture school in 40 years aims to be a vital ‘hinge’ between Laurentian University and the city of Sudbury
Judith Robertson's insight:

Although this is a visual arts story, my motivation for the scoop comes from the spirit of land, memory, and creative vision that underlies the project to create a new architecture school honouring the North.  One has only to think about what Zena Cobb has achieved on the remote Fogo Island off the coast of Newfoundland to know that if a dynamic temporal and spatial integrity is brought to the study and creation of buildings, the results can be timeless, diverse, aesthetically pleasing, and environmentally sustainable. I am thrilled to learn about Canada's new architecture school in Sudbury.

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Alice Munro: Excerpts From Her Work

Selections from the work of Ms. Munro, who was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.
Judith Robertson's insight:

She is the best!  I had many moments of deep revelation working with her short stories as an English Education professor in teacher education.  We could never quite get to the kernel of her genius, even though it was perfectly obvious on every page, saturating the thoughts and unthoughts of every character. Her short story "The Runaway" is a perfectly executed, uncanny unfolding of difficult daughter mother relations, definitely meeting the high bar for goose-bumps.  I feel such deep joy and pride for Canada's new Nobel Prize Laureate.

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