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11 Most Evil Characters in Books - Publishers Weekly

11 Most Evil Characters in Books - Publishers Weekly | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
11 Most Evil Characters in Books
Publishers Weekly
Koren Zailckas's Mother, Mother is the kind of book that keeps you up at night, and it features a mother to rival Medea or Mrs. Bates. Zailckas picked 11 of her favorite evil characters.

. . .

If we recognize Evil at all, it’s usually only in retrospect, after the things we cherish have been contaminated, our energies have been depleted, our sense of self has been swapped out for paralyzing self-doubt. In the words of Zbigniew Herbert, “the proof of the existence of the monster is in its victims.” Evil blankets things in a fog of confusion, wounding you long before you feel the first painful twinges, robbing you years before you think to lock your valuables away.

 

These 11 baddies from books have a lot to teach us about Evil’s motivations and methodology.

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Book Lovers Will Adore These Neat New Maps - The Atlantic Cities

Book Lovers Will Adore These Neat New Maps - The Atlantic Cities | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Atlantic Cities

Book Lovers Will Adore These Neat New Maps

 

I was excited to come across a couple of mapping projects, linked via Google Maps Mania, that are doing a much more comprehensive job than I am of plotting the literal bookmarks (literature landmarks?) between reading and place.

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'Think About Characters Like a Sphere': How John Cheever Wrote Inner Turmoil - The Atlantic

'Think About Characters Like a Sphere': How John Cheever Wrote Inner Turmoil - The Atlantic | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Atlantic
'Think About Characters Like a Sphere': How John Cheever Wrote Inner Turmoil

 

Novelist Paul Harding explains what Cheever's short story "The Jewels of the Cabots" taught him about portraying humans' contradictory impulses.

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Rereading: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré - The Guardian

Rereading: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré - The Guardian | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Guardian
Rereading: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré

 

And yet, and perhaps this is the first remarkable comment to make about The Spy, its cynicism is resolutely de nos jours. One forgets just how unsparing the book is, how the picture it paints of human motivations, human duplicities, human frailty seems presciently aware of all that we have learned and unlearned in the intervening decades. The world was, on the surface, a more innocent, more straightforward place in the early 1960s: there were good guys and bad guys and they were easy to spot. One of the shock effects of reading The Spy when it was published must have been the near-nihilism of its message. It is unremittingly dark – or almost so – and this fact, I believe, lies at the root of its greatness.

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Reading Nadine Gordimer through ' My Father Leaves Home' - AOL

Reading Nadine Gordimer through ' My Father Leaves Home' - AOL | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Reading Nadine Gordimer through ' My Father Leaves Home'
AOL

 

Nadine Gordimer is a white South-African writer and political activist. She is most well renowned for being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991.

Having been born and raised in South Africa, the very seat of apartheid, her works deal with the "moral and psychological tensions of her racially divided home country". Not only was her literature instrumental in speaking out against the racial discrimination and political oppression prevalent in South Africa but she also played an active role in the anti-apartheid movement and was a member of the African National Congress.

Gordimer's literary works and her political work cannot be seen separately as they are interdependent. When the Royal Swedish Academy announced Gordimer's prize, it said, "Gordimer writes with intense immediacy about the extremely complicated personal and social relationships in her environment."

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Re-read those books from high school - Daily Sundial

Re-read those books from high school - Daily Sundial | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Daily Sundial

Re-read those books from high school

 

For me, throughout middle school and high school studying assiduously and reading the material assigned certainly was not on the top of my priority list; however, I do realize that this is rather common for many of us during such an uncanny time. After all, anybody who has taken a basic human development course can attest that our brains are far from being fully developed at that age. In addition, with a plethora of physiological, psychological, and behavioral changes taking place during adolescence, it is rather difficult to digest the information that is forced upon us. Hence, this is precisely why I vehemently suggest that each and every person revisit the classics our nation has at our disposal, many of which were assigned to us in high school.

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Toronto Film Review: 'Third Person' - Variety

Toronto Film Review: 'Third Person' - Variety | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Toronto Film Review: 'Third Person'
Variety

 

Paul Haggis examines his own storytelling methods in “Third Person,” an ambitious puzzle-movie in which couples in three interlocking stories reveal different facets of a single psyche — namely, the author’s. With segments set in Paris, Rome and New York, this tony contempo romance serves as a “Crash” course in complex modern relationships, focusing primarily on issues of guilt and trust as they relate to love. Though virtually every twist on this emotional roller coaster feels preordained by its architect, the director leaves certain mysteries for the audience to interpret, making for a more open-ended and mature work all around. It’s hearty fare by arthouse standards, and should perform well with thinking auds the world over, boosted by a starry cast.

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Are ladies of literature secret clotheshorses? - Los Angeles Times

Are ladies of literature secret clotheshorses? - Los Angeles Times | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Are ladies of literature secret clotheshorses?
Los Angeles Times

 

Some of the most dynamic female writers today are turning their attention to clothes. Is it the secret influence of Fashion Week? Have clothes been on their minds all along?

. . .

In Sheila Heti’s “How Should A Person Be?” a yellow dress balloons into conflict between the two main characters; the intimate nature of clothing can reveal something to readers about characters, and their circumstances. Now Heti, along with novelist Heidi Julavits and writer and artist Leanne Shapton (“Swimming Studies"), are editing the anthology "Women in Clothes," to be released next fall. It will feature essays on getting dressed from Miranda July, Zadie Smith and other writers. Beginning next spring, the project will also host an online forum for readers to engage each other with the ideas that the book will explore.

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Tolstoy and the Lesson of the Artist - New Statesman

Tolstoy and the Lesson of the Artist - New Statesman | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Tolstoy and the Lesson of the Artist

New Statesman

 

In 1928, Robert Morss Lovett marked Tolstoy's centenary in the New Republic with this essay exploring the existential questions that haunted the author throughout his life.
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Searching For Jews in British Children's Literature Beyond the Stereotypes - Jewish Daily Forward

Searching For Jews in British Children's Literature Beyond the Stereotypes - Jewish Daily Forward | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Jewish Daily Forward

Searching For Jews in British Children's Literature Beyond the Stereotypes

 

American book mavens who have delighted in growing up reading works by zesty authors who have a strong sense of Jewish identity, such as E. L. Konigsburg and Maurice Sendak, should be aware that readers in other countries are not so lucky. Madelyn Travis, author of “Jews and Jewishness in British Children’s Literature,”is a “secular Jewish New Yorker living in London,” where she is an associate research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. Interviewing noted contemporary Jewish authors for children, Travis was surprised to find them few, as well as somewhat ambivalent about questions of identity. Leon Rosselson, born in 1934 to a family of Russian Jewish refugees, is an English folksong writer and children’s book author. His 2004 book “Home Is a Place Called Nowhere” analyzes the refugee experience. Yet when asked by Travis to define today’s British Jewish sensibility in his books, Rosselson found the question unexpectedly challenging, replying: “If you’re religious, there’s no problem. If you’re not, what? A few Yiddish phrases and maybe fasting on Yom Kippur do not Jewish characters make. So in what would the ‘Jewishness’ of Jewish characters consist?”

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Let Us No Longer Be 'Intimate' with Our Novelists - The Atlantic Wire

Let Us No Longer Be 'Intimate' with Our Novelists - The Atlantic Wire | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Atlantic Wire

Let Us No Longer Be 'Intimate' with Our Novelists

 

After all, how can a novel be anything but intimate? The act of reading is, almost by definition, an act of intimacy between a reader and writer, an exchange of intellectual fluids. As such, James Joyce's Dublin in Ulysses is intimate, even at it most crowded, cacophonous and inscrutable. The same for the London of Zadie Smith, the ruthless England of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Intimacy, in the end, is just the transmission of insight from one mind to another mind.


But that's not how the word is used today. "Intimate," as I understand its usage in contemporary criticism, means "small."

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He wrote Cloud Atlas. Now he's rewriting our grasp of autism - The Globe and Mail

He wrote Cloud Atlas. Now he's rewriting our grasp of autism - The Globe and Mail | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

He wrote Cloud Atlas. Now he's rewriting our grasp of autism
The Globe and Mail

 

Mitchell prefers to see autism as a “constellation of positions” that change over the course of a lifetime, or even a single day. His own son, he says, can quickly shift from seeming “profoundly challenged” to analyzing clues, like Sherlock Holmes, in an effort to find out where, say, the chocolate cookies are hidden. The space in between those extremes is where the autistic child lives, and it is a space Higashida’s book has helped Mitchell to inhabit – or at least realistically imagine.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

David Mitchell has written an English version of a book written by a Japanese boy with autism.

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50 greatest villains in literature - Telegraph

50 greatest villains in literature - Telegraph | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Iago, Quilp, Mrs Coulter, Alec d'Urbeville... Do you agree with our critics' choice of the 50 foulest fiends in literature? (Oh what a delicious cast of characters here! Who do you love to hate the most?

 

These are the best of the worst: bloodsuckers, pederasts, cannibals, Old Etonians...the dastardliest dastards ever to have lashed damsel to track and waited for a through train.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Are all your favorites on this list?

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Larry Watson's characters inhabit desolate expanses - Wisconsin State Journal

Larry Watson's characters inhabit desolate expanses - Wisconsin State Journal | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Larry Watson's characters inhabit desolate expanses

Wisconsin State Journal

 

If a reader could judge solely from his novels, the internal world of Larry Watson is a dark, lonely place peopled with characters — often teens — quietly drifting through desolate Western landscapes.

. . .In true Watson fashion, “Let Him Go” builds to a riveting climax, dragging the reader, white-knuckled, through the darkest interiors of the human heart. 
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A star-struck way to write - The Border Mail

A star-struck way to write - The Border Mail | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
A star-struck way to write
The Border Mail

 

An intriguing aspect of The Luminaries is its structure as an ''astrological fable'' around star charts: the 12 men in the hotel represent the 12 constellations of the zodiac and the seven other main characters are the planets (the dead Crosbie Wells is terra firma). It is also framed as a mathematical construct: it is told over 12 months in 12 parts, with each consecutive part half the length of the previous part, so that part one, ''A Sphere within a Sphere'', is 360 pages, but the final part, ''The Old Moon in the Young Moon's Arms'', is a mere two pages.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

About "The Luminaries," a novel by New Zealand author Eleanor Catton recently shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize

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Turkey through the eyes of literature - Your Middle East

Turkey through the eyes of literature - Your Middle East | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Your Middle East

Turkey through the eyes of literature

 

Aslihan Agaouglu has picked her favourite Turkish novels from the Ottoman era to today, all by female authors. They take you through love, loss, the mutation of society from Ottomans to Turks, modernisation and its price, the Kurdish “issue”, generational conflict, the influence of East and West and much more…

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Jhumpa Lahiri on violence in literature - Financial Times

Jhumpa Lahiri on violence in literature - Financial Times | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Jhumpa Lahiri on violence in literature
Financial Times

 

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, shortlisted for the Booker Prize this week, tells the story of two brothers in 1960s Calcutta, whose paths, closely entwined in childhood, diverge with the rise of the radical Naxalite movement and its Maoist cause.

 

“I work with violence in various forms in the book,” Lahiri says. “Both a literal, politically-motivated violence, and also a kind of emotional violence that is perpetrated within families.” Here, she describes five literary narratives in which violence plays a central role.

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Gross: Classics should be taught to an appropriate age - Iowa State Daily

Gross: Classics should be taught to an appropriate age - Iowa State Daily | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Gross: Classics should be taught to an appropriate age
Iowa State Daily

 

Young readers might understand the words on a page enough to interpret a book sentence by sentence. The main storyline is not lost on our youth. Nearly anyone can see clearly enough that the plot of "Lord of the Flies" is, simply put, a group of stranded kids whose attempts at organization fall into chaotic horror.

 

However, the larger social and psychological connotations might not be apparent to individuals between the ages of 12 and 18. Even with the careful guidance of skilled teachers, students are often not so much lead as they are dragged to the “deeper meanings” of literature. The majority of middle school or high school students simply aren’t the right audience for “classic” literature.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I've often thought that Henry James shouldn't be taught until graduate school. But "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Lord of the Flies"? No, those belong in junior high and high school. What do you think? And if we follow this person's logic, we wouldn't let students read ANYTHING until college, since their brains aren't capable of complex, higher level thinking until then.

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UW campus community digs into “A Tale for the Time Being” - University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW campus community digs into “A Tale for the Time Being” - University of Wisconsin-Madison | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW campus community digs into “A Tale for the Time Being”

 

The new novel from the critically acclaimed and best-selling author is the selection for the fifth year of Go Big Read, UW-Madison’s common-reading program. For this year’s program, Go Big Read organizers encouraged the campus community to suggest fiction titles that fit into a theme of global connections. Ozeki’s novel, which also made the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize, hooked Go Big Read selection committee members with the inventive narrative that alternates between two characters.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

“A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki.

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'American Psycho' TV Series Comes To FX: New Drama Follows Serial Killer ... - iDigitalTimes.com

'American Psycho' TV Series Comes To FX: New Drama Follows Serial Killer ... - iDigitalTimes.com | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
iDigitalTimes.com
'American Psycho' TV Series Comes To FX: New Drama Follows Serial Killer ...

 

An "American Psycho" series is reportedly coming to FX. Based on the 2000 film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel, the "American Psycho" sequel TV series will follow wealthy investment banker slash serial killer Patrick Bateman years following the events in the book and movie.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

I'm not sure the world needs yet another bloody serial killer TV show. You decide.

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Prof. fuses biology and fiction - The Williams record

Prof. fuses biology and fiction - The Williams record | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Williams record
Prof. fuses biology and fiction

 

As a child, Senior Lecturer in English Andrea Barrett never fathomed a future as a writer. “I didn’t really grasp for a long time that writing was something a person could do full-time,” Barrett, a novelist and short-story writer, said. The evolution of her interests means that Barrett has an impressive story to tell. Not only does she have a bachelor of arts in biology and brief experience in a zoology Ph.D program; but she was also the recipient of the 2001 MacArthur Fellowship, and her books won her the 1996 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and finalist standing for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

. . .

the childhood passions that would shape Barrett’s undergraduate experience were much like those of any curious child: exploration of the world around her.

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Don't cry for China's literary culture, too much - MobyLives

Don't cry for China's literary culture, too much - MobyLives | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Don't cry for China's literary culture, too much

MobyLives

 

There’s a familiar narrative you may occasionally encounter if you spend much time in translated literature circles, and that is: as countries or regions become richer or more free (sometimes both, sometimes just one), the quality of the art gets suckier and the citizens of the country pay less attention to it.

 

It is the only time that you start to hear this disturbing refrain, a certain wistfulness for the time when there was an urgency to art and literature—what it said or didn’t say, who had access to it and how they got it, what the stakes were for all concerned. Though in fact, that urgency— which was certainly there– was the result of repressive policies, intolerance at every level, and often, the wholesale wrecking of lives.

 

Helen Gao’s recent article for the Atlantic on the state of reading in China is an example of the “A” form of this narrative: as China gets richer, its citizens read less and their reading habits are less literary.

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11 Required Reading Books You Should Re-Read Now That You're Older - Huffington Post

11 Required Reading Books You Should Re-Read Now That You're Older - Huffington Post | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
11 Required Reading Books You Should Re-Read Now That You're Older Huffington Post

 

Which required reading books (and plays, and epic poems) should your blow the dust off of now that you're older, wiser, and no longer snickering too much about Shakespeare's beautiful, dirty puns? The short answer: All of them. The long answer: Start with Shakespeare.

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Jennifer Weiner's Public War - The Atlantic Wire

Jennifer Weiner's Public War - The Atlantic Wire | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Atlantic Wire

Jennifer Weiner's Public War

 

But if Weiner, a bestselling author and, as her official bio notes, "a frequent public speaker who has appeared on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, The Martha Stewart Show, The Rachael Ray Show," is not an insider, then she just may be the literary world's most influential outsider. A fierce critic of The New York Times Book Review, she constantly assails the publication for what she sees as its elitism and sexism. The Book Review's culture, she tells me, is "prescriptive instead of reflective," telling people what to read instead of talking about what they are reading, reviewing a 600-page biography of Calvin Coolidge while largely ignoring E.L. James. To many of her nearly 74,000 Twitter followers, she offers a refreshingly honest, uncompromisingly feminist critique of publishing.

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

Critic Alexander Nazaryan writes of his expeience in incurring the wrath of Jennifer Weiner.

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What's so funny about comic novels? - The Guardian

What's so funny about comic novels? - The Guardian | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

The Guardian
What's so funny about comic novels?

 

But it has occurred to me since then that for most British writers and critics, the comic novel is an elusive thing to define, even though it's meant to be something at which we excel. The comic tradition, according to VS Pritchett in his 1969 Clark lectures, is "a dominant tradition of the English novel. In comic irony our novelists have been pre-eminent. It is their most militant and most graceful gift. It has moderated or refined their didactic habit and drawn them closer to nature." Agreed: but that still doesn't solve the conundrum. What is a comic novel? Is it simply a novel that makes you laugh? Is it a novel that takes a generally benign view of human nature and has a happy ending? James Wood, in an eloquent essay on Pritchett's own comedy, inches us a bit closer to the answer by pointing out that in the writing of those lectures, Pritchett "was really defining himself against the dominant English comedy of his day – that of Waugh and the early Powell, in which characters are clicked like draughts across metropolitan boards; a comedy of apparent heartlessness, in which the novelist is always a knowing adjective ahead of his characters." Wood sounds disapproving, and sure enough goes on to pick apart a passage from Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall, which he calls "the crudest comedy … clumsy … undergraduate" and so on.

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