Literature & Psychology
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Literary experts look at why the classic Dickens' story 'A Christmas Carol still draws us today

Literary experts look at why the classic Dickens' story 'A Christmas Carol still draws us today | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Literary experts look at why the classic Dickens' story 'A Christmas Carol ...

 

Naomi Wood is a Kansas State University professor of English who specializes in children's and Victorian literature and culture. She says that "A Christmas Carol"has remained popular because of its observations about the holiday and its central theme that a person can always change.

"'A Christmas Carol' is a compelling story about the Christmas holiday not as a religious observance, but as an aspect of the social contract: the time when those who 'have' experience joy in sharing with those who 'have not,'" Wood said. "It's also a story of transformation. Scrooge's story offers the possibility that one can change for the better, become a better person and grow a bigger heart."

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Obama Bought My Novel. Here's What I Hope He Learns From It - The New Republic

Obama Bought My Novel. Here's What I Hope He Learns From It - The New Republic | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Obama Bought My Novel. Here's What I Hope He Learns From It
The New Republic

 

The thread connecting the novels that Obama purchased is the notion that the intimate dramas of those existing far from the corridors of power are worth recording and reading. Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland charts the divergent lives of two brothers from Calcutta. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini sets a story of personal guilt and obligation amid the chaos of Afghanistan. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka gives voice to a chorus of Japanese mail-order brides brought to California in the early 20th-century. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, my own novel, traces a handful of characters across war-torn Chechnya. (Before my head could get too big, my mom reminded me that Obama also picked up Harold and the Purple Crayon.)

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Belkacem Nabout's curator insight, December 11, 2013 1:43 PM

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'Outsider' who had big impact on writing dies in Cornwall - This is Cornwall

'Outsider' who had big impact on writing dies in Cornwall - This is Cornwall | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
This is Cornwall

'Outsider' who had big impact on writing dies in Cornwall

 

Inspired by the title and content of Camus' novel l'Etranger (The Outsider, 1942), he sought to rationalise the psychological dislocation associated with Western creative thinking. Wilson took the outline and sample pages to the publisher Victor Gollancz, who immediately accepted the book. The Outsider was published on May 26, 1956 and sold out of its initial print run of 5,000 copies on the day of publication.

 

The critic Cyril Connolly said it was "one of the most remarkable first books I have read for a long time" and Philip Toynbee called it "a real contribution to our understanding of our deepest predicament". Wilson's work demonstrates how artists and writers, such as Van Gogh, Kafka and Hemingway are affected by society and how they in turn, as "outsiders", impact on society.

 
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10 French novels loved by readers - BBC News

10 French novels loved by readers - BBC News | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
10 French novels loved by readers
BBC News

 

A Magazine feature about the dearth of globally successful French novelists struck a chord with readers.

 

In response to the piece, many sent in nominations for their favourite French fiction. Here is a selection.

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P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins books are full of dark delight

P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins books are full of dark delight | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Before Walt Disney added a spoonful of sugar to her, Mary Poppins was a much more complicated character in P.L. Travers’ books.
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A chance to make history: women's writing and the selective tradition ...

A chance to make history: women's writing and the selective tradition ... | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Literary history is full of lost books, forgotten authors, and some pretty scary near-misses. Here are a few:

 

. . .

So the works that don’t get selected – which very nearly included The Wide, Wide, World, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Wide Sargasso Sea – aren’t necessarily those that aren’t good enough: they’re the works whose readers are culturally less influential, whose readers are not the people doing the selecting of the selective tradition. They’re often works by women; they’re very often works by non-Anglo women.

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A Year in Reading: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The Millions

A Year in Reading: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The Millions | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
A Year in Reading: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Millions

 

I most enjoyed Barbara Pym’s A Glass of Blessings, which I only just discovered this year. Pym is funny and witty, brilliant at portraying the middle class English of the 1950s, and in particular she does the ‘psychology of femaleness’ very well.

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Belkacem Nabout's curator insight, December 9, 2013 6:47 AM

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Physician Melds Art and Science - UConn Advance (blog)

Physician Melds Art and Science - UConn Advance (blog) | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
UConn Advance (blog)
Physician Melds Art and Science

 

Levine’s roles as physician and writer are closely intertwined in his most recent fictional works.  “The profession of medicine is changing,” Levine says, “and cost is what everyone is now paying attention to. The humanity of medicine, the difficulty of being a patient and the truth of disease are at risk of being lost in the discussion of what the ‘new’ medicine should be like.” In this environment, he says, “there is a place for a physician to see from a different perspective.” With that in mind, he has begun to write a series of pieces looking at the experience of disease from the perspectives of both doctor and patient.

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A passion for the mind - University at Buffalo The Spectrum

A passion for the mind - University at Buffalo The Spectrum | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
A passion for the mind
University at Buffalo The Spectrum

 

In Dr. Shira Gabriel’s world of psychology, she’s seen people – in a sense – turn into vampires and wizards.

 

The associate professor of psychology has done a variety of research and experiments – including one that consisted of participants reading passages from fantasy novels. Her research showed that readers felt like they psychologically turned into the science fiction characters they were reading about as a way “to fulfill belongingness needs through group affiliation,” according to the article Gabriel co-authored called “Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten.”

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Autobiography in ficton

Autobiography in ficton | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The autobiographical novel is a funny creature.

 

Consciously or not, writers can't help betraying themselves
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10 works of literature that were exceptionally hard to write - The Week Magazine

10 works of literature that were exceptionally hard to write - The Week Magazine | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Week Magazine

10 works of literature that were exceptionally hard to write 

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Sharon Bakar's curator insight, December 6, 2013 4:20 AM

Fascinating list!

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Why novelist Mary Lawson's imagination is like an ill-suited spouse - The Globe and Mail

Why novelist Mary Lawson's imagination is like an ill-suited spouse - The Globe and Mail | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Why novelist Mary Lawson's imagination is like an ill-suited spouse

The Globe and Mail

 

. . . where she goes – in her head, at least. That place is captured in a photograph that sits on the sill and is its own window onto a much different kind of winter. It shows a big yellow snowplow in a bleak Northern Ontario landscape of deep snow, pine trees and sombre, grey skies.

 

The frozen landscape, which might fill some with dread, opens a rich world for Lawson, whose latest work of fiction, Road Ends, completes a trilogy that began with Crow Lake, her best-selling first novel published to much acclaim in 2002, when she was 55. (Her second novel, The Other Side of the Bridge, was long-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize in 2006.) The photograph reveals the profound power of memory, as well as the willful nature of the literary imagination.

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Why Reading Serious Fiction Expands Your Mind and Soul ...

Serious fiction spurs your psychological and spiritual development. By Douglas LaBier, Ph.D....

 

Delving into serious fiction engages you in the core human issues that everyone grapples with, consciously or unconsciously. The prime one is the question of, "What's the meaning of life; of my life? And, related issues concerning moral judgment, the impact of social conventions, conflicting paths in life, and so on. When you're awakened -- or threatened -- by portrayals of those in good literature, you're often forced to confront your own life choices and dilemmas in new ways, with new perspectives. You're likely to resonate with the George Eliot quote, "It is never too late to be what you might have become."

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Gunnar Sewell's curator insight, December 3, 2013 6:20 AM

Two additional ways that the critical reading of literature engages the human mind are an appreciation of point of view and aesthetics.

Mary-Catherine Harrison's curator insight, December 3, 2013 8:58 PM

"Literature is especially relevant to me, personally and professionally. As I train and teach younger psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, I've always stressed—sometimes to their surprise... or amusement—that they will develop their skills more fully by reading serious fiction, much more so than many of the volumes on therapeutic theory and technique. It's the single most valuable source of building the capacity for empathicunderstanding and wisdom about a patient's life issues."

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Oakland's Jack London Square: Everything changes but the literary history - San Jose Mercury News

Oakland's Jack London Square: Everything changes but the literary history - San Jose Mercury News | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Oakland's Jack London Square: Everything changes but the literary history

San Jose Mercury News

 

one's experience at Oakland's hallowed home of maritime history down at the foot of Broadway -- where London spent much of his boyhood -- depends entirely on when one goes for a visit.

 

Weekends? It's a bustling farmers market with blushing persimmons, cabbages that could double for beach balls and wasabi-flavored almonds. There are monthly craft shows and springtime boat shows. And right now, it's the season of holiday events, centered on a towering, sparkling tree.

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Conversation on Daydreaming with Jerome L. Singer - Scientific American (blog)

Conversation on Daydreaming with Jerome L. Singer
Scientific American (blog)

 

In the subsequent research that we did, we found that the more pathological person or individuals tended to have a very limited range of fantasy. It was usually a limited fantasy of a paranoid kind, of some megalomaniac kind, that they repeated over and over again. They didn’t have the wide range of fantasy that the average person has.

 

They became caught up in just one set of things. I realized later in the course of my research, that fantasies are really precursors to action. Just as our plans will lead us to try to act in certain ways, our fantasies are. But that also brought out the fact that our night dreams are simply continuations of the daytime fantasy, except that the night dreams, because you’re not having to process input from the outside world, are a little more strange and bizarre. They’re more purely associative, whereas in day dreams, you might have some of the same associations, but you are reality oriented, so that you quickly dismiss those. Or, you play with them, recognizing that they’re just imaginative productions. You use it to pass the time.

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Belkacem Nabout's curator insight, December 11, 2013 1:53 PM

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The Sense of a Baseball Ending - The Good Phight

The Sense of a Baseball Ending - The Good Phight | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
The Sense of a Baseball Ending
The Good Phight

 

Frank Kermode's literary critical opus The Sense of an Ending (not to be confused with the recent bestseller by Julian Barnes) focuses on the fatal flaw of the novel as a genre, namely that it never seems to be able to produce a good ending.  Kermode comes to many conclusions, and I won't corrupt what is one of the more readable candidates from my own profession in the interest of giving you a really literary historical blow by blow.  Suffice it say, though, I think I am in agreement with Kermode when I say that the reason the novel can't seem to end sufficiently is that it is the literary documentation of every day life.  Epics concern heroes (though they come close to the novel; saved only by the gods); poems rely upon the tyrant of form; plays gesture toward futurity in their very temporality.  But the novel, like everyday life, just ends.

 

We pursue a narrative looking for satisfaction, and what is satisfying about the end is undercut by its very finitude.  Not all ends get tied up.  Not all answers are given.

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Belkacem Nabout's curator insight, December 11, 2013 2:01 PM

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Home Opinion Columns D'Amato: Alice Munro helps older women become more visible

Home Opinion Columns D'Amato: Alice Munro helps older women become more visible | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

Home Opinion Columns D'Amato: Alice Munro helps older women become more visible

 

Now, because Munro has won the ultimate prize, her books are flying off the shelves in bookstores all over the English-speaking world. Her sensitive, quiet and nuanced voice, now the voice of an older woman with a lifetime of experience, is being heard as never before. She is visible, all right. And older women everywhere are cheering for her.

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Why Smaug Still Matters - io9

Why Smaug Still Matters - io9 | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Metro
Why Smaug Still Matters
io9

 

The dragon Smaug remains one of Tolkien's most enduring inventions, a standout amongst an increasingly crowded field of dragon characters. And he endures not merely for being the dragon upon whom so many fictional dragons have been based, but also because he represents Tolkien's care and attention to the idea of dragons and how a well developed dragon character could interact with his Hobbit hero. It's an attention that ensured Smaug would be captivating not simply as a dragon, but as an interesting and fearsome antagonist.

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A failure of literary intelligence - Al Jazeera America

A failure of literary intelligence - Al Jazeera America | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
A failure of literary intelligence
Al Jazeera America

 

Memoirs are — memory is — rarely 100 percent accurate. Any autobiography is a construct, ballpark, even unnatural. Private diaries, too, can be unreliable — a detail that matters only if the diary is read.

 

The diaries of the infamous Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah have been keenly read by U.S. intelligence officials. The U.S. government built its legal and political case for torture and other distinguishing features of the “war on terror” on what they claimed was in Zubaydah’s purloined daybook. They never let anyone outside narrow circles of the government read the diaries, however. Questions of first-person reliability and narrative voice usually preoccupy just scholars and writers, but in this case they have assumed historical significance. Yet there has been no discussion. Let’s start one.

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Belkacem Nabout's curator insight, December 9, 2013 6:39 AM

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In Jim Harrison's 'Brown Dog,' novellas trace the arc of a life - Los Angeles Times

In Jim Harrison's 'Brown Dog,' novellas trace the arc of a life - Los Angeles Times | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

In Jim Harrison's 'Brown Dog,' novellas trace the arc of a life
Los Angeles Times

 

And yet, write about a character enough and story begins to accrue, until his existence takes on an almost epic shape. That's what happens with Harrison's new book, "Brown Dog" — his 36th — which gathers the five novellas he has published about the character and adds a new one as a coda, creating a novel in installments that traces the arc of Brown Dog's life.

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JRR Tolkien on Fairy Tales, Language, the Psychology of Fantasy ...

JRR Tolkien on Fairy Tales, Language, the Psychology of Fantasy ... | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it

On March 8, 1939, J. R. R. Tolkien, celebrated as one of the greatest fantasy writers in history, gave a lecture titled “Fairy Stories,” eventually adapted into an essay retitled “On Fairy-Stories” and included in the appendix to Tales from the Perilous Realm (public library). At the crux of his argument, which explores the nature of fantasy and the cultural role of fairy tales, is the same profound conviction that there is no such thing as writing “for children.”

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The best memoirs of 2013

The best memoirs of 2013 | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
From David Jason to Julian Barnes, our critics round up the best memoirs of the year

 

Mary Daniels Brown's insight:

From the U.K. The article also contains a link to The Guardian's full 2013 in Review series.

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Five Compelling Works Of Architecture Fiction - Metropolis Magazine

Five Compelling Works Of Architecture Fiction - Metropolis Magazine | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Metropolis Magazine
Five Compelling Works Of Architecture Fiction

 

As far as we know, the writer Bruce Sterling coined the term “architecture fiction,” in 2006. He was referring, of course, to speculative projects in which architects use ideas for the built environment to express themselves in a way that’s analogous to how storytellers use words. It’s a longstanding architectural tradition. Sterling cites the polemic work of the 1960s British group Archigram; the canon includes Lebbeus Woods’s drawings from the two decades that followed and Greg Lynn’s digital imaginings (one of which accompanied a short story by Sterling, in Metropolis’s 2003 Fiction Issue).

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Ama Mazama: An Intellectual Warrior - spyghana.com

Ama Mazama: An Intellectual Warrior - spyghana.com | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Ama Mazama: An Intellectual Warrior
spyghana.com

 

Dambisa Moyo, an international economist, uses her education to press for radical reforms in African economies, fiercely arguing that foreign aid makes African governments lazy, irresponsible, corrupt, and, that, more provocatively and controversially, foreign aid stifles African ingenuity and, therefore, undermines Africa’s development (See her book “Dead Aid”). However, Ama Ata Aidoo has used the power of literature to raise pertinent issues of social inequity, a moral question whose nature disproportionately affects women in our society.


In fact, through the medium of literature, Aidoo has forced society to look inwardly at itself, asking rhetorically if the relational “binary opposition” between man and woman can be suitably rearranged for the good of society. Similarly, both Toni Morrison (See “Beloved”) and Nadine Gordimer (see “Burger’s Daughter) have used the power of literature to expose brutalities, atrocities committed against Africans by Europeans, in America and South Africa, respectively.

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Children's Corner: How 'Where the Wild Things Are' changed children's literature - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Children's Corner: How 'Where the Wild Things Are' changed children's literature - Pittsburgh Post Gazette | Literature & Psychology | Scoop.it
Children's Corner: How 'Where the Wild Things Are' changed children's literature

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

 

Now celebrating the 50th anniversary of its publication, "Where the Wild Things Are" has sold more than 16 million copies and is widely regarded as the most important children's picture book of the 20th century. It opened the door for a more honest portrayal of children's emotions and influenced generations of picture book creators.

 

"Bringing the genre to new levels of psychological realism, 'Where the Wild Things Are' touched not only the children who read it, but most of the artists who entered the realm of children's books after it appeared," writes children's book expert Anita Silvey in "100 Best Books for Children."

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