Tag Archives | Literature

A Man Young and Old

by Hartwig HKD via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

by Hartwig HKD via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

I First Love

THOUGH nurtured like the sailing moon
In beauty’s murderous brood,
She walked awhile and blushed awhile
And on my pathway stood
Until I thought her body bore
A heart of flesh and blood.
But since I laid a hand thereon
And found a heart of stone
I have attempted many things
And not a thing is done,
For every hand is lunatic
That travels on the moon.
She smiled and that transfigured me
And left me but a lout,
Maundering here, and maundering there,
Emptier of thought
Than the heavenly circuit of its stars
When the moon sails out.

II Human Dignity

Like the moon her kindness is,
If kindness I may call
What has no comprehension in’t,
But is the same for all
As though my sorrow were a scene
Upon a painted wall.
So like a bit of stone I lie
Under a broken tree.… Read the rest

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The Shamefaced Lanky and Impure in Heart: Thoughts on Kafka

Franz Kafka by MEDIODESCOCIDO via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Franz Kafka by MEDIODESCOCIDO via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

I’ve been on a Kafka binge as of late. The Metamorphosis is by far my favorite book (yes, even beating The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), so it was high time that I finish The Trial.

In addition to reading the rest of Kafka’s works, I snagged an anthology of his letters, Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors, from the library. You may remember this post, where I shared a letter that Kafka wrote to Selma Kohn.

I came across another, this time to Oskar Pollak, in which Kafka metaphorically explains his tormented relationship with Emil Utz, a former classmate of Kafka’s. Just as a clarifier, Utz is Impure in Heart and Kafka is Shamefaced Lanky.

You’ve read a great deal, but you don’t know the tale of Shamefaced Lanky and Impure in Heart. Because it’s new and is hard to tell.

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Remembering H.P. Lovecraft

Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft

As many of you probably know, H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday was yesterday (August 20). To celebrate this venerable master of horror lit, I’ve compiled some quotes and links.

Quotes

“I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We swore to one another that the city was exactly the same, and still alive…”

– “Nyarlathotep” (1920)

“Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous. Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species — if separate species we be — for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world.”

– “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family” – written 1920; first published in The Wolverine, No.

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A Letter to George Orwell from a High School Student

The Library of Congress hosts a national reading and writing program (Letters about Literature) that invites students in grades 4-12 to write letters to an author – living or deceased. Here’s one such letter from Devi Acharya in Missouri.

via The Library of Congress blog:

George Orwell

George Orwell

To George Orwell:

You were right, you were right, you were right. I’m sorry I never saw it before, and I feel like an idiot, sitting here and penning this to you when you were so unspeakably right. You shouldn’t have published those books of yours under the guise of fiction—how could fiction be what’s happening outside my very doorstep! People get so worked up, angry at some imaginary oppressive tyrant when the very dystopias we fear and loathe are being built around us. I’m only just beginning to see them myself—brick and mortar meant to keep worlds apart, shields of hatred and arrows of intolerance, warlords arming for battle while the unwitting peasants continue to live from day to day.

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Scott McCloud’s Four Types of Artists

artquadHere’s a fun scheme of classifying different types of artists. The scheme is Scott McCloud’s, mapped onto Ken Wilber’s quadrants. Can you think of any more examples?

From FC Student Blog:

In his book, Making Comics, Scott McCloud created a chart categorizing artists according to four intentions — what artists are most interested in, in creating art. His categories are:

  • Formalist — The Formalist is interested in examining the boundaries of an art form, stretching them, exploring what the form is capable of. The Formalist is interested in experimenting, turning the form upside-down and inside-out, moving in new, bold, untried directions, inventing and innovating. Formalists are the cutting edge, the avant-garde, the ones willing to break tradition and established ways. Strict narrative or craft is not as important as trying something new and unexpected, playing with and breaking traditional concepts, getting to the heart of understanding what art itself is.
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Books Dictated From Beyond The Grave

books

Via Mental Floss, literary works that came to us from the other side:

  • The Sorry Tale (Pearl Lenore Curran and Patience Worth). Starting in the early 1910s, Pearl Lenore Curran and her friend Emily Grant Hutchings worked the Ouija board together twice a week. On July 8, 1913, Patience Worth made her presence known. According to the frantic spelling across the Ouija board, Patience was born in either 1649 or 1694 “across the sea” and was killed in an Indian raid. When really inspired, the Patience-Pearl duo could spell out about 1500 words an hour, which is how she came to be the author of books including The Sorry Tale and Hope Trueblood.
  • God Bless U, Daughter (Mildred Swanson and Mark Twain). Unwilling to let his deceased status slow him down, Samuel Clemens allegedly contacted Mildred Swanson of Independence, Missouri. In the late 1960s, Swanson wrote a book called God Bless U, Daughter, a diary of her planchette conversations with Clemens.
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The Next Burgeoning Literary Trend: Dinosaur Erotica

dinosaur eroticaYes, this is real and apparently quite popular. A sub-genre of the fast-growing “monster erotica” book realm, softcore dinosaur porn is epitomized by authors Alara Branwen and Christie Sims, who claim to earn six figures churning out e-books for their obsessed fans. Jezebel offers a taste:

Azog stood, clad only in damp buckskins, waiting for the beast to slash at her torso until she lay helpless and bleeding on the damp cave floor. Instead, it reached out with a classed hand to snatch at her damp animal hide as it clung to one shoulder. Azog felt the kiss of sharp claws against her skin as the hide slid from her shoulder and exposed on naked, heaving breast.

A reptilian tongue, stiff and hot, dashed out to lick at the tender, naked flesh so suddenly exposed. Azog gasped at the touch, then gradually relaxed as her body warmed to the intoxicating sensation of the beast’s flesh against her own.

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The Emerging Speculative Genre Of “Cli Fi”

climate fiction

Is environmental change poised to thrust us into new worlds? NPR writes:

Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow is the latest in what seems to be an emerging literary genre. Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.

“I think we need a new type of novel to address a new type of reality,” says Rich, “which is that we’re headed toward something terrifying and large and transformative. And it’s the novelist’s job to try to understand, what is that doing to us?” As far as Rich is concerned, climate change itself is a foregone conclusion. The story — the suspense, the romance — is in how we deal with it.

Of course, science fiction with an environmental bent has been around since the 1960s (think J.G.

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