Riz Khan interviews writers Ahdaf Soueif of Egypt, Hisham Matar of Libya, and Ariel Dorfman of Chile about the roles of artists and intellectuals in revolutions.
Tag Archives | Literature
Ha! Good post from Joe on Forbidden Planet
Ben Kemper, 19, plans to wear a frock coat with cuffs to the annual Jane Austen birthday tea in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday. The outfit will be "the whole shebang," says Mr. Kemper, who hopes to scare up some yard work so he can pay for the new threads. He says his costume may include riding boots, a cane, gloves and a buttoned vest. Mr. Kemper is among an unlikely set of fans of the long-dead Ms. Austen—young people...
Cullwick claimed to be able to tell where her husband had been by the taste of his boots. Kathryn Hughes reviews Love and Dirt in the Guardian:
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The secret marriage between minor man of letters Arthur Munby and his servant Hannah Cullwick has become one of the great set pieces of 19th-century social history. Whenever a case study is needed to show the sheer weirdness of Victorian men in the bedroom, the story of how the gentlemanly Munby stalked, caught and loved the huge, dirty Cullwick over a period of 40 years is pressed into play … At Munby’s direction, Cullwick produced thousands of pages of letters and memoir which told the strange story of how she came to spend 40 years in a sado-masochistic relationship where her greatest treat was to be allowed to lick her husband’s dirty boots (horse shit was her favourite relish).
Cullwick’s private name for Munby was “massa”, an uneasy term that looked back to her native Shropshire dialect and elided it with that of the negro slave whose blackness she replicated with soot, as much for her own pleasure as for his.
Among the eyebrow-raising tidbits in the first authorized book on the history of the MI6 (Britain’s secret service) is the acknowledgment that the United Kingdom used some of its most celebrated authors as spies, among them Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham. The reason being that they could visit exotic places without suspicion, and write reports filled with pithy witticisms, the Guardian reports:
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The authors Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher AJ “Freddie” Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service admitted for the first time today . They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, who appear in a the first authorized history of MI6.
Greene, Mackenzie, Muggeridge and others who have written about their secret work make it clear they were reluctant spies approached by MI6 because of their access and knowledge of exotic parts of the world.
How much do you buy the fringe ideas that have influenced the The American Book of the Dead novels? For example, do you really think the world is in need of a mass die-off to curb over population? Baum: It's a disturbing concept and one I'm still exploring. I look at the recent mosque controversy and wonder, for instance, what would happen if there was UFO disclosure. If people think Obama's a socialist Hitler terrorist now, they might be turned into David Ickean conspiracy theorists at that point - he's a reptilian. There's just so much volatility that seems like it could end in violence. People are crazy - how do we introduce new radical ideas into the culture if a centrist like Obama is seen as a radical? I'm not advocating genocide...
Elif Batuman relates a tale of eccentric heirs, Zionist claims and a court fight that Franz Kafka himself would have understood all too well, in the New York Times Magazine:
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During his lifetime, Franz Kafka burned an estimated 90 percent of his work. After his death at age 41, in 1924, a letter was discovered in his desk in Prague, addressed to his friend Max Brod. “Dearest Max,” it began. “My last request: Everything I leave behind me . . . in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others’), sketches and so on, to be burned unread.” Less than two months later, Brod, disregarding Kafka’s request, signed an agreement to prepare a posthumous edition of Kafka’s unpublished novels. “The Trial” came out in 1925, followed by “The Castle” (1926) and “Amerika” (1927). In 1939, carrying a suitcase stuffed with Kafka’s papers, Brod set out for Palestine on the last train to leave Prague, five minutes before the Nazis closed the Czech border.
The good people at Microcosm Publishing have sent me a few interesting packages lately and I’ve been sifting through the goodies picking out a few shiny treasures to share with you Disinfonauts.
The crown jewel is an almost-too-good-to-be-true comic/zine starring buff icons Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig – as gay lovers.
When we first saw this book among Microcosm’s up-coming releases, we anticipated a kind of tongue-in-cheek fan-fiction romance in which the macho-rockers put their tongues in one another’s cheeks – oral or otherwise.
While Henry and Glenn’ wasn’t what we’d expected, we’ve fallen in love with this warm wonder of sweet insanity.
Henry and Glenn’ consists of a number of barely connected cartoons, comic strips and journal entries created by the Igloo Tornado art collective. Rollins is clearly “The Man” in their relationship and some of the book’s best bits find Danzig decked out in various accoutrements, inquiring whether a given get-up makes “my butt look fat?”.… Read the rest
Have you ever wondered what The Call of Cthulhu was all about but didn’t want to go to the bother of reading the H.P. Lovecraft story? Wonder no more. This is a cute and concise summary that anyone can understand:[Image at right: An interpretation of Cthulhu in the sunken city of R’lyeh. By Dominique Signoret via Wikimedia Commons.]