Banned Books Week Concluded--Sigizmund...
To conclude our celebration of Banned Books Week we are taking a look at a different type of censorship. This one does not come from an authoritarian bureaucrat, worried about the public’s response against the regime; but from the cultural elite, in league with the political power of the day, maintaining the status quo in art and literature. Such as is the case of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky,...
Banned Books Week Continued--Vladimir Sorokin
As we continue honoring Banned Books Week on this blog, we don’t want anyone to get the idea that censorship is a thing of the past (our focus the past three days has been writers from different decades: Vasily Grossman, Andrey Platonov, and Edmund Wilson). Today, we are looking at Vladimir Sorokin who up has witnessed very public censorship of his work in the 2000s. Here’s Tony...
Banned Books Week Continued - Memoirs of Hecate...
Over the past two days we’ve honored Banned Books Week by posting pieces about two Soviet authors, Vasily Grossman and Andrey Platonov, who had difficulties publishing their work because of Soviet censors. Today we are changing tack and looking closer to home in the United States. In March of 1948 Edmund Wilson published a collection of short stories called Memoirs of Hecate County, in...
Vasily Grossman--Banned Books Week Continued
Continuing our celebration of Banned Books Week, today we are focusing on Vasily Grossman and his novel Life and Fate. Here is Robert Chandler from the introduction to our edition describing the difficulties Grossman faced publishing his work, Life and Fate, which was only published in Russia in 1988, twenty-four years after Grossman died: “In October 1960, against the advice of his two...
Banned Books Week
This week we’ll be highlighting some of our authors who struggled with censorship throughout their careers in honor of Banned Books Week. Today we chose Andrey Platonov, who, after being highly praised in the late 1920s by Maxim Gorky and others for his early writings, had difficulty getting published in the 1930s. This excerpt is from Robert Chandler’s introduction to Soul,...
Deaf Awareness Week
In honor of Deaf Awareness Week we’d like to share from Helen Keller’s The World I Live In, more specifically from her first published work “My Story”, written when she was twelve and included in our edition. The scene is her introduction to Anne Sullivan, herself visually-impaired and Helen’s teacher and companion for 49 years. “I was standing on the...
Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell
This week we published Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell by Charles Simic in paperback. For those who have not seen the hardcover edition, it is a melange of poetry and prose that reflects on the surrealist art and reclusive life of Joseph Cornell. It’s a book that defies description, and includes photography of Cornell’s celebrated boxes; here’s the first page: ...
Happy Birthday H.G. Wells
Today in 1866 H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, England. To celebrate here is the opening paragraph from The War of the Worlds (our edition is illustrated by Edward Gorey). “No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watching keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men...
Daniel Pinkwater is serializing his next novel,... →
The Three Christs of Ypsilanti in the London...
Jenny Diski has written a review of The Three Christs of Ypsilanti for the London Review of Books. Not only is the book a fascinating look at a unique way to expose patients’s delusions—by putting three men who believe they were Christ in a room together Milton Rokeach hoped they would return to ‘normalcy’ because of the apparent contradiction in their beliefs—but also a document showing...
Literature is like that—it’s a game, but it’s a game one can put one’s life...– Julio Cortázar, from a 1984 interview in The Paris Review (via proustitute)
Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire
Deborah Devonshire, Duchess of Devonshire, has recently released her memoirs Wait for Me! about her life, the famed Mitford sisters, her historic home Chatsworth, and the people she met over the years. We published a collection of her correspondence with Patrick Leigh Fermor, titled In Tearing Haste, last year. Here’s an early letter from Debo (as her friends call her) to Paddy, who lived...
Sylvia Townsend Warner in Open Letters Monthly →
“The epigraph to Mr. Fortune’s Maggot, Sylvia Townsend Warner’s second novel, is a dictionary definition clarifying the title: ‘MAGGOT. 2. A whimsical or perverse fancy; a crotchet.’ This rare, boldly stressed usage is a signpost to Warner’s sensibility, directing attention to her occasionally quaint yet always lively prose, and also to the eccentricities and defiant...
The Towers of Trebizond
“‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.” —the celebrated opening line from The Towers of Trebizond, by Rose Macaulay (Aunt Dot is thought to be based on Dorothy L. Sayers)
The trailer for the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, “a novel so dangerous it was arrested.” The adaptation is voiced by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant. It appears that the program is available to download as a podcast for 30 days after airing.