We derive adjectives from great writers’ names meant to encapsulate entire philosophies or modes of expression. We have the Homeric, the Shakespearean, the Joycean, etc. Two such adjectives that seem to apply most to our contemporary condition sadly express much darker, more cramped visions than these: “Orwellian” and “Kafkaesque.[...]
We live in an era of genre. Browse through TV shows of the last decade to see what I mean: Horror, sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, futuristic dystopias…. Take a casual glance at the burgeoning global film franchises or merchandising empires.[...]
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When I first read all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, having found them collected in full (not, of course, including last year’s “lost” story) in two old volumes at an antique store, I understood immediately why they’d so quickly become so popular with their first readership in the late 1
The social role of the writer changes from generation to generation, but at no time in the history of literary culture have novelists and poets faced more competition for the attention of their readers than they do today.[...]
Two radical modernists, James Joyce and Sergei Eisenstein, once met in Paris in 1929 and, “depending on who you read,” writes Dan McGinn, “are purported to have discussed a film version of ‘Ulysses’ and how Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’ could be depicted onscreen.[...]
From the 18th century onward, the genres of Gothic horror and fantasy have flourished, and with them the sensually visceral images now commonplace in film, TV, and comic books. These genres perhaps reached their aesthetic peak in the 19th century with writers like Edgar Allan Poe and illustrators like Gustave Dore.[...]
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Is it possible to fully separate a word’s sound from its meaning—to value words solely for their music? Some poets come close: Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery. Rare phonetic metaphysicians. Surely we all do this when we hear words in a language we do not know.
A quick heads up: For the next two weeks, you can stream a BBC Radio 4 dramatization of Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s final novel, The Brothers Karamazov.[...]
Hot dumplings! Marinated apples! A barrel of cucumbers!
Want to add some quick color to your performance or film? Slip in a quick non-narrative vendor scene. No need for character or plot development. The audience will be quite content with the hawkers’ musical recitation of their wares.
I’ve been thinking lately about how and why utopian fiction shades into dystopian. Though we sometimes imagine the two modes as inversions of each other, perhaps they lie instead on a continuum, one along which all societies slide, from functional to dysfunctional.[...]