Splendid Hand-Scroll Illustrations of The Tale of the Genjii, The First Novel Ever Written (Circa 1120)

≡ Category: Art, Literature |Leave a Comment


Ah, The Tale of Genji — a veritable Mount Everest for students of the Japanese language, and a fixture on so many reading lists drawn up by fans of world literature in translation as well.


The New York Public Library Lets You Download 180,000 Images in High Resolution: Historic Photographs, Maps, Letters & More

≡ Category: Archives, History, Letters, Literature, Photography |3 Comments


Most of us Open Culture writers and readers surely grew up thinking of the local public library as an endless source of fascinating things.


The Simpsons Present Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and Teachers Now Use It to Teach Kids the Joys of Literature

≡ Category: Animation, Literature |5 Comments


The Simpsons have mocked or referenced literature over its 27 (!!) seasons, usually through a book Lisa was reading, or with guest appearances (e.g., Michael Chabon & Jonathan Franzen, Maya Angelou and Amy Tan).


74 Ways Characters Die in Shakespeare’s Plays Shown in a Handy Infographic: From Snakebites to Lack of Sleep

≡ Category: Literature, Theatre |15 Comments

In the graduate department where I once taught freshmen and sophomores the rudiments of college English, it became common practice  to include Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus on many an Intro to Lit syllabus, along with a viewing of Julie Taymor’s flamboyant film adaptation.


Mark Twain Knocks New Year’s Resolutions: They’re a “Harmless Annual Institution, Of No Particular Use to Anybody”

≡ Category: Life, Literature |1 Comment


Now that another New Year’s Day has come around, we must once again ask ourselves: do we believe in New Year’s resolutions, or don’t we? As with most institutions, Mark Twain, that most quoted of all American humorists, both believed and didn’t believe in them.


Patti Smith Creates a Detailed Packing List for Going on Tour: Haruki Murakami Books, Loquat Tea & More

≡ Category: Life, Literature, Music, Poetry, Travel |Leave a Comment


Packing lists are not inherently punk rock.
But the handwritten packing list Godmother of Punk Patti Smith scrawled upside down on a photocopied receipt from a children’s bookstore on the eve of a 40-date European tour comes close.


John Astin, From The Addams Family, Recites “The Raven” as Edgar Allan Poe

≡ Category: Literature, Poetry, Television, Theatre |7 Comments


How fitting that the head of The Addams Family would harbor a lifelong obsession with author Edgar Allan Poe.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we should clarify that the true Poe fanboy is not the fictional Gomez Addams, but rather the first actor to bring the character to life, John Astin, of television fame.

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Jane Austen Writes a Letter to Her Sister While Hung Over: “I Believe I Drank Too Much Wine Last Night”

≡ Category: Letters, Literature |Leave a Comment

In a time when people offer up every gesture as fodder for their adoring social media public, it’s a little difficult to imagine living a life as private as Jane Austen (1775-1817) did. And yet, the impression we have of her as shy and retiring is misleading.


Hunter S. Thompson Sets His Christmas Tree on Fire, Nearly Burns His House Down (1990)

≡ Category: Literature, Random |33 Comments

It was something of a Christmas ritual at Hunter S. Thompson’s Colorado cabin, Owl Farm. Every year, his secretary Deborah Fuller would take down the Christmas tree and leave it on the front porch rather than dispose of it entirely. That’s because Hunter, more often than not, wanted to set it on fire.


Old Book Illustrations: Free Archive Lets You Download Beautiful Images From the Golden Age of Book Illustration

≡ Category: Art, Books, Literature, Magazines |Leave a Comment

Needless to say, before the development and widespread use of photography in mass publications, illustrations provided the only visual accompaniment to religious texts, novels, books of poetry, scientific studies, and magazines literary, lifestyle, and otherwise.


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