Literature

Message to the gods: the space poetry that transcends human rivalries

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Sputnik 1 started it all. The beachball-sized satellite was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957 and, despite a relatively short mission of only 21 days in orbit around Earth, quickly became regarded as a device that changed the world. Phil Leonard The Conversation It represented the beginning of the Space Age – and immediately heightened tensions between the US and the USSR, prompting fears about the weaponising of space. But Sputnik, and the missions that were to ... Read More »

Kazuo Ishiguro: Nobel Literature Prize is ‘a magnificent honour’

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British writer Kazuo Ishiguro has won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature The novelist was praised by the Swedish Academy as a writer “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”. BBC His most famous novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go were adapted into highly acclaimed films. He was made an OBE in 1995. The 62-year-old writer said the award was “flabbergastingly flattering”. ... Read More »

Courageous quests: Keats, art and refugees

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The great sensualist Romantic poet John Keats arrived in Rome in late 1820 with his friend, painter Joseph Severn This was not to be a grand tour of Italy in the typical sense. Amanda Frances Johnson  The Conversation Fortune did not smile on Keats’s lungs or his bank balance; one year later he was dead. Passionate letters from sweetheart Fanny Brawne lay unopened and were buried with him, as he requested, in the tranquil oasis of the English Cemetery in ... Read More »

Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘I’m almost 60 and I’m still angry. Everyone told me I would mellow’

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The celebrated dub poet might grow his own vegetables in the shires – but he is still in a revolutionary mood. From carnival surveillance to the abandonment of the Grenfell families, he says Britain needs radical political change – now Stephen Moss The Guardian Benjamin Zephaniah’s 1998 poem Carnival Days is a lyrical love letter to the Notting Hill carnival, where “We dance like true survivors / We dance to the sounds of our dreams.” Or, more accurately, it’s a ... Read More »

Five reasons why Game of Thrones satisfies our needs (apart from all the sex and violence)

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Game of Thrones has become something of a TV event over the past six years – the last season attracted more than 5m viewers per… Tom van Laer  The Conversation On the face of it, the attractions are obvious: large helpings of sex and violence, bolstered by a serpentine storyline said to be inspired by the War of the Roses, one of the bloodiest periods of English… Yet, I think the series meets deeper, more fundamental human needs than just ... Read More »

Poet Tony Walsh Delivers Stunning Ode To Manchester At Vigil For Bombing Victims

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‘The songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands, set the whole planet shaking’. Graeme Demianyk HuffPost Poet Tony Walsh became an instant symbol of Manchester’s defiance in the face of terror after reading his powerful ode to the city at a… Addressing thousands gathered at Manchester’s central Albert Square, the poet – known as ‘Longfella’ – gave a recital of his poem This Is The Place that paid tribute to the city’s rich history as an… Poet ... Read More »

A poem about refugees you need to read

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Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, a wave of anti-refugee sentiment made its way overseas to the United States as multiple governors and Congressmen began expressing an… The Refugees, authored by Jason Fotso. To Jason Fotso―eighteen years old at the time―this shut-door stance contradicted the longstanding U.S. policy of welcoming in refugees, and more symbolically, the sonnet inscribed on the… He sought to capture this spirit in a… A poem about… Read More »

Gabriel García Márquez: working magic with ‘brick-faced’ realism

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One Hundred Years of Solitude’s author took cues from Kafka – and his grandmother – to tell an impossible story that disarms the reader’s scepticism Sam Jordison The Guardian When asked how he started writing fiction, Gabriel García Márquez told the Paris Review that it began with Kafka’s The Metamorphosis: “The first line almost knocked me off the bed. I was so surprised. It reads: ‘As Gregor Samsa awoke… Gabriel García Marquez… Read More »

The Metamorphosis

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In A Nutshell You don’t get your last name turned into a synonym for deeply disturbed alienation unless you write some pretty messed-up stuff. And The Metamorphosis is considered to be about as Kafkaesque as Kafka gets. Franz Kafka … that’s a compliment. A really huge one. The Metamorphosis is a story about a man, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up as a gigantic, incredibly disgusting bug. Gregor’s totally abrupt and unexplained transformation is juxtaposed with a… The Metamorphosis… Read More »

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic

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“A poem … is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.” Maria Popova Brain Pickings “Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating the cultural power of poetry. But what is a poem, really, and what exactly is its use? Every once in a while, you stumble upon something so lovely, so… This Is a… Read More »

Northeast Regional

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Audio: Emma Cline… Close to five hours on the train. And then twenty minutes by taxi from the station to the… Emma Cline The New Yorker He would have time to call the lawyer, work through the… He had the number of a consultant, in case Rowan needed to apply somewhere… Maybe the school legally had to contact the college he’d got into, but Richard wasn’t… And maybe it wouldn’t come to that. The school wouldn’t want to make anything… ... Read More »

Once upon a time: a brief history of children’s literature

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­ April 2 is International Children’s Book Day and the anniversary of the birth of one of the most famous contributors to this genre, Hans Christian Andersen. Susan Broomhall ­Joanne McEwan ­Stephanie Tarbin The Conversation But when Andersen wrote his works, the genre of children’s literature was not an established field as we recognise… Adults have been writing for children (a broad definition of what we… Once upon a… Read More »

The 100 best nonfiction books: No 60 – On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)

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Darwin’s revolutionary, humane and highly readable introduction to his theory of evolution is arguably the most important book of the… Robert McCrum The Guardian When Charles Darwin first saw On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in book form, he is said to have remarked that he… Actually, the book, composed in a hurry to forestall his… The 100 best… Read More »

Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future

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From Mary Shelley to Margaret Atwood, feminist science fiction writers have imagined other ways of living that prompt us to ask, could we… Naomi Alderman The Guardian Margaret Atwood’s evergreen dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is about to become a television drama. Published in 1985, it couldn’t feel more fresh or… Dystopian dreams: how… Read More »

Why It’s A Problem That Reading Is At 30-Year Lows, And How ‘Digital Temperance’ Can Help

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Americans’ interest in literature has dropped to a three-decade low. Gracy Olmstead The Federalist The fact is, many don’t know what they are missing—and they don’t care. I could spend… Why It’s A… Read More »

A Once-Forgotten Novel Unites Turkish Readers in Troubled Times

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ISTANBUL — A young Turkish man arrives in 1920s Berlin. Ignoring his business of soap manufacturing, he spends his days learning German and his nights reading books — especially the Russians, and… TIM ARANGO The New York Times He explores the city’s parks, its wide streets, its museums and… He is looking, as he put it, for something, “to sweep me off my… A Once-Forgotten… Read More »