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The Poetry of Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)<p>On May 31, 1819, American poet, essayist and journalist <b>Walt Whitman</b> was born. Whitman is among the most influential poets …

Literature

12 Facts About James Joyce

June 16, 1904 is the day that James Joyce, the Irish author of Modernist masterpieces like <i>Dubliners</i> and <i>A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man</i>, and …

Literature

Are We All Joyceans Here, Then?

“Are we all Joyceans here, then?” the young professor asked, poking his head into the classroom doorway.<p>We looked back at him uncertainly. Yes, we were all here for the <i>Ulysses</i> seminar that met at six thirty P.M. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But to call us “Joyceans” seemed like a stretch. …

Literature

Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag

<i>For fifteen years the writer Varlam Shalamov was imprisoned in the Gulag for participating in “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities.” He endured six of those years enslaved in the gold mines of Kolyma, one of the coldest and most hostile places on earth. While he was awaiting sentencing, one</i> …

Literature

The Story Behind Gustav Klimt’s Shimmering Symbolist Painting ‘The Kiss’

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt is known for his ethereal, pattern-rich portraits. Today, several of these canvases are considered masterpieces, though <i>This Kiss</i>, a particularly exquisite piece, seems to float above the rest.<p>Featuring shimmering gold tones, stylized forms, and sentimental iconography,</i> …

Art

The Art of Telling

Show don’t tell, they say, privileging image and action over statement and abstraction, and yet, would we remember Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Archaic …

Literature

Hemingway, Castro, and Cuba

In his piece on William Morgan and the Cuban Revolution, David Grann refers on several occasions to letters about Morgan written by <i>Times</i> correspondent Herbert Matthews to Ernest Hemingway. “Matthews said that he thought Morgan’s saga was ‘like an Ernest Hemingway story,’” Grann writes. Hemingway …

Cuba

How Alberto Giacometti became a legend

THE man strides forward, bent slightly at the waist as if resisting a stiff breeze. He is not so much gaunt as spectral, stretched out like chewing …

Art

Einstein the Anti-Racist? Not in His Travel Diaries

LONDON — In 1922, the same year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, Albert Einstein set out with his wife, Elsa, on a five-and-a-half-month odyssey of discovery of a new world: the Far East and Middle East.<p>Along the way, he was feted by a Japanese empress and had an audience with the king of …

Hong Kong

Against Lolita

It is a fact universally acknowledged that Vladimir Nabokov is a genius. His stylistic brilliance, the intricacy of his post-modern narratives, his …

Suppressed story of Richard Burton's rival explorer surfaces

A secret addendum to John Hanning Speke’s account of his discovery of the source of the Nile, which details his long-running feud with fellow explorer Richard Burton and which was considered too provocative for publication, has been acquired by the National Library of Scotland.<p>The eight-page …

National Libraries

Einstein's travel diaries reveal 'shocking' xenophobia

The publication of Albert Einstein’s private diaries detailing his tour of Asia in the 1920s reveals the theoretical physicist and humanitarian icon’s racist attitudes to the people he met on his travels, particularly the Chinese.<p>Written between October 1922 and March 1923, the diaries see the …

Albert Einstein

When Scientists Study Novels

Methodological reductionism—the practice of explaining something large and complex in terms of its smaller, wieldier parts—is both a strength and a …

On Fidel Castro’s Friendships With Literary Giants

Notorious Cuban revolutionary and long-term leader Fidel Castro died on Friday at age 90 after a long illness, leaving a complicated legacy—some …

Cuba

Why Frankenstein is the story that defines our fears

Frankenstein has done more than any other story to define the anxieties of modern life. But it’s what it tells us about compassion that we need now more than ever.<p><i>“It’s alive! It’s alive!! It’s alive!!! - Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)</i><p>One night during the strangely cool and wet summer of 1816, a …

Literature

Making waves: how Virginia Woolf influenced generations of female artists

“Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings” showcases – messily, provocatively, sometimes brilliantly – more than 250 works, dating from …

Literature

Sylvia Plath’s Magic Mirror

ON NOVEMBER 20, 1962, three months before her death, Sylvia Plath was living in Devon, England, when she wrote to her college benefactress and mentor …

Literature

The day Robert Kennedy met Allen Ginsberg: 'Have you ever smoked pot?'

Allen Ginsberg hadn’t had an appointment that morning in early 1968 when he appeared at the Washington office of Senator Robert F Kennedy. But Kennedy agreed to see him anyway, and heard him out on everything from the plight of heroin addicts to federal drug policy to global warming to the war in …

Literature

The Legacy of Walt Whitman, Queer Daddy of Free Verse

Nineteenth century poet Walt Whitman was a free-ass motherfucker, and today is his birthday. You may be familiar with Whitman as part of the …

Literature

All the Great Men of Literature and Me

The first book to turn me on was a Nancy Drew book: <i>The Mystery of the Fire Dragon</i>. As a preteen, without any coherent understanding of my own …

Literature

Read 113 Pages of Charles Bukowski’s FBI File From 1968

<i>Click image for a larger version</i><p>If certain well-known writers come off as a bit paranoid, they may have good cause. Then again, the Powers That Be …

Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus: The FBI’s files on Camus and Sartre confirm the meaninglessness of it all.

It didn’t take much to get your own FBI file back in the days of J. Edgar Hoover; harboring novel ideas on the nature of human existence would …

The FBI's 15-Year Campaign To Ferret Out Norman Mailer

Hoover scribbled a note: "Let me have memo on Norman Mailer."<p>Over the next 15 years, FBI agents closely tracked the grand and mundane aspects of the acclaimed novelist's life, according to previously confidential government files. Agents questioned his friends, scoured his passport file, thumbed …

Pee, Poison, and Prosthetic Noses: The Story of Astronomer Tycho Brahe's Suspicious Death

<i>In</i> The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul<i>, author Eleanor Herman delves into the deadly—and</i> …

Fred Rogers

The Curse of Reading and Forgetting

Recently, a colleague mentioned that she had been rereading Richard Hughes’s “A High Wind in Jamaica,” which was first published in 1929 and is about a group of creepy little kids who become the unwanted wards of sad, listless pirates. She praised it, and her recommendation sent me to Amazon. The …

When Poets Write Novels | Caoilinn Hughes

<i>It’s not just the sentences – though me-o-my, the sentences! – it’s the sensibility. When poets turn their hands to prose, those hands might well</i> …

Literature

More 'Political Poetry' by Kwame Dawes

Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood in Jamaica. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of the …

The Politics of Poetry by David Orr

Shortly before Ohio's Democratic primary, Tom Buffenbarger, the head of the machinists' union and a supporter of Hillary Clinton, took to the stage …

Literature

The Poetry of the Vietnam War

By the time United States troops withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, the Vietnam War had become one of the longest, most controversial conflicts in …

California Lecture: from “Poetry and Politics” by Jack Spicer

<b>THOMAS PARKINSON</b>:(1) I think we can start the lecture now. This seems to be old home week. We have Jack Spicer with us, as we have off and on now for …

Literature