Somrita Naskar

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The Poetics of Reverie: Philosopher Gaston Bachelard on Dreams, Love, Solitude, and Happiness

<i>“Creative writing, like a day-dream,”</i> Freud observed, <i>“is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood.”</i> But how, exactly, does the playful imagination weave dream and storytelling together to frame our creative experience?<p><b>Gaston Bachelard</b> (1884–1962) is one of the …

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Loneliness

Italy's top attractions: taking the 'trap' out of tourist trap

Across the globe, lucky souls are packing for Italy to explore the famed marvels of ancient Rome, find romance along Venice's teal-blue canals – and well-meaning friends are still trying to talk them out of it. 'You're going where? When? But it's a tourist trap!' they gasp.<p>This popular wisdom may …

Italy

Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on Why a Capacity for Boredom Is Essential for a Full Life

When was the last time you were bored — truly bored — and didn’t instantly spring to fill your psychic emptiness by checking Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? The last time you stood in line at the store or the boarding gate or the theater and didn’t reach for your smartphone seeking deliverance …

The Pilot and the Little Prince: Beloved Illustrator Peter Sís Captures the Bittersweet Story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

<i>“The Little Prince will shine upon children with a sidewise gleam. It will strike them in some place that is not the mind and glow there until the time comes for them to comprehend it.”</i> So sang a 1943 review of <i>The Little Prince</i>, published a few months before the beloved book’s author disappeared …

The world's best high teas

Sipping tea in rarefied surroundings is a simple treat that can turn a fun city break into something truly memorable. High (or afternoon) tea, involving delicate cakes, buttery scones and the occasional glass of bubbly, is an English tradition dating back to the 1840s. So it’s unsurprising that the …

Tea

How Diego Rivera Met the Fierce Teenage Frida Kahlo and Fell in Love with Her Years Later

There is something singularly mesmerizing about the fateful encounters that sparked epic, often turbulent, lifelong love affairs — take, for instance, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas or Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. But one of modern history’s most vibrant, passionate, and tumultuous loves is …

An Animated Ode to What a Dog Can Teach Us About the Meaning of Life

<i>“Because of the dog’s joyfulness,”</i> Mary Oliver wrote in her exquisite <i>Dog Songs</i>, <i>“our own is increased. It is no small gift.”</i> Dogs have inspired literature, been muses to art, and garnered the label of “genius.” But the true gift of Dog — the gentle and ineffable essence of dogness — remains …

The 10 best family holiday destinations

Who says that successful travel <i>en famille</i> means a week in the company of a certain famous mouse? In this excerpt from <i>Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Experiences,</i> we've got some suggestions for a trip your brood will never forget.<p>1. Sing a rainbow in the desert, Rajasthan, India<p>It might be dry but …

Travel

Sri Lanka: nirvana for beach lovers

Sri Lanka overwhelms the senses. The air is heavy with the scent of jasmine, the food richly spiced and the landscape one of utter beauty; the radiant green rice paddies, forests of swaying palm trees and mountains puckered in tea plantations are utterly bewitching. But for many people Sri Lanka …

Sri Lanka

West Africa's best wildlife parks

Everyone knows about the great national parks of eastern and southern Africa – Masai Mara, Kruger and Serengeti all conjure up images of majestic landscapes, packs of lions lazing in the shade and herds of elephants roaming the savannah. But have you heard of Mole, Pendjari and Waza? These wildlife …

Wildlife

Tiptoe through the tulips: how to experience Amsterdam in bloom

While rainbow-carpeted flower fields and bright bunches of tulips may be the definitive symbol of the Netherlands, Amsterdam itself is better known for its scenic canals, charming buildings and, of course, scantily-clad ladies beckoning from windows to late night revellers. But you don’t have to …

European Travel

Picasso on Success and Why You Should Never Compromise in Creative Work

<i>“Imagine immensities. Pick yourself up from rejection and plow ahead. Don’t compromise,”</i> Debbie Millman advised in her magnificent meditation on what it takes to design a good life. But how does one resist compromising one’s creative ideals when straining to meet the practical essentials of …

Kierkegaard on Our Greatest Source of Unhappiness

<i>“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,”</i> Annie Dillard memorably wrote in reflecting on why presence matters more than productivity. <i>“On how one orients himself to the moment depends the failure or fruitfulness of it,”</i> Henry Miller asserted in his beautiful meditation on the …

A Love Letter To Literature: Reading Gabo In 'The Paris Review'

Everyone has a favorite Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, and mine is <i>Love in the Time of Cholera</i>. It's the story of a romance that lasts decades, unwinding through the pages of the book. It's verbose, vibrant and full of love.<p>But that <i>libro</i> isn't my favorite section of the Garcia Marquez canon. My …

Letters to a Young Artist: Anna Deavere Smith on Confidence and What Self-Esteem Really Means

<i>“Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs,”</i> Joan Didion wrote in her timeless meditation on self-respect. But how can character be cultivated in such a way as to foster that prized form of personal dignity, along with …

Love Undetectable: Andrew Sullivan on Why Friendship Is a Greater Gift Than Romantic Love

<i>“A principal fruit of friendship,”</i> Francis Bacon observed, <i>“is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce.”</i> Thoreau would “sometimes awake in the night and think of friendship and its possibilities.” St. Augustine described …

Tour de dessert: Europe’s most delicious pastries, cakes and tarts

American cafe culture has come a long way in the last two decades: corporate coffee has spawned near two generations of independent cafes that offer more than the old standby of roadside diner joe and pie. But in Europe, grand salons with wrap-around pastry cases have more in common with jewellery …

Dessert

Djuna Barnes Interviews James Joyce in 1922: The Iconic Irishman’s Most Significant Interview

<b>Djuna Barnes</b> might be celebrated as a pioneer of modernist writing, her 1936 novel <i>Nightwood</i> a beacon of both modernist fiction and queer literature. But few know that Barnes was also a formidable journalist — a practitioner of literary journalism decades before Gay Talese pioneered the genre. In …

How the Invention of the Alphabet Usurped Female Power in Society and Sparked the Rise of Patriarchy in Human Culture

The Rosetta Stone may be one of the 100 diagrams that changed the world and language may have propelled our evolution, but the invention of the written word was not without its costs. As Sophocles wisely observed, “nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” That curse is what <b>Leonard</b> …

Salvador Dalí’s Sinister and Sensual Paintings for Dante’s “Divine Comedy”

Something magical happens when a prominent artist interprets a literary classic visually, from William Blake’s paintings for Milton’s <i>Paradise Lost</i> to Picasso’s 1934 drawings for a naughty ancient Greek comedy to Matisse’s 1935 etchings for <i>Ulysses</i>. But the celebrated artist most prolific in …

John Vernon Lord’s Whimsical Illustrations for James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake

The history of artistic takes on literary classics is long and colorful. There are William Blake’s paintings for Milton’s <i>Paradise Lost</i> and for Dante’s <i>Divine Comedy</i>, Picasso’s drawings for a naughty ancient Greek comedy, Matisse’s etchings for <i>Ulysses</i>, and Salvador Dalí’s prolific illustrations for</i> …

March 28, 1941: Virginia Woolf’s Suicide Letter and Its Cruel Misinterpretation in the Media

On March 28, 1941, shortly after the devastating dawn of WWII, <b>Virginia Woolf</b> (January 15, 1882–March 28, 1941) filled her overcoat pockets with rocks and walked into the River Ouse behind her house never to emerge alive. A relapse of the all-consuming depression she had narrowly escaped in her …

Vladimir Nabokov on Writing, Reading, and the Three Qualities a Great Storyteller Must Have

<i>“Often the object of a desire, when desire is transformed into hope, becomes more real than reality itself,”</i> Umberto Eco observed in his magnificent atlas of imaginary places. Indeed, our capacity for self-delusion is one of the most inescapable fundamentals of the human condition, and nowhere do …