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The Recent Translations of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

By Audrey Golden. May 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Science Fiction, Literary travel

Any lovers of twentieth-century Russian literature should learn about—and purchase as soon as possible—the recently translated works of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. The Soviet author was born in Ukraine and studied law before traveling across much of Western Europe. In 1922, when he was thirty-five years old, he moved to Moscow, where he wrote most of his works in that same decade and shortly thereafter. His fiction was never published during his lifetime, likely due to the threat of Soviet censorship. Some have called him a postmodernist, trapped in the post-Revolutionary world of the Soviet Union in which literary dissent was unwelcome. Others describe his work in terms of science-fiction, fantasy, and even the magically real. Yet we don’t know that Krzhizhanovsky’s fiction is capable of being packaged so neatly. His works are at once reminiscent of postmodern novelists and short-story writers, true, yet they’re also some of the few works of fiction that seem to be truly unique.

     
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Revisiting Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon

By Audrey Golden. May 20, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Book History, History

In 1940, Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon appeared in English. While Koestler, a Hungarian-born author and journalist who later immigrated to Britain, wrote in German early on, he later began writing and publishing in English. The novel has an interesting backstory to it. Koestler wrote the novel in German (indeed, the last novel that he wrote in German), yet for decades, readers, scholars, and other interested parties had only known the novel in its English translation. While attempting to escape to the U.K. during the early years of World War II, Koestler convinced his lover, Daphne Hardy, to translate the novel into English. Everyone assumed that the original German-language version of the novel had been lost, and the English translation became the first edition of the text for all intents and purposes.

However, in 2015, a researcher in Switzerland discovered an original German-language version of the novel, reopening the background to Koestler’s famous twentieth-century work and to numerous political issues surrounding translation, wartime violence, and totalitarianism.

     
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Ten of the Best Quotes About Mothers in Literature

By Andrea Diamond. May 14, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Though there are many prestigious job titles in the world, none should be as highly regarded as “mother.” Mothers are the ones who love unconditionally, who support us enthusiastically, and who never let us go rollerblading without wearing our wrist-guards. To the women we cannot possibly repay, here are ten of the best quotes about mothers in literature:

     
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Best Books on Indonesia

By Audrey Golden. May 13, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History, Literary travel

Like many other countries in South and Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s modern history is one marked by colonization and the harms of imperialism. While some of the most frequently read books on Indonesia focus on the colonial period or postcolonialism in the country, we think it is important to make sure that you don’t think the region’s history begins with its colonization by the Dutch. Indonesia has a widely diverse cultural, social, and religious makeup, with parts of the country still governed by pre-colonial monarchy and others the democratic state. It is often described as one of the most heavily populated Muslim countries in the world, yet many religions beyond Islam are practiced, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

Given’s the region’s diversity, there are many exciting books on Indonesia to discover. Below we have just a few of our picks for the best books on Indonesia.

     
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Worker's Influence: The Literature of May Day

By Adrienne Rivera. May 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Poetry, Literature

Traditionally speaking, when you think of May Day one of the first things that comes to mind is dancing around a maypole wearing flower crowns. While this spring festival version of the holiday certainly has its place in literature (part of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream takes place on May Day), May Day is more commonly celebrated worldwide today as International Workers Day, or in some places, Labor Day. What is the history of May Day? And how has May Day influenced literature?

     
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Sharing the Nobel Prize in Literature

By Audrey Golden. Apr 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

While Nobel Prizes in the sciences often are shared, the Nobel Prize in Literature has only been shared on four occasions over the last century. And we’re willing to bet that the eight writers who have shared the Nobel Prize are not authors with whom you’re particularly familiar. Why, then, did these novelists end up sharing the award? There are a few different ideas floating around as to why the Nobel Prize in Literature is rarely divided between two writers. Let’s take a look at the four instances in which the Nobel Prize in Literature has been shared.

     
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Ten Pounds for Paradise Lost?

By Brian Hoey. Apr 27, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Art

Art and commerce have always intersected in uncomfortable ways. The difficulty of correctly appraising the quality of a work of art in the moment combined with the near-impossibility of putting a dollar value on the types of things that art provides have led to a strange patchwork of financial realities for artists and writers throughout history, from the patronage system of the Renaissance to the writerly financial refuge of the modern university creative writing department. In all this time there have been some particularly notable failures at correctly giving a work its monetary value. Just ask John Milton.

     
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A Reading Guide to Daniel Defoe

By Adrienne Rivera. Apr 26, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Daniel Defoe was born Daniel Foe around the year 1660, and to say his childhood was harrowing is an understatment. Before he was ten years old, Defoe survived the Great Plague of London; his home survived the Great Fire of London; and he survived an attack from the Dutch. As an adult, Defoe was at one time a secret agent and was the collector for taxes on glass bottles at another point. He spent time in debtor's prison, the pillory, and was eventually jailed again for his political writings. Throughout his prolific career, he wrote upwards of five hundred political pamphlets as well as dozens of essays, poems, works of nonfiction, and novels. His writing topics were varied and included politics, marriage, the supernatural, piracy, religion, and psychology. Though he was successful in each genre he attempted, Defoe is most well known for his fiction. In fact, he is considered one of the fathers of the English novel with Robinson Crusoe often argued to be the first English novel. Anyone looking to read more of Defoe would do well to turn their attention to the following titles:

     
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Best Books on New Zealand

By Audrey Golden. Apr 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

New Zealand writers largely emerged on the global scene in the mid-twentieth century (although writers from the country existed long before). Some critics cite the government’s decision in 1946 to establish a literary fund as one of the primary catalysts for publishing literature within the country, while others cite events such as the creation of a publishing house at the University of New Zealand.* That this country is a prominent space for literary production shouldn’t come as a surprise to most twenty-first century readers, many of whom are well-acquainted with the internationally renowned Auckland Writers Festival, which brings acclaimed writers and thinkers from the world over to the South Pacific each year. But what about writers from the country itself? We’d like to recommend a couple of books for your initial literary foray into this part of the world.

     
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Ezra Pound and Mentally Ill Writers

By Brian Hoey. Apr 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature

Of the great writers of the 20th century there were a tremendous number battling serious mental illness. Virginia Woolf struggled with bipolarity throughout her life, eventually killing herself in 1941; Hemingway was beset by a crippling depression that led to alcoholism and eventually suicide; Robert Lowell spent time in a mental hospital, as did Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace, both of whom famously committed suicide after producing works of monumental importance dealing with, among other things, the horrors of depression. As we go back further, we encounter the likes of Leo Tolstoy and Thomas Hardy. Everyone on this list is rightly idolized by modern writers and readers, but do we risk simultaneously idolizing the diseases that ultimately killed many of them?

     
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