The Daily


On the Shelf

August 31, 2011 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • Novelist and poet Susan Fromberg Schaeffer has died at seventy-one.
  • Ruth Rendell speaks out on health cuts.
  • Snape, the dark-horse winner of a Harry Potter popularity contest. This is controversial.
  • What to read when you’re sick.
  • P. G. Wodehouse: the movie.
  • Javier Cercas: “I respect music too much—if I write I write, if I listen I listen.”
  • Tweeting from beyond the grave?
  • Samples of Obama’s summer reading.
  • The most-wanted out-of-print title? Madonna’s Sex.
  • The first Kashmir Book Festival has been canceled amid fears of violence.
  • She Loves You: the Beatles and pronoun use.
  • A. S. Byatt: “I am a profound pessimist both about life and about human relations and about politics and ecology. Humans are inadequate and stupid creatures who sooner or later make a mess, and those who are trying to do good do a lot more damage than those who are muddling along.”


    1. Joe Carlson | August 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      A.S. Byatt is a superb and accomplished novelist, which does not protect her from being a fatuous jackass when commenting about general subjects — life, human relations, politics, ecology, all that — about which she expresses pessimism. Sorry: “profound” pessimism. A novelist doesn’t worry about profound things; an academic lecturer worries night and day about the little buggers. Fine if Byatt must dully lecture and preach to an Edinburgh audience as long as, returning to her work desk, she attends to the business of fiction.

    2. EB Nagle | September 1, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Horace argued the author should both instruct and delight. If you disagree with Byatt’s instruction then, by all means, protest. Personally, I support cooperation on a relational scale to achieve reconciliation and a more humane society. I also support authors studying, speaking, and writing on diverse topics. Novels comment on general subjects–perhaps in more subtle ways.

    3. wall art | September 22, 2011 at 8:23 am

      What an interesting lot of articles, it just goes to show what can be achieved when times are tough.

    Leave a Comment