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Thurber Insults and Library Dreams

March 28, 2012 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • Happy seventy-sixth, Mario Vargas Llosa!
  • Muggles get the Harry Potter treatment in Florida. “At Ollivanders, the wand shop, character actors put on a show. With a few dozen people crowded into a room, a bearded wizard proceeds to help a child select a wand. ‘Descendo!’ he cries. Boxes tumble down and the shelves fall apart on cue. It was the wrong wand. ‘Repairo!’ he cries. The shelves put themselves back together. The long-bearded gent eventually gives the girl an Ash wand, ‘an excellent wand for a charismatic, successful wizard.’”
  • You can even read the books!
  • At forty-two, historical novelist Rabee Jaber is the youngest winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
  • On the plus side, James Thurber wrote back to his fans. “One of the things that discourage us writers is the fact that 90 per cent of you children write wholly, or partly, illiterate letters, carelessly typed. You yourself write ‘clarr’ for ‘class’ and that’s a honey, Robert, since s is next to a, and r is on the line above.”
  • An ode to the thesaurus.
  • How about a little fancy-library porn? (This Johns Hopkins professor totally beats Lagerfeld in the library stakes.)
  • Book origami.
  • Henry James is the most-studied writer.
  • Did it really take this long to make an Art of War graphic novel?


    1. Tom May | March 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      I doubt you have to know Spanish to get Vargas Llosa. You’ve got Edith Grossman.

    2. Joe Carlson | March 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Does the Henry James claim have an “Anglo” slant to it?

      Although the authority referenced is the “MLA International Bibliography,” the article does not make clear what the term “literary scholars” encompasses. If it means American or even English language “scholars,” fine. But if it means “international” scholars in all languages, I cannot believe Henry James tops the Hit Parade, or even that Hank is in the top 40. Faulkner’s (#2) popularity in Latin America and Europe is well documented, along with Hemingway (#6), Steinbeck (#21), and others. But are scholars in Brazil really pouring over THE WINGS OF THE DOVE? Or scholars in Italy debating the fine points of Wallace Stevens (#15)? Willa Cather (#13)?

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