The Daily

On the Shelf

A Nation of Postcards, and Other News

April 21, 2014 | by

maine

Image: Boston Public Library

  • On that ever-mysterious rubric, “literary fiction”: “It was clever marketing by publishers to set certain contemporary fiction apart and declare it Literature—and therefore Important, Art, and somehow better than other writing … Jane Austen’s works are described as literary fiction. This is nonsense … Austen never for a moment imagined she was writing Literature. Posterity decided that—not her, not John Murray, not even her contemporary readership. She wrote fiction, to entertain and to make money.”
  • The French economist Thomas Piketty has alighted upon our shores, “like a wonkish heir to de Tocqueville, to tell Americans how to salvage what he called their ‘egalitarian pioneer ideal’ from a potentially devastating ‘drift toward oligarchy.’”
  • A salve for irritated prescriptivists: this new browser extension literally replaces every instance of literally with figuratively, all over the Internet.
  • Gillette’s new razor does violence to the spirit of entrepreneurship: “It’s a men’s razor that does what every other men’s razor since time immemorial has done—removes hair from your face—but with ‘a swiveling ball-hinge’ that the company says will make it easier to get a clean shave … The razor represents everything terrible about America’s innovation economy.”
  • Online, the Boston Public Library has more than 25,000 U.S. postcards from the thirties and forties, all of them vividly illustrated.

 

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