The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Leap Year

February 29, 2016 | by

Another leap year in another time.

Before Sadie was a baby name or even a dog name, hearing it would elicit one of two responses: singing (either “Sexy Sadie” or “Sadie Sadie, married lady”) or references to Sadie Hawkins. Since for most of my childhood I had pretensions to neither man-hungry spinsterhood, sexiness, nor marriage, I found all of these references obscurely humiliating. Sadie Hawkins Day—which falls on February 29 and only on February 29—was the worst one. All those desperate old maids chasing after unwilling mediocre men once every four years struck me as deeply troubling, not unlike Ginnifer Goodwin’s character in He’s Just Not That Into You, which is not to be confused with the equally execrable Leap Year. Why did they want them so much? Why were the guys so reluctant? Why was this one day considered so unnatural? Read More »

Cat Fight

February 10, 2016 | by

From “Professor Welton’s Boxing Cats.”

Once, some years ago, I went with a good friend to see that Russian cat circus. It was my friend’s birthday, and seeing said cat circus was a long and dearly held dream of hers. If memory serves, the cat circus took place at a college of criminal justice, but why would that be true? Read More »

The Cats in Our Lives

February 9, 2016 | by

An illustration by James Mason from The Cats in Our Lives.

Over the weekend, Turner Classic Movies ran the 1954 A Star Is Born as part of its Month of Oscars: the single greatest page of the TV-watching calendar. Anyway, by the end—between the tragic irony of Judy Garland starring in a film about addiction and the vulnerable dignity James Mason brought to his role—I was, maybe not surprisingly, in tears. And I thought, in turn, not just of James Mason the matinee idol, but of James Mason the cat fancier. Read More »

Fur

January 28, 2016 | by

Quentin Blake’s illustration for Kitty-in-Boots. Image via Penguin

Earlier this week, many of us were electrified by the announcement that an unpublished Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, would come out this September. The story was discovered in a cache of papers by the editor Jo Hanks. And Penguin has already released a tantalizing teaser: Read More »

In the Madhouse

January 5, 2016 | by

John Clare, Christopher Smart, and the poetry of the asylum.

stlukeshomeforlunatics

Saint Luke’s Home for Lunatics, where Christopher Smart was confined for more than five years

Max Nelson is writing a series on prison literature. Read the previous entry, on George Jackson’s Soledad Brother, here.

In an agrarian or preindustrial Britain, a brilliant young man bristles at his assigned vocation. After reading insatiably for years, he starts publishing odd, distinctive poems that cause a local stir. Urged to settle down, he instead experiments with more startling writing and shows more worrying behavior. His wife and family, understandably troubled but also driven by some unsavory motives, arrange for him to be sent to a madhouse, where confinement turns out to be much more to his harm than to his good. As his mental and physical health declines, his poetry starts to develop more radical formal arrangements. It also takes on a new tone: a strange, arresting combination of de-sexed innocence, bitter wisdom, childlike whimsy, and intensity of focus. Well after his death, as literary critics start pillaging the past for works of inadvertent modernism, his surviving poetry becomes a source of inspiration for a new generation of writers by whose books he’d have been equally fascinated and baffled.

This account corresponds roughly to the lives of both John Clare (1793–1864) and Christopher Smart (1722–’71), though it ignores much of what set the two poets apart. An archetypical urban poet, the son of a bailiff, Smart spent years on Grub Street writing satires, poems, attacks on his contemporaries, and flurries of hackwork, much of it under pseudonyms. Years earlier, when he started his career as a brilliant (if eccentric) divinity student at Pembroke College, he’d already received a thorough grounding in the classics. Clare, an agricultural laborer who lived and worked in Britain’s East Midlands during a period of rapid industrialization, grew up to a family of poor tenement farmers and went to school only sporadically. No less intelligent and formally imaginative than Smart’s, his poetry was as closely informed by Helpston’s birds, flowers, and folk songs—he might have been one of Europe’s earliest ethnomusicologists—as his predecessor’s was by the gospels, the classics, and the Grub Street press. Read More »

#ReadEverywhere: The Cats Edition

August 12, 2015 | by

lrbcat

A cat ruminating on Ben Lerner’s piece about disliking poetry.

Our joint subscription deal is in its final weeks: through the end of August, get The Paris Review and the London Review of Books for just $70 U.S. (If you’re already a Paris Review subscriber, we’ll extend your subscription to The Paris Review for another year, and your LRB subscription will still begin immediately.)

By now, you’ve gotten the gist of our contest, too: through August 31, post a photo of yourself reading The Paris Review or the London Review of Books on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, and use the #ReadEverywhere hashtag and one of our magazines’ handles. Our favorite photographer will win an Astrohaus Freewrite, the hotly anticipated smart typewriter that lets you write virtually anywhere. Need some inspiration? Pinterest users can get a glimpse of the competition here.

Subscribe today!

Okay, that’s enough of the hard sell. Here, in a shameless bid for virality, are photos of our magazines with cats. But this is no time for smug self-congratulation. You’ll note that the LRB is found far more often with felines than The Paris Review. What accounts for this disparity, we cannot say—we refuse on principle to believe, say, that cats prefer Žižek to Houellebecq. But we urge readers of the quarterly to place it in the vicinity of their cats early and often, so that we might attract a wider cat subscriber base before the summer’s out. Read More »