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Posts Tagged ‘Henry James’

How Is the Critic Free?

September 4, 2012 | by

A non-question has recently preoccupied the literary corners of the Internet: How rude should a book critic be? I call it a non-question because its non-answer is the same as for people in social situations generally: it depends. It’s impossible to find a universal rule that licenses rudeness. There’s always going to be at least one observer who feels that a conflict could and should be handled politely. (And who knows? Insofar as politeness is a skill, maybe there's always room for improvement.) Also, there’s always going to be at least one observer who describes as honest what others call rude. But even if you give up on unanimity and settle for a majority opinion, you still can’t formulate a general decision. Try it and see. Was William Giraldi justified in adopting a rude tone about Alix Ohlin’s novel? Was Ron Powers, about Dale Peck’s? Only the particular questions are worth debating, and no matter how many questions like them you answer, you never reach a rule that has the purity of math. The most you can hope for is etiquette.

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Henry James’s Living Room: Literary Color Palettes by Pantone

August 24, 2012 | by

In concert with their new book 35 Inspirational Color Palettes, Pantone (along with HuffPo Books) has designed thirteen palettes for the homes of famous authors. Below, a few of our favorites.

Palette-Flaubert-Paris-Review

Gustave Flaubert - French County

Palette-Chandler-Paris-Review

Silent Screen - Raymond Chandler

Palette-James-Paris-Review

Afternoon at the Metropolitan - Henry James

Palette-Stevenson-Paris-Review

St. Barts - Robert Louis Stevenson

Palette-Hemingway-Paris-Review

Pup Tent - Ernest Hemingway

Palette-Austen-Paris-Review

Cottage Garden - Jane Austen

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Dahl, Maps, The Royal Tenenbaums

August 14, 2012 | by

  • The new Vogue features contemporary authors as members of Edith Wharton’s circle and was shot at the Mount. Look for Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Junot Díaz as Henry James, Morton Fullerton, and Walter Van Rensselaer Berry. (Wharton herself is played by model Natalia Vodianova.)
  • Essential cartography books.
  • Bookshelf of the day: a literary staircase.
  • The hundred best-selling British books of all time. (The usual suspects, plus Eats, Shoots and Leaves.)
  • The books from The Royal Tenenbaums, actualized.
  • “For material things, we were fortunate, but it was not a happy beginning to my life.” Tessa Dahl talks about the difficulties of growing up with her famous father. Perhaps sensationalism is no shock in The Daily Mail, but we defy you not to be taken aback by Roald’s penchant for home-medicating his children.
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    What We’re Loving: Old New York, The Boss, SodaStream

    August 10, 2012 | by

    I didn’t think I would ever read another book about Henry James. But here I am, three quarters of the way through Michael Gorra’s Portrait of a Novel, a book-length study—or really, essay—on The Portrait of a Lady. It reads like an old-fashioned work of belles lettres, combining biography, travelogue, and literary history (plus a good deal of helpful synopsis) to explain how and why James wrote his best-loved novel. The explanation is full of grace and deep learning lightly worn. Yet Gorra takes for granted James’s homosexuality, and his sexual knowledge, as well-established facts. In this sense, it is a book of our moment, a hi-def image of the Master coming into his own. —Lorin Stein

    The host, for some reason, was taking Instamatic pictures of his guests. It was not clear whether he was doing this in order to be able to show, at some future time, that there had been this gathering in his house. Or whether he thought of pictures in some voodoo sense. Or whether he found it difficult to talk. Or whether he was bored. Two underground celebrities—one of whom had become a sensation by never generating or exhibiting a flicker of interest in anything, the other of whom was known mainly for hanging around the first—were taking pictures too.

    I have Lorin to thank for introducing me to Renata Adler’s 1976 first novel, Speedboat. Maybe its unconventional structure (a series of vignettes) and plotline (there isn’t really one) are not for everyone. But for sheer linguistic pleasure, fierce intelligence, and a vivid picture of seventies New York, look no further. I breezed through it in a day and have been recommending it left and right with the kind of excitement I haven’t felt in a long time.—Sadie O. Stein

    Bruce Springsteen’s music is the Staff Pick of my heart. “Bobby Jean” and “Secret Garden” give tremble to the word rock, while “Born to Run” accomplishes something in music that Holden Caulfield did in literature, honestly portraying the anxiety of adolescence in a desire to escape. The New Yorker’s profile of Bruce Springsteen is a breathtaking homage to the now sixty-two-year-old rocker, who is set to embark on yet another world tour. The piece follows a young Springsteen watching Elvis on the black-and-white telly, takes us through his years of top-forty glory and out into a political movement that gave hope to the country. The profile shows that there is still heart in the music industry—even if that heart was born in Jersey. —Noah Wunsch

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    Job Aspirations; Forgiveness

    May 4, 2012 | by

    I am a student interested in working for The Paris Review one day. What steps would you recommend to get there?

    Read lots. That’s the main thing. And not just the books they assign you in class. The Daily gives you a pretty good idea of what books and articles we’re reading; at the very least you'll have something to talk about in the interview. (You should read The Paris Review. Maybe this goes without saying.)

    Learn to write. I don’t mean “creative” writing, I mean short-form journalism. If your school has a good student newspaper, sign up. Or start sending pitches to your favorite magazines. The main thing is to write for an editor who can help you improve—tightening sentences, taking yourself out of the picture when you don’t belong, that kind of thing. Being able to write short, competent reports is a surprisingly useful skill—and one that we value here.

    Bump one of us off. The Review has only six full-time employees, so job openings are rare. But we do accept new (unpaid) interns every season: click here for more information on how to apply.

    We’re honored by your interest!

    I’m working on a character who is trying to figure out secrets in his family and still hold it intact … I've been reading Albert Camus’s The Fall and loving it, but wondered if you might have any other suggestions for literature dealing with themes of forgiveness to help out with some inspiration?
    Much Obliged

    Dear Obliged,

    The first title that pops into my head is Anthony Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? Then I hear Henry James: “Yes, and forget her, too.” James wrote lots of novels about forgiveness. The Wings of the Dove, which I have never made it through, The Ambassadors, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Altar of the Dead all turn on acts of forgiveness. If your subject is forgiveness in marriage, you may be inspired by Norman Rush’s Mortals or Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead or Jane Smiley’s The Age of Grief. Then there are Jonathan Franzen’s last two novels, Freedom and The Corrections. Forgiveness is a big subject in Franzen’s work, though critics don’'t often point it out. The Corrections is less about marital forgiveness, more about how hard it can be to forgive one’s parents and kids. Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment has to do with forgiveness in divorce. D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers has to do with forgiveness between mothers and sons; Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage has to do with forgiveness between Geoff and D. H. Lawrence ... For some reason everywhere I turn today, I see people asking to be forgiven and trying to forgive. Maybe you can’t go wrong.

    Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.

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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?
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