Posts Tagged ‘Lewis Carroll’
April 3, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Poor Judas. He just can’t seem to catch a break—his is perhaps the most reviled name in history, even though he’s the only one of the apostles who has any identifiable human qualities. “At the ancient French Catholic shrine of Notre-Dame des Fontaines, Giovanni Canavesio’s 1490s fresco was undoubtedly the most horrifying depiction of the traitor I came across … Judas hangs from a rope, looking deranged, eyes flashing madly, half in fear, half in threat, his hair a spiky mop … As he breathes his last, a stream of sweet-potato-like entrails spills out of his open stomach, as well as (with Christianity’s usual scant regard for science) a miniature adult. A golden-winged demon is on hand to catch the newborn, with the implication that it will continue to sow the seeds of Judas’s treacherous legacy into future generations.”
- A refutation of yesterday’s claim that thrillers are conservative and crime novels leftist: “Consider the supreme master of the spy thriller, John le Carré. His cold war novels stood against the mindless jingoism of the period, resisting the Manichean equation of east-west with evil-good … that kind of fury is typical of the fuel that burns through many thrillers. This is a genre whose most frequent theme is injustice: the urge to right a wrong.”
- “Lewis Carroll, like many other Victorian ‘innocents’, was obsessed by the beauty and incorruptibility of young girls. The camera was a fairly recent invention. He used it to make images of girls dressed as princesses or beggars or—the clearest image of innocence—naked … Carroll’s maneuvers were awkward on the edge of innocence. In 1880 he mistakenly kissed the daughter of one of his Christ Church colleagues who turned out to be seventeen years old. His amusing ‘apology’ to her mother was ill-received, and not long after that he gave up taking photographs.”
- Mark McGurl on Tom McCarthy and the convergence of avant-garde fiction and lyrical realism: “To produce genre effects is to send up a flare to distracted readers, reminding them of fiction’s capacity to produce its version of the richly artificial pleasures on offer everywhere else in contemporary mass culture. It is to show off the sheer power of fiction to alter the real, to brighten, re-order and re-color it, as in a children’s book. Ironically, this is especially true of the ubiquitous postapocalyptic variant, which imagines profoundly awful, even starkly depopulated worlds … It turns out to be easy for a novelist to kill off almost everyone. This clears the way for the apparently much harder task of rebuilding the social world in terms other than straggling, incipiently fascist authoritarianism. In this mode, every novel is epic again.”
- Adventures in surreal estate: talking to the developer of a new luxury condo building in Canarsie, at the far end of Brooklyn. “We call it Loft 87 because it’s a little bit more contemporary-sounding … It’s obviously a regular apartment … I’m bringing everything you would see in Bushwick for half the price.”
October 30, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
January 17, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- The Gordon Lish Bot is trolling Twitter, demanding that writers craft their 140 characters more meticulously. It’s fine invective, but masochists will wish for the sting of the real thing.
- Science has cast its formidable gaze on movie psychopaths, declaring No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh the most “realistic.” And yet no one, living or dead, has ever dared to sport that haircut.
- The curiously robust posthumous life of V. C. Andrews.
- Lewis Carroll’s “Wise Words About Letter-Writing” still apply in the lawless land of electronic mail.
- This introduction to Korean alphabet art is full of colorful translations: “Using a dustpan, the black mountain is split to form letters, and then the canvas is propped up vertically, and stains caused by gravity are left behind.”
January 10, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Ralph Steadman’s febrile and slightly sinister take on Alice in Wonderland, published in 1973 and exhumed today by Brain Pickings, will make you think twice before using the phrase “Cheshire Cat grin.”
January 28, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
However complicated Lewis Carroll’s legacy (he turned 151 yesterday), nobody can dispute its role in popular culture. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has spawned more than twenty adaptations, not counting those works inspired by the 1865 classic. The following, from 1903, is the first: it stars one May Clark, and features some fairly nifty special effects.
October 31, 2011 | by Laura Miller
Even the most confident of writers can be excused for wondering if words, mere black-and-white glyphs, can compete in a world filled with ever more animated, flashing, full-color, special-effects-crammed and interactive visual media. At such times, it’s helpful to remember a passage from Norton Juster’s children’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, describing a visit by the hero, Milo, to the archives of the Soundkeeper in the Lands Beyond.
The Soundkeeper boasts that her vaults contain “every sound that’s ever been made in history.” To prove it, she opens a drawer and pulls out “a small brown envelope,” explaining that it contains “the exact tune George Washington whistled when he crossed the Delaware on that icy night in 1777.” Milo, Juster writes, “peered into the envelope and, sure enough, that’s exactly what was in it.” The narrative moves briskly on.
Like much of the best fiction for children, this scene illustrates how writing well consists not only of knowing what to put in, but also of knowing what to leave out. Read More »