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Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Wilde’

Fuzzy Austen, Tipsy Wilde

August 28, 2012 | by

  • The literary felted dolls of My Cozy Classics are, quite simply, delightful. Above, a felted Elizabeth Bennett.
  • Norman Mailer, film director.
  • Exactly how Ladbrokes goes about determining their literary odds.
  • Drink like Oscar Wilde: strongly against your doctor’s orders.
  • The DNA of a successful book.
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    Bookscapes, Book Gardens

    August 17, 2012 | by

  • A literary moonscape by Guy Laramée.
  • More amazing book art: a visit to Quebec’s Garden of Decaying Books.
  • “A hundred and twenty five years ago, Oscar Wilde edited a fashion magazine, his first and only office job. We have yet to learn from the experience.” LARB on Wilde’s day job.
  • For the first four decades of competition, the Olympics awarded official medals for painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and music, alongside those for the athletic competitions.
  • If you’re in Boston this weekend, enjoy the Dog Day Poetry Marathon, featuring Dorothea Lasky, Jim Behrle, and Eileen Myles (among many others).
  • “As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.” Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, has won the 2012 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which celebrates the worst in writing.
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    What We’re Loving: Dorian Gray, Sex with Immortals

    July 27, 2012 | by

    Last Thursday, finding myself with an hour to kill in London, I stopped into Lutyens & Rubinstein bookstore in Notting Hill. No Paris Review (sigh), but I did pick up the Summer issue of Slightly Foxed, a quarterly devoted to little essays about people’s favorite books. The clerk claimed it’s the most popular lit mag they stock. And it’s easy to see why. Crome Yellow, The Lost Oases, The Elegies of Quintilius, and a guide to British sea birds give some idea of the miscellany. Read one issue back to back and you could cross every conceivable reader off your Christmas list. —Lorin Stein

    How, exactly, do a human and a god have sex? For Elizabeth Costello, the eponymous protagonist of J. M. Coetzee’s novel, it is less a question of metaphysics than of mechanics. “Bad enough to have a full-grown male swan jabbing webbed feet into your backside while he has his way, or a one-ton bull leaning his moaning weight on you,” she thinks. But when the god does not change form, how does the human body accommodate itself to “the blast of his desire”? What makes the passage so interesting is not only Costello’s amusing speculations on the impracticality of cosmic coupling but the way such a question allows Coetzee to reflect on the whole messy business of the god-human relationship. The gods may never die, he suggests, but that doesn’t mean they know how to live. —Anna Hadfield

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    Literary Paint Chips: Gallery 2

    May 2, 2012 | by

    Paint Samples, suitable for the home, sourced from colors in literature. As seen in our two-hundredth issue. See Gallery 1 here.

    Havisham’s Complexion1 Anti-Sex Scarlet2 Plum Purple3 Closed Eyelid4
    Green Paste5 Rain Stone6 Nothing7 Esther’s Sauce8
    Anthracite Brazier9 Dove10 Encrimsoned11 Foul Mood12
    Snot13 Eyes14 Aschenbach’s Youth15 Saffron Silk16
    Elm Shadow17 Paris18 Paper Smell19 England20
    Rat Brown21 20,00022 Dorian Scarlet23 Lilac Ocean24
    Basking Pear25 March Morning26 Sour Apple27 Gulag28

    Annotations

    1. “ ‘Dear Miss Havisham,’ said Miss Sarah Pocket. ‘How well you look!’ ‘I do not,’ returned Miss Havisham.‘I am yellow skin and bone.’” ‘Great Expectations,’ Charles Dickens.
    2. “A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.” ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ George Orwell.
    3. “ ‘Not those socks, Jeeves,’ I said,gulping a bit but having a dash at the careless, off-hand tone. ‘Give me the purple ones.’ ‘I beg your pardon, sir?’ ‘Those jolly purple ones.’ ‘Very good, sir.’ ” ‘The Inimitable Jeeves,’ P. G. Wode- house.
    4. “I pulled up my feet, bent my knees, and rested my chin on my hand. Then I closed my eyes. Still no sounds. The darkness behind my closed eyelids was like the cloud-covered sky, but the gray was somewhat deeper.” ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle,’ Haruki Murakami.
    5. “I bought makeup in tubes off a rack, and in the cold and dirty toilet of the gas station, I attempted a transformation, slapping buff-colored liquid over my face and rubbing green paste on my eyelids.” “Dulse,” Alice Munro.
    6. “A rainstorm would last hours, soaking the ruined outbuilding nearby, darkening its stones.” “St. Martin,” Lydia Davis.
    7. “Taken to his uncle’s house once, he had stumbled on her in the soft pink bedroom. Ida had just emerged from her bath and she sat in a powder blue nothing before a mirror at a little table crammed with jars.” ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,’ Mordecai Richler.
    8. “He taught me how to eat avocados by melting grape jelly and french dress- ing together in a saucepan and filling the cup of the pear with the garnet sauce.” ‘The Bell Jar,’ Sylvia Plath.
    9. “At the street corner there was a brazier alight, the red cones of anthracite beautifully glowing, and a whiff of heat shedding from it.” ‘Girls in Their Married Bliss,’ Edna O’Brien.
    10. “Passersby, who, of course, stopped and stared, had just time to see a face of the very greatest importance against the dove-gray upholstery, before a male hand drew the blind and there was nothing to be seen except a square of dove gray.” ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’ Virginia Woolf.
    11. “Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around.” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allan Poe.
    12. “At home I’d slept for several hours then woke to a blue light and in a foul mood.” ‘Ticknor,’ Sheila Heti.
    13. “Tom was crying. He put his knuckles in his eyes the way little girls do on biscuit tin lids. A large tube of green snot hung out of one nostril, and when he sniffed it bobbed out of sight.” ‘The Cement Garden,’ Ian McEwan.
    14. “Pretty eyes. Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes. Run, Jip, run. Jip runs, Alice runs. Alice has blue eyes. Jerry has blue eyes. Jerry runs. Alice runs. They run with their blue eyes. Four blue eyes. Four pretty blue eyes. Blue-sky eyes. Blue-like Mrs. Forrest’s blue blouse eyes. Morning-glory-blue-eyes. Alice-and-Jerry-blue-storybook-eyes.” ‘The Bluest Eye,’ Toni Morrison.
    15. “ ‘Surely you will permit me to restore what belongs to you?’ ‘How?’ asked Aschenbach. For answer the oily one washed his client’s hair in two waters, one clear and one dark, and lo, it was as black as in the days of his youth.” ‘Death in Venice,’ Thomas Mann.
    16. “But still at home, ignoring him, I’ll stay . . . Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day.” ‘Lysistrata,’ Aristophanes.
    17. “On a sheep-cropped knoll under a clump of elms we ate the strawberries and drank the wine—as Sebastian promised, they were delicious together—and we lit fat, Turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastian’s eyes on the leaves above him, mine on his profile, while the blue-gray smoke rose, untroubled by any wind.” ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ Evelyn Waugh.
    18. “In Paris, Cyril had a room away from his mother. I could already imagine the window open to the pink and blue sky, the wonderful sky of Paris, with the pigeons cooing on the windowsill, and with Cyril beside me on the narrow bed.” ‘Bonjour Tristesse,’ Françoise Sagan.
    19. “It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house—to reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.” “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
    20. “At Gatwick they found a taxi without difficulty. It was raining, as it always seemed to be when you returned to England. Graham gazed through the speckled window. Why did every- thing green seem to have so much brown in it here? And how was it possible for things to be both damp and dusty at the same time?” ‘Before She Met Me,’ Julian Barnes.
    21. “It was a rough and ugly thing, an overall length of twenty-eight feet, a five-foot draft and just that one junk sail, but with a respectable three hundred and fifty square feet. A trim tab rudder hung on the stern. She was heavy and slow. And very ugly. I made her more ugly by painting her rat brown.” ‘The Shipping News,’ Annie Proulx.
    22. “The solar rays shone through the watery mass easily, and dissipated all color, and I clearly distinguished objects at a distance of a hundred and fifty yards. Beyond that the tints darkened into fine gradations of ultramarine, and faded into vague obscurity.” ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,’ Jules Verne.
    23. “His finely chiseled nostrils quivered, and some hidden nerve shook the scarlet of his lips and left them trembling.” ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ Oscar Wilde.
    24. “The sky turns a soft lilac. Seeing this magnificent, enchanting sky, the ocean frowns at first, but soon itself takes on such tender, joyful, passionate colors as human tongue can hardly name.” “Gusev,” Anton Chekhov.
    25. “Grapes for the asking, / Pears red with basking / Out in the sun, / Plums on their twigs; / Pluck them and suck them, / Pomegranates, figs.” “Goblin Market,” Christina Rossetti.
    26. “It was a typical March morning when we got up to drive them to the train: blowy, dark, with spits of rain now and then.” ‘The Country Wife,’ Dorothy Van Doren.
    27. “White halogen off the green of the composite surface, the light out on the indoor courts at the Port Washington Tennis Academy is the color of sour apples.” ‘Infinite Jest,’ David Foster Wallace.
    28. Both of us were weak, dried out; our skin was grayish-yellow on our bones.” ‘The Gulag Archipelago,’ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

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    Loose Lips

    March 5, 2012 | by

    It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one’s back that are absolutely and entirely true.

    —Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    I spent a recent Sunday morning at the baby shower of a friend made in adulthood. The other attendees all went back to Catholic school, so after the obligatory oohing and aahing over the onesies, conversation turned to Jessie, the surprising no-show of the high school crowd. “She must be hungover again,” said one girl with a knowing shrug.

    “Yeah,” another chimed in. “Scott must’ve been on the late shift again, if you know what I mean.”

    Snickering all around. “Ugh, Scott,” one said with a theatrical shiver. “That guy is such a loser, my God. If Jessie doesn’t move on soon—”

    “Jessie will never move on,” another girl emphatically interrupted. “She finds his gigantic forty-year-old beer belly and pathological fear of commitment totally entrancing, and really who wouldn’t?”

    What followed was another ten minutes on the subject of the absent Jessie, who, at thirty-three, all agreed, was definitely way too old to keep answering the midnight booty calls of the ne’er-do-well weeknight bartender at the Harp. Finally, the hostess noticed me nibbling quietly on my teacakes in the corner. “Oh, God, I am so sorry!” she cried. “I forgot that you don’t know Jessie! This must be so boring to you—we will change the subject.” A pause. “So, um, what else should we talk about?” She gazed down at her belly doubtfully.

    In the thudding silence that followed, I was allowed to insist that Jessie’s sleazy sexual predilections and Scott’s ironic collection of too-tight NASCAR T-shirts were infinitely more interesting than bump-circumference guessing games or the extortionate price of strollers these days. Several hours past the official end of the party, I left in the glow of new friendships made: it was truly the most fun I’d had in weeks.

    Because that’s the thing: gossip is fun, one of the most profound and satisfying pleasures we humans are given. Read More »

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    On the Shelf

    December 21, 2011 | by

    A cultural news roundup.

  • RIP Václav Havel. An essential reading list.
  • RIP George Whitman. A video tribute.
  • RIP Christopher Hitchens.  An unusual officemate.
  • You can no longer kiss Oscar Wilde’s grave.
  • “The state of publishing—in particular of the kind of fiction which is politely called ‘literary,’ meaning not ‘easy reading’ as in ‘easy listening,’ or necessarily story-led, not bestselling before it is published—is dire.”
  • In happier news: McSweeney’s launches a poetry imprint.
  • Mowgli’s mixtape.
  • The secret lives of Smiley.
  • Picture books? There’s an app for that!
  • And Gosling does Scrooge. God bless us, every one!
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