- On Thursday, just as the Dow Jones closed at an all-time high, a first edition of Marx’s Das Kapital sold for $40,000.
- Searching for Orwell in Scotland: “I had come to Jura, a remote island on Scotland’s west coast, to find the solitude George Orwell had sought sixty-five years earlier to finish his classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four … [I] wanted to understand why a man so accustomed to city life had come to an inaccessible island of only 190 souls to find inspiration for a novel about totalitarianism in an urbanized state—why a writer at the peak of his celebrity ensconced himself in an austere farmhouse hidden in an inhospitable Scottish landscape.”
- Paola Antonelli is “one of MoMA’s most prominent, and provocative, curators”: “Petite and energetic, she is prone to fanciful descriptions of the world and its things—a verbal extension, perhaps, of a kind of object-oriented synesthesia. Design, to her, is everywhere … She has said that she believes ‘the age of design is upon us, almost like a rapture.’”
- In commissioned books of portraits like Matthäus Schwarz’s, from the sixteenth century, we can trace the origins of “self-fashioning”: “Schwarz’s Trachtenbuch (Book of Clothes) was clearly designed for display, and on the whole it paints him in a good light … it announces Schwarz as a person of taste, a supporter of his city and family, a courtly lover, and a well-rounded Renaissance man. It is also, arguably, one of the first fashion books, a distant progenitor of a Vogue lookbook, as it were.”
- John Wray profiles Nick Cave: “Cave’s public persona has been called ‘theatrical,’ but a more precise term might be cinematic. Like many self-mythologizers, charismatics and plain old eccentrics, he has always appeared to be performing in a movie only he himself could see.”
For reasons I don’t begin to understand, Washington Irving’s Life of Oliver Goldsmith used to be required reading in American high schools. My own copy (1905) is a schoolbook edition, complete with suggestions for extra credit (“The teacher should know Thackeray’s English Humorists, D’Arblay’s Diary and Letters, Dobson’s Eighteenth Century Vignettes,” and four other books you’ve never heard of). It is hard to believe that such a fascinating biography was ever taught to kids. What did they care about the economics of Grub Street, or the incredible elegance with which writers once knew how to break a contract? Irving and Goldsmith both did plenty of hack work—a term Irving uses without prejudice—but this is clearly a labor of love and obsession. And it’s that rare thing in literary history: a penetrating essay by a great humorist, whose work is still just within our reach, about another who stands outside the pale. —Lorin Stein
For many of us, fashion is a tricky thing: while both the way people choose to dress themselves and the art form are fascinating, the intersection can be, to say the least, problematic. Enter Fashion Projects, a journal devoted to critical discourse in fashion. If that sounds oxymoronic, try issue 4, out now: an interview with Judith Thurman, Jay Ruttenberg on Bill Cunningham, and fashion criticism as political critique are just a few things it takes on. —Sadie Stein Read More