Readersforum's Blog

November 30, 2010

A monster of an exhibition: First handwritten draft of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein goes on display

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 1:07 pm

The handwritten first draft of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, has gone on display in Britain for the first time. 

The exhibition also includes a never before seen portrait of the author alongside belongings and literary work from her family – one of Britain’s most renowned literary dynasties….read more


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Today in Literature

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 5:03 am

Jonathan Swift, Dublin’s Child On this day in 1667 Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, the exact location seemingly pregnant with significance: a few blocks from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Swift would be Dean; almost in the backyard of Dublin Castle, representing the Englishness he would both covet and skewer; the specific address, 7 Hoey’s Court, almost perfect for perhaps the most famous scoffer in literature…read more


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November 29, 2010

Dear Bibliotherapist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 8:31 pm

News Story ImageDear Bibliotherapist

I long to find something to read that is as satisfying as lying back and listening to a great piece of music. Can you help?

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The Victorian MFA Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 7:52 pm

The next time you get into a debate over the value of a creative writing MFA, try this handy visualization exercise: imagine that everyone involved is wearing a monocle.

As I realized while researching a new Slate article on Victorian writing advice, you wouldn’t be too far off, historically speaking.  Granted, arguments over their value almost invariably take their starting point as the postwar era – that Cambrian explosion of disciplines and sub-disciplines that followed the flood of GI Bill students and then Boomers into the university system.  So it’s tempting to see the MFA debate as inextricably linked to arguments about modern aesthetics, or to the latest financial and job-market miseries that the profession staggers under.

But the origins of the MFA debate are older… much older.  They date to around the same time as the beginnings of the English degree itself, in the nationalist literature movements and land-grant university boom of the Victorian era.  And the rhetoric has hardly advanced since then….read  more

Tolstoy a Prominent Figure in Russia’s Big Book Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 7:34 pm

This year being the centennial of Leo Tolstoy’s death, it seems unavoidable that he would figure prominently in a prestigious literary event such as Russia’s 2010 Big Book Award. His life story is the subject matter and inspiration for two of the winning titles announced last Tuesday at the Russian National Library’s Pashkov House….read  more

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Building The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 8:14 am

LAHORE: Mohsin Hamid’s talk about The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which took the form of a dramatic monologue, was “both the inspiration and the premise of how I constructed my novel”.

While there have been varied and contradicting readings of the book, almost every one agrees that the primary tone of the book was one of control, something Hamid told the Lahore University of management Sciences’ (Lums) students, he worked hard to achieve….read more

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Hay-on-Wye: it’s about more than books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 8:07 am

Anyone who has ever bought a second-hand book knows that the joy of it lies in serendipity – that there is no hierarchy between the impossibly rare and the recently loved, and that only when you find something do you realise it was what you were looking for all along.

We have attempted to honour that tradition here at the Telegraph offices, where one of my predecessors as literary editor kindly left a bottle of whisky in the books cupboard, behind the Kingsley Amis. And the spirit of serendipity is a large part of what guides the internationally celebrated Hay Festival, which began in a town built of second-hand books, and which has developed fertile new incarnations all over the world, from Colombia to Kerala….read more

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 5:38 am

Edgar More Poe Than Allan

On this day in 1811, a notice appeared in the Richmond, Virginia Inquirer asking for donations in aid of Eliza Poe, a young actress now “lingering on the bed of disease and surrounded by her children.” Though two-year-old Edgar would be rescued by the Allan family, the life of poverty, abandonment and hand-outs so familiar to his mother would eventually return to stay….read more

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November 28, 2010

Writers pick their favourite translations…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 6:07 am

Novelists and translators on the translated books that have impressed them most…read more

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75 Notes For An Unwritten Essay on Literary Prizes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 5:56 am

1. “The point of prizes, presumably, is to establish literary standards, honor worthy work and the writers of it, and enlarge the audience for fine fiction by bringing it to wider public notice than its publishers can bear to.”

2. During the annual book award season, which runs from the Nobel Announcement in the fall to the Pulitzer in the spring, there are many complaints that the majors awards are dooming themselves into irrelevance by making obscure selections.

3. The irony of this position is that most of the soi disant ‘serious readers’, who apparently number no more than 4,000 in the United States, have a great fascination for the neglected classics, the lost masterpieces long out of print. This dissonance comes out of an acknowledgment of the various levels of utility involved in the awards process itself and the competing interests of the awarding institution….read more

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