Herman Melville, The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids

The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids by Herman Melville My rating: 5 of 5 stars After re-reading Moby-Dick, I decided to revisit this remarkable short story (or diptych of sketches) as well. Originally published in Harper's in 1855, it is one of Melville's lesser-known works, not included in his 1856 collection The… Continue reading Herman Melville, The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin My rating: 4 of 5 stars This book is not extrapolative. If you like, you can read it, and a lot of other science fiction, as a thought-experiment. […] In a story so conceived, the moral complexity proper to the modern novel need not be… Continue reading Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens My rating: 4 of 5 stars [Spoilers below.] I wanted to revisit Dickens after reading Jeanette Winterson’s Art Objects. Like other British critics who want to keep alive the modernist tradition—see also Gabriel Josipovici and James Wood—Winterson is vexed by Dickens, wanting to dispatch him as Victorian relic and also… Continue reading Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Punching What?

Let us continue to count, and talk, and think about the numbers. —Claire Vaye Watkins As one of the major theses of Claire Vaye Watkins’s celebrated manifesto, “On Pandering,” is that the subject-position I represent should not be acknowledged as a legitimate authority on the essay’s quality or cogency, I will not address myself to… Continue reading Punching What?

Dorothy Richardson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Literary History

Amy Shearn on how and why Karl Ove Knausgaard's champions have neglected the modernist Dorothy Richardson, whose roman-fleuve Pilgrimage anticipates My Struggle in mode and method: As much as I do love my dear prolific weirdo Knausgaard, he hasn’t really done anything all that revolutionary. In fact, exactly a century ago, England saw the beginnings… Continue reading Dorothy Richardson, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Literary History