“Truman Capote is to have a final, macabre whirl of celebrity by having his ashes auctioned off in Los Angeles – starting price $2,000.

The remains, contained in a carved Japanese box, will go on the block in September, 32 years after Capote’s death.”

More at The Guardian.

Source: Harriet: The Blog.

Now, you can download all 239 issues of the landmark UK feminist magazine free-of-charge. Source: Open Culture.

Alison Flood (The Guardian) reports on a petition that rejects traditional English curriculum at Yale
Undergraduates at Yale University have launched a petition calling on the English department to abolish a core course requirement to study canonical writers including Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, saying that “it is unacceptable that a Yale student considering studying English literature might read only white male authors”.

The prestigious Connecticut university requires its English majors to spend two semesters studying a selection of authors it labels the “major English poets”: “Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and John Donne in the fall; John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and TS Eliot or another modern poet in the spring”. (more…)

The novelist on unusual cinema experiences, LGBTQ history and the genius of Happy Valley (Source: The Guardian).

Robert McCrum (The Guardian) counts down his list of the 100 best non-fiction books, and cites Sontag’s landmark essay collection at number 16

susan-sontag-against-interpretation-and-other-essays-penguinSusan Sontag saw herself as a novelist. The years between 1962, when she completed her first novel, The Benefactor, and 1965, when she began her second, Death Kit, were for Sontag “a sharply defined period” in which she wrote many of the literary critical and cultural pieces that came to define her even more strongly than her fiction.

In her Paris Review interview of 1994, Sontag confessed: “Writing essays has always been laborious. They go through many drafts, and the end result may bear little relation to the first draft; often I completely change my mind in the course of writing an essay. Fiction comes much easier, in the sense that the first draft contains the essentials – tone, lexicon, velocity, passions – of what I eventually end up with.” (more…)

Claudia Rankine discusses Adrienne Rich’s impact on her poetry

“There are many great poets, but not all of them alter the ways in which we understand the world we live in; not all of them suggest that words can be held responsible. Remarkably, Adrienne Rich did this, and continues to do this, for generations of readers.”

More at The New Yorker (via Harriet: The Blog).

On poetry and the dissemination of marginalised voices

“Ferlinghetti calls to the poet-reader, addressing them as Whitman, Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, etc. — all famous writers, some of them queer. And that’s maybe apt, as it’s long been queer writers who have made the case for poetry as activism — even today, when their voices might no longer seem necessary and poetry is sometimes a punchline. Because even as their stories creep in from the margins, queer lives are not transformed into fairytales by marriage equality and the cooption of drag culture. Queer voices must still be heard, and poetry’s tradition of tribal truth-telling always has and continues to make it the perfect tool for the dissemination of those voices.”

More at Flavorwire.

“Although she died in 1982, at the age of ninety, Djuna Barnes seems to have recorded her voice on only a few occasions. The tape below was made in her Patchin Place home in 1971. Barnes is best known for Nightwood, her modernist classic, but she had a long and thriving career as a journalist…”

More at The Paris Review.

Rafia Zakaria (The Guardian) asks why the progressive French writer seems to have been left in the margins
Violette-Leduc
Violette Leduc

The explicitly sexual tell-all memoir, with its eager flirtations with the pornographic and dislocations of heterosexuality, has blossomed in the US and France in recent years. But Violette Leduc, who did it all and said it all more than 50 years ago, is a ghostly presence in its genealogy.

It is a mysterious marginalisation: Simone de Beauvoir, who took on Leduc as a protege, remains a feminist icon. Leduc’s contemporary Jean Genet, also wrote sexually explicit, homosexual texts and is widely read and venerated as a pioneer in French avant-garde writing. Not so Leduc. Her first book, the autobiographical novel L’Asphyxie, has still not been translated into English. Her novel Thérèse and Isabelle, written in 1955, was not published uncensored in France until 2000 and was only translated and published in English by the Feminist Press last year. [Read More]

Jill Dawson (The Guardian) on the influences and inspirations behind Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt
Patricia Highsmith was in love many times and with many women – “more times than rats have orgasms”, to use one of her own more disquieting similes. She plundered these objects of her desire extravagantly in her 22 novels and hundreds of short stories. Not one glance, not one feminine gesture or foible of any one of her many girlfriends was ever wasted, but only once – and spectacularly – did she write openly about lesbianism. This was her second novel, Carol, first published as The Price of Salt in 1952, with Highsmith using the pseudonym Claire Morgan, and now adapted into a Todd Haynes film starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and just about to premiere at Cannes.

(more…)

Toni Morrison’s 1955 Master’s thesis was entitled, ‘Virginia Woolf’s and William Faulkner’s treatment of the alienated’. [Source]

A new title from Bloomsbury.

Ben Golder on the French thinker Michel Foucault
As human rights rise in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s so too does the work of thinkers (many of them French philosophers or theorists of language—structuralist, post-structuralist, postmodern) dedicated to deconstructing or critically historicizing the idea of “humanity.” How do we account for the exponential popularity of human rights as a political and legal medium in the same period as the increasing prominence of these post-humanist styles of thought that seemingly pull the humanist rug out from under the feet of the human rights movement?

(more…)

Two photographers take a look around the iconic literary journal
5b3bf-paris-review-paul-barbera-14
Photograph: Paul Barbera

(more…)