Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘classics’

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You know what the classics need? Explosive sex.

Poor Jane Austen. First there were the zombies. Now, reports the UK Huffington post, an adult publisher has been inspired by 50 Shades of Grey and plans to add “explosive sex” to the classics: Some original fans of Jane Eyre might be unhappy to discover that the female protagonist has “explosive sex with Mr Rochester” in the publisher’s erotic edition. In Wuthering Heights, heroine Catherine Earnshaw “enjoys bondage sessions” with Heathcliff while sleuth Sherlock Holmes has a sexual relationship with his sidekick Dr Watson in the new e-book. Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, which is releasing the titles from […]


Essays |

DFW + Me = An ‘Arranged’ Marriage of Music and Fiction

What happens when a composer falls in love with a David Foster Wallace short story? Eric Moe describes the genesis of his “sit-trag /concert monodrama” Tri-Stan, his correspondence with DFW about the project, the challenges of translating a short story to a one-woman vocal piece, and why “making art is a lot more exciting when big risks are being taken.”


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Curl Up with a Good Story: "A Simple Heart," by Gustave Flaubert

Flaubert, best known for his part in fathering the modern novel, also wrote wonderful short fiction. This Saturday morning, I recommend curling up with “A Simple Heart.” A tribute to George Sand, this story was first published in 1877 as part of Flaubert’s final finished work, Three Tales; almost 100 years later it inspired Julian Barnes to write the novel Flaubert’s Parrot, which was shortlisted for the 1984 Booker Prize. Here’s a taste from “A Simple Heart”: For fifty years the ladies of Pont-l’Évêque envied Madame Aubain her servant Felicity. For a hundred francs a year she cooked, and cleaned, […]


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No flack from Chuck

Anyone with a television set (by no means a given anymore) and network reception (ditto), has probably not escaped the fact that this is Oprah’s last season. Her most recent Book Club selection – announced during her show featuring Jonathan Franzen, post-controversy – were not one, but two novels by Charles Dickens. The Oprah Book Club paperback version combining A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, clocks in at a whopping 848 pages (oh, the serial novelist!). Oprah has picked classics in the past, East of Eden, As I Lay Dying, and Anna Karenina have made the list. At […]


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Safely Scared

Over lunch with a friend a few weeks back, we discussed the qualities of enduring children’s literature. Almost simultaneously, we both lit upon the fairly common idea that children really, truly love to be frightened – not so different from their more mature counterparts. “Safely scared,” was how he put it, and I couldn’t agree more. December always puts me in mind of reading as a child, the early-dark nights, the cold driving us inside, reading Roald Dahl or Madeleine L’Engle or the Grimm brothers by flashlight. Traditional fairy tales are often far darker than our novelists dare – the […]


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Old Friends

Over on the Huffington Post, Cynthia Ellis has a lovely homage to The Woman in White, the 1859 classic of madness, mystery, romance and juicy hints at the supernatural by Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White was first published in serial form, and the reader feels it. The 600+ pages race by with a kind of terminal velocity from the first haunting scene. Ellis brought the book on her Hawaiian vacation, an experience she describes thus: If you are in Kauai, trapped underwater in a small metal cage being dangled in front of sharks, trying not to stick out your […]


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Wild Things Roundup

Maurice Sendak’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are is nearly 50 years old, but the release of Spike Jonze’s film adaptation has sparked a resurgence of critical interpretations of the story. A sampling: On the Oxford University Press blog, philosophy professor Stephen T. Asma ties our love for Where the Wild Things Are to our fascination with other monsters–“zombies, vampires, and serial killers”: As the movie’s trailer reminds us, “Inside all of us is a wild thing.” And in our therapeutic era, we generally accept that it is good and healthy to visit our wild things –to let them […]


Essays |

Hobbling Up The Magic Mountain

I just read Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. The whole thing. Starting on page one and ending on page 706. The events in the book span seven years, and reading it seemed to take almost as long. When I embarked on this project, I was recovering from orthopedic surgery … Why, then, would I want to read a lengthy book packed with intellectual digressions set in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps prior to the start of World War II? Hadn’t I been through enough? How about something light, or at least short? A Carol Goodman murder mystery, or something by Nick Hornby? As it turned out, The Magic Mountain was a choice so perfect I’m thinking a copy should be handed out with every pre-admission packet given to surgical patients…



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