A true birthday is the day of your death.
One reason why The Divine Comedy remains the most generous work in literary history is because it brings together these three phenomena—God, love, and art—in a first-person story where they flow into and out of one another promiscuously, such that it is impossible finally to distinguish between the Comedy’s art and ‘the love that moves the sun and the other stars.’ Even if one knows nothing about the Christian theology that structures the poem, the love that keeps it moving sweeps the reader up along with it.
Repressed homosexual yearnings certainly would account for some of the more striking of Kafka’s darker preoccupations, including the disgust toward women that he so frequently displays, his fascination with torture and evisceration, and most of all, perhaps, his lifelong obsession with his father, or better say, with the Father—the eternal masculine.
The fact is, Kafka was a son of Prague to his phthisic fingertips. As a young man he remarked ruefully that the city had claws, and would not let go. He knew well both himself and his birthplace.
Books you want
Books you didn’t know you wanted
Presents for your niece
(and lots of books not even shown in the picture)
Check out the whole sale.
New York Review of Books Classics is having its annual Summer Sale, and some of the bundles this year are particularly enticing. For instance, you can grab perennial Millions favorite (and current international bestseller) Stoner as part of a bundle that also includes Renata Adler’s Speedboat. The publishers are also offering John Horne Burns’s lost masterpiece, The Gallery, as part of a collection of World War II novels. You may recall David Margolick’s great profile of Burns from the New York Times Magazine last month.
There’s something familial, deeply comforting in the sound of a pig oinking in the peace and slumber of a summer afternoon.
A novelist’s work is often a strategy (I don’t mean the author need be aware of this) for dealing with some personal dilemma.
What [Vladimir] Nabokov is actually doing in Lolita is deliberately drawing on all manner of anti-Semitic propaganda, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Nazi caricatures of the Jewish ‘type,’ to create in Humbert Humbert the anti-Semitic cliché of legend, rather as, say, Chaucer draws on medieval misogynist writings to create in the figure of the Wife of Bath the archetypal shrew of his male audience’s nightmares.