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Lit Crit

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Free Shakespeare Plays for Philosophers & Psychoanalysts

Looking for some holiday reading? Try the most psychoanalytic plays by William Shakespeare.

In Stay, Illusion! The Hamlet Doctrine, authors Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster explored the philosophical and psychoanalytic themes in Shakespeare’s most classic play. We asked them for a list of the most psychoanalytic Shakespeare plays for your weekend reading pleasure.

The list, complete with free book links, follows below…

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How To Pitch The Los Angeles Review of Books

Are you looking for more places to read or write about literary criticism? Today on the Morning Media Menu, we explored The Los Angeles Review of Books, a growing online journal on the West Coast.

Our guest was founding editor Tom Lutz, explaining how the publication has grown over the last year. He also talked about how readers can support the new online magazine and how writers can pitch story ideas to the book review.

Press play below to listen to the interview. Lutz explained how writers can pitch the new journal: “It begins with a pitch from a critic. That pitch can go to this address: pitches [at] lareviewofbooks [dot] org. We look at everything that comes in. A lot of our best stuff comes from people I didn’t know until we started working with them.”

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Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Aids Psychologist’s Experiment

Inspired by his 12-year-old son’s advice, University of British Columbia psychologist Alan Kingstone used the beloved Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual in an experiment.

According to Discover’s Not Exactly Rocket Science blog, the psychologist was studying why people “automatically look where other people are looking,” trying to figure out if we automatically follow other people’s eyes or if we orient on the middle of people’s faces. The D & D monster manual offered a variety of images to test how we see. Check it out:

He thought it would be easy to discriminate between the two ideas: just use the Monster Manual. This book will be delightfully familiar to a certain brand of geek. It’s the Bible of fictional beasties that accompanied the popular dice-rolling role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Regularly updated, it bursts with great visuals and bizarrely detailed accounts of unnatural history. It has differently coloured dragons, undead, beholders … Levy knew that the Manual contained many nightmarish monsters whose eyes are not on their faces. If people still looked at the eyes of these creatures, it would answer the question.

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Michael Dirda Answers Questions on Reddit

What is the worst book you’ve ever read?

Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic and author Michael Dirda held an epic “Ask Me Anything” interview at Reddit, fielding questions online from readers about self-publishing, Amazon and the worst books he ever reviewed.

At one point, he talked about the worst book he’d ever read. Check it out: “Judith Krantz‘s Dazzle. Even the sex in the book was boilerplate, a totally meretricious work. John Sutherland–a distinguished English authority on the novel and the best seller–once included Dazzle in his list of the 25 worst novels of the century.”

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New Yorker Relaunches Literary Blog as ‘Page-Turner’

The New Yorker has relaunched its literary blog with a new name and logo: Page-Turner.

The new blog will expand the work of the Book Bench, the magazine’s old books site. “Daily essays will be the blog’s mainstay, with books as an anchor for wide-ranging cultural comment,” explained the introductory post.

Check it out: “Our first day features an essay by Salman Rushdie on the spectre of censorship; a dissenting view on the immortality of “Death of a Salesman,” by Giles Harvey; Mary Norris on the subtle marvellousness of the medieval thorn; and Nick Thompson on the risks of the running life. Check back for interviews with fiction writers, staff reading lists, literary Shouts & Murmurs, cool-headed rants, barely checked enthusiasms, good-natured persiflage, and, with luck, lots of soft owls flying over the lane.”

Henry James Has Generated the Most Scholarly Writing

Over at Commentary, you can find a list of the American writers ranked by the amount of scholarly writing they have generated over the last 25 years. Henry James leads the list–scholars have written 3,188 pieces about his work.

Many of these writers have free eBooks available online. We’ve created a list below linking to free digital book editions of works by these writers.

Here’s more about the list: “Over the past 25 years, Henry James has been the top-ranked American writer, according to the latest MLA International Bibliography. More than 3,000 pieces of scholarship have been devoted to him in whole or part since 1987 … Here are the top American writers as determined by the amount of scholarship on each. In brackets is the rise or fall of each writer when compared to his or her ranking since 1947.”

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Fifty Shades of Grey Compared to Twilight

Paranormal author Jami Gold asked her readers: When Does Fan Fiction Cross an Ethical Line? Her pointed question generated more than 220 comments about Fifty Shades of Grey, an erotica novel by E L James that began as Twilight fan fiction and landed a seven-figure advance.

Gold had no disrespect for the art of writing fan fiction–she honed her craft by writing Harry Potter fan fiction.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about a young woman named Anastasia Steele meeting a man named Christian Grey; Twilight is about a young woman named Bella Swan meeting a vampire named Edward Cullen.  At Gold’s blog, a few readers listed plot similarities between the Twilight series and Fifty Shades of Grey. We’ve linked to a few examples below–what do you think?

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Slate Launches Monthly Slate Book Review

Today Slate launched a monthly feature, the Slate Book Review. The New York Times has more details.

Check it out: “The first weekend of every month, the Slate Book Review will take over Slate’s home page, delivering reviews of the newest fiction and nonfiction; essays on reading, writing, and the great (and terrible) books of years gone by; author interviews; videos and podcasts; and much more. We’re proud to bring together Slatesters whose work you know and love with great new writers who’ve never appeared in our magazine before, all in one smart, essential package.”

As of this writing, you can read Allison Benedikt on What To Expect When You’re Expecting and Wesley Morris on “a poet’s investigation of blackness in American culture.”

Adam Mars-Jones Wins Hatchet Job of the Year Award

Last night Adam Mars-Jones won the Hatchet Job of the Year award, celebrated for writing the “angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review published in a newspaper or magazine in 2011.”

Follow this link to read Mars-Jones’ scathing review of By Nightfall that earned a golden hatchet and “a year’s supply of potted shrimp.” British journalists Rachel Johnson, Suzi Feay, Sam Leith and D.J. Taylor judged the competition. At this link, you can read all the shortlisted Hatchet Job of the Year reviews.

Leith explained why they chose the review: “Mars-Jones’s review of Michael Cunningham had everything a reader could hope for in a hostile review. It was at once erudite, attentive, killingly fair-minded and viciously funny … Every one of his zingers – ‘like tin-cans tied to a tricycle;’ ‘it seems to be the prestige of the modernists he admires, rather than their stringency;’ ‘that’s not an epiphany, that’s a postcard’ – is earned by the argument it arises from. By the end of it Cunningham’s reputation is, well, prone.”

 

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