Bookish News – 31 October 2014

Book News

 

Bookish news making the rounds this week:

 

  • “And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting…” in our minds after all this time! Edgar Allan Poe’s famed poem The Raven” has been around almost one hundred seventy years, and has since been embedded (parodied, filmed, read, acted) in our culture. What is it about Poe that keeps readers fascinated, and many academics furious? Jerome McGann, distinguished professor and critic at the University of Virginia, has published The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel (Harvard University Press), which investigates the persistent tension between Poe’s popular admiration and academic scorn. (Washington Post)
  • Certain universities refuse to grant degrees to students with outstanding library fines. After the Office of Fair Trading in the United Kingdom declared it unlawful to keep students from graduating over non-academic debts, the University of Sheffield has removed library fines entirely. (BBC News)
  • Bizarre, uncanny, and beautiful. Over at the Atlantic, fiction writer and editor of The Weirdanthology Jeff VanderMeer considers the universal elements found in “weird tales.” Works by Jamaica Kincaid, Helen Oyeyemi, and Haruki Murakami are among those that VanderMeer suggests take on a “luminous quality.” “Just as in real life, things don’t always quite add up, the narrative isn’t quite what we expected, and in that space we discover some of the most powerful evocations of what it means to be human or inhuman.
  • Remember when J.K. Rowling promised new Harry Potter materials on Pottermore for Halloween? Well, today she delivered. For those without a membership to Rowling’s website, NBC’s Today show has republished Rowling’s profile of Dolores Umbridge — a villain whose desire to control is, according to Rowling’s accompanying essay, “every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.” And like many villains, this character has roots in reality: an old, “spiteful” teacher of Rowling’s with a “taste for twee accessories.” (NPR)
  • To raise money for Freedom from Torture, seventeen authors—including Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Ken Follett, Hanif Kureishi, Will Self, Alan Hollinghurst, and Zadie Smith—are offering the rights to name characters in their new novels. (They call this an “Immortality Auction,” which implies that all the authors involved expect to have healthy readerships in the coming eons.) (Paris Review)

 

 

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