From the stacks
In honor of Banned Books Week, we'll be publishing our original reviews of frequently banned books. First up is Robert Brustein on Joseph Heller's Catch 22, "a bitter, brilliant, subversive book."
The Italian writer Italo Calvino died on this day in 1985. In 1980, American author Ursula K. Le Guin reviewed George Martin’s new translation of Calvino’s Italian Folktales.Prowling among dictionaries, I discovered that the word “fairy” is fata in Italian and that it derives, like the word “fate,” from a Latin verb fari, to speak. Fate is “that which is spoken.” The Fates which presided over human life dwindled away to fairies, fairy godmothers, inhabitants of fairy tales.
Today marks the 304th anniversary of Samuel Johnson's birth. This piece, originally published in The New Republic, explains how Johnson's life, the subject of perhaps the most famous biography in history, "is a portrait of his century."
November 17, 1937
The story is that Stevens has turned of late definitely to the left. I should say not, from anything in this book. He's merely older and as an artist infinitely more accomplished.
July 3, 1929
I believe that in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lawrence has written the best descriptions of sexual experience which have yet been done in England.
September 5, 1928
March 9, 1987
A new film and biography of J.D. Salinger claim to reveal new information about the reclusive writer's life—including new work. In 1987, Andrew Delbanco reviewed another Salinger biography and the "unsquelchable" rumor of unpublished work.
September 2, 1946
It says in the good book—the Bible, the Constitution or Adam Smith—that "man cannot live by wage rates alone." The rate is a sheer fiction unless there are "hours worked" to go along with it; and the more of these hours—that is, within the limits of decency, say forty or less—the more it signifies. But the rate is set down, not in units of value which remain the same from everlasting to everlasting, but in terms of dollars whose power to purchase may be—and just now is—a wasting asset.
The 1995 Nobel Lecture
The Irish poet Seamus Heaney passed away this morning at the age of 74. Following is the speech he gave in reception of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he was awarded in 1995.
January 2, 1915
The German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on this day in 1749. In 1915, George Santayana wrote about the legacy of Geothe, Kant, and Hegel in understanding contemporary Germany.