home     authors     titles     dates     links     about     "Read at whim!" – Randall Jarrell

12 december 2018

Several people called Enrico Fermi "the last man who knew everything," but as biographer David Schwartz notes, they meant "everything about physics." Fermi was not particularly a renaissance man, having little interest in wider culture or in other sciences. But he really did know everything there was to know about physics, from the time he systematically took up the field as a teenager till his premature death in his early 50s.     read more

11 december 2018

Susanne Lucas, author of Bamboo for the Reaktion Botanical series, is Executive Director of the World Bamboo Organization. Bamboo thus reads to some extent like an extended pamphlet for such an organization. "The implication here is not that bamboo will save the planet," Lucas says (23), but at times it's pretty close.     read more

10 december 2018

Tartuffe is Molière's play about a hypocrite, and The Misanthrope is his play about an anti-hypocrite. Alceste, the title misanthrope, is sick of everybody lying to everybody else all the time, saying immediately behind people's backs the opposite of what they've said to their faces. His friend Philinte points out that if we went around telling the absolute truth all the time, we couldn't live with one another. But Alceste is intransigent.     read more

9 december 2018

Enquête sur Hamlet ("Investigation of Hamlet") has a subtitle that Pierre Bayard probably didn't think twice about back in 2002, but seems very ableist to an American reader in 2018: "Le dialogue de sourds." "Dialogue of the deaf" is an English idiom too, but one you don't hear much anymore – it means a conversation where the parties are talking past each other, not listening. It's ableist because deaf people are not idiots; they can hold perfectly attentive conversations. What do you imagine signers do? Of course, deaf people can be as prone to not listening as anyone else, but that has nothing to do with their deafness.     read more