These are the most interesting of the articles I spent time with last week.
In this interview fiction writer Christine Sneed, whose latest work is the story collection The Virginity of Famous Men, discusses why fame and our human flaws are good subjects for fiction. She also weighs in on the question of how reading literature makes us better people:
“I really do think that reading literature, literary fiction, and poetry especially, will make you a better person. One thing literature does is offer you access to points of view and consciousness different from your own.”
September is National Translation Month. In honor of this event, Scott Esposito suggests 10 Big Books in translation.
Robert Fulford gives some examples from published articles and interviews of people explaining how particular books influenced them. But the most interesting aspect of this article is his opening vignette about Kafka, which I had not heard before:
One day in 1904 the young Franz Kafka wrote a letter to a friend defining the books that are worth reading. “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound us,” he wrote. “If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write?
“We need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
Open Culture recommends a free online course from The University of Warwick, offered through FutureLearn, that presents “the work of famous writers like Austen, Shakespeare and Wordsworth – exploring how they can impact mental health and why works of writing are so often turned to in times of crisis.” In addition, throughout the six-week course doctors add a medical perspective on several mental health conditions.
You can read the course description here, then follow the links to learn more about the course and to enroll.
© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown