BURN PILE: Modernism-induced head-scratching edition!
Modern guilt: To massage a line from Beckett, why should we go on when we can’t go on? In his essay for The Atlantic, Michael Levenson argues that modernism was—is—”the gamble with history that we pay a price for forgetting.” Remind and rededicate yourselves here, insurrectionists.
OK, modernists, how’d Ulysses fair in the Times? According to the 1922 review [paywalled, sadly], “A few intuitive, sensitive visionaries may understand Ulysses…but the average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from it.” If you find yourself nodding to Levenson’s argument, try to glean again.
Buy that Jonathan Franzen essay? Jennifer Niesslein didn’t. And, at Virginia Quarterly Review, she urges him to write beyond the bounds of “privileged” readers to reach a broader audience: “When I write, I want them—and people like them—to have access to my prose.” Moreover, she does it in a letter that’d be right at home in our “Long Way From, Long Time Since” section. Click here for more on how to submit.
Marilynne Robinson explains, in a wonderful interview at VICE, what she means when she says she’s “keeping her organism out of trouble.”