American books are getting swearier

Psych scholars from San Diego State and U Georgia used Google Books to systematically explore the growth of swear-words in published American literature: they conclude that books are getting swearier and that this is a bellwether for a growth in the value of individualism: "Due to the greater valuation of the rights of the individual self, individualistic cultures favor more self-expression in general (Kim & Sherman, 2007) and allow more expression of personal anger in particular (Safdar et al., 2009). Thus, a more individualistic culture should be one with a higher frequency of swear word use." Read the rest

Jane Austen is the face of Britain's new £10 note

Novelist Jane Austen will soon become the latest historical figure to be honored on a British banknote, and the Bank of England has revealed an early run of the printed bills. Tuesday is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death.

The author of classics like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma will take the place of biologist Charles Darwin on the £10 note. The Jane Austen tenner is expected to come out in September, 2017.

From Reuters:

The central bank has printed an initial run of a billion of the new notes, which are known in Britain as "tenners", after last year's launch of a five pound note made from a polymer film that the BoE said is more durable and harder to forge.

(...) The writer was buried in Winchester Cathedral in 1817 and completed many of her best-known works such as "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" in the nearby village of Chawton.

"Ten pounds would have meant a lot to Jane Austen, about the same as 1,000 pounds ($1,300) would mean to us today," BoE Governor Mark Carney said at the launch of the new note in Winchester.

Austen received a 10 pound publisher's advance for her first novel and the new banknote bears a quotation "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!" from her later work, "Pride and Prejudice".

The quotation came from a character who in fact had no interest in books and was merely trying to impress a potential suitor.

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Bob Dylan's 2016 Nobel Lecture in Literature

Last October, Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Part of the requirement for receiving the award (and the prize money) is a lecture within six months of the Nobel ceremony. Dylan delivered his yesterday, just a few days before the deadline, and it's magnificent. Listen below.

(photo above by Charles Gatewood. Miss you!) Read the rest

"The Ambivalent Internet": A scholar of trolling's new book about politics in the internet age

Whitney Phillips is about to publish her second book on internet trolls: The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online, co-written with Ryan M. Milner during the 2016 election cycle, when trolling became an indomitable force for political goals. Read the rest

A history of American collapse in science fiction, from 1889's Last American to today

Paul Di Filippo has written a masterful, lively history of the many ways in which science fiction has explored the collapse of the American project, from JA Mitchell's 1889 The Last American to contemporary novels like Too Like the Lightning, Liberation, DMZ and Counting Heads. Read the rest

Lovecraftian letters: magnetic fridge-poetry from the eldritch realms

Paul writes, "Now you too can create miniature tales in the style of "The Gentleman of Providence" with LOVECRAFTIAN LETTERS - magnetic words featuring H.P. Lovecraft's unique vocabulary. This cyclopean set contains over 500 pieces with which to share your dark wisdom and Lovecraftian tales with friends, family & unnamable things from beyond..." Read the rest

If women wrote men the way men write women

Drew Mackie's video above, remixing the homoerotic glory of 80's anime Saint Seiya, is your shot. Meg Elison's short story at McSweeney's, "If women wrote men the way men write women", is your chaser. (Previously) Read the rest

Modelling Borges's Library of Babel in Sketchup

Jorge Luis Borges's short story The Library of Babel describes an infinite library containing all possible books ("its polished surfaces represent and promise the infinite ... Light is provided by some spherical fruit which bear the name of lamps"). Read the rest

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 went to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". From the New York Times:

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.

"Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature" (NYT)

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Flowchart: which Shakespeare play to see

This illustrated flowchart makes it easy to pick an evening out with the Bard. Read the rest

Hugo Gernsback's introduction to the first issue of Amazing Stories, 1926

When Hugo "Award" Gernsback launched Volume 1, Number 1 of Amazing Stories in April, 1926, he created the first magazine in the world solely devoted to science fiction stories: on the magazine's editorial page, Gernsback laid out his vision for the genre. Read the rest

First lines of popular books

Great opening lines from literature, in one large image.

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Saddam Hussein novella translated to English

Described as a "mix between Game of Thrones and House of Cards," a novella written by late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has finally been translated to English. Written in the last days of his rule, the plot reportedly "revolves around a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs," a presumably unsurprising topic to fans. Read the rest

China's "ultra-unreal" literary movement takes inspiration from breathtaking corruption

How can Chinese novelists convey the sense of unreality of living in a country where raids on the homes of civic officials uncover so much cash that it burns out four bill-counting machines when the police try to tot it up, or when it needs to be weighed by the ton to approximate its value? Read the rest

Walt Whitman was into paleo and wrote a “Manly Health and Training” guide with sex tips

Leaves of Grass? He probably ate them now and then.

A scholar at the University of Houston in Texas has discovered a 13-part, 47,000-word series by Walt Whitman, published by the New York Atlas in 1858, under the pseudonym Mose Velsor.

Under that most macho of aliases, “Manly Health and Training” amounts to a "part guest editorial, part self-help column," a “rambling and self-indulgent series” that reveals Walt Whitman's thoughts on a variety of manly-man topics. Including sex.

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The Third Electronic Literature Anthology: Unity, Javascript & Twitterbots

Mark Marino writes, "Kick your Norton Anthology to the curb, and check out the latest collection of digitally born literature. Published by the Electronic Literature Organization, the collection contains 114 works from 26 countries in 12 languages. The Electronic Literature Collection, vol. 3 offers a glimpse at just how wide the world of digital literature has become, including a diverse array of works, from Twitter bots to poem generators to Twine tales to poetic apps. Read the rest

How a mathematician teaches "Little Brother" to a first-year seminar

Derek Bruff teaches a first-year college writing seminar in mathematics, an unusual kind of course that covers a lot of ground, and uses a novel as some of its instructional material -- specifically, my novel Little Brother. Read the rest

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