the whole world burns

Archive for category 'literature'

Pulitzer-Prize-winning fanfiction

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Congratulations! You've just summarily dismissed as criminal, immoral, and unimaginative each of the following Pulitzer Prize-winning works:

  • Jane Smiley's novel A Thousand Acres, a modernized AU (Alternate Universe) retelling of King Lear and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. King Lear is itself a hybrid of multiple folk and fairy tales

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's Tony-Award-winning South Pacific, which was based on James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific and is the only musical to win the Pulitzer Prize that is based on another work that also won a Pulitzer.

  • Geraldine Brooks' March, a parallel retelling of Little Women and winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for literature

(And so on and so on and so on...)

Ben Joseph @ McSweeney's: Lit 101 Class in Three Lines or Less.

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Paradise Lost

ADAM: Paradise has arbitrary dietary restrictions?

DEVIL: They're really more like guidelines.

GOD: Incorrect.

Translating Subtexts: What the Translator Must Know

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Entertaining transcript of a speech on the perils of translation, though not without errors of its own.

Ig Nobel Prize For Literature, 2006: Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly

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Does complex, jargon-heavy writing make you seem intelligent? Apparently not. Before rushing to attack Derrida, note that the study's only real result is that fluency is the key. Increased complexity may not necessarily come at the cost of fluency. Long words are only problematic if used inappropriately.

Unfortunately, the chosen samples weren't much good. The complicated samples read as though a thesaurus had been used to inappropriately substitute words. (Which, for the experiment, it had.) The simplified samples read better, but with significant loss of nuance; even if undergraduates didn't notice, a domain expert would have.

By far the most interesting point came from the fifth experiment. Copies of the same document were divided amongst two groups, but the copies given to the second group were printed badly, making the text (optically) difficult to read. The low-toner group rated the intelligence of the author higher.

[W]hen an obvious source for the lack of fluency is present, people discount that lack of fluency when making their judgement. They do so to such an extent that they end up biasing their judgement in the opposite direction!

Salman Rushdie quote

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When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him, while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally be produced. We love relatively few books in our lives, and those books become parts of the way we see our lives; we read our lives through them, and their descriptions of the inner and outer worlds become mixed up with ours — they become ours.

Jane Austen Story

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Literary detective work: investigating a "new" allusion.

Unpopular Culture

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Literature a chapter a day, with space for reader comments.

Small things, links and miscellany, sparkling with light. Sam's tumblelog.

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