Best Of The Web
““All good letter writers”, Virginia Woolf wrote in 1940, a year before her suicide, “feel the drag of the face on the other side of the page.” She meant that the important thing about writing letters isn’t the art of writing but the act of corresponding. Sometimes she linked this to a letter’s disposability, as if the likelihood of its being burned or destroyed fostered a specially “intimate, irreticent, indiscreet” kind of writing.
By this standard, Sylvia Plath – who once said that “nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing” – is not one of literature’s great letter writers. Her main correspondent was always her mother, Aurelia, but there are only qualified kinds of intimacy in the letters they wrote. Their satisfaction, Sylvia noted in her journal, was in allowing mother and daughter to “verbalize our desired image of ourselves in relation to each other”.
When Aurelia published an edited selection of Sylvia’s correspondence as Letters Home in 1975, critics were dismayed by the bouncy brightness, the self-evident insincerity, of Plath’s epistolary voice. How could a poet who was in her work “never a nice person”, as Elizabeth Hardwick put it, have been so breathlessly interested in cooking and acquiring a hunky dreamhusband? Where was the anguish that led to her first suicide attempt, in 1953? Usually the fault – the falsity – was taken to be Aurelia’s. Either she was only able to elicit a self-consciously false self from her daughter or, more sinisterly, she had edited all the darker bits out. For Erica Jong the end of the volume, in particular, was “pruned so severely” that it was impossible to read without suspicion.”
JJ Best Of The Web
"You are being watched. Right now, cookies are tracking which websites you visit and what you click on while you’re there. Your smartphone is logging your location."
"The US placed sanctions on 17 Saudis on Thursday as punishment for their alleged involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi... according to experts, the move doesn’t go far enough to reprimand the kingdom."
"If the slow-motion crisis that is Gaza ever has a turning point, then this week’s deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, or what’s left of it, and Hamas leaders, under siege, is what the turning would look like."
"Nicholas Parisi's new biography, 'Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination,' fails to present a complete picture of the legendary screenwriter who did his best work outside the TV show that made him famous."
"Nearly a year after the tax cut, economic growth has accelerated. Wage growth has not. Companies are buying back stock and business investment is a mixed bag."
"By shifting accents, Australian expatriates are seen to be shifting class and status, indicating a sense of superiority to those who remain in Australia. The quickly acquired faux-British accent in particular has been associated with pretension..."
"Denim, usually in the form of the humble pair of jeans, is arguably the world’s most popular fabric. Over the years, it’s been worn by everyone from supermodels to soccer moms."
"Capitalism disadvantages women along several axes. The dawn of the industrial revolution enshrined a division of labor that largely confined them to the domestic sphere."
"In the past five or so years, hosting a Thanksgiving meal among friends a week before the actual holiday has become a standard part of the celebration for many young adults."
"Are these business owners trying to keep out certain customers? What about children? Or people who are paid in cash, or others who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t open a bank account..."
"Humanity is on the verge of a weighty achievement. On Friday, representatives of more than 60 nations will convene in Versailles, France, to approve a new definition for the kilogram."
"...the more modern form of the movement has its roots in late 19th-century Europe... The sole focus of some missions based in England and the U.S. was the conversion of the Jews to Christianity..."