King Lear on the mean streets of Twitter, a case for simulated reality run by our far-off future ancestors, and some revelations on the burial sites of Cervantes and Aristotle. Plus: Rebecca Schiff on the political inconsistencies between an author and her characters: “If you’re tapping into something emotional—even if you’re really left-wing, like I am—you might wind up finding a conservative streak in you. And, as a fiction writer, if I feel like if that’s an important part of the character, I need to let that out, even if it’s not what I ‘officially’ believe.”
The enduring art of literary hate mail, Shakespeare as a springboard for spanking, some thoughts on why giving up writing might not be wrong, and Lydia Davis on why we should read translated works. Plus: Vinson Cunningham on what qualities make an essay uniquely American: “As much as one might wish to lay claim to the sensibility of, say, Montaigne—the ruminative philosopher’s ideal, the notion of the essay as neutral attempt—most of us Americans are Emersons: artful sermonizers, pathological point-makers, turntablists spinning the hits with future mischief in mind.”
The literature of mechanical life, debunking “the ladder of nature,” the legacy of the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and more. Plus: A look at Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies in relation to the current election cycle: “Trump may look like a rancid creampuff in a Brioni suit, but his crass language serves the function of a ripped physique in a ripped T-shirt, projecting a Stanley Kowalskian virility.”
Mary Kelly on the diapers that made her an icon, one man’s journey to recover the records of his youth, Judith Beheading Holofernes … again, and a reissue of a Marianne Moore classic. Plus: Details on Lincoln in the Bardo, a forthcoming novel from George Saunders.
Your favorite authors rendered in food, a new Marvel comic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and a few Gothic classics you may have missed. Plus: Hilton Als gets real about art and intimacy: “You have to learn to write about love in order to write. It’s the most fundamental thing, and if you don’t write about it then you are missing something that is so profound—how could you even carry on? It is a very profound thing to touch another human being.”