Anton Chekhov, the investigative data journalist


sharma-chekhov

On “Sakhalin Island” by Chekhov.

But there are actually very few of these moments where Chekhov speaks in his own voice to editorialize or tell us what to think: his method is “show, don’t tell,” and the patient accumulation of overwhelming and often heartbreaking detail. As part of his three-month investigation, Chekhov made his own census of the exile population, conducting brief interviews with every household he could find. This provided him with a wealth not only of impressions and anecdotes, but also data.

The complete article

Andrew Batson’s Blog

Image source

Advertisements

The Streets Of Desire – Old Delhi’s subversive love-letter manuals


03_the-streets-of-desire_the-caravan-magazine_november-2017-435x435

The old world charm of love letters.

The blurb on its rear cover read: “Mann mein meethi meethi gudgudiyan uthati hain, panne par panne fatte jate hain par prem patra nahin likha jata” (Our mind is tickled by sweet desires, and pages and pages keep getting torn, and yet no love letter gets written). Inside were sample letters for a wide range of possible amorous situations, along with practical advice on how to write letters to potential lovers. I found other similar books too, with their contents categorised by various romantic situations in which one might find oneself, with sample letters for each. In one book, the table of contents listed “Tanu’s letter to Shailesh after his lover goes astray,” “A flirt writes to her ex-lover,” “A middle-aged man’s love letter to a nurse,” “Steno-typist’s love letter,” and more along these lines. The titles alone were poignant, full of yearning, and frequently ridiculous.

The complete article

Kanupriya Dhingra — The Caravan

Image source

Umberto Eco – The Philosopher of Signs


umberto-eco-644x362

Eco’s essays take as their subject matter poetry, music, and painting in the way that the work’s structure provides the glimpse of a worldview that passes through, rather, the hidden structure that the subject renders manifest. Eco finds his examples from a number of French poets, from Valéry to Verlaine and Mallarmé, for whom naming an object meant eliminating three quarters of a poem’s pleasure, which consists in incremental guesswork and suggested dreams. This poetics of suggestion seeks to keep the work open to its readers’ freedom, and realizes itself thanks to its interpreters’ emotion and imagination. It is the reader who draws from their most intimate recesses a response forged along the path of the mysterious consonances that lure the sensibility and the imagination. Thus work of art harbors within itself a multitude of interpretations.

The complete article

Claudia Stancati — Books & Ideas

Image source

WHAT WE WRITE ABOUT WHEN WE’RE NOT WRITING


writers-block

Well, I make to do list to make another to do list which will be a better to do list.

When you’re not writing, you encourage your writerly friends — the members of your tribe, as another friend puts it — in text messages, notes and emails, and in small packages mailed from the post office. You send links and stories and memes that you think will somehow make all of this better for them. You tell your friends that they are beautiful and brave and talented. All of this is true. You lend them books, and write notes on Post-Its and affix them to the covers. You sign notes to them, with hearts and kisses and hugs and exclamation points for emphasis. Because this will happen! You say. You will be published! You will do this! You quietly envy their abilities at times, and love them even more so for the very same gifts that they possess.

The complete article

Kathleen Harris — Vela

Image source

Stiliana Milkova reviews Ties by Domenico Starnone


09ties-facebookjumbo

As the title says, today’s needull is a review of the Italian book – Domenico Starnone’s Ties, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri.

But let us turn to the novel itself. The title, Ties, is suggestive: it’s a text about the making and breaking of bonds and about the baggage (physical and psychological) accumulated in the process. A cheating husband leaves his wife and children only to return years later to his family. After almost five decades of married life, the couple’s apartment in Rome is ransacked while they are on vacation and the past emerges from the debris of hoarded objects. Thus the past acquires material and spatial form, and husband, wife, and children must reckon with it as they sift through the physical reminders of suppressed traumas. Ties, as the Italian scholar Daniela Brogi writes, is “not simply a novel about marital crisis, it is a text which enacts on its pages the imagined scenarios of failed self-realization upheld by the indestructible pillars of marriage.” Ties, then, is a novel about marriage as an institution and its relationship to self-perception and self-fulfillment, whether through the wife’s meticulous documentation of marital life, through the husband’s selfish pursuit of professional and sexual gratification, or through the children’s witnessing of the dissolution and eventual reconstitution of the family.

The complete review

Stiliana Milkova — Asymptote

Image source

A guide to close reading


books-open-on-table

A gift for readers of Needull.

  1. Who is the text written by and what do you know about the author(s) and their context?

  2. What type of text is this (a philosophical treatise, an autobiography, a poem, a lecture, sermon etc)?

  3. Who is the author writing for, and how might their intended audience shape the kind of text they are writing?

The complete article

Marika Rose — An und für sich

Image source

‘No Amount of Screaming Would Have Helped Us’


apocalypse-end-times

Today’s needull is review of two novels based on apocalypse like scenarios. The authors use this scenario to look at some philosophical questions.

The novel really becomes remarkable when Helle extrapolates philosophical debate from the dire situation. The conversion of matter into fundamental particles, as the men face their own deaths, is hinted at obliquely when the narrator watches the blazing chair: ‘You can no longer tell that the thing that is burning there was once a chair’, giving him hope that his essence may survive somewhere in the universe. The book ultimately questions why mankind shoulders on in the face of such futile odds: ‘All in all, we don’t much care for this world any longer. But still we continue diligently to take one step after another into it.’

The complete article

Jude Cook — Review 31

Image source