How Oscar Wilde’s life imitates his art


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Wilde made his own life into a tragic, exquisite, grotesquely gorgeous work of art. That was his legacy to the 21st century. Nowadays Wilde’s queerness is being embraced with open arms. In 2017, he was among 50,000 gay men posthumously pardoned by the Ministry of Justice for sexual acts that are no longer illegal. Everywhere you turn these days, there seems to be another shrine to Oscar going up somewhere, whether it’s the Oscar Wilde Barand Oscar Wilde Temple in New York, or the Irish hotels set to open in London and Edinburgh. Wilde’s works, once considered to have a corrupting influence, are now taught in schools around the globe. He has become gay history’s Christ figure. The relics of his martyrdom have become attractions, sites of pilgrimage.

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Michele Mendelssohn — OUPblog

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Don’t Be a Patsy: An Open Letter to Jordan B. Peterson


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I have read the book and I liked it. Here is a not a so good letter.

I want to explain why I took my video down, beyond its more obvious flaws: pretension, sloppy thinking, witlessness. I came across a couple of YouTube videos of Peterson on Fox and Friends, Fox News’ morning show. They are very difficult to watch. They flatter him, fawn over his credentials, and he smiles and looks as comfortable as Jordan Peterson ever looks. But what he fails to realise is that they have him on because they know if they push the right buttons he will say exactly what they want him to say. To use parlance Peterson won’t like, they ‘trigger’ him. All you have to do is show Peterson a left-wing ideologue, preferably a college professor, and watch him go. ‘The post-modernists this’, ‘the Marxists that’. It happens every time. But that’s not real the problem. We’re all susceptible to a bit of flattery; we all have triggers. It’s that for years Fox News has broken one of Peterson’s 12 rules, and to my mind, his cardinal rule, and he doesn’t call them on it. He plays along.

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Neil Griffiths — Review 31

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The Shattering Double Vision of V. S. Naipaul


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One of the great writers I truly admired. R.I.P.

Nominally, Naipaul is writing about Anand Biswas. Actually, he is writing about himself—Vidia in Oxford (“in a library grown suddenly dark”), and then in London (“in securer times of different stresses”). He is writing about the young man in South London, for whom memories of Trinidad are both painful and joyful, and about how the writing of his epic is at once the baring and the healing of a wound (“when the memories had lost the power to hurt”). How coolly and classically Naipaul refers to his own great achievement: “they would fall into place and give back the rest.” Now he is gone, but his book continues to give back the rest to us, again and again.

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James Wood – The New Yorker

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SHIA LABEOUF IS READY TO TALK ABOUT IT


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The unpredictable Shia LaBeouf.

Yes, LaBeouf is the guy who was handed a golden ticket and promptly lit it on fire. But too often we forget that everyone screws up on their path toward becoming an adult; and that few do so under the gaze of the public eye; and that by embracing the kind of capital-A Acting LaBeouf aims to do, we nourish the same spark from which his bad behavior stems. Tom Hardy, who worked with LaBeouf on 2012’s Lawless, points to the paradox central to their work. “A performer is asked to do two things,” he tells me. “To be disciplined and accountable, communicative and a pleasure to work with. And then, within a split second, they’re asked to be a psychopath. Authentically. It takes a very strong human being to sustain a genuine sense of well-being through that baptism of fire.” Then: “Drama is not known to attract stable types.”

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Eric Sullivan — Esquire

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How Original Was Shakespeare?


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If Franssen is concerned with the variegated history of Shakespeare after his death, Shakespeare’s Originality attempts to untangle the knotty roots of the playwright’s contemporary sources, inspirations and even plagiarisms. ‘Most people interested in Shakespeare’, John Kerrigan observes, ‘have wondered about his originality. Is it true that his plays were adapted from other authors’ plays, poems, and romances? Are his best-known speeches really lifted out of Montaigne and Plutarch?’ More consequentially for our understanding of Shakespeare, Kerrigan asks: ‘Does it matter, any more than it does when a classic movie is based on a novel?’

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Patrick J. Murray — History Today

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A Letter From Mosul


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Angelina Jolie from Mosul.

In Mosul, I felt I was standing at a ground zero of foreign policy failures over the last decade. But also in a place that represents the human capacity for survival and renewal, and the stubborn endurance of universal values in individual hearts.

I think of a father I met, and his joy that his two young daughters are now able to go to school again. Penniless and without a roof over his family’s heads, he spoke as if he had no more treasured possession than their report cards. There would be no more profound symbol of victory than every girl in Mosul being able to go back to school and excel.

Hero or War Criminal? Churchill in Retrospect


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A damning critique.

But the principal victims of Winston Churchill were Indians, ‘a beastly people with a beastly religion’, as he charmingly called us. Churchill’s beatification as an apostle of freedom seems all the more preposterous given his explicit declaration in 1941 that the principles of the Atlantic Charter would not apply to India. Churchill’s notions of freedom and democracy faltered at the frontiers of empire: he was an appalling racialist, one who could not bring himself to see people of colour as entitled to the same rights as himself. “Gandhi-ism and all it stands for,” declared Churchill, “will, sooner or later, have to be grappled with and finally crushed.” He spoke luridly of having the Mahatma tied to the ground and trampled upon by elephants.

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Shashi Tharoor — OPEN

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