Literature and religion, Europe, publishing, art and more

From CRB, a review of The Georgics of Virgil: Bilingual Edition, translated by David Ferry and Virgil's Georgics, translated by Janet Lembke. From Open Letters Monthly, a review of John Donne: The Reformed Soul; and Christploitation: Sam Sacks laments the great divorce of Christianity from literature; and on the great life and writing of Gerald of Wales, a continuously frustrated candidate for the Archbishopric of Wales. Pope could be saviour for Bloomsbury but the party may be purgatory. A lusty, violent thriller about the medieval clash between Christianity and Islam: A review of The Religion by Tim Willocks.

China Miéville on The Struggle for Intergalactic Socialism: The desire to meet "higher lifeforms" is just another expression of enthusiasm for socialism from above - way above. Bogdanov, technocracy and socialism: Alexander Bogdanov was a non-Leninist Bolshevik who also wrote science-fiction. Russian as an American language: An interview with Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis. A review of A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson. In To the Castle and Back, Vaclav Havel reflects on the 13 years he spent as president of his country and his life afterward. Sheila Kohler's Bluebird, or the Invention of Happiness is a heavily fictionalized account of the extraordinary life of Henriette Lucy Dillon, who lived in France and America at the time of the French Revolution.

An emotional striptease: Ignore those publishers who claim ’misery memoirs’ are popular because they tell life-affirming stories of survival. In truth, these books are a voyeur’s wet dream. Publisher Media Predict to let the public have a vote on book projects.

From Spiked, an interview with Sonya Dyer: "Can’t non-white people ever just make art?" It’s boring at the top: Is Andreas Gursky—the highest-priced photographer alive—running out of ideas? The Branding of Rothko: How his art became the ultimate luxury object.  From The Potomac, All This Makes a Magnificent Asparagus: Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso on how to look; and if childhood and happiness are inseparable in the poet’s mind, the fear that they must come to an end lurks in his mind. A review of Some Kind of Genius: The Extraordinary Journey of Musical Savant Tony DeBlois by Janice DeBlois and Antonia Felix.

Rembrandt's Feathers: Why do people collect? Is collecting a primal activity, perhaps rooted in the survival activities of primitive hunter-gatherers? What makes a "film pledge" visionary? Unimpeded by Norwegian language, culture, or social conditions, Norway should be capable of creating and expanding a visionary arena for critically independent, international documentary film. Laurence Olivier was born 100 years ago today, but how have the years affected his reputation? Was he a sublime master of stagecraft or ham cut thick?