• print • Apr/May 2007

    Psychology, Biology, and Family Secrets

    Unbalanced tokens, check your syntax. Non-closure is at the end of this excerpt: itten for film and television. What was it like to turn the lens on yourself for the first time?61
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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Circus Circus

    A few weeks ago, the New York Times Travel section ran an article about how best to spend a day out in Oxford, England. The author advised readers down which streets they should wander and into which sequestered quads they should peep, from Worcester College, with its sunken lawn in the west, along the cobblestones of Brasenose Lane, past the eighteenth-century shops of Broad Street, as far as Magdalen College's picturesque deer park in the east.

    This is an itinerary that would delight James Attlee, a resident of East Oxford, the section of the city that lies beyond Magdalen, over the Cherwell

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Boswell Of The Couch

    Ernest Jones had the urge to stand out. A small man, he learned early how to make himself visible through his bearing, his clothes, his mannerisms. And he learned how to distinguish himself—no ordinary Jones, he!—through the quality of his voice and intensity of his gaze. By the time he finished his medical studies and began a specialization in neurology, in 1902, he seemed poised for professional success and could boast of his "flair for rapid captivation of the opposite sex." But Jones could also be abrasive if not boorish, and he soon discovered that he was not very popular among his more

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Donne Upright

    Most startling in the wealth of John Stubbs's new life of John Donne is that the subject of the biographer's attentions spent a very long time trying to escape his poetic fate. Even late in his life, according to Stubbs, Donne was fending off his literary inclinations like so many pesky acquaintances. He complained about having "this itch of writing" and told a friend that he wanted to follow "a graver course than of a Poet, into which (that I may also keep my dignity) I would not seem to relapse." When he did give in to his urges, his poems (which were often bawdy) were for friends only, and

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    One Hit, Two Errors

    Bart Giamatti's first book, an adaptation of his dissertation titled The Earthly Paradise and the Renaissance Epic (1966), examined the garden in literature as a symbol of respite and beauty. After his tumultuous and ultimately disappointing reign as president of Yale from 1978 to 1986, Giamatti must have felt that he'd found his own Eden when he ascended to baseball's commissionership, with an opportunity to lead America's most pastoral and literary sport. Instead, what he got was a faceful of Pete Rose.

    Giamatti's baseball career was in a sense a microcosm of his Yale years. A spellbinding

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    One Day a Year: 1960 - 2000

    In 1960, Christa Wolf received a phone call from the Russian newspaper Izvestia, inviting her to participate in an imaginative project devised by Maksim Gorky in 1935, which asked writers worldwide to describe their actions during the course of a random day—September 27—as exactly as possible. Wolf, then thirty-one and living in East Germany, not only documented the day but permanently adopted the project as a preventative measure against forgetting. "Transitoriness and futility as twin sisters of forgetfulness: again and again I was (and am) confronted with that eerie phenomenon," she explains

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Sing Bodies Eclectic

    Poets find themselves unnerved every April during National Poetry Month when the noise of consumerism fades a decibel and the media spotlight falls on them. "Too bad for you, beautiful singer," Peter Gizzi laments in his new book, The Outernationale (Wesleyan University Press, $23). How do poets write in a culture enamored of both media spectacle (the Super Bowl, American Idol, a televised war) and unmediated individual expression—YouTube, MySpace, and blogs?

    Four of the five poets considered here propose that poetry's role is to critique culture by way of language and form and, in so doing,

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    If He Did It

    Clifford Irving was once a household name. On December 7, 1971, McGraw-Hill Book Company announced the imminent publication of The Autobiography of Howard Hughes, a book Irving had assembled from more than a hundred hours of interviews he’d conducted with the billionaire everyone had heard of but hardly anyone knew. An American expatriate living on the Spanish island of Ibiza, Irving had several thrillers to his name and had recently published a biography of the prolific art forger Elmyr de Hory. Irving, it seemed, sent a copy of that book to Hughes and received in reply a letter scrawled on

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Party of None

    Here’s how I read Mallarmé’s prose, in Barbara Johnson’s lustrous new English translation: painfully, dutifully, passionately, a sentence at a time, while holding the French original in my other hand, so I can compare her sentence with his sentence, and so I can measure as accurately as possible each crevice where an adjective meets a noun, a comma meets a dependent clause.

    Mallarmé published Divagations (a collection of essays and other highly compact prose implosions) in 1897 and died the following year. English-speaking aficio­nados of Symbolist rarities have relied on Mary Ann Caws’s

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  • print • Apr/May 2007

    Goth: Undead Subculture and Contemporary Gothic

    In the small Pennsylvania town where I grew up, the windows of the Gap, the national purveyor of affordable and non-threatening attire, are papered over and a to lease sign has been posted. But across from this empty storefront, Hot Topic is booming. Discordant music pours from an arched entrance meant to resemble a dungeon, and the red-and-purple-striped tights and silver-studded jewelry here sell for double the price of khakis and blue button-downs. That goth attire flourishes while more mainstream options languish is a cultural phenomenon on which academics have finally set their sights—with

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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