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Alexander Chee on the critical reception of E. M. Forster’s “Maurice”; Maria Tatar’s study of literary heroines

Alexander Chee. Photo: M. Sharkey

For the New Republic, Alexander Chee writes about the critical reception of E. M. Forster’s Maurice and a new book, Alec, by William di Canzio, that reimagines Forster’s novel from the perspective of his protagonist’s lover. But as Chee clarifies, “it is small to say di Canzio only sought to offer us a view of Maurice and Alec through Alec’s eyes.” The new novel “reunites Maurice with parts of Forster’s biography both close to Forster’s heart and missing from his fiction, even from Maurice—the courses he taught to working-class men after he finished up at King’s College as a student; the three years he spent in Egypt as a Searcher, interviewing the World War I wounded in order to find those who were still missing.”

The Windham-Campbell Literary Festival is being presented as a virtual salon series this year, online on Wednesdays through November 10. The recipients of this year’s Windham-Campbell prizes—Dionne Brand, Kate Briggs, Nathan Alkan Davis, Renee Gladman, Michael R. Jackson, Canisia Lubrin, Vivian Gornick, and Natalie Scenters-Zapico—will each “share an aspect of their interests and creative life, such as the food they enjoy cooking, the way music influences their craft, and where they’ve found artistic inspiration amid the pandemic.” Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will give a keynote address. Tonight, Vivian Gornick will discuss the importance to her practice of re-reading works.

Maria Tatar discusses her new book, The Heroine With 1,001 Faces, with Gal Beckerman for the New York Times. The book is a lifelong work, framed as an answer to Joseph Campbell’s 1949 study of heroic archetypes and mythic structures. Tatar recalls being asked “What is the hero?” on a college-entrance exam: “I remember so clearly, clutching at that moment, because I, you know, I could rattle off the names Achilles, Hercules and Odysseus . . . but I couldn’t get at what was so heroic about them.”

At The Baffler, Kim Kelly writes about attending the Blair Mountain Centennial in West Virginia. Kelly was in the region to report on labor, but found that “music frequently took center stage.” After all, “what is a folk song if not a living document of struggle, a celebration of resilience, and an ode to those who didn’t make it? Music has always been a tool of working class resistance, from Wobblies and coal miners’ daughters with guitars to immigrant hip-hop artists, radical spoken word poets, and anarchist black metal bands.”

On September 28, Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE) is holding a free online roundtable about contracts for freelance reporters. The panel will discuss what to do when the assigning publication requires reporters to sign an indemnity agreement making them responsible for any potential legal liabilities.