Emerson’s 200th, more

I prefer Christopher Benfey’s review of two new books about Ralph Waldo Emerson to Updike’s reaction to the same volumes. I haven’t read the books themselves, however, and am unlikely to do so.

Helen Brown, for the Telegraph, observes that the lovers of famous writers have the ability to “trade on the fame that dwarfs their own talent by selling their memoirs.” She mentions the recent Kathryn Chetkovich piece about a failed relationship with Jonathan Franzen. (The Chetkovich essay appeared in Granta but is excerpted here.)

Brown says Yeats’ inamorata was pleased about the way the poet presented their relationship:

Speaking about the next installment of his Yeats biography, due for publication in October, Roy Foster says: “In the second volume he is trading on his fame: the poet of the revolution, the poet with a legendary unhappy love affair [with Maud Gonne]. In fact, he and Maud Gonne both colluded in the way their relationship was presented: at one point she says quite briskly, `Oh for God’s sake, you’re very lucky you didn’t marry me – you’ve made us famous through the poems, and there’s much more mileage in that than if we had actually got together.'”

Salman Rushdie’s girlfriend, fashion model and cooking show host Padma Lakshmi, “is flattered that the heroine of Rushdie’s latest novel, Fury, was explicitly modelled on her. ‘When someone like that takes you so seriously, it makes you take yourself more seriously.'” (Via Kitabkhana.)

DoubleTake features a previously unpublished interview with Walker Percy. The interviewer tried unsuccessfully for nine months to get an interview with Percy but finally received his assent after she accidentally met him in person.

Thirteen Russian writers have sent an open letter to the country’s Minister for Education, protesting plans “for several seminal Russian works, including Boris Pasternak’s classic Dr Zhivago, to be dropped from the essential reading lists for 12- to 18-year-olds. The protesters allege that bureaucrats are trying to keep literature dealing with the purges of the Soviet era away from schoolchildren, presenting an anodyne version of the nation’s former imperial glory.” (Via Moorish Girl.)


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