Thursday morning miscellany

  • An exhibition in St. Petersburg tries to reconcile Nabokov the writer with Nabokov the lepidopterologist (butterfly scientist). The show “advance[s] an unusual hypothesis: that Nabokov’s meticulous, masterful prose style grew out of his love affair with science.” (Nabokov’s drawing for his wife, Vera, taken from The Atlantic.)
  • Terry Teachout says no matter how many times you’ve read one of Shakespeare’s plays, you’ll never really know it until you’ve seen it performed — preferably on a stage somewhere, but these film adaptations “go a long way toward plugging the gap.” (Last summer Terry and I caught a free performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a playground at Harlem’s Riverbank Stage Park.)
  • A pamphlet containing “a 172-line poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which no-one has read since 1811,” has turned up. The poem “ranges from the devastations of war to the oppressions of colonial India.” (Via Bookish.)
  • Haruki Murakami is concerned about the rise of right-wing nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiment in Japan, and plans to address the problem in his next novel.
  • Writer Elif Shafak is the latest to be indicted in her home country for “insulting Turkishness.”
  • According to the ACLU, the U.S. increasingly blocks entry at the border because of ideology. “The Patriot Act’s ideological exclusion provision echoes laws that were used in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s to bar those who were associated with the Communist Party. Those laws were used to bar, among many other prominent individuals, the writers Graham Greene, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dario Fo, and Pablo Neruda, and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.”
  • I was rooting for my friend Laila Lalami to win the Caine prize, but it went to Mary Watson of South Africa for “Jungfrau,” which I’m going to need to read.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.