Reading Letters Summer 1926: Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, Rainer Maria Rilke

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In the summer of 1926, Rilke, Pasternak, and Tsvetayeva are poised on the brink of disaster, but instead of anticipating it, or of dwelling on what may come, they write. Their letters attest to a febrile, almost frenzied creative period.

The Many Voices of Memory in The Magical Language of Others

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While a memoir can often feel myopic or even self-indulgent, Koh’s presents clearly the truth that is tucked between the pages of all memoirs—that all of us are pieced together by a multitude of stories told to us and that we, in turn, tell to others.

Emily Dickinson and the Compound Witness

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Reckoning with extreme psychic suffering, Dickinson’s poetic speakers repeatedly confront the boundary between unknowable interior experience and intelligible linguistic testimony.

The Tale of Genji, Suspended Between East and West

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We in the English-speaking world are used to the idea that we apprehend Genji only dimly through translation, as if through a scrim, watching shadows. So why then have two Japanese sisters, both well-known poets, spent years retranslating an Edwardian English translation of the novel back into Japanese?

Language and Fronteras in Signs Preceding the End of the World

In Yuri Herrera’s 2009 novel, borders can be impenetrable surfaces, and language can open doors that can’t so easily be locked back.

Svetlana Alexievich’s Verbatim Theater

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In her exploration of the Chernobyl disaster, Svetlana Alexievich dramatizes history—as she insists, we can only understand events of this magnitude by recasting them on a human scale.

The Art of Dissent in Abigail

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Magda Szabó’s 1970 novel is an unusual coming-of-age story—the willful heroine finds her place in society not by learning to comply with its demands, but by learning the art of dissent.

“I’m telling these stories for an audience, but I also want to digest this experience for myself”: An Interview with Poupeh Missaghi

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Poupeh Missaghi’s debut novel follows a protagonist obsessed with finding out why Tehran’s statues are disappearing. It’s an experimental hybrid work that combines a traditional novel narrative with quotes from theorists and writers, dossier-style notes on people who have been made to disappear after death, and poetry.

Ander Monson’s Essaying

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Monson’s newest collection, out tomorrow, continues his exploration of essays and essaying, scrutinizing the “I”; playing with prose and white space on the page; and examining the nature of memory—all while suffusing his observations with the cultural elements he examines in earlier collections.

Becoming One’s Mother: Tove Ditlevsen’s Copenhagen Trilogy

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Devastatingly, Tove Ditlevsen’s three-part memoir suggests that acquiring a room of one’s own and becoming a successful writer does not preclude sharing the fate of one’s mother.