On March 29, 1832, Ralph Waldo Emerson visited the tomb of his wife, Ellen, and opened her coffin. Twenty-five years later, Emerson once again opened the lid of a coffin—this time his son’s.
I imagine there is something about my grandmother that would have resisted translation. The best way I know to understand her, the site where my retina and hers overlap, is in language.
Nearly half a century apart, Rumer Godden and E.F. Benson each moved into a house that could never seem to forget its first master, whose traces still filled its rooms. And so they made themselves at home as best they could—by writing ghost stories at Henry James’s desk.
When voicedness in art is tied to vulnerability in life, exposure—and not evasion, denial, and declarative muteness—ensures survival.
Jaquira Díaz’s 2019 memoir resonated deeply with me in a way that a bronzed Al Pacino never could, and that a book never had.
I can understand why Roland Barthes, like many others, may have second-guessed the veracity of his migraines, this extreme—invisible—pain. Even with the blinds drawn, lying on my bed with a cold washcloth across my forehead, I wonder if what I am feeling is real.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s weather reports document a lifelong fascination, even partnership, with the weather acting as the writer’s trusted, often fickle, companion and muse. The ritual documentation of the daily weather reveals Longfellow’s creative process and his failed attempts at separating his private life from the published prose and
From the Black Death to the AIDS epidemic, the history of literature is suffused with gaps. Such a history is a record of mourning. It’s a record of all the things that cannot be spoken while living with upheaval and grief.
New memoirs by Chanel Miller and Jeannie Vanasco are about their rapes, but also about what it means to move through this world in a woman’s body. What has happened to Miller’s body and to Vanasco’s body connects them with millions of women globally and across time.
There are uniquely white stories that all white people know intimately, and that we aren’t telling: stories of white people perpetrating racism.