Happy Anniversary, Lizzie & Darcy! Pride & Prejudice was published on this day in 1813. Can’t get enough of L+D? Check out our list of 8 other couples who remind us of these literary lovers.
This was so fun to write. Almost as fun as Kate Beaton’s comic.
For all of you who wept over never getting chosen for Nickelodeon’s Super Toy Run… here’s your chance to live that dream. Enter to win a $100 Bookish shopping spree! Because we know you have a reading wishlist a mile long.
You’ve got until February 4 to enter; two winners will be selected at random. All rules here. Good luck!
In celebration of Edith Wharton's birthday, Zola Books presents a free, beautifully formatted ebook edition of this masterful, gripping novel.
It’s the Gilded Age in New York City society and Lily Bart, the heroine of Edith Wharton’s first masterpiece House of Mirth, is beautiful, high-born, and trained to enter into marriage with a suitably wealthy man from this world of elegant brownstone residences, glittering society ballrooms, and grand country houses. But it’s a world, too, where one hostile whisper can destroy a reputation, where women are expected to be little more than decorative objects, and where a woman’s punishment for resisting the ironclad social rules can be merciless and severe.
Lily Bart, raised in this elite world but without a family fortune herself, must marry rich to continue living the only life she knows, but she has a streak of independence, she has character and spirit along with beauty, and finds that she cannot blindly play by the rules of this highly mannered game. The consequences, in a novel fueled by Wharton’s anger at the hypocrisy and rigidity of a world she knew so well, are tragic, as her heroine falls from grace socially, and through a combination of bad luck, missed opportunities, and societal viciousness, finds herself spiraling down into debt, addiction, menial jobs and isolation.
Happy birthday, Edith Wharton!
The Internet spoiled us into getting everything for free.
There’s some truth to this: Many people in the newspaper industry certainly think it all went wrong for them when they started plunking down their newspapers on the web. From music to movies to books, we want it fast and we want it free—or at least cheap. The great news, however, is that there are a number of categories of things that should be free and easy to access. Whether it’s the near-complete archives of Spin and New York magazine in Google Books, or the awesome work of Project Gutenberg in making post-copyright works available to all, or the complete history of the New York Times, never has so much information and pleasure been there for the searching. (An extra bonus: researching minor historical figures has never been easier. In Google Books, you can watch them skip from one person’s diary to the next in seconds.)
On the anniversary of SOPA, reread this insightful piece from The Awl’s Choire Sicha: How the Internet Kills—and Saves—Book Culture.
Can you believe that all these books came out in the ’80s? These are some of our favorites, but what’s your vote for coolest book from the decade?
The basic plot, which cannot be ignored even in the films, is that Harry, Hermione and Ron give up everything for their political struggle. They drop out of high school, they go illegal, defy the government, belong to an underground organization [The Order of the Phoenix], operate out of safe houses and forests and even raid offices of the government and banking offices. This is all done in principled opposition to the Dark Wizard Voldemort and a corrupt bureaucratized government that has been heavily infiltrated with his evil minions. This is revolutionary activity. But the movie version does not present it as such or emphasize these radical aspects of the plot, thereby entirely missing the dramatic sweep and action present in the first half of the last novel.
The novels recognize the importance of alternative media for political struggle. The mainstream press [The Daily Prophet] is shown as unreliable and unprincipled, eventually deteriorating into a fear-mongering propaganda machine for the Voldemort-controlled bureaucracy. For a while the alternative but above ground media [The Quibbler] publishes the real news, but it ceases to print after the daughter of the publisher is kidnapped. In the book, friends of Harry [Lee Jordan, with Fred and George Weasley as frequent guests] start broadcasting the real news from an underground radio station, encrypted with a password. This radio station becomes a critical link for the resistance, which is scattered and weak. Although we are treated to some radio broadcast updates in the movie, they are delivered by a disembodied and professional sounding voice, not our friends the Weasleys. This undermines the important message - a guiding principle behind the media coop - that in a serious situation it becomes necessary to produce your own media and not to rely on ‘professionals’.
The novel makes it clear that in this phase of the struggle the characters romantic lives take a backseat to their political activity, as Harry breaks up with the love of his life [Ginny Weasley] so as to avoid making her a target for Voldemort’s forces, who are known to use torture and kidnapping as tactics. The ‘love triangle’ that becomes the focus of the movie isn’t even really present in the books. In the books, the relationship between Harry and Hermione is totally platonic - Ron is shown as jealous, but the feeling is entirely without foundation. In the book Harry says to Ron: “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that. I thought you knew” (pg 378, DH US Hardback). This conveys that men and women can be close comrades and friends without being involved romantically. But in the film, Harry and Hermione are shown dancing romantically, and Harry’s line to Ron about his brotherly feeling towards Hermione does not even make it into the film. This completely undermines the important message that jealousy is counter-productive and has toxic effects, which is an important feminist message for young people.