Literati roundup: “An Academic Journal About Leisure… “Tolstoy and Gandhi Exchange Letters…

An Academic Journal About Leisure Exists, and It’s Amazing

Peruse at your leisure.


Some of the most rigorous moral thinkers of the past century have spent time on the wrong side of questions they deemed of vital importance. Mohandas Gandhi, for example, at first remained loyal to the British, manifesting many of the vicious prejudices of the Empire against Black South Africans and lobbying for Indians to serve in the war against the Zulu. Maya Jasanoff in New Republicdescribes Gandhi during this period of his life as a “crank.” At the same time, he developed his philosophy of non-violent resistance, or satyagraha, in South Africa as an Indian suffering the injustices inflicted upon his countrymen by both the Boers and the British.

Oriental Tooth Paste

Every year for the past decade or so, we‘ve seen new, dire pronouncements of the death of print, along with new, upbeat rejoinders. This year is no different, though the prognosis has seemed especially positive of late in robust appraisals of the situation from entities as divergent as The Onion’s A.V. Club and financial giant Deloitte. I, for one, find this encouraging. And yet, even if all printed media were in decline, it would still be the case that the history of the modern world will mostly be told in the history of print. And ironically, it is online media that has most enabled the means to make that history available to everyone, in digital archives that won’t age or burn down.

Kerouac tribute

Last year, we featured a few readings and performances of the work of Jack Kerouac by musicians like Patti Smith, John Cale, Thurston Moore, and Joe Strummer. Those tracks got laid down for 1997’s Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness, a tribute to the author of On the Road and The Dharma Bums and an American cultural presence as resonant as they come. Now, you can listen to the whole thing on Spotify (whose free software you can download here) and revel in renditions of Kerouac’s poetry and prose by an even wider selection of beloved alternative musicians: Warren Zevon, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, REM’s Michael Stipe, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo show up on the roster, to name but a few.

Oscar Wilde’s Play Salome Illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley in a Striking Modern Aesthetic (1894)


In William Faulkner’s 1936 Absalom, Absalom!, one of the novel’s most erudite characters paints a picture of a Gothic scene by comparing it to an Aubrey Beardsley drawing. References to Beardsley also appear in other Faulkner novels, and the English artist of the late nineteenth century also influenced the American novelist’s visual art.

The First Illustrations of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds: The Surreal & Horrifying Art of Henrique Alvim Corrêa (1906)


H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds has terrified and fascinated readers and writers for decades since its 1898 publication and has inspired numerous adaptations.

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