Avid readers of novels know that they often take the perspective of the characters they read about. But just how far does this mental role-playing go? A new paper in the Journal of Memory and Language has provided a clever demonstration of how readily we simulate the thoughts of fictional characters.
Dame Hilary Mantel is roughly half way through her Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4. Best known for her Tudor novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies (both of which won the Man Booker Prize) Mantel reflects on the nature of historical fiction and whether the genre requires special defense.
The podcasts of the lectures and their transcripts can be found here. Students will be unsuprised to learn that this talented author has Irish roots.
Thinking like a scientist is really hard, even for scientists. It requires putting aside your own prior beliefs, evaluating the quality and meaning of the evidence before you, and weighing it in the context of earlier findings. But parking your own agenda and staying objective is not the human way.
One of the things that this article warns about is the seduction of anecdotal evidence. I’ll give some of that now.
It seems to me that some students treat simple texts as if they were simplistic and obvious. A text that offers a quick interpretation is often more poorly analysed than an obviously challenging one. Parts of courses (or instructions) that seem clear are often ignored.
Sir Derek Walcott (1930-2017), nobel laureate, died on 17 March. The Saint Lucian poet felt a special bond to early twentieth-century Irish writers so perhaps it was appropriate that he died on St Patrick’s Day.
The real Ozymandias. Giant statue of Ramesses II discovered. (The Guardian) Thanks to Rocío.
China restricts foreign children’s books (The Financial Times).
With the election of President Trump, the sales figures of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four jumped, and journalists reached for predictable comparisons: see The Desert News.
What is the cost of poetry? Must poets be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive? Or is this just a myth? In our new Book of the Week, Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley – both award winning poets themselves – explore that very question through a series of journeys across Britain, America and Europe.
This BBC Radio 4 series is currently being broadcast in 15 min episodes that are available for 28 days from now.
An excerpt from a message from a recent graduate, now living in the UK, where there is a debate about the importance of the ethnicity of actors and questions of authenticity.
I thought this might be of interest:
There’s been a lot of talk in the theatre circles here about casting, in period dramas and otherwise, as well as discussions and protests about cultural appropriation (for example the protests against Howard Barker’s play: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2016/londons-print-room-criticised-for-racist-casting-in-chinese-roles/), with most people making sweeping statements about the ‘purpose’ of theatre, and what it ‘should’ do.
An expansion of our Literature Online (LION) subscription has added a substantial body of 20th century poetry in English from Faber & Faber’s list of poets. These texts include the works of some of the best-known poets writing today. These texts complete and in copyright and thus they are hard to locate elsewhere in electronic form.
Link: Literature Online (LION) for RUG registered library users only
A review of the most recent biography of Jonathan Swift, that begins, not unfairly, with excrement.
The Nobel laureate sent the Cuban dictator all of his books and received his factual and grammatical notes before submitting them to his publisher.
(thanks to C. Gibson for spotting this).
Other Cuban literary connections:
Grahame Greene, Our Man in Havana