Skip to content

Index: Noted elsewhere

A ‘c’ in a circle the size of a red London bus.

A visit to any London souvenir shop will reveal plenty of digitally manipulated images of a red London bus on Westminster Bridge with the tower of Big Ben in the background on products as diverse as tea caddies, postcards, coasters and so on. The idea that this scene and its treatment could be monopolised sounds absurd…

• The forgotten work of Ainsworth, the ‘footnote’ Gothic novelist.

This is the dark side of those progressive Victorians we all know about, with their trains and telegraphs, their technological advances and their scientific discoveries, their liberal politics and their enlightened scepticism.

• Anthony Trollope’s future-world: steam bowlers, hair ‘phones, and euthanasia.

Trollope is best known for his Barsetshire novels and there is no finer or more subtle chronicler of English landed society during the 19th century. But he is less well known for The Fixed Period, the piece of speculative fiction he published in the very same year as Vice Versa…

• In Syria: ‘The Protocols’ are somewhere in Rifaat Eid’s drawers.

‘Have you read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?’ he asked me. ‘It’s very good, I’ll find you a copy.’ He started to rummage around in his drawers, muttering something about how, a century ago, it had had the foresight to predict war in underground tunnels.

· Follow ‘the critical arbiters of the moment’ and George Meredith won’t be a problem.

Rather, there are literary ways of reading, and literary ways of writing—a book becomes literature when we ask literary questions of it. Equally, books lose the status of literature when they fall from these considerations, the fate of many—perhaps the majority of—works by once-revered authors.

· Spinning-off Harry Potter: the ‘cultural dark matter’ created by fans of fan-fiction.

Nobody makes money from fan fiction, but whether anybody loses money on fan fiction is a separate question. The people who create the works that fan fiction borrows from are sharply divided on it. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer have given Harry Potter and Twilight fan fiction their blessing; if anything, fan fiction has acted as a viral marketing agent for their work.

· America’s civil rights movement as a gospel revival.

America is also the most racially egalitarian society in human history. Most Americans don’t recognize this because Americans, being the cultural children of Calvinism, are very good at self-flagellation. Compare the United States today with Europe and Latin America, however.

· A part-stanza: from ‘Lives of the Obscure’.

1919. Then nothing for twenty years
Until her first profession of religious vows
When she changed her name to Sister Joan Frances
Of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

· Going to hell for writing poetry for fish.

“Lines Written During a Period of Insanity,” possibly Cowper’s best-known poem, delivers tremendous force, rooted, for me, in the self-contradiction of its energetic hopelessness: If the narrator’s predicament is so absolute and unrelievable, how can he describe it with such explosive intellectual strength?

· Two vicars, three daughters, three miles up the Thames to Wonderland.

” When they returned, Alice asked Dodgson to write out the adventures for her. He said he would try, and sat up nearly the whole night putting down the tale on paper, and adding a number of pen-and-ink illustrations; afterwards, the little volume, entitled Alice’s Adventures Underground, was often seen on the drawing-room table at the Deanery.

· If it weren’t for the euro, the euro-zone would be in good shape.

Those in responsible positions are getting bogged down in crisis management, as they seek to placate the public and sugarcoat the problems. They say that there is only a government debt crisis in a few euro countries but no euro crisis, citing as evidence the fact that the value of the European common currency has remained relatively stable against other currencies like the dollar.

· Need an agent who can negotiate a sweet deal with a vanity publisher?

Big publishing is simply not set up to publish anything but books. Mid-length materials, worksheets, and other writing that might be downloaded from Amazon or directly from the author’s site are not in their repertoire. Neither do they help the author develop unpublished chapters into articles for placement in magazines.

· The perfect Father’s Day gift? A flowchart! With Phish!

Do dads really have an influence on the musical tastes of their offspring? This amusing flowchart, created for Father’s Day in honor of dads who rock, predicts the kind of music you prefer by the tunes your father listened to when you were growing up.

· Very not-close encounters with 18 million books. Plus: What does the Lit Lab have to do with lit?

You pretty much have two choices. You can read a small number of books very carefully. Or you can read lots of books “very, very not-carefully”.

· To an old dog, every day’s a brand new trick.

I saw how the dog does it; how, without the human’s painful ability to project ahead and fear the inevitable, the dog simply wakes to each day as a new step in the journey.