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Reading Wuthering Heights in Kenya

From First Thoughts

Student production of As You Like It , Kenya 1955 Harold Bloom happened to be at Cornell during one of the most famous student protests of the “canon wars,” one in which black students went en masse into the various campus libraries, pulled armfuls of books from the stacks, and threw . . . . Continue Reading »

Two Ways to Deal with Aspiring Writers

From First Thoughts

Aspiring writers are generally regarded as one of nature’s lower life forms, especially by established writers, most of whom seem to wonder whether the taxonomist who placed aspiring writers in phylum Chordata wasn’t perhaps claiming too much for them. From where they’re sitting, that’s an . . . . Continue Reading »

Nigerian Football Fans Give Up on Juju

From First Thoughts

The head of the Nigerian Football Supporters’ Club, Rafiu Ladipo, has confessed that for years he has been using juju (traditional local magic) to try to bring the Super Eagles to victory. But no longer: “We came to realize that juju just doesn’t play football.” “There . . . . Continue Reading »

Tolstoy and the Rousseau Threshold

From First Thoughts

Arrogant Without wading too deep into any technical lit-crit battles over the so-called death of the author, I think I can safely endorse the rule that, in general, one should not criticize a writer’s work by attacking his personal life. If an author happens to have been an adulterer, a . . . . Continue Reading »

Books of the Year 2012

From First Thoughts

There is more fiction than non-fiction on this list, but that’s only because my non-fiction reading this year has been dominated by a succession of esoteric obsessions. I encountered some very good books that way, but the mini-reviews for all of them would have gone something like “A . . . . Continue Reading »