Frankenstein: how Mary Shelley’s sci-fi classic offers lessons for us today about the dangers of playing God

Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, is an 1818 novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Set in the late 18th century, it follows scientist Victor Frankenstein’s creation of life and the terrible events that are precipitated by his abandonment of his creation. It is a Gothic novel in that it combines supernatural elements with horror, death and… Continue reading Frankenstein: how Mary Shelley’s sci-fi classic offers lessons for us today about the dangers of playing God

Is book banning in the US unconstitutional?

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The United States has become a nation divided over important issues in K-12 education, including which books students should be able to read in public school. Efforts to ban books from school curricula, remove books from libraries and keep lists of books that some find inappropriate for students are increasing as Americans become more polarized in their views. These… Continue reading Is book banning in the US unconstitutional?

Ulysses at 102: why it was banned for being obscene

{James Joyce Art}

James Joyce’s Ulysses, which turned 102 last February, is now central to the literary canon and features on university literature courses around the world. However, it was not always as revered as it is now. In fact, it was banned as obscene before it was first published as a complete novel, regarded as a work… Continue reading Ulysses at 102: why it was banned for being obscene

Invisible Trillions review: global capitalism operates beyond the rule of law and threatens democracy

Secrecy has become as important for corporations as transparent and taxable profits used to be, according to Raymond W. Baker in his new book Invisible Trillions. Global capitalism, he argues, operates beyond the rule of law. This contributes to extreme inequality that threatens liberal democracy. Deals in the financial secrecy system account for half of global economic… Continue reading Invisible Trillions review: global capitalism operates beyond the rule of law and threatens democracy

Seer of the selfie: In The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch excoriated his self-absorbed society

{Illustration by Garry Brown}

A cultural critic rails against a society that worships celebrity and prizes images over ideas. A progressive intellectual attacks the dominance of corporate elites. A curmudgeonly academic condemns his society’s ignorance of its past and the dumbing down of public education. A psychologically astute writer explores the conflicts eddying around gender and sexuality. Who are these disparate… Continue reading Seer of the selfie: In The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch excoriated his self-absorbed society

What’s behind the astonishing rise in LGBTQ+ romance literature?

A major transformation is underway in Romancelandia. Once upon a time, romance novels from major U.S. publishers featured only heterosexual couples. Today, the five biggest publishers regularly release same-sex love stories. From May 2022 to May 2023, sales of LGBTQ+ romance grew by 40%, with the next biggest jump in this period occurring for general… Continue reading What’s behind the astonishing rise in LGBTQ+ romance literature?

Classic literature still offers rich lessons about life in the deep blue sea

When OceanGate, the deep-sea exploration enterprise, created a promotional video for its ill-fated US$250,000-per-head trip to see the wreck of the Titanic, it told prospective passengers to “Get ready for what Jules Verne could only imagine – a 12,500-foot journey to the bottom of the sea.” Those behind the video hoped viewers would recognize the… Continue reading Classic literature still offers rich lessons about life in the deep blue sea

How a lost manuscript revealed the first poets of Italian literature

Imagine a world where we knew the name of Homer, but the poetry of The Odyssey was lost to us. That was the world of the early Italian Renaissance during the second half of the 15th century. Many people knew the names of some early poets of Italian literature – those who were active during the 13th… Continue reading How a lost manuscript revealed the first poets of Italian literature

The Fraud by Zadie Smith review: a dazzling depiction of Victorian colonial England

Zadie Smith’s latest novel, The Fraud, is her first foray into the world of historical fiction. The result is a stunning, well-studied examination of Victorian colonial England and some of its inhabitants. As with other works by Smith, the novel takes a patchwork approach, with several interwoven plots taking place over a period of about 50… Continue reading The Fraud by Zadie Smith review: a dazzling depiction of Victorian colonial England

In Knife, Salman Rushdie confronts a world where liberal principles like free speech are old-fashioned

Knife is Salman Rushdie’s account of how he narrowly survived an attempt on his life in August 2022, in which he lost his right eye and partial use of his left hand. The attack ironically came when Rushdie was delivering a lecture on “the creation in America of safe spaces for writers from elsewhere”, at… Continue reading In Knife, Salman Rushdie confronts a world where liberal principles like free speech are old-fashioned