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

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

William Blake exhibition: making a European out of the poet and artist who never left England

{The Collector}

William Blake’s Universe, the new (free) exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, is a celebration of work by the Romantic artist, writer and visionary. Famous now but little known in his lifetime, Blake (1757-1827) has been given star billing by Tate Britain recently. But at the Fitzwilliam, he is made to share the spotlight… Continue reading William Blake exhibition: making a European out of the poet and artist who never left England

Indian protesters look to poetic tradition to resist Modi’s Hindu nationalism

India’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, implemented the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, in March 2024. Opponents of the law – which fast-tracks citizenship for undocumented, non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – decry the ways in which it discriminates against Muslims. As they did when the law was passed in… Continue reading Indian protesters look to poetic tradition to resist Modi’s Hindu nationalism

‘Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds’ – the Bhagavad Gita explained

There is a striking photo, taken in 2015, of a deactivated nuclear missile at an air and space museum in Tucson, Arizona. Written in dust on this missile are the words, “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”. These words, from the Sanskrit scriptural text the Bhagavad Gita, are famously attributed to J… Continue reading ‘Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds’ – the Bhagavad Gita explained

Voltaire’s Candide — a darkly satirical tale of human folly in times of crisis

“Italy had its renaissance, Germany its reformation, France had Voltaire”, the historian Will Durant once commented. Born François-Marie Arouet, Voltaire (1694-1778) was known in his lifetime as the “patriarch” of the French enlightenment. A man of extraordinary energy and abilities, he produced some 100 volumes of poetry, fiction, theatre, biblical and literary criticism, history and… Continue reading Voltaire’s Candide — a darkly satirical tale of human folly in times of crisis

‘Miss Peregrine’ author Ransom Riggs to launch new fantasy series, ‘Sunderworld’

Ransom Riggs’ first new series since the million-selling “Miss Peregrine” books will launch this summer. “Sunderworld, Vol. 1 The Extraordinary Disappointments of Leopold Berry” begins the adventures of a Los Angeles teen who, after his mother’s death, has some surreal encounters in his everyday life. Dutton Books for Young Readers, a Penguin Random House imprint, will publish “Sunderworld” on… Continue reading ‘Miss Peregrine’ author Ransom Riggs to launch new fantasy series, ‘Sunderworld’

Authenticity: a writer’s necessity

​Diaries, Erasing False Lines and Annie Ernaux The ability to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ writing is a skill gradually acquired and perfected by the most avid readers. Some may attribute it to a simple game of recognition, where the skill of a writer is compared to the skill of their literary forefathers. If it… Continue reading Authenticity: a writer’s necessity