Skip to main content

literature

Photograph by Fred Viebahn

An Interview With Rita Dove

In Germany, I began to experience what it was like to think in another language. Also, the way Germans looked at me—with curiosity but no racial baggage—was so different than Americans. I began to understand a little bit more about my own country and how I fit in or not. 

Illustration by John Ritter

The Writer’s Dilemma

In October 2012, VQR gathered innovative thinkers in the publishing industry to talk about where, exactly, this business might be headed. We delved into the risks and rewards of digital journalism, the tension between Internet giants and scrappy start-ups, and the opportunities at hand in a volatile industry. 

Blurring the Worlds of Fiction and Reality

October 14, 2013

The experience of reading literary diaries and letters can feel like an act of voyeurism. For the reader, the first few pages of revelations are guiltily tantalizing, as the inner life of a literary figure comes into focus and trips are made behind closed doors.

Illustration by John Ritter

What Is the Business of Literature?

Most other accounts of the contemporary business of literature are autobiographical, hagiographic, or histories of literature, avoiding the business and economics of it all. So why study a business that is sui generis, that isn’t even really a business—that, like America, is exceptional? 

The Devil’s Tail: Reading From the Lives of Authors

I spent a day with V. S. Naipaul in the fall of 1980. He was teaching undergraduates that semester at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and he’d agreed to be interviewed for a projected special issue of Salmagundi magazine. My companions on this visit were the novelist Bharati Mukherjee and my wife Peg Boyers. From the first, in our preliminary phone conversations, Naipaul had expressed objections about my friend Bharati. “Why bring an Indian with you?” he asked.

Humboldt’s Gift

Whenever someone asks me to name my favorite novel, I find myself putting on a ridiculous but revealing little performance, pretending to a natural consternation—after all, who can narrow a lifetime’s evolving preferences down to a single title? [...]

Writing Life: Remaking a Norton Anthology

What redeems literary anthologists, if we're able to claim neither the creativity of the poet nor the analytic rigor of the cultural theorist? Having dedicated myself for years to constructing elaborate critical arguments, how did I get involved in what one of my friends called "pretheoretical" judgments about poem-gathering, a suspiciously curatorial practice in our supposedly post-canonical era?