Sunday Moochings- simply messing around in books



What could be better than simply mooching about letting ideas richochet gently off your  head? Here are a few that have taken Gert’s fancy recently.

Sex? Drugs? Or just a quiet session with the dictionary?

During both word learning and gambling, participants exhibited activity in the ventral striatum, which is a core area involved in reward and motivation. This same region is activated during a wide range of pleasurable activities, such as eating great food, having sex and taking drugs. During word learning activities, synchronization between the cortical language regions and the ventral striatum was also increased. Furthermore, those with better connections between these two circuits were found to be able to learn more words than those with weaker links.

Why do novels have chapters?

Ancient encyclopedists, monks, theologians: the forgers of the chapter. What of novelists?

Hard as it may be to imagine now, the modern novel, as it emerged in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, often treated the chapter gingerly, as a strange oddity in need of explanation. The reason is not particularly mysterious. As a technique, designed for information-seeking or scholarly citation, the chapter is a peculiar fit with a narrative form that presumes a continuous, serial reading. When editors like William Caxton divided texts like Thomas Malory’s “Morte d’Arthur” into chapters, as he did in his 1485 edition, it was largely to permit readers to choose which moments of the story could be applied to particular moral teachings. Later still, Renaissance prose romances had no need of chapters. Why should novels?

This is a fascinating article, tracing the history of the chapter from the Venerable Bede in 735, and has thought-provoking things to say about how chapters work in novels.

A brazen document – about grammar

 The brain scientist Stephen Pinker has recently made waves with his taking-on of the style manuals and declaring that the “diktats” of the likes of Strunk and White should be ignored (or at least taken with a grain of commonsense salt.)

10 ‘grammar rules’ it’s OK to break (sometimes)

Here Nathan Heller takes on Pinker’s “brazen” article. It’s fMri scanners and Strunk & White at 40 paces.

Murderous Charlotte Bronte

 This one is fun.

According to criminologist James Tully, the author of ‘Jane Eyre was not the secluded, intellectual spinster we imagine, but a violently envious and lustful murderess.

You can read more about this and similarly strange theories about J.K. Rowling, Camus, Stephen King Mary Shelley and Queen Elizabeth 1 here

And last of all, a fascinating writer:

 Elena Ferrrante, the global literary sensation nobody knows

Elena Ferrante is an Italian novelist who was born in or near Naples. She seems once to have been married; she may have lived in Greece; she appears to be a mother. Or so we think. In our self-promoting, Twitter-saturated age, Ferrante is an outlier, an author who wishes to remain totally private. She refuses face-to-face interviews, has only given a handful of written ones (a few of her letters have been published), and makes no personal appearances; no photographs of her have been published. In 1991, shortly before the publication of her style-defining first book, Troubling Love, Ferrante sent a letter to her editor, explaining that she would not be promoting it: “I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t.”


4 thoughts on “Sunday Moochings- simply messing around in books

  1. Funnily enough, I came across the Elena Ferrante article yesterday as I was catching up with a bit of reading. It’s an interesting article, and I was glad to see that (unlike one or two other recent pieces) it didn’t dwell on the whole ‘Is Ferrante a male author?’ angle. Have you read any of her books?

  2. No, not yet. I’ve requested 3 from my library, starting with the first vol of “My brilliant friend”. I like her attitude to promoting her books, but it wouldn’t make her popular with a publishing house!

  3. Yes, so do I! I The Neapolitan novels are great, and I hope you enjoy them. My Brilliant Friend remains my favourite of the three, with New Name a close second.

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