Critical Linking: June 22, 2014

See Mailer’s first-year Harvard College report card at the top of the post, academic year 1939-40. The bearish novelist did well, but for the C in his second semester of Engineering Science. Just above, we have Cummings’ report card from what is likely his fifth grade year given his age of 11 at the time. The 1905-06 grading system looks foreign to us now, but the C that Cummings received that year probably did not put him at the top of the class. Nor, I’m sure, did his 61 absences.

Even the most renowned novelists didn’t earn killer grades in school (and who doesn’t like to peep someone else’s report card, even when you’re well past the age of report card fear?).


More than 20 unpublished poems by Pablo Neruda – works of “extraordinary quality” according to his publisher – have been unearthed among the papers of the late Nobel laureate in his native Chile.

Neruda’s Spanish publisher Seix Barral called the discovery “a literary event of universal importance”, and “the biggest find in Spanish literature in recent years”.

And who doesn’t love posthumous literary discoveries? The world deserves more Neruda.


Taystee loves Harry Potter. Hates Ulysses. I could picture her delivering great “story times” in a library. Poussey strikes me as more of an academic–possibly using a research library to write her own treatise on literature, music, or post Cold War Germany.

Is it sad I want a subplot where either Taystee or Poussey decide to pursue a MLS degree?

So we’ve seen the books featured in season 2 of Orange is the New Black. But here’s a look at the library scenes.


World War I reshaped nations, toppled empires, made heroes, and showed us just how brutal and bloodthirsty the modern world could be. It also inspired an outpouring of literature. From the very first week of battle, soldiers and civilians alike wrote reams of poetry. Later, the shell-shocked fields of France would echo in the Dead Marshes of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Middle Earth. And from the trenches emerged one of the most admired war novels of all time, Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the war, we’ve gathered together 20 of Goodreads members’ favorite WWI books—ten classics and ten contemporary takes. 

Why not bone up on your World War I reading?

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