"How Shakespeare Invented Teenagers" at the NYT, being an excerpt from the fascinating-sounding How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche: "The great French scholar Philippe Ariès concluded that for most of the Medieval period “people had no idea of what we call adolescence, and the idea was a long time taking shape.” Yet our whole modern understanding of adolescence is there to be found in this play. Shakespeare essentially created this new category of humanity, and in place of the usual mix of nostalgia and loathing with which we regard adolescents (and adolescence), Shakespeare would have us look at teenagers in a spirit of wonder. He loves his teenagers even as he paints them in all their absurdity and nastiness." Putting on my list for May, when it comes out.
The final typescript version of the last few chapters of Gone With the Wind have turned up in Connecticut at the Pequot Library (or, rather, they were there all along). The article includes a don't-miss description of the insane process Margaret Mitchell used when writing the book and the rush to get it ready for print. I'd never read about this before. A snippet: "From August 1935 to January 1936, Mitchell, with the help of John Marsh, her second husband (and best man at her marriage to the first), and some hired typists and stenographers, essentially rewrote and retyped the entire book, cutting, refining, straightening out inconsistencies and fixing historical inaccuracies. Until fairly late in the process the heroine was called Pansy, and when Mitchell changed the name to Scarlett, thank goodness, she paid 50 cents an hour to have every page mentioning Pansy retyped."
My crazy last week kept me from posting some links in honor of Houdini's birthday: his last surviving stage assistant recently died at 103 (interesting tidbit: "Young then formed a dance act with Gilbert Kiamie, a New York businessman and the son of a wealthy silk lingerie magnate, and they gained international prominence for a Latin dance they created known as the rumbalero."), and a Christian Science Monitor piece by Eoin O'Carroll about why the world needs magicians("I should probably disclose here that my mother has worked as a professional stage magician for most of my life. When I was a child, she made me take the Magician's Oath, in which I promised never to reveal the secret of a trick to a non-magician, and never to perform a trick before an audience until I was good enough not to blow the gaff.").
Sarah Pekkanen on the gender divide in children's books; the piece concludes with some wise words from the wonderful David Levithan: “Whenever a book like this comes out of nowhere and becomes so big, people take notice,” wrote David Levithan, the trilogy’s editor, in an e-mail. “But I think the biggest take-away isn’t for there to be more dystopian fiction, or more Katniss-like characters. The take-away is that when you have an author with a singular vision, you should do everything you can to let her follow that vision.”