Archive for December, 2009

We’ve moved!

December 18, 2009

The Book Haven has moved!  Now that we’ve finished unpacking, please visit us at our new site:

http://bookhaven.stanford.edu

See you there!

Daily dose of René Girard

December 8, 2009

Not everyone gravitates instantly to the ideas of  René Girard, one of the 40 members of the Académie Française, the highest honor France bestows on its intellectuals.  Many people find him hard to fathom, even though I’ve written easy articles about him here and here.

Girard, interviewed Dec. 1

So here’s another chance:  The Hoover Institution’s Peter Robinson has interviewed René for his series, “Uncommon Knowledge.”  You can find it here — but also on the National Review website here.  If all else fails, it’s on Youtube here.

The series continues in five short segments of about six minutes apiece.  The opening segment discusses Girard’s concept of “mimetic desire” and how “example is the key to bad as well as good behavior.”  The second segment discusses how the scapegoat has traditionally kept mankind from being in “total conflict all of the time.”

More segments to come for one of the greatest minds of our times — who, by the way, turns 86 this Christmas …

When writers "lawyer up" — who pays?

December 7, 2009

She won a 6-figure settlement (Photo -- L.A. Cicero)

Some of you may have seen my article on the Carol Shloss’s successful suit against the James Joyce Estate — here’s Shloss’s own controversial p.o.v., as published in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education.

Happy birthday, Eudora!

December 5, 2009

Eudora Welty, who died in 2001 at 92, would have turned a hundred this year.  Although Stanford’s celebration last Wednesday was a little late (her birthday was April 13), the readings by Rush Rehm, Aleta Hayes, and Courtney Walsh, as well as the lively and insightful talk by Welty’s friend and biographer, Suzanne Marrs, were welcome opportunities to revisit Mississippi’s Pulitzer-prizewinning novelist and short story writer.

Rush recounted Welty’s support for the Civil Rights movement — not as an activist, but as a sympathizer and most especially as a writer.  Rehm, an actor as well as a drama prof, did a powerful reading of Welty’s 1963 story, “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” written after the assassination of NAACP’s Medgar Evers, which took place in Welty’s hometown, Jackson.

Welty had wrote the story within a week of the assassination, and it was published in The New Yorker.  She later said of this story:

“Whoever the murderer is, I know him. … not his identity, but his coming about, in this time and place. That is, I ought to have learned by now, from here, what such a man, intent on such a deed, had going on in his mind”(Preface to Collected Stories 1980)

“I thought, I know how bad this man is, and I’m just going to try to imagine what it would be like to be in his skin, because I ought to know … It was a story writer’s challenge.” (More Conversations, p. 68).

When the murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, was eventually convicted, in his third trial more than three decades later, on February 5, 1994, Welty was interviewed, and in response to the statement “I guess Beckwith reminds everybody of Mississippi’s grim past,” she answered, “Just be glad Mississippi also does produce a Medgar Evers.”

Welty also said, when warned of the threats that “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” might attract:  “The people who burn crosses on lawns don’t read me in the New Yorker.”