The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf (full text)

The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf

“The Mark on the Wall,” one of Virginia Woolf‘s early short stories, was published in her first collection of fiction, Monday or Tuesday (1921). It was a prime example of the kind of complex (and sometimes perplexing) modernist short stories that she produced especially in her first years of publishing.

Before getting to the full text of the story, here is a link to an excellent summary and analysis of the story, as well as Leonard Woolf’s foreword to A Haunted House and Other Short Stories, an updated collection that also included this story, published posthumously in 1944. Read More→


Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

new editions of the parable series by Octavia E Butler

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler are a duo of books intended to have become a trilogy, though the third never came to be. Now that we inhabit the time in which the novels actually take place, they’re more eerily prescient than ever.

When Parable of Sower (1993) begins, Lauren Olamina is a young Black woman just emerging from her teens, navigating the apocalyptic world of Los Angeles in the 2020s. A fight — and flight — for survival leads to her create a new faith called Earthseed, in hopes of repairing the world.

We find Lauren once again at the center of Parable of the Talents, now a young mother and still fighting to salvage humanity with Earthseed, the new faith she founded. Now she’s battling violent bigots and religious fanatics.

Read More→


Beautiful New Editions of Octavia E. Butler Classics

Seed to Harvest by Octavia E. Butler

It’s possible that Octavia E. Butler’s speculative, dystopian, and science fiction novels and short stories have been over-described as “prescient.” But there’s hardly a better word for many of her major works, and in tandem with her keen observance of human nature, they’ve transcended genre to become classic literature.

In her New York Times obituary, Butler was described as “an internationally acclaimed science fiction writer whose evocative, often troubling novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power, and ultimately, what it meant to be human.” Read More→


Imagining Helen: The Life of Translator Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter

Helen Tracy Lowe Porter

I first heard about Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter (1876 – 1963) when I fell in love with her grandson, a visiting American graduate student at my university in New Zealand. I knew of the great German novelist Thomas Mann but had not read his novels, and certainly had never wondered about how they came to appear in English.

“My grandmother was Mann’s translator,” my new boyfriend informed me. I was mildly impressed. He told me a little about her: how forbiddingly intellectual she was, how un-grandmotherly.

His mother, Patricia, who soon became my mother-in-law, always spoke with mixed awe and resentment of her illustrious mother, though adoringly of her illustrious father, a renowned paleographer. Read More→


6 Essential Novels by Daphne du Maurier

My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier

If you want to delve into the novels of Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989), where should you begin? The prolific British novelist, playwright, and short-story writer launched her publishing career at age twenty-two with The Loving Spirit (1931), her first novel. She went on to publish numerous works of full-length and short fiction as well as nonfiction and plays.

Arguably, Rebecca (1938) is du Maurier’s masterwork and best-known work. And there’s a group of novels among her canon that approach it in terms of quality and longevity.  Here we’ll list the books that Dame Daphne is best remembered for.

With the exception of The Loving Spirit, all of the following have also been made into well-known films, sometimes more than once. Read More→


The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (1969)

Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand (1969)

The House on the Strand  (1969) is one of prolific British author Daphne du Maurier’s later novels, and perhaps one of those less widely read and not as critically acclaimed.

The story, set in her own beloved Cornwall, is one of time travel, with elements of the gothic and supernatural. The narrator, Richard (Dick) Young, gains access to a drug that transports him from the present day (and a life he finds rather dreary) to the 14th century. There, he becomes involved in the lives of those he meets, and his two worlds collide.

A recent reconsideration of The House on the Strand on the official Daphne du Maurier site, sums up the novel’s storyline: Read More→


Rule Britannia by Daphne du Maurier (1972)

rule britannia by Daphne du Maurier (1972)

Rule Britannia (1972) was the last novel written by Daphne du Maurier, who was known for her tightly plotted, exquisitely crafted thrillers, including the iconic Rebecca (1938).

The story, set in a future version of England, envisioned the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EEC (European Economic Community), a body that was incorporated into the European Union in 1993, well after du Maurier’s time. It was almost as if she was envisioning Brexit.

In fact, the Times of London called it a “Brexit novel,” placing it among others that envisioned Britain striking off on its own in an April 2019 article by Lucy Scholes:

What are the Brexit novels? Ali Smith’s Autumn, Jonathan Coe’s Middle England, Sam Byers’s Perfidious Albion, Daphne du Maurier’s Rule Britannia? Yes, you read that correctly: nearly 50 years ago the writer famous for her 1938 bestseller Rebecca all but predicted Brexit in her final novel. Read More→


Angelina Weld Grimké

Angelina Grimke

Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880 – June 10, 1958) was an American playwright, poet, and educator. She rose to prominence as a figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, though most of her major works were created before that era.

As a writer and woman of color, she was deeply concerned about African-American issues and pervasive racism. Themes of race played a prominent role in her poetry and plays. Read More→


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