Russian publishers are deleting queer characters from books

And the rest of the week’s most notable writing on books and related subjects.

Welcome to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects. Here’s the best the web has to offer for the week of November 4, 2018.

  • SP Books is publishing a facsimile of the original manuscript for Picture of Dorian Gray. You can see Oscar Wilde’s handwritten edits in the manuscript, and according to the publisher, most of the edits seem to have been Wilde trying to make the whole thing less gay:

Its pages showcase the writer’s tremendous craft, but also his self-censorship in the context of 19th century English homophobia. Basil Hallward’s use of the word “beauty” in reference to Dorian Gray is, for example, replaced by the softer “good looks”. The word “passion” becomes “feeling,” “boy” is replaced by “lad”. Passages are also crossed out, such as Basil’s confession: “the world becomes young to me when I hold [Dorian Gray’s] hand.”

  • For more Oscar Wilde content, you can head over to Electric Lit, where Manuel Betancourt is analyzing Oscar Wilde biopics:

Still, I crave other big-screen versions of Wilde. Ones where we see his queer sensibility without needing to have it serve as prologue for his dour decline, a cautionary tale about Victorian repression. Where’s the Oxford-set film about his time in college when he became enthralled with aestheticism and was taught by both Walter Pater and John Ruskin? Where’s the romantic drama all about the love triangle between Wilde, Bram Stoker and Florence Balcombe, Oscar’s childhood sweetheart who ended up marrying the Dracula writer instead?

  • My Brilliant Friend, HBO’s adaptation of the Elena Ferrante novel, is premiering this month. Vulture talks to the four young actresses who play the lead roles:

Costanzo wasn’t daunted by working with untrained actors. If anything, he found their naturalism to his advantage, noting that the younger stars in particular, who anchor the first two episodes, become one with their characters. “By the end, everyone in the crew was surprised by how Elisa was taking care of Ludovica,” he says. “If Elisa’s acting was better, she felt bad because the attention was on her instead of Ludovica, much like [Elena and Lila].” According to the actresses, the director’s feedback was minimal. “Saverio would give us some advice, some direction,” says Ludovica. “But in the end his message was always the same: ‘Be yourselves.’”

  • At the New Republic, Josephine Livingstone considers the four extant original Old English manuscripts, and what we can learn from them:

I’ve spent years dreaming of these books, but when all five of us finally met I couldn’t do anything but cry. I thought I knew them, through digital replicas. These books should have been a mirror, some kind of catalyst to self-recognition. But when I looked at them I saw nothing. I only saw the yawning void of everything in human history that I cannot understand, everything that has been taken from our culture by the incredible acceleration of technology over the course of my lifetime.

  • Russian publishers are apparently erasing queer characters from books that they acquire in translation, under “gay propaganda” laws. The Huffington Post has the full story.
  • You might remember that last year, Girls author Emma Cline was sued by her ex-boyfriend, who alleged that she had plagiarized from him. Cline has now won her day in court, Book Riot reports.
  • J.K. Rowling’s former assistant allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from her in unauthorized credit card charges. Theft is wrong and all, but the list of what she got is #goals, tbh:

£823 at Bibi Bakery

£1,482 at luxury candle company Jo Malone

£3,629 in cosmetic firm Molton Brown

£2,139 in card shop Paper Tiger

£1,636 in Starbucks.

  • The New York Times is reporting that Amazon plans to split its second headquarters between Arlington, Virginia, and the Queens, New York, neighborhood of Long Island City. As someone who lives right on the edge of LIC, I will just point you here and weep gently.
  • Publishers of an art book about police brutality say that they were harassed by the TSA when officers found the book in company luggage:

“Our feeling was that the officer was personally offended by content in the book about police violence against Black people. The officer was visibly enraged by the book, calling it ‘fucking disgusting.’ We felt like he was using the pretext of TSA security to punish dissent,” she added. “Even after the officer questioned us, checked the database, and determined that we were not a threat, he seemed to feel that our possession of the book gave him license to continue to berate and harass us and to disparage the art.”

  • At LitHub, Panio Gianopoulos explains why he writes on the train:

Every weekday morning, I squeeze into the corner of the Grand Central bound Hudson line, hunch over my laptop, and start typing. I write for the duration of the ride, anywhere from 35 to 42 minutes, while trying never to look up from the screen. As a creative practice, it’s reminiscent of the contour line drawing exercise my high school art teacher used, ordering us to draw without lifting up the pencil while he would cry out, in a fake British accent, “Don’t break the line, boys!” (Add him to the list of people lucky that camera-phones had yet to be invented).


Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the week in books at Vox:

  • Want less poverty in the world? Empower women.
  • Why science can’t replace religion

As always, you can keep up with Vox’s book coverage by visiting vox.com/books. Happy reading!

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