Roundtable

The Rest Is History

Managing the image of a philosopher, out-of-this-world book covers, and watching poetry online.

By Angela Serratore

Friday, September 16, 2016

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 1931. National Archives and Records Administration.

• A new biography attempts to repair the image of German philosopher August Wilhelm Schlegel: “The audience for Schlegel’s lectures at Bonn included Heinrich Heine, who at the time intensely admired Schlegel and dedicated three sonnets to him. Schlegel, for his part, had gone out of his way to advise the young, unknown Heine on his poetry. Later, however, in his polemical essay The Romantic School, Heine wrote a cruel, malicious, but memorable caricature of Schlegel, and many readers of German literature first encounter Schlegel in Heine’s sketch. Schlegel appears here as a fop, as a critic narrowly obsessed with metrics, as the submissive companion of Germaine de Staël, and as someone whose second marriage was ruined by his physical deficiencies.” (The Times Literary Supplement)

• What happened to Velva Darling, “girl philosopher” of the 1920s? (Pictorial)

• How the Great Depression changed shopping, eating, and cooking: “Among the few real winners of the Depression, from a gastronomic perspective, were the home economists—the mostly female corps of domestic scientists, recipe testers, efficiency experts and nutritionists who sought to educate America’s housewives. This was their shining moment, and the cascade of federally funded classes, recipe pamphlets, dietary recommendations and public-service positions elevated the domestic sciences to national importance. Eleanor Roosevelt was a zealous proponent of scientific eating and, in concert with her housekeeper, Henrietta Nesbitt, kept the sybaritic president on a dreary austerity diet of, among other things, watery soup and prune pudding.” (New York Times)

• A great way to make books better: put flying saucers on the cover! (Paris Review Daily)

• YouTube: a place for poetry? “However scruffy by academic standards, online video libraries have dredged some remarkable treasures from obscurity. Even as they change the way new poets present their work, they’re reshaping our relationship to the history of the craft. ‘Read at random,’ Randall Jarrell advised, and now poetry lovers can view at random too, free-associating our way through the most precious archival footage. It’s a new mode of research, a conjuring of spirits to our private theaters, where at a moment’s notice we can evaluate—or just savor—records that scholars a generation ago would have killed for.” (Poetry Foundation)

• The seventeenth-century duchess who wrote groundbreaking science fiction novels. (Atlas Obscura)