The bursting life of The Diary of Frida Kahlo

Being an unabashed Frida-phile, I ordered a used copy of The Diary of Frida Kahlo, a facsimile of her diary from the last decade of her life. When it arrived I tore open the padded mailer and let the beautiful pages wash over me. I know enough Spanish to read her entries, in her looping … Continue reading The bursting life of The Diary of Frida Kahlo

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Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth: Letter from Chief Seattle to the U.S. President in 1852

I was reading The Power of Myth, a dialogue between Joseph Conrad and Bill Moyers, and came across a letter. It halted me. It's an 1852 letter from Chief Seattle to the U.S. President, in response to a request to buy land. Inside, the Chief offers a timeless reflection on man's connection to nature. The moral … Continue reading Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth: Letter from Chief Seattle to the U.S. President in 1852

A Lesson in Persistence: Flaubert’s Struggle with Madame Bovary

It’s easy to think that books now considered classics must have been, in some sense, inevitable. That the authors intuited they were onto something vital. Their toil was propelled by the mental flow that, at the best of times, animates human endeavor. This idea is discouraging to one struggling with his art and divining in … Continue reading A Lesson in Persistence: Flaubert’s Struggle with Madame Bovary

The incredible case of Kató Lomb, the woman who taught herself 16 languages

For the past year, I've been trying to learn Spanish. I started out knowing zilch - and had to begin with the alphabet. It's hard to learn a language as an adult. When people ask me why I'm trying anyway, I say travel, culture, the ability to speak and read another language. For fun, quite … Continue reading The incredible case of Kató Lomb, the woman who taught herself 16 languages

The best personal essay I’ve ever read was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936

I thought I knew F. Scott Fitzgerald because I'd read The Great Gatsby, discarded Tender Is the Night, and heard Hemingway tell how drunk he would get in Paris. I did not know F. Scott Fitzgerald. One day, a writer friend told me Fitzgerald is one of his favorite writers. "Why?" I asked. He told … Continue reading The best personal essay I’ve ever read was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936