Felicitous

Niki Holzapfel | 6 March 2017

“I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl, but I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t realize then that it’s the same impulse. It’s make-believe. It’s performance. The only difference being that a writer can do it all alone” -Joan Didion, The Paris Review, 1978

I was once in a class with someone who referred to Joan Didion lovingly as “Joan” and spoke of her with the utmost reverence. Rightfully so; the quote above—to me, at least—is brilliant. Writing creatively gives me narratives other than my own to consider. Not a unique conclusion, I realize, but one that makes the act of writing so attractive, so much more than a hobby to mock, so freeing.

The following piece was written when a number of narratives competed in my mind—when make-believe made the most sense.

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The Strange Case of Fanny Stevenson and Literary Partnership

March 21, 2016 | Robyn Pritzker.

Amongst the most misunderstood literary partnerships to date is that of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson. The two coauthored several volumes, to wide critical disapproval, and Fanny was her husband’s amanuensis and editor for many years through his bouts of ill health. Fanny was an artist in her own right, a trained painter and an author who penned several short stories and captivating travel diaries during her family’s extensive travels across Europe, North America, and the Pacific Islands. Robert Louis Stevenson frequently mentioned their collaboration in his letters, referencing the two of them hard at work together on his latest pieces[1], but nonetheless critics and biographers like Frank McLynn and T.C. Livingstone have long asserted that Fanny’s influence was minimal if not actually detrimental.

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Who Goes There? Authorial Personae and the Relationships between Authors and Readers

March 7, 2016 | Tess Goodman.

Is there such a thing as a relationship between a reader and an author? Authors often structure their relationships with readers in different ways, in order to connect with a potentially enormous group of readers, widely variant in personality and opinion, whom he or she will never meet. How do authors frame these relationships in ways that can be sustainable over decades or even centuries? And what do those relationships help the author to achieve?

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Revisiting the ‘Angel of Assassination’

March 7, 2016 | Harriet MacMillan.

I wrote the above poem in 2012, but it had been in gestation for some time. I first encountered David’s painting The Death of Marat (1793) in 2006; I clearly recall finding the artwork, detailing the French revolutionary’s death in his bath tub at the hands of Charlotte Corday, at once stark and yet curiously sterile. I still retain a fascination with Marat and his murderer Charlotte Corday, described posthumously as ‘l’Ange de l’Assassinat’. I am not alone in my fascination; Corday’s brutal killing of Marat has inspired many artists and writers. But what do artistic acts of rewriting history teach us? Can they ever truly represent those figures who have inspired or horrified us?

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