Literature

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A new collection of essays explores the role of books in founding and dismantling The British empire. Shutterstock

The books that shaped the rise and fall of the British empire

Books have active political lives. They inspire social movements and bind people together. Books can stand as short-hand symbols for larger galaxies of ideas.
Hamid Mohsin is a guest of the Sydney Writers' Festival. Photo © Jillian Edelstein. Penguin Books.

Against binaries: a conversation with Mohsin Hamid

"I have a bit of resistance to the way the world is and making up my own world is a response to that," says Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, a guest at this year's Sydney Writers' Festival.
Should we be upset that some of our favourite authors don’t actually exist? Mark Nye

Ghostwriters haunt our illusions about solitary authors

Modernism – and western culture generally since the late 18th century – taught us that books were written in solitary creative frenzies. But ghostwriters are increasingly challenging that assumption.
The pantheon of the Bard’s plays is now larger by one – or so the headlines would have you believe. George

Shakespeare’s Double Falsehood? Alas, that’s neither true nor false

You'd be forgiven for thinking Double Falsehood was recently "found" and confirmed as being by Shakespeare. But that's not what the researchers behind the computational tests actually said. So what's up?
Zannoni’s 1771 Map of the British Isles shows the heart of the “civilised” world – at least according to Adam Smith when he was writing The Wealth of Nations. Wikimedia Commons/Geographicus Rare Antique Maps

Savage peoples: the racism of Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations

To burnish the virtues of "civilised" Europe, Adam Smith relies on a barrage of racial insults. Where did his information about the so-called "savage peoples" come from in the first place?
Bitto has remarked on the major impact of the Stella Prize and the conversations it has encouraged about women writers. Jone

Debut novelist Emily Bitto wins the Stella Prize

Emily Bitto has won the 2015 Stella Prize for her debut novel, The Strays. The prize is now in its third year and was established to redress the way in which women writers were typically overlooked for major literary prizes
A fantasy about free markets in primitive society lies at the heart of Adam Smith’s wealth of nations – but did they ever exist? Steve Rhodes/Flickr

The myth that holds Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations together

The myth that our primitive forebears were capitalists at heart is fundamental to Adam Smith's arguments in The Wealth of Nations.
The State Library of Victoria has received the greatest single bequest of rare books in its history. Teagan Glenane

Emmerson’s bequest offers the best of the best for book scholars

The State Library of Victoria has received the greatest single bequest of rare books in its history, coupled with an endowment for the collection's preservation. No wonder book scholars are smiling.
Salman Rushdie claims not to have realised his GoodReads ratings were public. EPA/Helmut Fohringer

Should authors Rushdie to judgment as book reviewers?

Negative reaction by other authors to Salman Rushdie’s book ratings demonstrates how sensitive writers can be. But why shouldn’t an author give however many stars they like to a book?
The “MONA effect” has set Tasmania’s arts scene on fire – will Richard Flanagan’s Man Booker win do the same for its literature? EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

The Flanagan effect: Tasmanian literature in the limelight

Richard Flanagan's 2014 Man Booker Prize has put Tasmanian writing in the spotlight – and the announcement of new state literary prizes has helped too. So what is distinctive about Tasmanian literature?
Evie Wyld, author of All The Birds, Singing, is one of the guests at this year’s Sydney Writers' Festival.

On interviewing Evie Wyld, my literary crush

Evie Wyld will be a guest at this year's Sydney Writers' Festival. Here, she speaks with a passionate reader about the success of her award-winning book, All The Birds, Singing.
Young adult dystopian characters like Insurgent’s Tris are inspiring their female fans to shatter the glass ceiling. Lionsgate Films

Girls on fire: political empowerment in young adult dystopia

By featuring girls who buck the conventions of their world – and ours – films like Insurgent inspire fans to enact real change.
A long list of commercial success stories has emerged from the self-publishing boom, sometimes with sales in the millions. Nicolas DECOOPMAN

Self-publishing matters – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

It is still stigmatised, still seen as amateur, even as illegitimate, but self-publishing has truly arrived. We ignore it at our peril.
Austen periodically runs afoul of a particular kind of cultural hypocrisy. jamelah e.

Jane Austen is facing death by popularity … and men

Once pivotal to the English canon, Jane Austen has been adapted and readapted for Hollywood and Bollywood – and that kind of popularity comes at a cost.
Adam Smith used parables, morality tales, and canine analogies to explain his theories of economics. Kasper Flörchinger

How cute dogs help us understand Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’

A careful study of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations reveals that its influence lies not in Smith’s ability to construct an argument – but in his skill as teller of tall tales.

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