Merve Emre is Associate Professor of English Literature at Oxford and a Fellow of Worcester College. Her latest book is The Ferrante Letters: An Exercise in Collective Thinking.
 (January 2020)


The Imperfect Telescope

William Blake: frontispiece from The Song of Los, 1795; from Roberta J. M. Olson and Jay M. Pasachoff’s Cosmos: The Art and Science of the Universe. It is published by Reaktion and distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

The Organs of Sense

by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
The German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the main character of Adam Sachs’s debut novel, The Organs of Sense, had a minor obsession with telescopes. His hero was Johannes Kepler, the mathematician who had invented the refracting astronomical telescope in 1611. “Kepler, thanks to the force of his genius, has discovered …

‘Dismembered, Relocated, Rearranged’

Giorgio de Chirico: The Archaeologist, 1927; from Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art, the catalog of a recent exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery. It is published by David Zwirner Books.


by Daša Drndić, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth


by Daša Drndić, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth
How can the contemporary novel speak the unspeakable? It’s an old question, a tired one perhaps, now that “the unspeakable” has come to encompass many forms of trauma that writers regularly speak about: self-harm, sexual abuse, genocide, fascism, climate change. Search for “speak the unspeakable” online, and the encyclopedic range of results, from the horrific (mass death) to the trivial (relationship advice) to the downright offensive (men’s rights forums, campus “free speech” controversies), makes it easy to start feeling cynical about how people deploy their memories for recognition.

Timeless Quickies

The Collected Stories of Diane Williams

with an introduction by Ben Marcus
More than any other writer today, Diane Williams understands the essentially tragicomic nature of the penis, human or otherwise. The penises in her very short stories never do what they are supposed to be doing, which is, in a word, fucking; or, rather, fucking well, fucking artistically. “His penis was …