03.09.11

The Best of Brit Lit

The editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Peter Stothard, picks favorite reads. This week: a Frankenstein play hits London, the blah blah blah life of Keith Richards, and where does yoga come from?

Frankenstein Lives!

"Frankenstein . . . opens with the painful arrival into consciousness of the Creature. Caked in blood and mucus, he is hiccuped out of a large circular pod  . . .; he then spends several minutes twitching spastically and gibbering in panicked disorientation, before eventually heaving himself upright, wobbly as a newborn colt.

"We’ve all had mornings like that. But just as existence is finally starting to look like fun, Victor Frankenstein (apron, sideburns) bustles on stage from the auditorium . . ."

In the TLS this week, we look at the afterlives of the Shelleys, both fictional and actual; Keith Miller enjoys Danny Boyle's production of Mary's novel, and Benjamin Markovits explains why Percy Bysshe's papers are so hard to assemble in one place. His "life was so disorganized," as he traveled across Europe, and his working practices barely less chaotic: "A single poem might go through its several drafts in as many different notebooks."

Keith Richards on Fire

Greil Marcus reviews the autobiography of Keith Richards, "at once a notorious and celebrated heroin addict and one of the most dynamic and least recognized songwriters of his time."  His conclusion is that the much-lauded autobiography of the Stones founder member has pages of brilliance—and a lot of blah blah blah.

book-cover---yoga-body
Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. By Mark Singleton. 272 pages. Oxford University Press. $17.95. ()

The Real Roots of Yoga

Whose yoga is it anyway? Wendy Doniger, in her review of Yoga Body, addresses the squabbles of American Hindus and Christians about yoga—who it belongs to, even what it is. Professor Doniger traces the history of and claims about yoga from the Indus Valley in the third millennium BC to Hollywood in the present day (commenting favorably, along the way, on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sanskrit).

Peter Stothard's latest book is On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey Through Ancient Italy. He is also the author of Thirty Days, a Downing Street diary of his time with British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the Iraq war.