Author: Cody Delistraty

The Future of Writing

An exhibition at the British Library in London questions the future of writing.


John Lanchester’s Essential Deceptions

With essays that span the devastating effects of financial inequality and globalization and a new novel on climate change disaster, John Lanchester is becoming the central voice for the end of the world. But such serious business also requires a kind of trickery. It was exceptionally crowded for a weekday afternoon at the British Library as John Lanchester peered into a vitrine containing a curious jewel. It was the final weeks of a sold-out exhibition on Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and although the show included the oldest surviving copy of the poem Beowulf, the oldest known Latin Bible, and a variety of other literary treasures, these weren’t what the author was most interested in. Instead, Lanchester contemplated a bejeweled golden reading pointer. In the ninth century, its creator, King Alfred, had sixty of them made to accompany copies of his own translation into Old English of a Latin papal text — a kind of premodern marketing campaign. Its most interesting feature is its promotional self-awareness; Lanchester pointed to an inscription on the jewel that read, AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN — “Alfred …