On Rhyme & Reason

The literary world has always been riddled with controversy. There’s a couple of controversies doing the rounds that we found of interest for what they say about about a new anthology of American poetry has brought to the fore age-old controversies about the vagaries of taste. A review in the New York Review of Books of the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry has taken the anthology’s editor to task on several grounds. In reply, the anthology’s editor, prominent poet Rita Dove, has dubbed the criticism, penned by noted poetry critic Helen Vendler, as “sad”. The snarky exchange highlights the challenges of arriving at a literary canon.

Meanwhile, have you ever scanned Amazon book reviews before buying a book and wondered how reliable they are? Have you ever wondered how Amazon comes up with its bestseller lists? Here’s an article on how both the reader reviews and the bestseller lists can be manipulated by those in the know. Another Amazon-related controversy relates to the deal it’s done with public libraries in the US on lending ebooks. Penguin is so unhappy with the deal it recently withdrew ebooks from libraries.

Western countries pride themselves on publishing cultures based on free speech - but is there a case to be made that a kind of self-imposed, market-based censorship exists? The question comes to mind while viewing this comparison of the covers of Time magazine’s US edition to those of its international edition.

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