April 18th, 2019

Michael Weingrad on Peter Beagle's 'The Last Unicorn'.

My friend Michael Weingrad reviews 'The Last Unicorn' for the Jewish Review of Books:
https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/uncategorized/5276/the-best-unicorn/

... Here, Beagle does not ironize evil; he treats it mythically. He introduces villains, above all the Red Bull, an implacable, destructive force that has been unleashed against the unicorns. Beagle’s depiction of the unicorn’s melancholy quest for the rest of her kind borders on secular post-Hasidic parables of God discovering what has become of His Jews in the wake of the Shoah. “Wherever she went,” Beagle writes, “she searched for her people, but she found no trace of them.”

Though the novel cannot be reduced to allegory, its language is infused with suggestive parallels to God and the Six Million. The unicorn repeatedly refers to the other unicorns as her “people.” “How terrible it would be,” she says ominously, “if all my people had been turned human by well-meaning wizards—exiled, trapped in burning houses. I would sooner find that the Red Bull had killed them all.”

Beagle’s unicorn resembles a god who has been living apart from the world. When the unicorn leaves her timeless forest she enters into history and is shocked and saddened by what she discovers, not least that human beings are no longer able to recognize her. “There has never been a world in which I was not known,” she muses, surprised when a farmer takes her for an ordinary mare.


Read the whole thing at the link.

'Beowulf' likely by a single author - Tolkien vindicated.

Via starshipcat, more fun with stylometry:
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/04/tolkien-was-right-scholars-conclude-beowulf-likely-the-work-of-single-author/

The epic poem Beowulf is the most famous surviving work of Old English literature. For decades, scholars have hotly debated both when the poem was composed and whether it was the work of a single anonymous author ("the Beowulf poet"). Lord of the Rings' scribe J.R.R. Tolkien was among those who famously championed the single-author stance. Now researchers at Harvard University have conducted a statistical analysis and concluded that there was very likely just one author, further bolstering Tolkien's case. They published their findings in a recent paper in Nature Human Behavior. ...

Read the rest at the link.