The cultural whipping boys’ manifesto. France has often delighted in publicly thrashing its literary greats, from Flaubert and Baudelaire’s morality court cases to Françoise Sagan’s drug busts. But now two self-declared cultural whipping boys have joined ranks to express their outrage at being constantly “vomited on”, ridiculed and victimised by their nation. — The Guardian

Ten great moments in forgiveness history. Each issue of In Character magazine analyses a single virtue from different perspectives, bringing together scholars and journalists versed in public policy, the humanities, religion, and the sciences. — In Character

The woman who never stopped talking: The secret of Madame de Stael’s success. “First modern woman” does not constitute what I would call a dream job. Someone had to step up, however, and—assuming royal and Ptolemaic women are off limits—one looks to Enlightenment Europe for volunteers. French residency if not nationality was a plus. A fortune was de rigueur. It helped to be an only child; generally one goes further in the absence of pesky male heirs. And what never hurts—arguably even today—is an adoring, intellectually inclined father. Such were the blessings showered on Germaine de Stael, and though I might argue that Mesdames du Chatelet and de Charrière challenge her title —and the subtitle of Francine du Plessix Gray’s new biography—few have done as much with those advantages as Madame de Stael. Certainly no one caused as much trouble. — Slate

Palin, Fey, Palin…Stop. Why the parody shouldn’t become the news: Here’s a suggestion for the networks: stop allotting so much tube time to Tina Fey. As fascinating as the representational mash-ups are, the fact remains that it’s ridiculous to continue to play the Fey-as-Palin clips on news shows just because the juxtaposition is funny. — Columbia Journalism Review

Peter Fray

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