Theories of Relativity

Marcel Proust lived from 1871 to 1922, an era that he characterized as the Age of Speed. These exciting, momentous years encompassed the Fin de Siècle, Belle Epoch, and… More

Toward Total Recall

Was it in the summer? It probably was . . . when you thought you had enough time on your hands to fill them with a book, when an unappointed… More

A Mighty Heart

In 1933 John Steinbeck was so poor he couldn't afford a dog. The literary critic Lewis Gannett uncovered this fact in Steinbeck’s correspondence with his agents during the time… More

On Solid Ground

When I first met the wide smile of James Baldwin face to face, I just burst into tears. In less than a heartbeat, he opened his arms as wide… More

Proust Regained

And now a translation of the opening passage composed for this occasion. Those of you who have tried to translate the first sentence will know that it is impossible.… More

James Baldwin’s Grand Tour

In America I’m not really a private person. No, I’m a public person. And a public person cannot write. Writers always have to find a way to do their… More

Time After Time

In his 1978 lecture “Immortality,” Jorge Luis Borges makes the typically astute observation that “Immortality is in the memory of others and in the work we leave behind.” He… More

Borges Beyond Words

Borges used to tell an endearing story that continues to haunt me. When he was a child, his paternal grandmother lived in the house with his family. She was English;… More

Virginia Woolf’s Forgetful Selves

Readers either worship or denigrate Virginia Woolf’s use of stream of consciousness. I will admit that there are times when her characters’ mental ambling can seem frustratingly opaque, and… More

Invigorating Life

A Room of One’s Own must be the most popular book title that any author has ever written. Since its publication in 1929, Virginia Woolf’s witty manifesto has not… More

Get the Free Speech News You Need

protesters in face masks carrying old Belarusian national flags

PEN America has a new weekly newsletter, PEN Points, bringing you a digest of the biggest free expression news of the week, plus the analysis and insights you trust from PEN America experts.