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Wikimedia Commons

5 Writers Who Took Romantic Revenge in Print

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Rather than forgive and forget, these wordsmiths used their poison pens to deliver a healthy dose of literary revenge.

1. Norman Mailer

The honeymoon didn’t last long for the notoriously combative Mailer and Lady Jeanne Campbell, his third wife and sparring partner. The pair’s bickering was so fierce that Campbell joked they could clear a room quicker than anyone in New York. The British aristocrat gamely stuck it out for a year before making haste to a divorce court while Mailer symbolically murdered her in An American Dream. In the dark urban fantasy, the main character strangles his wife, throws her out a window, and sodomizes the maid. The misogynistic tale—called “the hate book of all time” by Campbell—helped cement Mailer’s place as public enemy number one on the feminist hit list.

2. Ernest Hemingway

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When Martha Gellhorn claimed, “Hell hath no fury like E.H. scorned,” she spoke from experience. Hemingway nursed a long-time grudge against the war correspondent, the only one of his four wives to commit the cardinal sin of walking out on him. A decade later, despite having married again, he took pot shots at Martha in Across the River and into the Trees. “She had more ambition than Napoleon and about the talent of the average High School Valedictorian,” claimed the protagonist. Not only did Hemingway’s fictional alter ego deem his ex-wife conceited, ambitious, and untalented, he wished he could hang her from a tree. The comments were so vitriolic his publisher feared they might incite a libel suit.

3. Simone de Beauvoir

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Even trailblazing feminist Simone de Beauvoir—who scorned conventional marriage and relished her sexual freedom—wasn’t immune to jealous rivalries. When her longtime love, fellow philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, began zealously pursuing one of her own bedfellows, young student Olga Kosakiewicz, Simone found herself questioning her long-held beliefs. Ultimately, she reached a shocking conclusion—in print, anyway—by coldly and calculatingly murdering Olga’s doppelganger in her novel She Came to Stay. As if to soften the blow, she ironically dedicated the book to the other woman.

4. Lord Byron

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When Lady Byron realized her husband had a fondness for sleeping with men, as well as his half-sister, she made the drastic decision to leave him. After sneaking out of the house with their infant daughter in tow, she drew up a list of Byron’s bizarre behaviors and submitted it to her lawyers, concluding that her hubby was mentally deranged. Far from being contrite, Byron felt he was the wronged party and in his satiric poem Don Juan, he maligned his wife as a “virtuous monster” who “called some druggists and physicians / And tried to prove her loving lord was mad.”

5. Louise Colet

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After having her heart broken not once, but twice, by Gustave Flaubert, poet Louise Colet was understandably incensed when she read his racy novel Madame Bovary. The dastardly writer shamelessly infused the story with intimate details taken from her life, including their first sexy tryst in a carriage. Adding insult to injury, the book insinuated that she, like Madame Bovary, used men to advance her social status. The tempestuous Louise had once attacked a journalist who besmirched her reputation, threatening him with a knife, but this time she sharpened her pen instead. In retaliation, she wrote a bestselling semi-autobiographical novel, Lui, which depicted Flaubert as a red-faced buffoon and womanizer.

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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library
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Visit the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal at night and you might think the building has a bat problem. It's true that common pipistrelle bats live there, occupying the space behind the bookshelves by day and swooping beneath the arched ceilings and in and out of windows once the sun goes down, but they're not a problem. As Smithsonian reports, the bats play a vital role in preserving the institution's manuscripts, so librarians are in no hurry to get rid of them.

The bats that live in the library don't damage the books and, because they're nocturnal, they usually don't bother the human guests. The much bigger danger to the collection is the insect population. Many bug species are known to gnaw on paper, which could be disastrous for the library's rare items that date from before the 19th century. The bats act as a natural form of pest control: At night, they feast on the insects that would otherwise feast on library books.

The Joanina Library is famous for being one of the most architecturally stunning libraries on earth. It was constructed before 1725, but when exactly the bats arrived is unknown. Librarians can say for sure they've been flapping around the halls since at least the 1800s.

Though bats have no reason to go after the materials, there is one threat they pose to the interior: falling feces. Librarians protect against this by covering their 18th-century tables with fabric made from animal skin at night and cleaning the floors of guano every morning.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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