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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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Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Qatar National Library's Panorama-Style Bookshelves Offer Guests Stunning Views
Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The newly opened Qatar National Library in the capital city of Doha contains more than 1 million books, some of which date back to the 15th century. Co.Design reports that the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) designed the building so that the texts under its roof are the star attraction.

When guests walk into the library, they're given an eyeful of its collections. The shelves are arranged stadium-style, making it easy to appreciate the sheer number of volumes in the institution's inventory from any spot in the room. Not only is the design photogenic, it's also practical: The shelves, which were built from the same white marble as the floors, are integrated into the building's infrastructure, providing artificial lighting, ventilation, and a book-return system to visitors. The multi-leveled arrangement also gives guests more space to read, browse, and socialize.

"With Qatar National Library, we wanted to express the vitality of the book by creating a design that brings study, research, collaboration, and interaction within the collection itself," OMA writes on its website. "The library is conceived as a single room which houses both people and books."

While most books are on full display, OMA chose a different route for the institution's Heritage Library, which contains many rare, centuries-old texts on Arab-Islamic history. This collection is housed in a sunken space 20 feet below ground level, with beige stone features that stand out from the white marble used elsewhere. Guests need to use a separate entrance to access it, but they can look down at the collection from the ground floor above.

If Qatar is too far of a trip, there are plenty of libraries in the U.S. that are worth a visit. Check out these panoramas of the most stunning examples.

Qatar library.

Qatar library.

Qatar library.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images: Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Reading Aloud to Your Kids Can Promote Good Behavior and Sharpen Their Attention
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Some benefits of reading aloud to children are easy to see. It allows parents to introduce kids to books that they're not quite ready to read on their own, thus improving their literacy skills. But a new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the simple act of reading to your kids can also influence their behavior in surprising ways.

As The New York Times reports, researchers looked at young children from 675 low-income families. Of that group, 225 families were enrolled in a parent-education program called the Video Interaction Project, or VIP, with the remaining families serving as the control.

Participants in VIP visited a pediatric clinic where they were videotaped playing and reading with their children, ranging in age from infants to toddlers, for about five minutes. Following the sessions, videos were played back for parents so they could see how their kids responded to the positive interactions.

They found that 3-year-olds taking part in the study had a much lower chance of being aggressive or hyperactive than children in the control group of the same age. The researchers wondered if these same effects would still be visible after the program ended, so they revisited the children 18 months later when the kids were approaching grade-school age. Sure enough, the study subjects showed fewer behavioral problems and better focus than their peers who didn't receive the same intervention.

Reading to kids isn't just a way to get them excited about books at a young age—it's also a positive form of social interaction, which is crucial at the early stages of social and emotional development. The study authors write, "Such programs [as VIP] can result in clinically important differences on long-term educational outcomes, given the central role of behavior for child learning."

Being read to is something that can benefit all kids, but for low-income parents working long hours and unable to afford childcare, finding the time for it is often a struggle. According to the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, only 34 percent of children under 5 in families below the poverty line were read to every day, compared with 60 percent of children from wealthier families. One way to narrow this divide is by teaching new parents about the benefits of reading to their children, possibly when they visit the pediatrician during the crucial first months of their child's life.

[h/t The New York Times]

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