Frederick the Great Also Wrote Erotic, Overwrought Poems

Plus: Where the Borders business model lost its way

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Today in literature: A lost poem from Frederick the Great turns up in Berlin, A.M. Homes sells a pilot to CBS, and one final look back at what Borders did wrong.

  • King Frederick the Great is remembered favorably for his support of the arts, initiatives that expanded Prussia's economic might, and not having a problem with Jesuits. He was also quite the erotic poet, a fact emerging following the discovery of a poem he wrote called "La Jouissance" in a Berlin archive. It's dated July 1740, which means it was weeks before his 46 year reign began. According to the BBC, the title "means pleasure in a general sense, but also has a sexual connotation." And it's quite sexual! German newspaper Die Zeit printed the full version on Thursday. We ran it through Google Translate. Below, three of Frederick's more flushed stanzas. [Die Zeit via the BBC]

"That night, his strong desires simply
Algarotti swimming in the sea of pleasure.
More accomplished than a body carved Praxiteles
Redoubled the sense of his new passion.
Anything that speaks to the eye and touches the heart,
Was in the object that fired the enthusiasm.
Transported by love, trembling with impatience"


"In the arms of Cloris in the moment he leaps.
The love that unites them, their kisses warmed
Stronger and tightened their arms intertwined."


"Mother of their pleasures, ever fruitful source,
Express in my verses with your own accents
Their fire, their action, the ecstasy of their senses!
Our wealthy lovers in their transport extreme
In the fury of love did not know themselves:
Kiss, enjoy, feel, sigh and die,
Revive, kiss, fly again with pleasure."

  • CBS has bought an untitled pilot script from author A.M. Homes, which Variety describes as  "a medical-based drama centering on a female military veteran." Television--specifically network television--wouldn't seem like the easiest fit for Homes, still best known for her controversial and graphic 1996 novel The End of Alice about the burgeoning friendship between two pedophiles, but she wrote two episodes of  Showtime's The L Word. That's miles away from primetime on CBS, but at least it shows she can work in the same zip code. [Variety]
  • Borders officially closes the doors of its remaining stores this Sunday and while we've seen a number touching and thoughtful eulogies for the chain, the Detroit News "exit interview" with former CEO Mike Edwards--who arrived at the company in October 2009, when it was already in its downward spiral--reads the medical examiner's autopsy report. In a way, it should be comforting to readers and authors and publishers--the company's failures, as presented by Edwards, didn't come because they missed The Next Big Thing, or because Americans suddenly decided they no longer cared for stores with cheap books and comfortable chairs and small cafes that serve Seattle's Best coffee anymore. The business just wasn't very well run. They overexpanded, lacked a brand identity and counted on eventually merging with Barnes & Noble, which was probably never going to happen. [Detroit News via GalleyCat]
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