Speed Reads

World Cup

If Vladimir Nabokov could play in the World Cup

If Vladimir Nabokov could play in the World Cup

The literary community is just as jazzed about the World Cup as everyone else, spawning everything from a World Cup of Literature to mini-essays pondering the eerie physical resemblance between Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria and Franz Kafka.

Not to be left out, Penguin Books has launched a Penguin Cup featuring 16 teams, all boasting canonical writers from their respective countries. Manning the goal for Russia, for example, is Vladimir Nabokov, who gets a rating of 96 out of 100 for technique and a 94 for synaesthesia. France features Marcel Proust on the wing, while Chinua Achebe occupies the number 10 position for Nigeria.

There are also some glaring omissions: Faulkner and Melville were left off Team USA in favor of far inferior players, while Australia's Socceroos are missing their mystical talisman Patrick White.

But the most formidable team, by far, is Greece, which is stacked with the likes of Sophocles, Aristotle, and Homer. Who can compete? Which brings us, inevitably, to the best soccer-intellectual mash-up of all time, Monty Python's sketch "The Philosophers' Football Match." Happy World Cup Friday. --Ryu Spaeth