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Category Archives: Literature

Culture and the Downloadable Novel

  JOHN HARRIS, editor of Praesidium and executive director of the Center for Literate Values, writes: I happened upon Alexis de Tocqueville’s remarks about literary taste in American democracy recently. Dense irony swirled around the discovery of his words about the literary industry. He wrote: The ever-growing crowd of readers and the continual need they have […]

Before There Was Chick Lit

  PENNY writes: Your recent entry on women who want to have it all made me think of the author Emilie Loring. She wrote romances from the 1930s through the ’50s. Her heroines were spirited, can-do women who tried to make the world a better place. They had a sense of humor, were loving, and believed in […]

An Essay on Oswald Spengler

  AT The Brussels Journal, Thomas F. Bertonneau has an interesting essay on Oswald Spengler. Regarding the piece, Mr. Bertonneau writes: I have come to think of him as the “Dutch Uncle” of the contemporary West, the guy your father warned you that you’d need “to have a talk with” if you got out of line. […]

The Hunger for the Heroic

  THOMAS F. BERTONNEAU writes: This week the text in my course on “Science Fiction in Literature and Film” is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first-published work, A Princess of Mars (1912 – original title, Under the Moons of Mars). The protagonist is John Carter, formerly of the Army of Virginia under General Lee, who, succumbing to a […]

The Theology of Charles Dickens

  ONE OF MY favorite works of literary criticism is G.K. Chesterton’s book on Charles Dickens. I recommended it to a reader and in return received this excellent essay.  Greg Jinkerson writes: I took you up on the advice to read Chesterton’s Charles Dickens, the Last of the Great Men. What an inspiration. It became obvious […]

By Book or by Crook

  THOMAS F. BERTONNEAU writes in response to this entry on the future of the bookstore: Books are not indestructible, but short of tossing them into a furnace or dropping them into an industrial shredder they are difficult to annihilate. Not so the electronic file. A single electromagnetic burst over the North American continent could erase […]

The Demise of the Bookstore

  HERE is an excellent piece by Albert Mohler reflecting on the future of bookstores. With the news that the Borders chain has filed for bankruptcy, the bookstore appears more threatened than ever as a cultural institution. Mohler explains why the bookstore can never be replaced by online retailers. He writes: The general wisdom seems to be that the bookstore will […]

H.G. Wells Walks Out on The Fabians

  H.G. WELLS, the British author, was a lifelong socialist and a member of the Fabian Society when Beatrice and Sydney Webb were its leading lights. In this excellent essay on Wells, Thomas F. Bertonneau describes the author’s encounters with the Webbs, whom he caricatured in his novel The New Machiavelli. As Mr. Bertonneau puts it, People like the Webbs saw in dislocation and […]


                     THOMAS F. BERTONNEAU writes, in response to the latest post on Basil Ransom, the hero of Henry James’s novel The Bostonians and an inspiring  prototype of a man at odds with modern liberalism: When Basil Ransom first catches sight of Verena at a séance, she is sixteen years old.  She […]

The Living

In James Joyce’s short story “The Dead,” friends and relatives gather at a Dublin townhouse for a yearly Christmas dance at the home of the elderly Morkan sisters, Julia and Kate. The guests dance to piano waltzes played by the Morkans’ niece Mary Jane, who like her aunts is a music teacher. Freddy Malins shows up not as […]

“The Close and Holy Darkness”

      Dylan Thomas’ poetic tale, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, is a moving evocation of Christmas from a child’s point of view. It was made into an excellent movie in 1987 starring the British actor Denholm Elliott. It is well worth purchasing and watching once a year with children or grandchildren, remarkably faithful to the text and a Christmas […]

A Man in the Cold

  The Rev. James Jackson writes: I’ve many favorite poems about manhood, but I particularly like the attached. Robert Hayden was a student of Auden (he sounds like Auden), though he has his own style. The discussion on your blog touches many things which Hayden expresses well, so I thought you might want to share it […]

Frost on Love

  Robert Frost was once asked to explain the meaning of one of his poems.  He responded, “If I could have said it any better I would have.” Frost had a very anti-modern notion of love.  He couldn’t have explained it better than this.  Hyla Brook By June our brook’s run out of song and speed. […]

The Thinking Woman’s Oprah

  In a long 2002 piece, “The Rage of Virginia Woolf,” Theodore Dalrymple brilliantly captures the woman whose works have enjoyed a cult-like following for 80 years and who continues to inspire envy, snobbery and boredom in college-educated girls. He aptly calls her a ”feeler,” not a thinker. Says Dalrymple:  For her, there was no such thing as the human […]

The Envy of a Sister

  One little-known fact about Virginia Woolf and A Room of One’s Own, the famous book discussed in the previous entry, is that Woolf was angry that her family spent money to send her brothers to university and  had no funds left over for her. In other words, she was envious. She hid the fact in her lectures so […]