Category Archives: literature

Trigger warnings said to harm college students, but evidence is thin

“Trigger warnings” are of course cautionary statements given out, usually by college professors, before they present disturbing material to students. The intent is to prevent those who might have been traumatized by that subject or a related one (usually people with PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder) from being re-traumatized. My view of such warnings is that […]

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name removed from book award for her denigration of Native Americans

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) is familiar to many Americans as the author of the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books, which became a highly-watched television show. Now I haven’t read her books or watched the show, but, at least based on the Washington Post story below, I think I can comment on […]

Philip Roth died

Philip Roth, one of America’s most famous living authors, is no longer living: he died yesterday in Manhattan of congestive heart failure at age 85.  From the New York Times eulogy: Mr. Roth was the last of the great white males: the triumvirate of writers — Saul Bellow and John Updike were the others — […]

The problem of “sensitivity readers” in publishing

I managed to put a post together that I started before I found the sick duck, and writing this helped take my mind off its death. It may not be as fluent or coherent as usual, but so be it. As you may recall, many publishers, especially those of young adult and children’s books, tend […]

Tom Wolfe died

According to many sources, including the New York Times, author Tom Wolfe has died at 88 in New York City. He had been hospitalized for an infection. There was much of Wolfe’s prose I admired, particularly his books The Right Stuff, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  I didn’t pay much […]

The pretense of “diverse viewpoints” in the academic study of literature

Quillette, a website of classical liberalism that eschews (and criticizes) identity politics and authoritarian Leftism, seems to be doing well, and deserves your attention. The articles aren’t clickbait, but intellectual, yet are full of stuff to make you think. Here’s one from about three weeks ago on the intellectual uniformity of literary theory. The author, Neema Parvini, […]

Lionel Shriver on the new censorship

Don’t expect much today; I’m starting to take it easy on Saturday. After all, I’m retired, for crying out loud.  I will, however, call your attention to a new piece by author Lionel Shriver at Prospect Magazine, “Writers blocked: how the new call-out culture is killing fiction“. You’ll remember Shriver from two years ago, when, at […]

The voice of Joyce

I believe these are the only extant recordings of James Joyce reading his work. They’re on the Public Domain Review, and add up to about 12½ minutes. Even though they’re fragments, I listened to them because I wanted to hear his voice. To me he doesn’t sound Irish, but sort of a hybrid between Irish […]

Who in history would you like to dine with?

This question arose from my comment yesterday that I’d like to dine with Shakespeare, and it’s a question that’s comes up occasionally in magazines and on the Internet. But I’d like to see what readers think, and of course that means that I have to give my own answers to prime the pump. First, the […]

“To Kill a Mockingbird” restored in Biloxi curriculum, but parental permission required to read it

Two weeks ago I reported that Harper Lee’s superb novel To Kill a Mockingbird was removed from the eighth-grade curriculum of Biloxi, Mississippi after some parents complained that it contained the word “nigger”. (I can’t bear to write “the n-word” since everybody fills it in mentally anyway.) There were also reports about students laughing in […]