Category Archives: literature

The three books that changed my view of life

Last night as I was perusing my bookshelves, I came upon my copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the Edward FitzGerald translation. It was given to me by my Uncle Moe when I was just a tyke, inscribed in green ink this way: “To Jerry: Live, love, and laugh, for life is short […]

How to read authors of earlier times who expressed views or created characters that we find repugnant today

There has been a lot of debate about how—or whether—to read authors whose views (or language) may not comport with today’s mores. Morality evolves, usually for the better, leaving older books bearing attitudes or characters that we find repugnant. The usual result is to either denigrate or ban these books, and such opprobrium has involved […]

Defenders of Alice Walker’s anti-Semitism surface, including Al Jazeera

The day after Christmas I reported on a controversy that involved the renowned author Alice Walker, whose most famous work was the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel The Color Purple. The controversy began when, in an interview with the New York Times about what books she was reading, Walker noted that one of them was And the Truth Shall Set […]

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 […]