Category Archives: literature

Philomena on Shakespeare (and drugs and global warming)

Hey, Brits, listen up: this Wednesday, at 22:00 London time (don’t kvetch about GMT or whatever they call it now), you can see a half-hour show on BBC 2: “Cunk on Shakespeare” (available at the link shortly after the show). I hope I can see it in the U.S. It appears that Diane Morgan once again appears as our beloved […]

Harry Potter and the Ivory Tower of Offence-Takers

by Grania Spingies Full  disclosure: I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. I have read them all and enjoyed some more than others, but I think that J.K. Rowling’s adult novels are far superior. That said, there can be no doubt that her books for children have gripped (at a conservative estimate) the hearts and […]

Iran goes weapons-grade regressive: renews fatwa on Salman Rushdie

by Grania Iranian intellectuals and secularists must be shaking their heads in dismay at this news. A group of state-run media outlets in Iran have grouped together and raised an additional US$600,000.00 to renew the fatwa, originally declared in 1989, on the life of Salman Rushdie for the crime of writing a book that you […]

“Other ways of knowing”: Out of Africa

I’ve been in long-term “discussions” (a euphemism for “arguments”) with some people who claim that the humanities—in particular art, music, and literature—constitute “ways of knowing” that tell us facts about the universe either unattainable by science, unverifiable by science, or truths first revealed by literature and later verifiable by science. Often these arguments are made by […]

A reader comments on the value of literature and “ways of knowing”

I received an email from reader Geoff Howe about yesterday’s post on the value of studying literature, and I thought it was good enough to merit its own post: I think the article [the piece in Commentary by Gary Saul Morson] does a good job of encapsulating a major problem in society, one that I see […]

Why the study of literature is going extinct

This is a long post, larded with quotes. If you don’t want to read it, take a number, get in line, and. . . When I was in college at William & Mary, I was lucky enough to be taught by professors not only oriented more toward students than toward research (so we got lots of personal […]

Classic American road trips

I’ve just gone on my own Big Road Trip, but it doesn’t compare to the others made famous in American literature. Over at Atlas Obscura, Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez have collaborated to make an interactive map of many great road trips in American literature, ranging from Blue Highways to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle […]

Google Doodle celebrates Langston Hughes

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the life of Langston Hughes (1902-1967), author and poet, who would have been 113 years old today had he lived. The Doodle is especially good today—animated, and with music. You can see it by either clicking on the screenshot below, or, if that doesn’t work for non-USers, watch the YouTube video […]

The top ten essays since 1950

I love essays, as I know when you have a nice glass of wine and a book of them before me, I’ll be able to digest an entire piece or more instead of making a small inroad in a big book. And so I love reading the collected essays of, say, George Orwell or Christopher Hitchens. Publisher’s Weekly […]

2014 Nobel Prize for Literature

And it goes this year to French author Patrick Modiano “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.” I’ve never heard of the man (what seems to be his most famous book hasn’t been translated into English), and too bad for me, but Matthew […]


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