Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Road Less Traveled? Nope

Perhaps some entrepreneurs need to believe their success is solely due to their own efforts, as Bounderby, Willy Loman, and the speaker of “The Road Not Taken” do.

Posted in Dickens (Charles), Frost (Robert), Miller (Arthur) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Romney’s Appointment in Samarra

“Appointment at Samarra” and “Things Fall Apart” help explain why Mitt Romney is so inept on the campaign trail.

Posted in Achebe (Chinua), Maugham (Somerset) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ’s Love for Hot Barley Bread

Chaucer’s Wife of Bath may not be pure, but Jesus would appreciate her great heart.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lit Featured in Olympic Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics were rich in literary allusions.

Posted in Blake (William), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Beowulf Can Save America, the Book

The process of writing a book applying “Beowulf” to contemporary American politics has brought me insight and hope.

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Will Obama Be Beowulf and Defy the NRA?

Cowering before the NRA just prompts them to become even more extreme. Obama needs to be a Beowulf.

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Entrepreneurial Dream

Millhauser’s novel “Martin Dressler” captures the dreams of capitalist entrepreneurs but also moves beyond dream.

Posted in Millhaouser (Steven) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Recurring Noir Drama

Peter Quinn’s noir thriller “Hour of the Cat” articulates America’s recurring existential identity crisis.

Posted in Quinn (Peter) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Satan Strikes Again, This Time in Aurora

The shootings in Aurora, Colorado call forth literary works about evil stalking the world, including “Beowulf” and “Paradise Lost.”

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Milton (John) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Spirit’s Table Has Arrived from Heaven

In this Ramadan poem by Rumi, fasting is seen as a way of escaping the body.

Posted in Rumi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tennis Playing–and Writing–at Its Finest

David Foster Wallace’s ode to Roger Federer comes the closest to capturing his beautiful game.

Posted in Rich (Adrienne), Wallace (David Foster) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Poetry, a Lifeline for the Desperate

In Lee Chang Dong’s “Poetry,” an old woman poetry as a way to address the overwhelming challenges of her life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Drought and the Human War on Nature

Pueblo novelistLeslie Marmon Silko finds a combination of spiritual, psychological and economic explanations for drought.

Posted in Silko (Leslie Marmon) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Snake That Refused To Be Used

This Scott Bates looks at Pentecostal snake handlers from the snake’s point of view.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Head for the Territories, a U.S. Fantasy

When politics become harsh, we still dream, like Huck, of lighting out for the Territory.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Rich Are Different from You and Me

Fitzgerald’s insights into the rich help us understand Mitt Romney (and John F. Kennedy also).

Posted in Fitzgerald (F. Scott) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Like a Reed, Open Yourself to God’s Breath

Rumi says that Ramadan is a time when, by emptying our bellies, we open up a path to spirit.

Posted in Rumi | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Joe Paterno, a Modern Day Oedipus

The lessons of the Sophocles play “Oedipus” can be applied to disgraced Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

Posted in Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Women Still Treated as Hysterical

While an enjoyable romantic comedy set in Victorian times, the film “Hysteria” touches on issues raised by the GOP’s “war on women.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Prince Hal in Today’s School System

David Brooks argues that today’s “nurturing, collaborative” educational system would have kept Shakespeare’s Prince Hal from becoming one of England’s great kings.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orwell Shot Down More Than an Elephant

Essayist Dylan Nice describes how Orwell’s essay “Shooting the Elephant” pulled him out of kneejerk rightwing prejudices.

Posted in Orwell (George) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

2012 Election Mirrors Great Gatsby

The Romney weekend fundraising event in the Hamptons uncomfortably mirrors the parties that occur in the Hamptons in “The Great Gatsby.”

Posted in Fitzgerald (Scott F.) | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Federer: Floating Butterfly, Stinging Bee

In the immortal words of Muhammad Ali, Roger Federer floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee as he won his 7th Wimbledon title yesterday.

Posted in Ali (Muhammad), Pope (Alexander), Shakespeare (William), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drought Is a Form of God’s Joy

If we look at a drought through God’s eyes, Rumi tells us, we will see green corn. The same holds for relationships.

Posted in Rumi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Spanish Soccer as the Lady of Shalott

In “The Lady of Shalott,” beauty can’t stand up against the real world. By winning the European Cup, Spain showed us this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Posted in Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Ephron Saved Romantic Comedies

Nora Ephron draw on Woody’s Allen’s “nervous comedies” to save romantic comedies.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Faulkner to Counter Racist Madness

Faulkner’s “Absolon, Absolon” is a continuing resource for countering the madness of racism.

Posted in Faulkner (William) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

July 4th Picnic: America’s Jumbled Flavors

Just as immigrants have contributed to our food, so they have contributed to our language.

Posted in Djanikian (Gregory) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My Son Marries into Crusoe’s Island

Robinson Crusoe’s island may well be the home country of my new daughter-in-law.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bigotry = A Loathsome Lack of Imagination

Murakami says that the worst thing about bigots is that they are hollow men devoid of imagination.

Posted in Murakami (Haruki) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yield to the Perfect Whole, Upend Your Life

To find a sense of deep connectedness, Emerson tell us we can’t cling to fragments.

Posted in Emerson (Ralph Waldo) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete