Monthly Archives: September 2012

I Thought That Love Would Last Forever…

The death of a beloved cousin is throwing me into the primal pain described by Tennyson and Auden.

Posted in Auden (W. H.), Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Refugee Poem Changed Liberty’s Meaning

The poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty get us to interpret the sculpture differently than the designer intended.

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

Clara Bow, the “It Girl” of the Jazz Age

Even 85 years later, actress Clara Bow, the “It Girl,” still explodes off the screen.

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

Great Political Novels Not Agenda Driven

Great political novels are rich in spiritual attitude. Poor ones are agenda driven.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Ginzburg (Natalia), Gordimer (Nadine), James (Henry), Llosa (Vargas), Naipaul (V.S.), Pamuk (Orhan), Roth (Philip K.), Stendahl, Turgenev (Ivan), Yeats (William Butler) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Packers Screwed in Update of “The Jungle”

The locked-out NFL refs bring to mind the exploited workers in Upton Sinclair’s “Jungle.”

Posted in Sinclair (Upton) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Paul Ryan: No Country for Old Men

Paul Ryan’s speech before AARP brings to mind the generational conflict described in Samuel Johnson’s “Rasselas.”

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Is Mitt Like Hemingway’s Dead Leopard?

Mitt Romney resembles the dead leopard in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in multiple ways.

Posted in Hemingway (Ernest), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Yom Kippur – Disordered Souls Thirsting

The spirit of Yom Kippur is captured through the harvest imagery of a Jane Kenyon poem.

Posted in Kenyon (Jane) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Midsummer Madness–Orioles Chasing First

In this topsy-turrvy baseball season, as in Midsummer Night’s Dream, all things are possible and the Baltimore Orioles are a game out of first.

Posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Did Vertigo Top Citizen Kane at #1?

“Vertigo” is a film about how we are driven by desire and how to achieve it is to lose it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

School Band, Disharmony of the Spheres

Celebrating the agreement between the Chicago teachers and the city, here’s a humorous poem about school band.

Posted in Wagoner (David) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Dragon Billionaires Assaulting America

Mitt Romney’s characterization of 47% of the American public as people who won’t take responsibility for their lives signals that he is a dragon in the Beowulf mode.

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

The Terrible Beauty of Political Fanatics

In “Easter, 1916,” Yeats gives us a framework for understanding the ambivalence of Muslim moderates towards protesters.

Posted in Yeats (William Butler) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

How Right Wing Would Respond to Tess

Tess of the D’Urbervilles puts a human face on the dilemmas of rape victims. Romney/Ryan, take note.

Posted in Hardy (Thomas) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Rosh Hashanah Is Like Swimming

Poet Enid Shomer describes Rosh Hashanah as a swimmer beginning on the surface but eventually sinking deep within the water/rituals.

Posted in Shomer (Enid) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling on Beowulf in the Middle East

Middle Eastern leaders could learn from Beowulf–and so could Mitt Romney–as they deal with anti-American riots.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Kipling (Rudyard) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Citizen Romney–Is There Anything Inside?

Mitt Romney, like Citizen Kane, is a cipher. What drives him other than a desire to appear big?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Books That Have Shaped America

The Library of Congress names 91 books that shaped America.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

An ABC of Radical Ecology

Scott Bates’s ABC of Radical Ecology calls for us to keep fighting to save the environment.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Murray and Serena, Unapologetic Power

Andy Murray and Serena Williams were warriors as they won the U.S. Open, bringing to mind poems by Robert Burns and Tony Hoagland.

Posted in Burns (Robert), Hoagland (Tony) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Should Obama Boast Like Beowulf?

Obama sells himself in a softer way than Beowulf does. is he right to do so?

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Water to Solace Our Dry Hearts

Levertov’s “Fountain” invokes the healing power of water.

Posted in Levertov (Denise) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fed, Peyton: Made Weak by Time & Fate?

Peyton Manning and Roger Federer, in the twilight of their careers, bring to mind Tennyson’s Ulysses.

Posted in Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beasts of the Southern Wild–Our Future?

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” points to the devastation coastal communities can expect from climate change.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Election 2012: Time to Be Beowulf Strong

The current political situation calls for us to be Beowulfs.

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian Violence vs. Our Humanity

Galloway’s “Cellist of Sarajevo” gives a face to the victims of violence.

Posted in Galloway (Steven) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Invisible Obama, Point of Projection

Obama has had to to resist black male anger such as that described in Eliison’s “Invisible Man.”

Posted in Ellison (Ralph) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Self Respect through Collective Action

Novelist Rachel Kranz shows workers finding a sense of self respect through union action.

Posted in Kranz (Rachel) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

To Beauty: A Constant Sacrament of Praise

Wallace Stevens’ “Peter Quince” mingles eroticism with spirituality.

Posted in Stevens (Wallace) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Stephen Strasburg as a Balzac Parable

The strange case of Stephen Strasburg–missing the playoffs if he exceeds his innings pitched limit–has parallels with the Balzac novel “The Magic Skin.”

Posted in Balzac (Honoré de) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


  • 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.

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