Monthly Archives: October 2012

Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here

“Sandy” conjures up for me a traumatic childhood reading experience along with a passage from “The Tempest.”

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

Hurricanes Make Us All Poor, Infirm, Weak

The onslaught of Hurricane Sandy reminds us of King Lear’s storm experience.

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

Mitt Minderbinder, Cynicism Unlimited

Mitt Romney would find a kindred soul in Joseph Heller’s cynical entrepreneur Milo Minderbinder.

Posted in Heller (Joseph) | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

A Vast Unfolding Design Lit by a Risen Sun

Denise Levertov wrestled with God’s relationship to evil in the world.

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

Giants Stand Tall, Defy Ezra Pound

The San Francisco Giants would make their 1960’s forebears proud.

Posted in Ferlinghetti (Lawrence) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Environmentalist’s Revenge Fantasy

Scott Bates proves an environmentalist’s revenge fantasy against those violating the earth.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Steinbeck on Why the Rich Are Unhappy

Steinbeck and the Beowulf poet both point out that piling up wealth does not lead to happiness.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Heller (Joseph), Steinbeck (John), Vonnegut (Kurt) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Holden Would Say about Mitt

Holden Caulfield would definitely apply his favorite word to Mitt Romney.

Posted in Salinger (J. D.) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Serving Students a Jane Austen High Tea

Serving my students a Jane Austen high tea made the novels come alive.

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

Still Falls the (Drone-Delivered) Rain

As the U.S. steps up drone attacks, Edith Sitwell reminds us of the psychological cost to ourselves.

Posted in Sitwell (Edith) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Rain Soft as the Fall of Moccasins

Describing the slaughter of the buffalo herds by whites, Mary Oliver draws on Sioux religion to imagine them as not altogether gone.

Posted in Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Beowulf Can Save America – Free upload for 5 days

If you have a Kindle, beginning tomorrow (Sunday) you can upload for free How Beowulf Can Save America:An Epic Hero’s Guide to Defeating the Politics of Rage. Kindle allows authors to offer their ebooks free of charge for five days so the offer will last through Thursday (Oct. 25). Please take advantage yourself and let other people […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh, Captain! Is Jeter’s Fearful Trip Done?

Seeing “the Captain” Derek Jeter break his ankle conjures up Whitman’s “captain” poem.

Posted in Whitman (Walt) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hunchback Dreams of Swallows

In this Scott Bates poem, a dream of flying frees us from life’s frustrations.

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

Prez Keeps Head While Others Lose Theirs

Obama, taking a cue from Kipling and maybe Edward Rowland Sill, bounced back in Tuesday’s debate.

Posted in Kipling (Rudyard), Pope (Alexander), Sill (Edward Rowland), Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Leave a comment

Catch-22, Election Edition

“Catch 22” captures a number of the contradictions in the 2012 election.

Posted in Heller (Joseph) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Hope amidst the Growing Gloom

Hardy’s “Darkling Thrush” conjures up hope in dark times.

Posted in Hardy (Thomas) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Threatened by Female Empowerment

Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” addresses issues raised by the Taliban shooting of a Pakistani school girl and also speaks to our abortion fights.

Posted in Atwood (Margaret) | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Does God Hear Us When We Cry Out?

The Book of Job, Herbert’s “Denial” and an internet poem about Job’s Wife capture the language of suffering.

Posted in Bible, Herbert (George) | 4 Comments

Armstrong’s Heart of Darkness

One our ideal, Lance Armstrong has proved to be more like Kurtz in “Heart of Darkness.”

Posted in Conrad (Joseph) | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Joe Biden Debates Bounderby

In last night’s, Joe Biden found himself up against a modern-day version of Dickens’ Bounderby from “Hard Times.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mitt as a Jane Austen Villain

Like Henry Crawford in “Mansfield Park,” Mitt Romney is inconstant and will say anything.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Doc, Prescribe Me a Poem

Literature as therapy, Greek tragedy as soap opera: assorted articles about lit and life.

Posted in Bishop (Elizabeth), Levertov (Denise), Moore (Marianne), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Obama in the Grip of Grendel’s Mother?

Is Obama in a funk over his responsibilities as a war president? If so, “Beowulf” has answers.

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Mitt Weaves a Tangled Web of Deceit

Mitt Romney’s “tangled web” entraps Obama and recalls Sir Walter Scott.

Posted in Congreve (William), Scott (Sir Walter), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Becoming Intimate with God

As George Herbert and Fiona Sampson make clear, partaking in the eucharist feat is our way of becoming intimate with God.

Posted in Herbert (George), Sampson (Fiona) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thinking beyond the Baseball Box

The film “Moneyball” helps explain this year’s extraordinary story of the Oakland Athletics.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Poetry in a Time of Mourning

Poetry by E. A. Robinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay played a key role in my cousin’s memorial service.

Posted in Bates (Daniel), Robinson (Edward Arlington), St. Vincent Millay (Edna) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Things Fall Apart in Bishops vs. Nuns

Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” contrasts rigid and tolerant Christianity in ways that will benefit our own society.

Posted in Achebe (Chinua) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

John Irving’s Defense of Abortion

“Cider House Rules” calls out those anti-abortion proponents who refuse to face up to the lengths to which some desperate women are willing to go.

Posted in Irving (John) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Playing Cards Jane Austen Style

Playing the card game in “Mansfield Park” gives students insight into the meaning of games.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , | 1 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.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

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

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete