Monthly Archives: November 2012

New York Experiences Chekhov Outbreak

Chekhov’s enduring popularity speaks to our modern sense of being in transition.

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Students Persuaded by “Persuasion”

College students continue to find Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” compelling.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Autumn’s Subterranean Mysteries

Oliver’s “Fall Song” captures the “rich spiced residues” of autumn.

Posted in Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Paranoid Postal Service Fantasies

Pynchon’s “Crying of Lot 49” helps us understand rightwingers who want the USPS to fail.

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

Good Men Are Hard to Find

Hurricane Sandy bringing us together is like the killer in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” spurring the grandmother’s epiphany.

Posted in O'Connor (Flannery) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

I Grasp God’s Garment in the Void

For Denise Levertov, poetry and prayer run on parallel tracks.

Posted in Levertov (Denise) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Be of Stout Heart, Gridiron Greats

Notre Dame’s return to football prominence brings to mind ther great programs from the past.

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Lincoln’s Reliance on Literature

Spielberg’s “Lincoln” captures the president’s extensive reliance on literature.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

All Which We Behold Is Full of Blessings

Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” provides us with passage that functions as a Thanksgiving poem.

Posted in Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Liberating Power of Yo-Yos

In this Scott Bates fantasy, a renegade scholar breaks library protocol with a bright red yo-yo.

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

To Win Ohio, Read the Rabbit Books

Updike’s “Rabbit” novels hold a key to understanding the independent voter.

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

Defeating the White Whale of Race Hatred

With a little imagination, “Moby Dick” can be dramatized as a story about race relations.

Posted in Melville (Herman) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Haunted by the Absent Music

“The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” episode in “Wind in the Willows” is a powerful expression of pantheism.

Posted in Finkelstein (Norman), Grahame (Kenneth) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Runner’s Dark Thoughts

In Alan Sillitoe’s vision, running can put us in touch with our inner pain.

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The Power of Political Narrative

Narrative has become more important than ever in political campaigns.

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Petraeus: Karenina, Oedipus, or Antony?

The David Petraeus affair–is it 19th century melodrama or high tragedy?

Posted in Hugo (Victor), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles, Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Autumn Striptease

As Scott Bates sees it, trees in autumn are involved in a joyous striptease.

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

Everyone Has a Place at the Table

Tobias Smollett’s depiction in “Humphry Clinker” of different perspectives on social change is relevant today.

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Respect Soldiers, Keep Them Safe

In a number of his poems, Kipling honors the common soldier by giving us his perspective.

Posted in Kipling (Rudyard) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Half in Love with Easeful Death

In his haunting “Ode to a Nightingale,” Keats imagines himself as a homesick Ruth standing “amid the alien corn.”

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Cruz Comes Out, the Bard Would Approve

Boxer Orlando Cruz has just come out, bringing to mind Shakespeare’s hyper-masculine gay characters.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Austen Romance for Dems and GOP?

It proved easy to apply the election to Toni Morrison and Jane Austen in my classes.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Morrison (Toni) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Morrison’s Novel Shaped the President

“Song of Solomon,” one of Obama’s favorite books, yield important insights into him and his African American supporters.

Posted in Morrison (Toni) | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Elated? Depressed? This Lit’s for You

Lit to caution election night winners and bolster election night losers.

Posted in Hughes (Langston), Kipling (Rudyard), Milhauser (Steven), Millhaouser (Steven), O'Connor (Flannery), Peacock (Thomas Love), Sartre (Jean Paul) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lit Options for Election Day Defeat

Responding to election day loss, will we be calm like Henry Fielding or in agony like Grendel?

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Fielding (Henry) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Wanted: Beowulf Strength vs. Extremism

“Beowulf” teaches us that rewarding extremism encourages rather than moderates it. The GOP should not therefore be rewarded with the presidency.

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Sacrifice Ram of Pride, Not Isaac

Rumi honors the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, which centers on the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred), Rumi | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Riveted by Competing Campaign Narratives

Political campaigns have come to be seen as competing narratives, providing those who understand fiction with special insight.

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Pinning Down Protean Politicians

In his evasiveness and malleability, Romney resembles the Greek sea god Proteus.

Posted in Homer | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Beowulf for Four More Years

Obama’s journey over the past four years has been Beowulf’s journey, both in its high points and in its low.

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  • 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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