Monthly Archives: January 2014

Tom Perkins & America’s Dragon-Like 1%

Tom Perkins complaining about Nazi-like progressives resembles the dragon in “Beowulf.”

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

How Is Lit Useful? Let Me Count the Ways

A recent issue of “New Literary History” explores a number of ways that literature is useful.

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

Pete Seeger Has Got Up and Went

Pete Seeger’s song defying old age is of a piece with all the other ills he defied.

Posted in Seeger (Pete) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Arguing against Lit for Lit’s Sake

Nabokov’s aestheticism in the 1960s tried to separate literature from history.

Posted in Nabokov (Vladimir) | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

England’s Most Humane Novel

A new bibliomemoir on “Middlemarch” shows a book shaping a life.

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This House Is Filling with Light

Tim Winton’s novel “That Eye, the Sky” finds spiritual resonance in difficult circumstances.

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Competing Heroic Narratives in Super Bowl

One Super Bowl narrative: Manning as the return of the king. Another narrative: Manning as Laius blocking the way of the next generation. Plus: Belichick-Welker in Oedipal drama.

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Using Fantasy to Take Back Time

Fantasy appeals to us as we chafe against machine-imposed reality, including machine-imposed time.

Posted in Carroll (Lewis) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fantasy’s Special Insight into Reality

Fantasy literature becomes something different after the world ceased believing in magic.

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Lit Helps Father Support a Sick Child

Jason Blake found himself playing literary roles when his daughter underwent major surgery.

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Zeus Predicts that Broncos Will Win

A passage in the Odyssey forecasts that Peyton Manning will win the Super Bowl.

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

My Town’s Desegregation Battles

Yesterday Sewanee, Tennessee had a ceremony honoring those families, including my own, involved in a historic civil rights suit 50 years ago.

Posted in Justus (May) | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Christianity in the Slave Owning South

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” shows how the Bible can be misused and how we should interpret it to promote social justice.

Posted in Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fighting Lit’s Culture Wars Again?!

A recent Wall Street Journal column is attempting to revive the 1990s culture wars over literature.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Dante, Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Oedipal Blindness in Benghazi

Will Hillary and Obama achieve the wisdom of the suffering Oedipus following their missteps in Benghazi?

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Poem for Coping with Depression

Mary Oliver’s “Poem for a Blue Heron” is a hopeful but realistic poem about coping with depression.

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

Unhinged Partisanship

Anthony Trollope shows us partisanship at its worst.

Posted in Trollope (Anthony) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Mourning the Colts’ Loss

The Indianapolis Colts’ playoff loss brings to mind a childhood poem, “Noonday Sun,” about losing a colt. Peyton Manning can also be regarded as a lost colt.

Posted in Jackson (Kathryn and Byron) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sad Christie Knows Nothing

Chris Christie has resorting to plausible deniability such as that discussed in Shakespeare’s “Richard II” and “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Posted in Eliot (T.S.), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Dove Descends, the Spirit Soars

The baptism of Jesus, like his birth, symbolizes a moment when divinity enters the world.

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Cats as Transformation Artists

This Jean Cocteau poems captures the mercurial nature of cats.

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The Bard as Couples Counselor

Shakespeare charts the way to new kinds of relationships in his cross-dressing comedies.

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An Ideal Mother

When I think of a mother-son relationship that most matches my own, I think of Betsy Trotwood and David Copperfield.

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

What Extreme Cold Teaches Us

As Coleridge and Mary Oliver teach us, when we are trapped in extreme cold, we come to value life.

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Mowgli Upsets Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals losing to San Diego is like Shere Khan losing to Mowgli.

Posted in Kipling (Rudyard) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why I Blog

Why I blog.

Posted in Montaigne (Michel de) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Christianity vs. Capitalism

Conservatives criticizing Pope Francis would benefit from this Robert Nemerov poem.

Posted in Nemerov (Howard) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Eagles Prepare a Thunderbolt

The Philadelphia Eagles bring to mind Tennyson’s eagle, falling like a thunderbolt.

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Close Reading Leads to Superior People

Recent brain search gives more evidence on the vital necessity of reading literature.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Mariner’s Advice to College Students

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner” appeals to college students because it explores how to live a meaningful life.

Posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Holding On to Radical Hope

The Crow nation used a vision to hold on to its identity in the face of white threats. Literature can function in similar ways.

Posted in Plenty Coups | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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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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