Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Miraculous Ride of Tom Brady

If they win the Super Bowl, Brady and Belichick will become as legendary in the sports world as that patriot of old, Paul Revere.

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Media Is Like White Queen: Scream First

Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, whose hysteria precedes rather than follows traumatic events, anticipates our modern media.

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No-Name Women vs. Anti-Abortionists

Maxine Hong Kingston’s “No Name Woman” works as a powerful response to those attempting to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate rape.

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The Frolic Architecture of the Snow

Ralph Waldo Emerson sees a snow-storm as a master architect and “fierce artificer.”

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Medicine Incomplete without Poetry

Medical journals are increasingly including poetry within their pages.

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(Limitless Pity Makes All Large & New)

Spiritual Sunday Today’s Old Testament reading is the episode in the Book of Jonah after that conflicted man returns from the whale episode and this time does what God has commanded him to do, which is to prophesy to the people of Nineveh about their wickedness. In the Keith Schlegel poem I have chosen, one […]

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Dickens Understood Resentment Well

When resentment threatens to hijack our politics, we would do well to turn to Dickens’ “Little Dorrit.”

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Dickens & Our Irresponsible Financiers

“Little Dorrit” is a timely novel about a society plunged into ruin by the shenanigans of financial “wizards.”

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Kobe: The Lone Wolf Going Down

Kobe is both like and unlike Akela, the Lone Wolf in “The Jungle Books.”

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The Virtues of a True Conservative

Anthony Trollope’s thoughtful critiques of progressives can lead to constructive dialogues between conservatives and progressives.

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Against Race Oppression, Turn to Love

While some of Lucille Clifton’s race poems have an edge, in the end she always comes back to love.

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The Creator Spirit’s Deep Embrace

Denise Levertov’s “Avowal” equates opening oneself to God to opening oneself to “the Creator Spirit.”

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Peter Wimsey vs. Oklahoma Executions

With Oklahoma resuming its executions yesterday, we need the reminders that Dorothy Sayers and Oscar Wilde give us about holding on to our humanity.

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Fox Would Appall Conservative Trollope

Conservative though he is, Anthony Trollope would be appalled at the arrogance of our rightwing media, given the way he goes after “The Jupiter” in “The Warden.”

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After Paris: Dryden on Dangers of Hysteria

In “Absolom and Architophel,” Dryden warns against unscrupulous figures exploiting the hysteria following plots like the Paris massacre.

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Grendel in Paris

As with other mass killings, “Beowulf” has lessons for the Paris massacre. Defoe and Rabelais, meanwhile, give us insight in the targeted satirical journal “Charlie Hebdo.”

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Count to Five-and-Twenty, Tattycoram

Working with my grandson’s during a meltdown brought to mind the strategy used to calm Tattycoram in “Little Dorrit.”

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And God Said, “That’s Good”

James Weldon Johnson’s version of the Genesis creation story accords with some contemporary theological theories of God.

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500 Days of Marianne & Willoughby

The film “500 Days of Summer” has a lot in common with Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Realizing this can make us feel better about the ending of both works.

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Twelfth Night and the End of Carnival

Twelfth Night in New Orleans, as in Shakespeare’s play, seems to be about carnival time winding down.

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A Deep Faith in Lit’s Redemptive Powers

In his overlooked classic “Stoner,” John Williams makes a compelling case for art’s redemptive powers. Art is authentic, unlike much of modern culture.

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Overlooked Novel Teaches Us How to Live

John Williams’ “Stoner” is a breathtaking campus novel that captures a professor’s love of literature.

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Alice in Standardized Education Land

“Alice in Wonderland” can be read as an early attack on standardized education.

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Where Do the Magi Go from Here?

In this Muriel Spark poem about the Epiphany, the three kings are not sure about their next step, now that traditional kingship appears to have been surpassed.

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Sports Saturday has been suspended. I will continue to blog from time to time on sports and sports-related issues  but there will no longer be a special Saturday feature.

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Lost Cities Spur the Imagination

An amazing Christmas gift–a journey to Machu Piccu–has me reflecting on “lost cities and vanished civilizations.” Selma Lagerlov’s “Adventures of Nils” works into the discussion as well.

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Tell of Winter’s Tales and Mirth

Robert Herrick’s “New Year’s Gift” urges us to celebrate fully the twelve days of Christmas in the same spirit as that which he urges young virgins to gather their rosebuds while they may.

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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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