Monthly Archives: May 2016

Trump Sees Garbage and Rocks in Foes

I’ve compared Donald Trump to Murakami’s villain in “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” Today I dig deeper into the comparison.

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Trump as a Haruki Murakami Villain

Donald Trump has an uncanny resemblance to the villain Noboru Wataya in Haruki Murakami’s masterful novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” (1998). Both have a similar hollowness and both have the ability to separate people from the higher instincts and put them in thrall to their lower ones.

Posted in Murakami (Haruki) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Memorial Day: I Am the Grass, I Cover All

Carl Sandburg’s outward stoicism masks a deep grief as he memorializes those killed in battle in “Grass.”

Posted in Sandburg (Carl), Seeger (Pete), Whitman (Walt) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trapped in Spiritual Crisis? Read Donne

John Donne can come to the rescue of students who are in spiritual crisis.

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Resisting the Witchery of Nuclear Warfare

Today Barack Obama will be the first American president to visit Hiroshima. Laguna Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko has an explanation for the development of the bomb: witches.

Posted in Silko (Leslie Marmon) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Defending the Canon vs. New Attacks

Yale English majors have been complaining about requiring them to study canonical writers. Here’s is why they are wrong.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Pope Foresaw GOP Capitulation to Trump

Alexander Pope warned, in “Essay on Man” that vice loses its ugliness once it becomes familiar. This is the danger we face with the normalization of Donald Trump.

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Hillary Clinton as Emma Woodhouse

Hillary Clinton shares certain characteristics with Emma Woodhouse. (And far fewer with Lady Macbeth.)

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

Using Lit to Discover Purpose in Science

My Intro to Literature students, few of whom are English majors, are often startled to discover that literature understands them better than they understand themselves. Today’s post describes the encounters between two science majors and, respectively, Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” and Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior.”

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Crohn’s Disease and the Mariner’s Agony

A student with Crohn’s disease found a kindred soul in Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.

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Trollope & Trump’s Willing Enablers

Trollope describes gentry who enable to a scandalous financier in “The Way We Live Now.” Parallels can be drawn with those members of the GOP who are reconciling with Donald Trump.

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Lily, Achilles, Bertha & Ishmael on Vacation

Lily Bart, Bertha Mason, Achilles, Ishmael and Queequeg all go on vacation. Where do they go?

Posted in Bronte (Charlotte), Homer, Melville (Herman) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trump’s Use of the Homeric Epithet

Donald Trump is making regular use of “the Homeric epithet.” He doesn’t use it as well as Homer, however.

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Nature and “My Babe So Beautiful”

I saw my latest grandchild for the first time yesterday. Although it was beautiful spring day, Coleridge’s beautiful “Frost at Midnight” came to mind. That’s because the poet imagines “the great universal teacher” imparting a spirit of inquiry to his infant son.

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How To Pin Down Protean Donald Trump

Trying to pin down Donald Trump is like trying to pin down Proteus. But maybe that means that reporters can use the same tactics that Menelaus does to capture the sea god.

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How Trump Is Changing the Discourse

Adam Gopnik of “New Yorker” and Andrew Sullivan of “New York” are very, very frightened by the rise of Trump. As they explain why, they quote Tom Stoppard, Sinclair Lewis, Mark Twain, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Plato.

Posted in Lewis (Sinclair), Stoppard (Tom), Tolkien (J.R.R.), Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Crown My Head with Ample Square-Cap

Christopher Smart’s “On Taking a Bachelor’s Degree” is deliberately excessively self-congratulatory. Still, students should feel proud of themselves for graduating.

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#NeverTrump! Never! Never! Never! Never?

Many who vowed NeverTrump are backing away from the word “never.” “Never” is an important word in “King Lear” and Lear, unlike Lear’s opponents, doesn’t back away from it.

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Time for GOP Moderates To Go to Ground?

As the GOP reels in the wake of Trump’s victory, it might want to model itself on Edgar in “King Lear.”

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Now, Gods, Stand Up for Trump!

When traditional institutions like the government or the Supreme Court are undermined, the way is cleared for the rise of liar like Trump.

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

Offer Healing to Every House You Enter

Mother’s Day this year has taken on special meaning as my 94-year-old mother-in-law passed away yesterday. This Julia Kasdorf poem captures what Jeanette Miksch passed along to my own Julia.

Posted in Kasdorf (Julia) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Unbearable Lightness of Donald Trump

Czech author Milan Kundera warned about how dictatorships thrive off of our forgetting. In a “Rolling Stone” article, Charlie Pierce argues that forgetting has led to the rise of Donald Trump.

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Hillary & the Pressure To Be a Cool Girl

Understanding the popularity of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” amongst young women helps explain the mixed feelings about Hillary Clinton. She’s not a “cool girl.” But this is actually good.

Posted in Bloch (Robert), Flynn (Gillian), Harris (Thomas) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump and Gazing into the Abyss

Ted Cruz said that, if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, we would be gazing into the abyss. For what this would be like, I turn to Milton, an expert on abysses.

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In Memory of Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit activist and poet, died this past Saturday. His “A Dark Word” is a fitting way to note his passing.

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Ted Cruz as Lucifer, “Squat Like a Toad”

After John Boehner compared Sen. Ted Cruz to Lucifer, I went looking through “Paradise Lost” to find passages that would apply. I found a particularly good one but, if you ask me, Cruz more resembles Blifil, Tom Jones’s nemesis.

Posted in Fielding (Henry), Milton (John), Shakespeare (William), Stoker (Bram) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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