Category Archives: Defoe (Daniel)

Favorite Lit of Our Presidents

What was the favorite literature of the American presidents? I look at works that drew them (up through Franklin Roosevelt–the rest will follow tomorrow) and speculate on why.

Also posted in Addison (Joseph), Bulwer-Lytton (Edward), Byron (Lord Gordon), Cooper (James Fenimore), Dickens (Charles), Goldsmith (Oliver), Irving (Washington), Pope (Alexander), Robinson (Edward Arlington), Scott (Sir Walter), Shakespeare (William), Shelley (Percy), Swift (Jonathan) | Leave a comment

When Christianity Becomes a Money Cult

A new book, “The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream,” brings to mind Howard Nemerov’s poem “Boom!” The book’s author argues that prosperity theology is not an aberration but was present from the beginning of American Puritanism.

Also posted in Eliot (George), Nemerov (Howard) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On Walls: A Letter to the Incoming Class

Talk about walls and keep people out of America is beginning to seep down to high schools and colleges. It is therefore important that students understand how walls operate. Daniel Defoe and Lucille Clifton has some useful insights into how walls both make us safe and entrap us.

Also posted in Clifton (Lucille) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

On the Pope, Walls, and Robinson Crusoe

Pope Francis recently labeled as “not Christian” those who build walls but not bridges. By this standard, the walls, both literal and metaphorical, being advocated by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz bring their own Christianity in doubt. An examination of the walls build by Robinson Crusoe, however, shows how Christians have rationalized walls.

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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.”

Also posted in Beowulf Poet, Clifton (Lucille), Rabelais (Francois) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Defoe Would Say about Ebola

Daniel Defoe’s “Journal of the Plague Year” has good advice for dealing with outbreaks, such as not to react with overly harsh and fearful measures.

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Fences Entrap Rather than Protect

“Robinson Crusoe” functions as a parable about America’s fear of immigrants.

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Moll Flanders: How to Make It in Hard Times

If my students enjoy “Moll Flanders,” it may be because of their large debt load and uncertain job prospects.

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Lit’s 10 Most Painful Marriage Proposals

Literature 10 most painful marriage proposals.

Also posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Austen (Jane), Bronte (Charlotte), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Gay (John), Hardy (Thomas), Tolstoy (Leo), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Moll Flanders, Quintessential Capitalist

Moll Flanders is the ultimate capitalist, putting a price on everything. And my class finds itself cheering for her.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Lit’s 10 Strongest Female Characters

Who are literature’s ten strongest female characters? Here’s my list.

Also posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Austen (Jane), Bronte (Charlotte), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Hawthorne (Nathaniel), Ibsen (Henrik), James (Henry), Shakespeare (William), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

In Solitary Others We See Ourselves

When a Maine hermit is arrested after 27 years in solitude, we project our stories upon him.

Also posted in Lee (Harper), Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Son Marries into Crusoe’s Island

Robinson Crusoe’s island may well be the home country of my new daughter-in-law.

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Novels and Baseball Fans, Fixated on Time

As I watched the amazing day of baseball last Wednesday, I found myself thinking (being the literature nerd that I am) that the English novel was invented to do justice to reality when it got this dramatic and complex.

Also posted in Dickens (Charles), Fielding (Henry), Sterne (Lawrence) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kiki Ostrenga as Sister Carrie

Columnist David Brooks recently turned to Theodore Dreiser’s 1900 novel “Sister Carrie” in an attempt to make sense of the strange and disturbing case of 13-year-old internet celebrity Kiki Ostrenga.

Also posted in Dreiser (Theodor), Nabokov (Vladimir) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Crusoe, A Parable for Our Time

I have been teaching Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe in an Introduction to Literature class and am struck once more by how important a book it is. I say this even though it is not read or taught as much as it once was. Robinson Crusoe continues to be relevant because it goes right to the […]

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Poeticizing the Pillory

Daniel Defoe pilloried  Poetry comes to our aid in all kinds of situations. Including when we’ve been condemned to the pillory. That, at any rate, is one of the ways poetry was used by Daniel Defoe, subject of yesterday’s post. Here’s what happened. Defoe was a Dissenter (or Puritan), which is to say, a fundamentalist […]

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