Category Archives: Hardy (Thomas)

Conspiracy Theories Explained

Why do conspiracy theories thrive? Because people can’t face up to the emptiness that would come with a real explanation. Thomas Hardy understands the phenomenon in his poem “Hap.”

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Speaker Paul Ryan in Literature

I’ve written a lot about Paul Ryan and his aspiration to be a John Galt figure. Now that he is Speaker of the House, I review other literary parallels I’ve drawn over the years.

Also posted in Achebe (Chinua), Carroll (Lewis), Conrad (Joseph), Dickens (Charles), Milton (John), Rand (Ayn) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cruz as Beowulf? Try Grendel

Thursday Normally I would be delighted with a New York Times article that matched up presidential candidates with works of literature, such as Ted Cruz with Beowulf, Hillary Clinton with Persuasion, and Bernie Sanders with Around the World in 80 Days. This piece, however, strikes me as so uninformative that it’s all but useless. I’ve tried […]

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Beowulf Poet, Dickens (Charles), Twain (Mark), Verne (Jules) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloodless Criticism Undermines Lit

Literature can function as an evasion as well as a guide. But only if we talk about it in evasive ways.

Also posted in Byron (Lord Gordon), King (Lily), Yeats (William Butler) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Complex Inner Life of Teachers

Lily King’s “The English Teacher” is filled with literary lllusions, most of them thematically important.

Also posted in Beowulf Poet, Eliot (T.S.), Faulkner (William), Homer, Joyce (James), King (Lily), Poe (Edgar Allan), Shakespeare, Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

An English Teacher as Tess

Lily King’s novel “English Teacher” is a profound meditation on how a trauma victim may view “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.”

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“Is My Son Mad?” Mary Asks

In Thomas Hardy’s version of Mary, she’s a mother wondering whether her son is mad.

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Literature as a Social Activity

Literature becomes especially interesting when it enters social situations.

Also posted in Murakami (Haruki), Sterne (Lawrence) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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), Defoe (Daniel), Gay (John), Tolstoy (Leo), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Finding Hope amidst the Growing Gloom

Hardy’s “Darkling Thrush” conjures up hope in dark times.

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How Right Wing Would Respond to Tess

Tess of the D’Urbervilles puts a human face on the dilemmas of rape victims. Romney/Ryan, take note.

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Ryan, Abortion, and Hardy’s Angel Clare

Paul Ryan may resemble Angel Claire in Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” but there’s a vicar who shows us a better way of dealing with a “fallen” woman.

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Tess Reveals the Real Meaning of Baptism

The unorthodox baptism in “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” gives us special insight into the power of the ritual.

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When Events Defy Human Understanding

As I wrote last year when the earthquake hit Haiti, all human language, even literature, comes up short when faced with disaster and death. Literature is language by humans about humans, and destruction on this scale seems to laugh narrative and image to scorn. Nevertheless, being human, we try to bring even apocalyptic disasters into a […]

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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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