Tag Archives: 2016 presidential election

Trump as Browning’s Pied Piper

Charlie Pierce of “Esquire” makes good use of Robert Browning’s “Pied Piper of Hamelin” to describe Donald Trump’s con job. Then he imagines the tables turned and Trump as the deceitful major who stiffs his employee.

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2016’s Top Story–Trump, Trump, Trump

Looking back of 2016, I choose three posts that stood out to me, all dealing with Trump. One compares him to Satan inspiring the invasion of Earth by Sin and Death in “Paradise Lost.” The other two compare him to Herman Melville’s “Confidence Man” and to the narrator’s son in the Raymond Carver short story “Why, Honey?”

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Despite Trump, “The Land Holds Us Still”

On this one-month anniversary of the 2016 election, I look back at two authors who meditated on what to do next immediately after hearing the news. Terry Tempest Williams looks to nature while Zadie Smith looks to the music to be found in multiethnic harmony.

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Toni Morrison: White Panic Led to Trump

As Toni Morrison sees it, William Faulkner’s observations about white panic go a long way toward explaining Trump’s victory.

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HRC & McKinley’s Strong Woman Fantasy

Robin McKinley’s “Chalice” is a novel about a woman with strong powers who scares men away. It’s a story that may explain the 2016 election.

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What Would Beowulf Do?

Beowulf offers us guidance for fighting back against Trumpism. Here’s a step-by-step account of the three monsters that will be facing liberals and what they must do.

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Poetry: Sure Solacer of Human Cares

For those trapped in gloom, Emily Bronte reminds us that the Imagination is there to provide us with solace.

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Shakespeare Understood Trumpism

According to Adam Gopnik, Shakespeare would have understood the rise of Donald Trump better than we do today. Whereas we see him as a historical oddity, Shakespeare would have seen him as the kind of evil that has always resided within humankind.

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Toni Morrison Explains Hillary Hatred

The rage against Hillary Clinton is probably the result of primal male fears. Toni Morrison captures such male fear and rage in her novel “Paradise.”

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Trump & Mac the Knife, 2 Escape Artists

Donald Trump’s apparent ability to escape unscathed from gaffes and revelations that would sink any other campaign invites comparison with Mac the Knife, John Gay’s glamorous escape artist from “Beggar’s Opera.”

Posted in Gay (John) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ahab Obsession and the Clintons

The right wing’s obsession with the Clinton has prompted one pundit to invoke Ahab’s obsession with Moby Dick.

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Hillary Clinton Is Hermione Granger

Hillary Clinton is like Hermione Granger in many ways, but there is one very important difference.

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You Never Did the Kenosha Kid

An aide to Ohio governor John Kasich recently labeled Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus a “Kenosha political operative.” This gives me an excuse to revisit Thomas Pynchon’s extended riff upon “the Kenosha Kid” in “Gravity’s Rainbow.”

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Trump’s Pleasure Dome (with Caves of Ice)

Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and Donald Trump have a lot in common: both build sunny edifices that prove to be sterile at the core.

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Trump, “FDA Food Police,” & The Jungle

Donald Trump yesterday floated a proposal to roll back food regulations. It’s worth remembering that such regulations were first put into place in large part because of a novel, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” (1906).

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For Hillary, Witch Hunts Never End

Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post alludes to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” as she wonders whether Hillary Clinton should be subjected to witch trials to figure out what’s wrong with her.

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Twain Anticipated Trump’s Crazy Talk

Donald Trump is popular with certain fans not despite but because of his outrageousness. Mark Twain has a humorous piece, “The Presidential Candidate,” that captures how much fun such outrageousness can be.

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How Trump Echoes Marc Antony

A New York Times article argues that Trump is using rhetorical flourishes like those that Marc Antony uses to defeat Brutus in Shakespeare’s play. His key strategy is casting himself as authentic against the inauthenticity of politicians.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Trump as Melville’s Confidence Man

Why, in the words of Nicholas Kristof, do we think of Hillary as “a slippery, compulsive liar” and Donald Trump as “a gutsy truth-teller.” Herman Melville gives us a compelling explanation in “The Confidence Man.”

Posted in Melville (Herman) | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Is Trump Running a Red Queen Race?

Turning to Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” political scientist Jonathan Bernstein says that Donald Trump is in a “Red Queen Race,” forced to be ever more outrageous just to keep the spotlight on himself.

Posted in Carroll (Lewis) | Also tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Chelsea’s Books and Female Ambition

Chelsea Clinton revealed that she talked to her parents about Madeleine L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time” and watched the mini-series of “Pride and Prejudice” with her mother. Both feature strong heroines but also show these heroines to be confined to traditionally female roles.

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Workers of the World, Read! (Then Unite)

A “Washington Post” article argues that the arts are key in counteracting economic injustice. While this is true, the arts must be accompanied by smart politics to achieve this end.

Posted in Fitzgerald (F. Scott), Sidney (Sir Philip), Wharton (Edith) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Game of Thrones Invasion

Now that the Democrats have a presumptive nominee, the question is whether Bernie Sanders’s supporters will join Hillary. A “Game of Thrones” analogy points out what is at stake.

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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.

Posted in Murakami (Haruki) | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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.

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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) | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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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