Tag Archives: Donald Trump

How Will the Future Judge Us for Trump?

Jane Hirshfield’s poem “What Will They Say” was reprinted by the National Academy of Poets to coincide with the inauguration of Donald Trump. Imagining what future generations will say of us, she urges them to understand us. Which is not to let us off lightly.

Posted in Hirshfield (Jane) | Also tagged , | Leave a comment

The Good Ol’ Boy That Conned America

Flannery O’Connor “Good Country People” may help us understand why America got taken in by the man getting sworn in as president today: Donald Trump conned people whenever he caught them feeling superior to him.

Posted in O'Connor (Flannery) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Jonathan Swift, Master of Fake News

Fake news, which played a role in the 2016 election, may have become particularly sophisticated, but satirists have been creating fake news since at least the days of Jonathan Swift. Take, for instance, Swift’s “The Last Speech and Dying Words of Ebenezer Elliston,” which supposedly lowered the crime rate but which, for that reason, is problematic.

Posted in Swift (Jonathan) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Browning (Robert) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Problematic Allusion to Atticus

In his farewell speech, Obama quoted Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In light of the white backlash against having had a black president, however, the Atticus Finch of “Go Set a Watchman comes to mind, making Obama’s allusion seem a bit weak.

Posted in Lee (Harper) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Calls Upon Us To Be Wiglaf

Putting the president’s farewell address last night in terms of Beowulf, Obama was calling upon us to be Wiglaf. Wiglaf is Beowulf’s nephew who, after having lived a comfortable life during Beowulf’s reign, realizes that Beowulf can’t solve all his problems. He must step up himself to save the country from the dragon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

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?”

Posted in Carver (Raymond), Melville (Herman), Milton (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Art Thwart Trump? A Debate

In which I argue with a writer who claims that art and artists have an inflated sense of their power and that they are irrelevant in the battle against Donald Trump.

Posted in Steinbeck (John), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Did Western Liberalism Give Us Trump?

Conservative columnist Ross Douthat suggests that, to understand Trump’s rise, we look not to novels like Sinclair’s “It Can Happen Here” and Roth’s “Plot against America” and instead turn to works by French novelist Michel Houellebecq. These helps us understand the crisis of Western liberalism, which Douthat sees as the major culprit.

Posted in Houellebecq (Michel), Roth (Philip K.), Sinclair (Upton) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Decline & Fall of the American Republic?

Trump’s victory may signal the decline of the American republic, just as the rise of the Caesar signaled the end of the Roman republic. Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” is only too relevant to today’s politics.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , | 2 Comments

Murakami: Don’t Be a Sheep

Murakami’s “Wild Sheep Chase” is a modern parable that has important lessons for confronting authoritarian regimes. That’s the lesson one of my Bernie supporters took from it. Another student used it to support his decision to come out.

Posted in Murakami (Haruki) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Must Dreamers “Hibernate” Again?

Ellison’s Invisible Man must retreat to a hole–or, as he calls it, hibernate–after getting banged around by reality. With Trump as president, will the Dreamers and others who benefitted from Obama’s prosecutorial discretion have to hibernate as well, returning back to the shadows?

Posted in Ellison (Ralph) | Also tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Neil Gaiman and the Pipeline Protests

In “American Gods,” Neil Gaiman warns that Americans are doomed if we don’t make spiritual connection with the land. The protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline are making the same argument.

Posted in Gaiman (Neil) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

McConnell as Moriarty, Trump as Figaro

Mitch McConnell is proving himself to be a veritable Moriarty in his ability to weave devious plots to get his way. Trump, by contrast, is more a trickster figure a la Figaro or Mac the Knife.

Posted in Beaumarchais (Caron de), Doyle (Arthur Conan), Gay (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Culture Theorist Foresaw Trump’s Rise

The Frankfurt School’s Theodor Adorno, “culture industry” theorist, foresaw the rise of Trump. He looked to modernism, including modernist literature, as an antidote.

Posted in Adorno (Theodor), DeLillo (Don) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Smith (Zadie), Williams (Terry Tempest) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If Swift Had Known Donald Trump…

Jonathan Swift would have had a field day with Donald Trump. I suspect I’ll say this often in the upcoming years.

Posted in Swift (Jonathan) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving in the Age of Trump

Thanksgiving this year may encounter the strains of the recent election. For a depiction of how bad it can get, check out the Christmas dinner scene in “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.” It will show you what to avoid.

Posted in Joyce (James) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil War Battle, Image of Climate Denial

Ambrose Bierce’s disturbing short story “Chickamauga” can be applied to climate change denialsm.

Posted in Bierce (Ambrose) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Can Trump Cast Off His Falstaffs?

Can Donald Trump, like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” plays, shift from irresponsible merrymaker to great leader? Can he say, “I know thee not old man” to his former companions? Dream on.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Faulkner (William), Lee (Harper), Morrison (Toni) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in McKinley (Robin) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Also tagged , , | 3 Comments

Even in Bad Times, Life Goes On

Donald Trump is a disaster but, as Thomas Hardy reminds us, life goes on even during disasters. As bad as Trump is, he’s not comparable to World War I, the subject of Hardy’s poem.

Posted in Hardy (Thomas) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Entering a Brave New Trumpist World

In which I reflect upon my students’ shock upon Donald Trump’s victory. Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and Flannery O’Connor’s “All That Rises Must Converge” figure into the discussion.

Posted in Ellison (Ralph), O'Connor (Flannery) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grand Inquisitor Was Right

To understand Donald Trump’s stunning victory, turn to Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. The lure of an authoritarian leader and the challenges of a pluralistic and multicultural society can be found in Ivan Karamazov’s parable.

Posted in Dostoevsky (Fyodor) | Also tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump, Murakami, and Our Dark Selves

Donald Trump’s ability to tap into a deep American rage is the source of his power. In “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” Haruki Murakami, seeking to understand the resurgence of rightwing Japanese nationalism, has a Trump-like character who accesses a slimy substance within modern Japan.

Posted in Murakami (Haruki) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in Morrison (Toni) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppression’s Walls Will Have To Go

Langston Hughes’s poem “I Look at the World” describes a coming to consciousness of the walls that fence us in. Once we acknowledge the walls, we can begin seeing our way through them.

Posted in Hughes (Langston) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Trump, Macduff, and “Untimely Ripped”

Donald Trump’s characterization of late-term abortions as “ripping” harken back to a verb used in “Macbeth.” Most people, however, would argue that both Trump and Macduff are describing caesarians.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • 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.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete