Tag Archives: Idealism

Selling Your Child on Idealism

Should parents, knowing what the world is like, encourage their children’s idealism. Maggie Smith takes on this question in an entertaining poem.

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Young Idealists, Become Sam Spade

David Brooks recommends that young idealists toughen up a la Sam Spade.

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Your Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

Film Friday Today, in a slight departure, I am writing on a television series rather than a film, one that has gripped me for months. My love affair came to a crashing end last week, however, and I have resolved never to watch another episode. Since I tell my students that negative viewing experiences are […]

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Tolstoy, the Novelist vs. the Activist

One thing I appreciate about the New York Times is that many of its columnists routinely mention literature. Maureen Dowd probably does so the most (note this passing reference to T. S. Eliot’s Wasteland), and I once wrote a column on Roger Cohen’s use of The Great Gatsby in a piece on President Obama. (Cohen wrote […]

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Mr. Chips vs. Travis Bickle

Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle       I continue here my discussion of three works that just happened to come together during one evening last week: John Updike’s novel Terrorist, Martin Scorcese’s film Taxi Driver, and George Bernard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man. My question is whether Shaw’s humanism is a sufficient answer to the undercurrent […]

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Idealism Under Siege, Irony to the Rescue

The Princess Bride, True Love Triumphant  In my Tom Jones class earlier this week, one of my students (Erin Hendrix) noted that one of the passages made her think of a scene in the movie The Princess Bride. This led to a discussion of how both works employ irony to help us hold on to […]

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Using Gullibility as a Shield vs. Disillusion

In Book I of Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver lives in a world where he can be “above it all.” He can afford to be open-minded and generous because most issues don’t really affect him. Although he is, as his name suggests, gullible, it is gullibility that he can get away with. I stress this point because […]

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